Year

1996

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of Information and Communication Technology

Abstract

During the past fifteen years, library technology has been transformed. Where paper based technologies once ruled, computers n o w provide the major form of access to information resources both within and without the library walls. Once bastions of print, libraries now actively promote electronic information tools, whether simply via online catalogues or through the more sophisticated CD-ROMs or international networks. Not only are the hardcopy indexing and abstracting services being displaced by electronic services, but, increasingly, librarians will be able to choose whether they subscribe to an expensive journal, or provide access to it via the equivalent fulltext database online, possibly charging the requestor for this service. The combined attractions of the market place and the n e w technology are hard to resist, but it is essential that the needs of ordinary clients continue to be met both by providing the access to the technology and resources in a central, public location, and making available the necessary instruction to use these media, just as reader assistance has been provided for traditional, print based media in the past. It is also essential that the services provided be examined closely and that policy decisions be taken that ensure appropriate dissemination of information resources, independent of ability to pay. This is particularly important in areas such as education and research upon which a country's economic well-being rests. Whether the technology continues to reside in a specific location such as a library is irrelevant. Facilitating access is the issue of greatest importance.

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