NEF - Le Livre 010101 de Marie Lebert - From the Print Media to the Internet

From the Print Media to the Internet (1999)
6. Libraries on the Web

This chapter focuses on traditional libraries, with librarians, walls, books and periodicals lined up on shelves, and tables and chairs for the readers. The next chapter will focus on digital libraries.

6.1. European and World Directories for Libraries
6.2. The Internet in Libraries

6.1. European and World Directories for Libraries

The first library website was that of the Helsinki City Library, Finland, which opened in February 1994.

A trilingual English-French-German site, Gabriel (acronym for Gateway and Bridge to Europe's National Libraries) is the World Wide Web service for Europe's National Libraries represented in the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL).

"Gabriel also recalls Gabriel Naudé, whose Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque (Paris, 1627) is one of the earliest theoretical works about libraries in any European language and provides a blueprint for the great modern research library. The name Gabriel is common to many European languages and is derived from the Old Testament, where Gabriel appears as one of the archangels or heavenly messengers. He also appears in a similar role in the New Testament and the Qu'ran."

There are currently 38 national libraries from the member states of the Council of Europe participating in CENL and Gabriel (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, (Former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vatican City).

During the 1994 Oslo meeting of the Conference of European National Libraries, it was suggested that national libraries should have an electronic noticeboard available to one another as a means of keeping up-to-date with current activities. An ad hoc meeting was held in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 27, 1995, at which representatives of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, British Library and Helsinki University Library met to discuss the proposed CENL WWW. Objectives were set out at the meeting and an action schedule agreed. These three libraries set up the pilot Gabriel project. Three other national libraries agreed to participate in the pilot project: Die Deutsche Bibliothek (Germany), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Biblioteka Narodowa (Poland). Working together, these libraries created a functional pilot service based on entries describing their own services and collections between March and September 1995. The pilot service was endorsed by the CENL annual meeting at Bern in Switzerland in September 1995 and launched on the Internet. The service was then mounted and maintained in London by British Library Network Services and was mirrored in The Hague, Netherlands, and Helsinki, Finland.

A second stage in the project was initiated on behalf of CENL in October 1995. The project was hosted by the British Library in London. In November 1995, national libraries that had not participated in the Gabriel pilot project were invited to submit their entries. Using the pilot as a basis, this development project aimed to achieve comprehensive coverage of European national libraries within Gabriel. During the life of the project, the numbers of CENL member libraries with their own WWW servers had increased quite rapidly. Every participating library assigned staff members to act as contact persons for Gabriel. This project ended in September 1996. As content and publicity built up, and the numbers of linking sites expanded, measurable usage of the Gabriel service had increased rapidly.

During the CENL meeting in September 1996 in Lisbon, the CENL members decided that Gabriel should be launched as an official service of CENL on behalf of Europe's national libraries on January 1, 1997. The editorial maintenance of Gabriel was taken over by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands. The site is now mirrored from the websites of five national libraries in The Hague (The Netherlands), London (United Kingdom), Helsinki (Finland), Frankfort (Germany), and Ljubljana (Slovenia).

Updated in December 11, 1998, the introduction of Internet and the Library Sphere: Further progress for European Libraries specifies:

"Public libraries have now established a presence on the Web which compares well with the networked services which have been available for some time from academic libraries and national libraries. Services include sophisticated catalogue access for their users as well as links to other items of interest (local services, general reference, distance education, external resources). While it is difficult to keep track of developments, there are now probably some 1,000 public libraries from at least 26 European countries on the Web. This trend can be expected to continue as most countries now have firm plans in support of libraries in the Information Society.

There is, of course, a vast amount of networked information on libraries, initially from North American sources but now increasingly from Europe and the rest of the world. Not only have sites been created for most of our 99 EU projects, but the eLib projects in the UK and some of the Autoroutes de l'Information [information highways] projects in France have contributed significantly. And last but not least, concerted efforts in the area of public libraries, have added a wealth of accessible resources in a wide variety of languages."

As for the 1,000 public libraries in 26 European countries, the leaders are Finland (247), Sweden (132), the United Kingdom (112), Denmark (107), Germany (102), the Netherlands (72), Lithuania (51), Spain (56), and Norway (45). Newcomers are the Czech Republic (29) and Portugal (3). Russia maintains on the Web a list of public reference libraries with 26 names. Sites vary significantly between rudimentary information on addresses and opening hours to full access to OPACs (on-line public access catalogs) and/or to a variety of local and external services.

Compiled by Sheila and Robert Harden, Public Libraries of Europe is a country-by-country listing of European public libraries on the Web.

I'm Europe, the site of the European Union, has a section General Library Resources on the Web, with the following contents: library indexes; general library resources; public library information; individual public libraries; publishers and the book trade; other EU projects; and other sites of interest.

Library and Related Resources is maintained by Ian Tilsed on the site of the Library and Information Service of the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. It comprises: library information servers; library catalogues; library and information science resources; library and related organizations; library projects, reports, bibliographies and documentation; library related e-mail lists and e-journals; LIS (library and information science) training & professional development; museums; publishers and newspapers; scholarly societies; indexes and bibliographic information sources; frequently asked questions (FAQ) files; and web indexes and lists.

The Library of Congress's section Library and Information Science Resources provides links to: general resources; national libraries; state libraries; school library resources; library home pages; on-line catalogs; research and reference; technical services; special collections; digital libraries; professional organizations; library and information science schools; professional journals; library vendors; and library conferences.

Compiled by the Berkeley Digital Library (California, USA), LibWeb: Library Servers via WWW currently lists 2,500 web pages from libraries over 70 countries (as of December 10, 1998), with a daily update. The search is available by location, library type or library name.

6.2. The Internet in Libraries

The Libraries Programme of the European Union "aims to help increase the ready availability of library resources across Europe and to facilitate their interconnection with the information and communications infrastructure. Its two main orientations will be the development of advanced systems to facilitate user access to library resources, and the interconnection of libraries with other libraries and the developing "information highway". Validation tests will be accompanied by measures to promote standards, disseminate results and raise the awareness of library staff about the possibilities afforded by telematics systems."

Many libraries are developing a digital library alongside their other collections. Digital libraries gather mainly texts, and sometimes images and sounds as well. They allow a large audience to have access to documents belonging to specialized, old, local or regional collections, which were previously difficult to access for various reasons, including: concern for preservation of rare and fragile documents, reduced opening hours, forms to fill out, long waiting period to get the document, and shortage of staff. All these reasons were hurdles to get over and required of the researcher an unfailing patience and an out-of-the-ordinary determination to finally get to the document.

Beowulf, the first great English literary masterpiece, is a treasure of the British Library. It is known only from a single 11th century manuscript, which was badly damaged by fire in 1731. Transcriptions made in the late 18th century show that many hundreds of words and letters then visible along the charred edges subsequently crumbled away. To halt this process each leaf was mounted in a paper frame in 1845. Scholarly discussion of the date, provenance and creation of the poem continue around the world, and researchers regularly require access to the manuscript. Taking Beowulf out of its display case for study not only raises conservation issues, it also makes it unavailable for the many visitors who come to the Library expecting to see this most fundamental of literary treasures on display. Digitization of the whole manuscript offered a solution to these problems, as well as providing new opportunities for insight.

The Electronic Beowulf Project has assembled a huge database of digital images of the Beowulf manuscript and related manuscripts and printed texts. The archive already includes fiber-optic readings of hidden letters and ultraviolet readings of erased text in the early 11th-century manuscript; full electronic facsimiles of the 18th-century transcripts of the manuscript; and selections from important 19th-century collations, editions, and translations. Major additions will include images of contemporary manuscript illuminations and material culture, and links with the Toronto Dictionary of Old English project and with the comprehensive Anglo-Saxon bibliographies of the Old English Newsletter.

The project has been developed by the British Library with two leading American Anglo-Saxon experts, Kevin Kiernan of the University of Kentucky and Paul Szarmach of the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University. Professor Kiernan is editing the electronic archive and is producing a CD-ROM electronic facsimile that will bring together in an easy-to-use package all the different types of images being collected.

As Brian Lang, Chief Executive of the British Library, explains on the website:

"The Beowulf manuscript is a unique treasure and imposes on the Library a responsibility to scholars throughout the world. Digital photography offered for the first time the possibility of recording text concealed by early repairs, and a less expensive and safer way of recording readings under special light conditions. It also offers the prospect of using image enhancement technology to settle doubtful readings in the text. Network technology has facilitated direct collaboration with American scholars and makes it possible for scholars around the world to share in these discoveries. Curatorial and computing staff learned a great deal which will inform any future programmes of digitisation and network service provision the Library may undertake, and our publishing department is considering the publication of an electronic scholarly edition of Beowulf. This work has not only advanced scholarship; it has also captured the imagination of a wider public, engaging people (through press reports and the availability over computer networks of selected images and text) in the appreciation of one of the primary artefacts of our shared cultural heritage."

Thanks to the digital library, the "traditional" library can finally join two goals which used to be in contradiction - document preservation and document communication. On the one hand, the documents are taken out of their shelves only once to be scanned. On the other, the public can access them from the screen, and easily go from one document to another, without a long waiting period or the need to fill out forms.

The UNOG (United Nations of Geneva) Library, a leading European center for the study of world affairs, is open to UN staff, scholars, researchers, diplomats, journalists, and students. Its outstanding collections are especially strong on disarmament, economics, human rights, international law and current events. On July 3, 1997, the UNOG Library inaugurated its new Cyberspace. Initiated by Pierre Pelou, the Head of the Library, this electronic forum is primarily intended to benefit representatives of the Permanent Missions, conference delegations and international civil servants. It is also open to specialized researchers, students, engineers and other interested professionals.

Designed and planned by Antonio Bustamante, architect and Head of the Buildings, Parks and Gardens Unit, the cyberspace is comprised of 24 computerized workstations that have been installed on the redesigned first floor of the UNOG Library to provide the following services:

1) Access to a broad range of electronic resources, such as: the Internet; the United Nations Optical Disk System; an infoserver with about 50 networked CD-ROMs; the United Nations Bibliographical Information System (UNBIS), the shared database of the Headquarters Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the UNOG Library; the UNOG Library's automated catalogue; Profound, a collection of databases in the business and economics field; and the catalogue of RERO (Réseau des bibliothèques romandes et tessinoises), a network of Swiss libraries with which the UNOG Library is affiliated;

2) Consultation of a selection of multimedia CD-ROMs composed of intertwined audio, textual, photographic and video segments (e.g. Encarta 97, dictionaries and encyclopedias, l'État du monde, Élysée 2, Nuklear);

Viewing of multistandard videocassettes and DVDs (digital versatile disks) of documentaries and films on topics of international relevance (e.g. humanitarian affairs, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi);

Usage of computerized working tools for text-processing (WordPerfect) and electronic mail (e-mail, cc:mail); and

Access to the Internet, particularly the UNOG homepages in English and French, the homepages of Permanent Missions and other international organizations, and a selection of links provided by the managers of the UNOG Cyberspace.

A second cyberspace with six computers opened in April 1998 on the second floor of the library, with the same facilities and a fantastic view on the Lake of Geneva and the surrounding Alps.

The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organization based in Paris, has been quick to put the Internet at its staff's disposal, and to create on extensive Intranet. Peter Raggett, Deputy-Head of the OECD Main Library, made the following comments in his e-mail of June 18, 1998:

"The Internet has provided researchers with a vast database of information. The problem for them is to find what they are seeking. Never has the 'information overload' been so obvious as when one tries to find information on a topic by searching the Internet. Information managers have a large role to play in searching and arranging the information on the Internet.

When one uses a search engine like Lycos or AltaVista or a directory like Yahoo!, it soon becomes clear that it can be very difficult to find valuable sites on a given topic. These search mechanisms work well if one is searching for something very precise, such as information on a person who has an unusual name, but they produce a confusing number of references if one is searching for a topic which can be quite broad. Try and search the Web for Russia AND transport to find statistics on the use of trains, planes and buses in Russia. The first references you will find are freight-forwarding firms who have business connections with Russia.

At the OECD Library we have collected together several hundred World Wide Web sites and have put links to them on the OECD Intranet. They are sorted by subject and each site has a short annotation giving some information about it. The researcher can then see if it is possible that the site contains the desired information. This is adding value to the site references and in this way the Central Library has built up a virtual reference desk on the OECD network. As well as the annotated links, this virtual reference desk contains pages of references to articles, monographs and websites relevant to several projects currently being researched at the OECD, network access to CD-ROMs, and a monthly list of new acquisitions. The Library catalogue will soon be available for searching on the Intranet.

The reference staff at the OECD Library uses the Internet for a good deal of their work. Often an academic working paper will be on the Web and will be available for full-text downloading. We are currently investigating supplementing our subscriptions to certain of our periodicals with access to the electronic versions on the Internet.

The Internet is impinging on many peoples' lives and Information Managers are the best people to help researchers around the labyrinth. The Internet is just in its infancy and we are all going to be witnesses to its growth and refinement."

The Internet in libraries is a research topic dealt with by numerous organizations, for example the Internet Public Library (IPL) or the International Federation of Library Institutions and Associations (IFLA).

Opened in March 1995, the Internet Public Library (IPL) is the first digital public library of and for the Internet community. Its different sections are: reference; exhibits; especially for librarians; magazines and serials; newspapers; on-line texts; and Web searching. There are also sections for Teen and Youth. All the items of the collections (20,166 as of December 8, 1998) are carefully selected, catalogued and described by the IPL staff. As an experimental library, IPL also tries to discover and promote the most effective roles and contributions of librarians to the Internet and vice versa.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)is a worldwide, independent organization created to provide librarians around the world with a forum for exchanging ideas, promoting international cooperation, research and development in all fields of library activity. IFLA's objectives are: to represent librarianship in matters of international interest; to promote the continuing education of library personnel; and to develop, maintain and promote guidelines for library services. The part relating to Electronic Collections and Services includes four sections: library and information science; digital libraries; information policy; and Internet and networking.

A number of professional magazines are available on the Web.

Library Journal Digital (LJ Digital) is an electronic offshoot of Library Journal (LJ), founded in 1876 and the oldest U.S. independent national library publication. LJ is read by over 100,000 library directors, administrators, and others in public, academic, and special (e.g., business) libraries. Published 20 times a year, LJ combines news, features, and commentary with analyses of public policy, technology, and management developments. In addition, some 7,500 evaluative reviews (of books, audio and video, CD-ROMs, websites, and magazines) written by librarians help readers make their purchasing decisions. Each issue reviews 250 to 350 adult books, mostly prior to publication, making it a source for librarians and publishers' early evaluations.

Published by the University of Houston Libraries, Texas, the Public-Access Computer Systems Review (PACS Review) is an electronic journal about end-user computer systems in libraries. It is distributed at no charge on the Internet and other computer networks to 8,000 persons in 60 countries. The journal publishes papers on topics such as digital libraries, document delivery systems, electronic publishing, expert systems, hypermedia and multimedia systems, locally mounted databases, network-based information resources and tools, and on-line catalogs.

The librarian's job has significantly changed with computers, and continues to change with the Internet. Computers made the catalogs much easier to handle. In place of all these paper cards to be classified into wood or metal drawers, the computer could sort out the bibliographic records itself. The loan of documents and the processing of orders became computerized too. Then networking computers allowed the creation of union catalogs for a region, a country, or a specific topic, furthering interlibrary loan.

What does the Internet bring to librarians, libraries and library users? It brings:

- the use of electronic mail for internal and external communications, and as a means of communication with the public;
- the participation in newsgroups and discussion forums;
- the use of the library website to give additional information, open a digital library, and offer a selection of sites relating to the public's topics;
- free access to the library's catalogues;
- a gigantic information provider; and
- a simpler way to look for another job.

With the Internet as a main information provider and the quick development of digital libraries, what is the future of librarians? Will they become cyberlibrarians, or will they disappear because the public will not need them any more when all the information and documents they need will be available on-line?

As for journalists, the librarians will probably continue being useful, as stated by Peter Raggett, Deputy-Head of the OECD Library, in his e-mail of September 18, 1998:

"I have to filter the information for my clients. This means that I must be familiar with the sites which contain useful links. In addition I expect that there will be an expansion in Internet use for education and research. This means that libraries will have to create Virtual Libraries where students can follow a course offered by an institution at the other side of the world. Personally, I see myself becoming more and more a 'Virtual Librarian'. My clients may not meet me face-to-face but instead will contact me by e-mail, telephone or fax and I will do the research and send them the results electronically."

Chapter 7: Digital Libraries
Table of Contents

From the Print Media to the Internet
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