The People's Network
This document is a HTML version of 'New Library:
The People's Network'. The contents of the report have been reproduced in
the same order as they appear in the print version.
The People's Network
- There are 4,759 libraries in the UK, of which 693 are
mobile libraries, plus 19,136 service points in hospitals, prisons, old
people's homes, etc.
- There are 129,612,000 books in the public library service,
which take up 3,600 km of shelving space - or 2.5 times the distance
from John o'Groats to Lands End - compared with 3,149 km of UK motorway.
- 58 per cent of the population hold library membership -
33,865,000 out of a total UK population of 58,388,000. There were
377,000,000 visits made to libraries in 1995/96.
- Compare that with football attendances: 33,000,000 people
in the UK were admitted to a professional league match in the 1995/96
- 10 million people use libraries on a regular basis - at
least once a fortnight.
- The fifth most popular pastime in the UK is visiting the
local library. The first four are (a) visiting a pub, (b) eating in a
restaurant, (c) driving for pleasure, (d) eating in a fast-food
Sources: Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU),
Loughborough University; Football Association, Football Association of
Wales, Scottish Football League, Irish Football League; The Henley
Centre (included in Social Trends, 1996)
- 'If the public libraries in the UK do
not act as the bridge between the new electronic information world and
the language and history of print, then no one will, and we risk losing
our culture, heritage and education'
HEAR IT AGAIN
- 'For out of olde feldes, as men seyth,
Cometh al this newe corne yer by yere,
And out of olde bokes, in good feyth,
Cometh al this newe science that men lere.'
- Chaucer: The Parlement of Foules
Fourteen centuries have learned,
From charred remains, that what took place
When Alexandria's library burned
Brain-damaged the human race.
- Whatever escaped
Was hidden by bookish monks in their damp cells
Hunted by Alfred dug for by Charlemagne
Got through the Dark Ages little enough but enough
For Dante and Chaucer sitting up all night
- looking for light.
A Serbian Prof's insanity,
Commanding guns, to split the heart,
His and his people's, tore apart
The Sarajevo library.
- Tyrants know where to aim
As Hitler poured his petrol and tossed matches
Stalin collected the bards...
In other words the mobile and only libraries...
And made a bonfire
- of all those enslaved peoples from the Black to
the Bering Sea
Of the mainsprings of national identities to melt
And the three seconds of the present moment
- the folk into one puddle
By massacring those wordy fellows whose memories were
- bigger than armies.
Where any nation starts awake
Books are the memory. And it's plain
Decay of libraries is like
Alzheimer's in the nation's brain.
- And in my own day in my own land
I have heard the fiery whisper: 'We are here
To destroy the Book
To destroy the rooted stock of the Book and
The Book's perennial vintage, destroy it
Not with a hammer or a sickle
And not exactly according to Mao who also
Drained the skull of adult and adolescent
To build a shining new society
With the empties...'
For this one's dreams and that one's acts
For all who've failed or aged beyond
The reach of teachers, here are found
The inspiration and the facts.
- As we all know and have heard all our lives
Just as we've heard that here.
Even the most misfitting child
Who's chanced upon the library's worth,
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.
- Hear it again.
Ted Hughes, July 1997
'Hear It Again' copyright © 1997, Ted Hughes
to the report
- This report was commissioned from the Library
and Information Commission by the Department for Culture, Media and
- At the first meeting of the working group, on 24 April 1997, we had a
general and fascinating discussion about the role of the public library
in the next century. We all agreed that the book would continue to play
an absolutely central role in our life and culture, but we also
recognised that electronic access and delivery, particularly of
educational and reference works and government and local information,
will play a transforming role in the future activities of the public
library. We thus determined at a very early stage that the three areas
of particular interest would be, first, the consumer - what the
citizen will expect from the public library as we enter the new century.
Secondly, content - what is actually going to be delivered
through the public library system. And finally training -
reskilling the library workforce for the new age. The research we
commissioned, which is described in the report, confirms the importance
of these three headings.
- The working group was asked to report its initial findings to
government by the end of July. This we have done. But, although our
recommendations are clear, we have worked to a very tight time-scale and
we are fully aware that more work needs to be done in one or two crucial
- We must all thank the Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes CBE, for augmenting
this report by writing a poem about libraries for us.
- Matthew Evans, July 1997
- An international perspective
- Qualitative research on library users
- Terms of reference
The biggest changes in public libraries over the coming years will arise
from the development of information technology (IT). These revolutionary
changes will bring about previously undreamed of increases in the quality
and quantity of detailed informatio information and knowledge readily and
speedily available to the public. It is not possible to predict exactly
the technology that will make this information accessible, but the
government does predict that, whatever the technology, there will be a
central role for public libraries.
Department of National Heritage, Reading the Future (1997)
The information superhighway should not just benefit the affluent or the
metropolitan. Just as in the past books were a chance for ordinary people
to better themselves, in the future online education will be a route to
better prospects. But just as books are available from public libraries,
the benefits of the superhighway must be there for everyone. This is a
real chance for equality of opportunity...
Tony Blair, New Britain: My Vision of a Young Country (1996)
- The introduction of information and communication technologies
presents a challenge and opportunity for the United Kingdom as great as
the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century. However, many
citizens and communities will need help to meet the new demands of the
emerging information society. Individual access to information and
communications networks will be impeded by cost. And even as prices fall
and ownership of suitable systems spreads, the intellectual challenge of
obtaining access will remain, requiring skills development and support
in information-handling for all citizens.
- Public libraries are the ideal vehicle to provide this access and
support, and to foster the spread of vital new technological skills
among the population. Well over half the population already use
libraries, and librarians have an unrivalled reputation for helping the
- This report argues for the transformation of libraries and what they
do; it makes the case for re-equipping them and reskilling their staff
so that they can continue to fulfil their widely valued role as
intermediary, guide, interpreter and referral point - but now helping
smooth the path to the technological future.
- Tomorrow's new library will be a key agent in enabling people of all
ages to prosper in the information society - helping them acquire new
skills for employment, use information creatively, and improve the
quality of their lives. Libraries will play a central role in the
University for Industry, in lifelong learning projects, and in support
of any individual who undertakes self-development.
- Tomorrow's new library will be integrated components of a new
national educational system - meshed into the National Grid for
Learning, partnering schools, facilitating homework clubs, supporting
literacy acquisition, and helping children and students access and
interact with learning resources worldwide.
- Tomorrow's new library will remain open and accessible to all,
without precondition, whether for material in printed form or for access
to the wealth of resources available online. Libraries will continue to
be the first recourse for meeting all information needs.
- Tomorrow's new library will continue to make information about every
aspect of life available to people, and provide hugely valued leisure
and cultural opportunities. As other institutions and services adopt new
technologies, it is vital that libraries are at the leading edge of
change and maintain their place at the hub of the community
- Tomorrow's new library will enable people to involve themselves more
fully with the democratic process. Using information and communication
technology, people will have ready access to local, central government
and EU information and services. They will be able to contact and
interact with government, their local councillors and their MPs. The
networked library, equipped with new technology, will provide people
with many more opportunities to participate in the decision-making
processes that affect their lives.
- The library is an enormously powerful agent for change: accountable
to and trusted by people, and integral to education, industry,
government and the community. A UK-wide information network made
available through libraries and implemented on the basis of a
high-specification central core could do more to broaden and encourage
the spread of information and communication technology skills among the
population - especially the young - than any other measure the
government could introduce.
- These developments will bring benefits - including export
opportunities - throughout the UK economy, and not least for its
software and graphics industries. Experience in the USA has already
shown that it is those who have had easy access to powerful computers at
a relatively early age who have gone on to build the Silicon Valley
- Renewed and reinvigorated by technology investment, libraries will
become very different places. They will retain their spaces for books,
study, exhibitions and events, but they will gain new learning spaces -
interactive spaces - new uses and new users.The rapid spread of
high-performance communications will mean that even the most remote
rural library will offer access to the same facilities as a large urban
library, providing a means to draw in those people who, through
geography, are furthest removed from the opportunities offered by the
- Librarians will add new skills to their current capabilities. They
will help people overcome their anxieties about the new world of
networked and digitised information, and assist them to navigate through
- This development of an information society and the introduction of
the UK Public Library Network - the people's network - will require the
library service itself to change. This report describes the nature of
the changes required and proposes the establishing of a Public Library
Networking Agency to bring them about, while maintaining the best of
what people currently value in their local library service.
1 Access to knowledge,
imagination & learning
- The UK Public Library Network will have enormous potential to deliver
resources for information and learning to citizens across the whole
country, through 4,200 static library sites and other library outlets.
- Access to the network will also allow every citizen to communicate
interactively between libraries, with museums, galleries and the media,
with local and national government, with public services, and with
agencies in the voluntary and private sectors. Moreover, there will also
be the capability for communication within and between communities,
whether they be local or global, founded on geography or on a common
- Public libraries are already used by 58 per cent of the population.
They are a first stop for information, they are widely used by children
and young people as an adjunct to formal learning, and their reputation
for supporting the knowledge-seeker is unparalleled. Their unique
combination of resources, services and personal support attracts some
1.3 million visitors every working day, and 10 million users visit
frequently - at least once a fortnight. Library staff respond to over 50
million enquiries each year, on a universal range of topics.
- In the information society, making information and communication
networks accessible to every citizen will be vital to generate the
energy for success. In exploiting new technologies through the networked
library, priority must be given to:
- enhancing education and lifelong learning opportunities for children
- supporting training, employment and business, to foster economic
- nurturing social cohesion through fostering a politically and
culturally informed society.
- The new and growing range of resources and facilities which
networking can deliver, combined with the existing assets of the public
library system, will form the core of a powerhouse of knowledge,
enabling the smallest and most isolated local library to offer the same
range, depth and quality of information as a large centra central
library, providing equal access to the global and the local. An outline
of what this will mean in terms of content - resources for knowledge,
imagination and learning - and services - facilities and support offered
- is given below.
- The principal strands of content and services which will pervade the
networked public library are:
- education and lifelong learning;
- citizens information and facilities for participation in society;
- business and the economy, training and employment;
- community history and community identity;
- the National Digital Library.
- Throughout this chapter and elsewhere in the report a series of
scenarios illustrates the potential of the UK Public Library Network to
meet people's needs in the digital age. These scenarios are fictitious,
but they are based on situations in which libraries are often called
upon for help, and they present solutions which will be available only
through a networked library - one that is in touch with all areas of the
UK and the world.
Education and lifelong learning
- Public libraries complement formal education provision by providing a
resource base and a platform for people of all ages to participate in
lifelong learning. They will therefore form an integral part of the
National Grid for Learning and the Unversity for Industry, and
implementation of the network should consider this a priority. Helping
young people learn how to is an essential function of the public
library. Support for children and young people in acquiring basic
skills, building their personal knowledge-base, and developing
competence in information searching and analysis will complement the
formal learning in their place of study.
- Rich multimedia resources provided after school, in a safe,
culturally creative environment, will help overcome the inequality of
opportunity experienced by those who do not have access to new
technology at home. Several studies have indicated that children can
benefit both educationally and socially from having well-managed access
to various forms of information and communication technology (ICT) from
an early age (Denham, 1997). The early introduction to independent
learning in the library will promote a more rounded education, while
also imparting the skills needed to learn independently in later years.
- The 1995 report Investing in Children declared that
The public library has a duty to meet children's need and desire for
information in a range of media as well as books. It should provide
information in appropriate media and formats, and whatever technology is
needed to deliver them ... [public libraries have] to recognise that
children are becoming increasingly computer literate and have high
expectations regarding the use of computers in libraries and instant
personal access to information (LISC(E), 1995, pp. vii, 9).
- To date, however, as a survey it quotes discovered:
public libraries in Britain have done little to equip young people for a
life in which the computer is a major element in learning, work and
recreation. (Lonsdale and Wheatley, 1992; LISC(E), 1995, p. 62)
- Networked resources also offer opportunities for adults to follow a
personal learning path, whether in support of a career or an individual
interest. In partnership with schools, colleges and universities, the
public library will allow flexibility of study in both time and place.
- The urge to learn is a distinguishing feature of the human mind.
Knowledge is power - and universal access to information is a hallmark
of freedom in a democracy but knowledge is also discovery, excitement,
personal growth and self-confidence.
- The use of existing services demonstrates that there is no limit to
the type of information which people seek every day in libraries. The
'Saturday syndrome' sees libraries overflowing with users whose pursuit
is personal, intense and determined. People of all ages and backgrounds
reinforce a general interest in the arts or sciences, seek out the
remote truths of their family history, catch up on current affairs, or
search for the answer that will clinch a prize. Children pursue hobbies,
and the more they do so the more likely they are to be in the library as
adults, ably feeding a natural curiosity. Throughout the week the phones
ring for a fact, a statistic, a name, an address, an illustration, or
'If I sing a tune can you tell me the title?'
- Digital communications in the information society will bring new
resources in unprecedented quantity, making available the equivalent of
millions of pages of words and pictures. The library as an entry point
to the information superhighway will bring unprecedented opportunities
to learn for leisure, to find out for fun, and to experience the
personal fulfilment of discovery.
- Through the networked public library, existing library resources will
be newly opened up to more people. The catalogues of public library
collections currently accessible only locally will be linked to create a
UK-wide library system. This rich collective resource will be available
at any local library. Eventually, catalogues will be enhanced with
requesting systems so that remote users can locate and order the items
they need. Cross-sectoral access (public/FE/HE) will introduce the
flexibility of access to resources inherent in the concepts of open and
- Such a wealth of resources will make digital discovery an awesome and
exciting experience, but many people will need the support of a trusted
and accountable intermediary - not only in accessing but also in
interpreting and evaluating what is available. With library staff
providing this support, the unique role of the library as 'the people's
university' will be immeasurably enhanced.
- The accessibility of public libraries, enhanced by networking
technologies, will ensure that people with mobility problems will find
it easy to exploit the new opportunities. At the same time, as systems
develop on the back of current research, services will be adapted for
use by people with impaired sight or hearing. People with disabilities
have the same desires to find out and learn as others: the information
society must not be one in which they experience exclusion.
- In this area, content to be delivered will include:
- multimedia learning resources geared to national curricula;
- self-training packages for core skills;
- networked encyclopaedic databases;
- specialist resources on topics for leisure and learning;
- access to World Wide Web sites;
- networked electronic journals;
- digitised collections of images, film, and video and sound
- all UK public library catalogues;
- the digital collections of major libraries.
- Services in support of educational and lifelong learning will
- access to the National Grid for Learning;
- support in accessing and searching global resources;
- guidance on the reliability of databases;
- access to and participation in special-interest Internet communities;
- access to specialist libraries and collections, and to virtual visits
- information and guidance on educational and learning opportunities;
- interactive communications with educational institutions;
- access to local education authorities and information on finance for
learning, grants, awards, etc.;
- online application facilities;
- Ofsted reports on schools and colleges;
- access to the library network and networked resources from home,
school or the workplace.
and involvement in society
- The UK Public Library Network will also be a gateway for citizen
communications - an opening to the networked society which will promote
a healthy democracy and social cohesion.
- In recent times disillusion with political, legal and social
institutions has generated an atmosphere of cynicism and alienation.
People - particularly young people - have distanced themselves from a
system which they see as irrelevant to their circumstances. A public
library network of access points, open to every citizen, for the
delivery of information on government and government services - both
local and UK-wide - and, especially, for enabling interactive
communications with government and others, will help bring a sense of
belonging and renew the potential for participation in society.
- Such a network will stimulate the production of digital information
and interactive services for citizens which has already been explored by
some government departments and local authorities. Many public agencies
now have Internet Web sites; these will be further developed to meet the
increased expectation of citizens using the library network.
- Easier two-way transfer of information and documentation between
people and providers will also allow faster and more efficient routine
transactions with government and public services, leaving more time for
citizen and public servant to interact face to face on individual issues
of greater sensitivity. For example, government.direct
sets out a prospectus for the delivery, electronically, of central
government services across the country, with public libraries as one
channel of access. These services include the collection of taxes,
granting of licences and administration of regulations.
- A healthy society must also communicate with itself, and the UK
Public Library Network will not only provide access to the centres of
administration but will enable people to interact with all manner of
voluntary organisations and interest groups. Individuals will be able to
become better informed and to promote their views in the interests of
wider community development. In addition, local government will be able
to use the network to consult residents affected by local issues of
policy, planning and prioritisation.
- When citizens are openly and freely in communication with government,
democracy can be said to have 'grown up'. Those groups generally
regarded as 'minorities' are, together, the majority; ensuring
improved access for those with a minority or special interest will also
enhance the quality of life for the whole of society.
- In this area, content to be delivered will include:
- information on local authority services - education, health, welfare
and social services, planning and leisure, for example;
- information on local authority performance and budget deployment;
- information on local and regional development;
- online government publications and reports of proceedings;
- information on European government, legislation and citizens' rights;
- information on interest/action/pressure groups and voluntary
- legislation and legal publications;
- party-political information, policy and contacts.
- Services in support of government and citizens will include:
- interactive communications with MPs and councillors;
- communications with interest/action/pressure groups;
- self-publishing facilities for citizens;
- the processing of routine transactions - for example, applications
for planning permission, or for driving licences;
- teledemocracy - the canvassing of public opinion, electronic voting;
- access to specialist advice and counselling agencies;
- booking facilities for local services;
- diary access for meetings and advice bureaux.
Business and the economy,
training and employment
- The successful business already exploits information as an
organisational resource. However, the majority of businesses in the UK
are small and medium-sized enterprises - around 73 per cent of companies
employ fewer than ten people - and such companies, and the 3 million
self-employed, do not have the capacity to employ information
specialists or to acquire expensive collections of data to inform their
marketing and development activities.
- Support agencies such as chambers of commerce, business development
agencies and trade associations will increasingly network to maximise
their effectiveness. The Programme for Business, launched in February
1996, aims to ensure that firms in all sectors can improve their
effectiveness through effective and innovative uses of ICT. Public
libraries - especially the major city libraries - have variously
developed enormous print-based resources to support business; the UK
Public Library Network will allow still larger amounts of information to
be available to even the smallest and most remote local library through
access to remote databases on trade and commerce. The technology will
allow greater cooperation to inform and support the UK's industrial,
commercial and financial enterprise.
- The library has always been a resource for learning, and has a
specially important role to play in learning in order to update or
acquire job skills. A recent DTI study revealed that 52 per cent of UK
companies think their employees have insufficient training in ICT, but
at the same time 35 per cent of UK companies give no ICT training at
all. As part of a return-to-work plan, skills development or reskilling
for a different job, the UK Public Library Network will provide
information and learning resources for independent study in a supported
- It will also provide information on training and job opportunities.
Some 6.5 million people - one fifth of the population of working age -
go through a change in employment situation each year. In this
environment, business information becomes employment information.
- Citizens are also consumers, and thus the ultimate generators of
national wealth. The consumer needs ready and reliable access to
information on products, services and producers, as well as access to
legal and commercial information - all of which the UK Public Library
Network will provide. The IT for All initiative aims to raise awareness
of ICT, provide access, and develop the ICT skills of individual
citizens, and specifically adults.
- In this area, content to be delivered will include:
- databases of company information, personnel and locations;
- databases of products and services;
- resources for market research;
- trade information on important import/export regulations and
- data on countries and their markets;
- networked information on intellectual property - patents, designs,
- information on UK and European legislation;
- information on accreditation and qualifications;
- information and guidance on training opportunities;
- learning packages and opportunities through the University for
- consumer intelligence;
- the facilities for small and medium - sized enterprises in particular
to conduct business with government electronically.
- Services in support of business, the economy, training and employment
- interactive access to resources from office and home;
- video access to specialist information sources and expertise;
- partnership developments with chambers of commerce, business and
regional development agencies, and TECs;
- UK and international connectivity to trade and industry bodies;
- supported facilities for the preparation of CVs and applications;
- access to local and national consumer organisations;
- access to environmental services and trading standards officers;
- information and employment conditions and job opportunities.
and community identity
- An area in which libraries support both the acquisition of knowledge
and a sense of community is that of community history. Through a unique
tradition of storing archives, records, maps, photographs and film,
libraries have long been custodians of the people's identity and the
- Use of these resources is already an area of expansion in library
usage. Local history - and especially sight of primary sources - is a
feature of the national curriculum. Learning is generated out of a
child's natural curiosity about grandparents' childhood; descendants of
emigrants across the world, as well as adopted and fostered children,
regularly and increasingly seek to uncover their roots. Access to global
networks will help enormously in meeting this profound natural need to
learn about their roots by giving minority communities access to their
countries of origin. This is just one area in which, through public
libraries, the peoples of the UK will increasingly experience the
cultural diversity of our society and the rich fabric of global culture.
- In local history above all, libraries house unique collections.
Digital technologies will allow such collections - which are largely
paper-based - to be converted into new formats. This will make these
resources more widely accessible, and their availability in digital form
will facilitate the security and conservation of the original, often
inherently valuable, documents.
- In this area, content to be delivered will include:
- unique local collections networked nationally;
- digitised collections of archives such as records of births,
marriages and deaths, and local newspapers;
- digitised collections of maps and photographs of streets, villages,
towns and cities;
- catalogues of local-history libraries across the world;
- catalogues of public record offices;
- visits to virtual social-history exhibitions in museums and
- Services in support of community history will include:
- interactive communications with specialist librarians and archivists;
- use of networked learning packages related to genealogy and family
- access to genealogy research services;
- community publishing of personal stories and local histories;
- the capacity to contact and participate in community history
- e-mail links to newspapers (a common source of information).
The National Digital Library
- Inherent within the capability of networking technologies is the
capacity to reconstitute the visual into the virtual and to deliver it
from its custodial home to the widest community in local libraries - and
indeed elsewhere. The significant collections in public libraries -
photographs, rare books, maps - as well as their sister collections in
museums and galleries, will be converted to create online collections
which are accessible not only to researchers but to all citizens,
supporting cultural awareness and identity.
- More imaginatively, multimedia exhibitions - images, narrative,
background - which can be visited on-screen in local libraries will give
everyone the opportunity for the 'guided tour' as opposed to the
'passive walkabout'. In addition to the value of giving the tax-payer
greater direct access to publicly funded collections, such technology
will also allow the development of new approaches to the visual arts and
their promotion; projected through networks to an international
audience, this will create the ultimate marketing tool in promoting the
UK's cultural heritage to the peoples of the world. This will foster and
support the tourism industry.
- In this area, content to be delivered will include:
- the unique visual and cultural assets of the national libraries;
- the same in regard to the holdings of other significant libraries and
of museums and galleries;
- the ability to bring together related material from separate
- virtual visits to exhibitions and special programmes in museums,
galleries and centres of culture;
- transmissions in video of film, theatre and musical productions;
- digitised collections of archives and record offices;
- interactive learning resources on arts, culture and the media;
- 'what's on' information in the arts and heritage.
- Services in support of the National Digital Library will include:
- informed, guided tours of virtual exhibitions;
- access to supported virtual visits to libraries, records offices,
museums and galleries;
- interactive access to expertise;
- partnership networks with advice and information specialists within
or outside the public library sector.
Developing the libraries' role
- Public libraries have already demonstrated their capacity to guide
beginners in using information and communication technologies and to
help individuals develop their 'computeracy'. The BBC's 'Computers Don't
Bite' campaign has been promoted through and supported by libraries
across the land with both printed information and taster sessions in an
independent anxiety-free environment.
- Integral to public library networking will be provision for
training/learning in the new technology. At an introductory level this
may be provided by library staff, who will encounter the uninitiated on
a daily basis, but learning organisations and private companies will be
enthusiastic to collaborate with library service providers in developing
strategies for public training/learning provision.
- As trusted intermediaries, public libraries can span the present and
the technological future, ensuring no citizen is left behind, providing
a safety net against alienation and social exclusion from technological
advance - a route to universal access and opportunity.
The development of resources for the UK Public Library Network
- Networking public libraries will take the UK's public library system
through a period of substantial change into the new era of the
information society. During the transition years, and for the
foreseeable future in some areas, the demand for books and other
non-networked resources will continue; meanwhile a UK-wide lead and
financial support will be necessary to generate the range of electronic
resources and services which users will expect of their networked local
library. This will involve the following areas of content and service
- commercial publications;
- government and public information;
- new electronic library resources;
- Internet access.
- The range of resources and services envisaged will depend on a
UK-wide initiative involving unprecedented collaboration, planning and
investment, and we recommend that an agency be established to direct and
manage the development process. The agency's role would cover the
- The agency will advise on:
- licensing and purchasing issues in the area of electronic publishing
and acquisition of resources and the networking of those resources
through UK public libraries;
- negotiating agreements and financial transactions;
- service provision - the online mounting of data services.
- This operation alone will require a dedicated team to undertake the
complex and time-consuming negotiations involved in securing agreement
to make commercial resources available on the network.
- A fund of £2 million per year for five years is recommended for
the purchase or licensing of commercially published electronic
resources, supported by a UK consortia purchasing team with salary and
running costs of £300,000 per year.
Government and public information services
- Several pilot projects to develop services in this area have been
undertaken (government.direct, and various projects by
local authorities and regional partnerships), but further development is
needed to continue this process through to the point of delivery. A
development fund of £2 million per year for five years is proposed
to enable this transition to be completed. Subsequently the providers
(government, local authorities, public bodies, etc.) will be responsible
for funding their own networked information and services as such
activity increasingly becomes the norm.
Creating the UK's public library resource
- New electronic resources will have to be developed to deliver the
information, learning and cultural benefits envisaged in the plan. These
will cover areas such as community information; business, economic and
training information; community and family history resources; a UK-wide
enquiries network within libraries; and so on. The agency would
commission the development of such resources from appropriate bodies,
with funding recommended at a level of £30 million over five years.
Again, the future of this process should be reviewed towards the end of
- The National Digital Library envisaged in the plan will depend on the
conversion of special and rare collections into digital format. A major
project to identify and prioritise appropriate collections of items will
be needed; it should look across all sectors to locate opportunities for
partnership with collections in museums, galleries and the national
libraries. Funding of £30 million over five years will be required
to realise the creation of this resource.
Exploiting the Internet
- A range of services will exist to allow library users to discover
both free and commercial resources on the Internet. We recommend that £3
million be provided over the first five years of the programme, to
support public libraries in developing controlled gateways to
high-quality Internet resources in specific subject areas.
A common information framework
- It is important that all development work proceeds within a common
framework of information standards and best practice. The British
Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher
Education Funding Council are investigating the establishment of a
National Agency for Resource Discovery to advise the library community
in this area. A scoping study by David Kay of Fretwell Downing
Informatics Ltd and Professor Peter Brophy of the Centre for Research in
Library and Information Management at the University of Central
Lancashire has been presented to the BL and JISC for their
consideration. We recommend that this agency be supported up to £100,000
per year, so that its work can be extended to assist the development of
networking in UK public libraries.
- In undertaking this work, the agency will need to discuss widely the
creation of content and licensing arrangements, with the library
community and with service and content providers.
|Central purchasing of commercial publications
|UK consortia purchasing team
|Government and public information services
|UK public library resources
|Exploiting the Internet
|Common information framework
|Total per year
Scenario 1 Zahir
learns to read
Zahir is five years old, and his grandmother brings
him to the local library. He enjoys the reading books in school, but he
enjoys even more the stories his grandmother tells him - about growing up
The library has books with lots of pictures and
writing in Punjabi and English telling the same story. Zahir can also use
the touch-screen library computer to see the insides of other books and
choose to read them in English or Punjabi. The reader's voice is friendly,
and Zahir is getting good at guessing the next words and playing the
quizzes there too.
When he has read a book he really enjoys, he races
to the computer to write what he thinks of it. Anyone else looking up that
book can see what he has written. His younger sister speaks her views of
the picture-books she likes, and the computer makes her words appear on
Although Zahir comes to the weekly story-time, he
also enjoys his own story-time on every visit by seeing his favourite
writers reading their own books on videos from the National Centre for
Children's Books at Newcastle. He likes to watch the video of Shirley
Hughes drawing Dogger, the hero of his favourite book when he was four.
There is a special game he plays with his two
friends in which they can use the computer to make up a story of their own
with different endings and then print it out. If they get stuck on a word,
the dictionary helps - sometimes with a picture or a moving image of what
they are trying to describe.
When he brings his books back, the librarian
suggests other books he might enjoy, as the library has a list of all the
ones he has borrowed before and written something good about. He prefers
to choose his own, though, and has enjoyed trying to read a really long
book on dinosaurs. When he brings it back on Sunday afternoon, the lady
gives him a list of stories about dinosaurs - he chooses the ones about
Dilly the Dinosaur, as someone his age who lives in the Punjab thought it
was very good - and she also tells his grandmother about the Dinamites
exhibition that is on this week. His grandmother promises to take him
there, and tells him he can visit it again on the CD-rom in the library.
Scenario 2 Susan
thinks about a career
I'm fourteen years old, and starting to think what I
want to do when I leave school. Looking in my local library for a good
read, I discovered they could help me with careers advice. Through their
computer, I was able to ask about careers in engineering from something
called the National Learning Network. I also got fifteen minutes' free
advice from the Careers Guidance Centre twelve miles away, and I paid for
another half an hour with my smartcard. I found out what qualifications
I'd need and where I could study.
Leeds University looked interesting, so I visited its
Web site and got a virtual tour of the campus, including the low-down on
what it was really like from students there now.
Obviously I wanted to know what I would be likely to
earn, and what the career prospects are like. The business information
librarian helped me to pick out four local companies, and I filled in
their on-screen forms for more information. They e-mailed me their salary
listings and current vacancies straightaway. But do women actually work in
engineering? An e-mail to the Equal Opportunities Commission gave me some
statistics, which I printed out. It seems more and more women are making
it in this field.
The library's video archive had a careers section,
and I watched several high-powered women talking about how they'd got to
where they are today. Then I joined the special-interest bulletin-board
for Women in Engineering at the student rate.
I finished by looking at the online UCAS application
- though it'll be a few more years before I'm ready to fill it in.
Scenario 3 Linda
consults the people
I am a ward councillor for a large rural farming
community. With public-spending constraints, we are faced with tough
For some time, I've used the local library for my
surgeries - I'm always surprised at how many people use it, and I get a
lot of e-mails from there. The library staff are really helpful and
encouraging - especially to older people who find the technology
frightening. Now it seems sensible to move the library into the local
school, to save money. But what will my constituents think?
I've had meetings with community groups at the
library - it's tough going, with very outspoken views. However, I'm well
informed: the library has distributed the leaflet with our proposals, but
also has gathered responses from a write-back form on the Internet, so
I've got a good idea what everyone thinks - and not just the vocal
minority. I can also weight the views of local people; those in other
areas have also commented, but they won't be using the combined facility.
The chief librarian has also been involved, using the video link to answer
people's questions about the proposals directly, and a 'Your questions
answered' file is kept up to date on the library system, so I can see
We conducted an electronic referendum yesterday and
gathered all the votes from my community, who were well informed about the
pros and cons. We go ahead with the combined library and school, and I and
my fellow ward councillors have agreeed to protect Saturday and Sunday
afternoon opening from the savings.
The whole thing has gone so well - I feel confident
we've made the right decision, and that everyone has taken part and
understands the issues and the tough choices. My colleagues in Planning
are impressed, and the chair wants to use the process for a consultation
on a major development in another rural area. He may not get the support
he wants, but at least the response will be more reliable and
comprehensive than just hearing the loudest voices.
Scenario 4 James
expands his business
James Greaves, forty-seven, employs thirty people
making castings for the pumping industry. Aware that his business could be
run better, he goes to the library with a general need for information
about how he might find more customers for his products and how he could
improve his operations.
James finds the librarian really helpful, telling
him about the free help he can get from Business Link, who will assess his
business with him. He makes an appointment with an adviser for next week,
but he wants to make a start now, on his own.
The BBC online self-assessment programme called Fit
for Business is great - really good at showing him his strengths and
weaknesses. He sees the needs to market his products more effectively and
develop his own management skills, and to find out how to export his
products abroad. The BBC Education Web site tells him about the Business
and Work Hour on the BBC2 Learning Zone, especially for SMEs - small and
medium-sized enterprises, which James realises he is.
James samples part of the programme online, and
finds it really interesting to see and hear someone like him talking about
how they reached new markets and whom they contacted to help them. He then
finds the AGORA Web site, coordinated in the UK by the BBC, which links
businesses like his across Europe, and gets the details of some companies
which are likely customers for his products. The librarian suggests that
James look at the DTI site, where he finds useful information on what he
needs to do to export his products to Europe - he'll ask more about that
next week, when he meets the business adviser.
James decides there's much more to learn than he
thought, and he becomes a regular visitor on Saturday afternoons, keeping
up to date to get an edge over his competitors, and using the BBC Alert
database to see what broadcasting is in the pipeline that will be useful
Scenario 5 The Patels
go into computers
Mr Patel has run a successful small
newsagent/supermarket for several years, opening long hours and stocking a
wide range of goods, including lunchtime food for the small but loyal
nearby office community. Three years ago he bought the next-door building
to sell more foods, but there is still some redundant space above the shop
where at present his daughter, Amy, is assembling a mail-order PC that she
bought in component form.
Amy Patel enjoys this, and thinks there could be
scope for a business putting together custom-specification PCs. Her father
agrees that there might be an opportunity - certainly there is no nearby
computer shop - but he is concerned about expanding into new markets. What
are the trends in PC sales? How many custom-assembled PCs are sold against
off-the-shelf systems? What kind of PC sale is more profitable? How and
where could he advertise a PC shop?
On a trip to the library with his grandchildren, he
sees a poster advertising a half-day introduction to the library's
Business Support Service. It's free, so he decides to take off time from
the shop and go. He finds it answers a lot of the questions he had, and he
discovers there's a dial-in service available on subscription, with an
online enquiry service and an easy-to-use gateway to other relevant
information sites - including the access point for the University for
Industry. The cost of his subscription includes a consultation to design a
business development course suited to his exact needs, drawn from courses
across the country.
Dialling in from the planned PC centre above the
shop, the Patels are able to get information at crucial times in their
business planning process. Amy is doing courses on advanced PC
engineering, direct-mail marketing, customer management, and health and
safety. Most of them she does from home, but she enjoys going to the
library for Learning Circle sessions and to pick up additional
information. What particularly impresses the Patels is the contribution to
the courses from people working in industry.
PaTech has now been trading for six months, and Amy
Patel has already had to hire a student to help her process orders.
Scenario 6 Harriet looks
to the future
- by discovering her past
Harriet Hardcastle, fifty-seven, listens to Radio 5
Live and hears about a major Millennium local history project. She's very
interested in the way her town has developed and changed over the years,
and she hears that her library will be the main local centre involved in
When she arrives, the librarian knows all about it and
shows her to a terminal. She has never used a computer, but soon gets the
hang of things. She explores the recent history of the town, looking at
maps and seeing photographs of how it has changed. She picks a photo and
sends it as a Webcard to her daughter in Australia. There is also a school
project, which is fascinating, and she enjoys dipping into the recordings
of people of all ages talking about living in the town then and now.
She is invited to contribute a three-minute recording
into the computer, but she'll do that next time: first she wants to find
out more. When she had typed in her name, a list of other Hardcastles
associated with the town had come up on the screen - one of them a distant
relative killed in action in the First World War.
This is really getting interesting. Using a
combination of original archive materials, including photographs and the
archive footage of programmes about the Great War from the BBC, she traces
the development of the war and finds out about the circumstances that led
to Private Hardcastle's death. The library catalogue shows her there is a
special collection on the Great War at the local university, and she can
use her library card as identification to go there and look at things.
She see some programmes coming up on tracing your
family tree, and discovers she can come to a beginners session at the
library that week, run by the local family history society.
She is fascinated by this local family connection with
world events, and leaves with books on the First World War and some
information she has printed out from the computer, as well as an audiobook
of letters from the trenches. She is inspired to involve her grandchildren
in all this, and sees that the archive of twentieth-century oral history
will be a good beginning - they love listening to stories, and these will
be real ones.
Denham, Debbie (1997). 'Children and IT in public libraries', Youth
Library Review, 23 (spring).
LISC(E) (1995). Library and Information Services Council (England), Investing
in Children: The Future of Library Services for Children and Young People.
Lonsdale, Ray, and Wheatley, Alan (1992). 'The provision of computer
material and services to young people by British public libraries', Journal
of Librarianship, 24(2), June, pp.87-98.
to the people
- In setting out to develop information and communication technologies
in libraries on a large and intensive scale, it is important that
library users' needs and motivations are understood, and also their
perceptions of IT in relation to current library services. It is also
vital that we listen to people's views about our proposals to develop
library services using the new technologies.This chapter therefore
describes the findings of a small-scale qualitative research programme,
conducted in June and July 1997, whose aims and methodology can be found
in Appendix 2.
- A range of experts was consulted to refine the vision of what
libraries might offer, and research was conducted among six key library
user groups, including mid-teens (aged fourteen/fifteen years in a
deprived inner-city location), school-leavers, families with a general
interest in the library, 'lifelong learners', and adults engaged in some
form of part-time study to make a career change or return to work.
Fieldwork was carried out in four different locations, selected to
represent a range of library services: a small local library, a main
central library, a library in a deprived inner-city area, and a rural
- In general, people's starting position was full of goodwill towards
the current service, even though there was dissatisfaction with cutbacks
in opening hours and with spend on bookstocks. A principal concern was
that the introduction of IT could be unrealistic in a regime of tight
- The findings in this section are based on the research analysis which
- The public library embodies the democratic principle of the public's
right to information in whatever form. People are conscious that the use
of IT is fundamental in today's society, and recognise that public
libraries have a role to play in making it accessible to all - to level
the playing-field and provide technology for those who cannot afford to
- With the introduction of IT, there is great potential to stimulate,
educate and inform for both recreational and vocational purposes.
- The greatest value seems to be in the area of education in its widest
sense. There is a tremendous opportunity for libraries to play a greater
role in meeting the needs of schoolchildren and school-leavers and in
supporting lifelong learning. More and more young people undertake
project work. Significant numbers of people fall through the net. Where
do the 3 million self-employed get their training?
The public library could become the natural place for people to turn to
for advice, support and practical training in IT and communication
skills, and could potentially play a significant role in training and
- Bearing in mind the limited scope of this research, the most
motivating applications overall were homework clubs, links to schools,
the idea of the one-stop shop for school-leavers, the library as a
training centre for information and communication skills, and advanced
Although the idea of open learning in a comfortable self-paced way was
appealing, people need first to acquire the basic computer skills to
enable them to do this. Only a few realised the full potential in
developing literacy skills.
Other applications such as access to rare archives had more specific
appeal, but those who responded favourably were very enthusiastic. It
seemed that specialist collections receive little promotion beyond
regional boundaries, and this would need to be addressed.
The value to the community of the library as a local knowledge centre
was understood and thought to be an essential service which could only
improve with the benefits of IT. Suggested links to local government had
limited appeal to the groups surveyed, but it would require a more
substantial study to confirm this finding.
- The networking solution adopted for rural areas could be different
and would require further investigation. Rural communities tend to have
fewer resources available, so there is more incentive to use the new
services - either remotely from home or from convenient village access
points. Recreational reading is enormously significant, and facilities
such as renewing books by remote access, making requests, and possibly
having books sent to you would be a big improvement in the service.
- The convenience of opening hours needs to be addressed from the
users' point of view. If the intention is to provide a service to
maximise use and further recreational and vocational learning, the
library needs to be open during evenings, weekends and lunch-times, so
that all can benefit from the service.
- Networking should not be restricted to national boundaries: people
realise that we are in a world information environment and that it is
essential to be part of the global network, otherwise we will get left
- The public library is an important focal point in the community.
There is a feeling that its position has been eroded, that it does not
currently present a compelling reason to go there and that it is lagging
behind the times rather than moving ahead. Though there is a tremendous
amount of goodwill for the public library service among users, there is
a significant opportunity to revitalise libraries, stimulate greater
usage, broaden the appeal, and make a big difference in people's lives.
- New technology and networked libraries are essential if libraries are
to gain status in the new world of networked information, knowledge and
learning. IT could be a big step forward in encouraging learning -
making it seem more fun and motivating, especially to those who
currently feel that libraries are not for them.
- People really value the quiet learning space provided by the library
at the moment, and any development needs to be complementary to this.
There were some indications from our research that new uses would add
value to the library in an exciting way, but that they would require
separate spaces. How the new technology should be integrated to maintain
important library values will need to be taken into account and
- The future of librarians will be to enable and facilitate. The
overall purpose of the job will be essentially the same, but the skills
needed will be different. Librarians will have to think about their
role, management skills, delivering services and 'customer care', and
this may require a cultural shift in attitude for some. More librarians
have to come out from behind the desk and be more outward-going.
- Most people had a narrow view of the total range of services offered
by public libraries. This was particularly true of people who accessed
books and information from other sources. This indicates a need to use
higher-profile marketing of the public library service, to show what's
on offer and to encourage broader use and access for the widest possible
range of people.
- Whether the service is free or could be charged for is an issue that
will need further examination. Libraries already make charges for some
things, and most people do accept this.
- When designing new services, librarians will need to understand in
more detail how far people are prepared to travel for particular uses.
In this study we found that specialised resources which are
self-evidently more costly were not expected to be available in every
- There will be some people who do not want IT to displace what they
value in libraries and would rather have better bookstock and a more
comfortable reading space. For these people it is especially important
to preserve the library atmosphere and the large-scale presence of
books, and to house any of the advanced services in a separate space.
- The experts we talked to who represented small businesses felt that
libraries potentially present an opportunity to be at the heart of
partnerships with the private sector. This area was outside the remit of
this study, but is a very important one in terms of service packaging,
marketing and financing, and will need thorough examination.
Overall reaction to IT development in public libraries
- The overall reaction was as follows:
- The development of IT in public libraries was regarded as essential
if libraries are to play an integral role in the new world of networked
information, knowledge and learning.
- Respondents were impressed by what the information technology network
could potentially deliver, and a large majority reacted very favourably.
- The most enthusiastic were the better informed - aware of the
Internet capabilities, and conscious of the fact that, if libraries did
not go ahead with public library networking and be part of the global
network, they would get left behind.
- The applications of networking libraries that aroused most enthusiasm
tended to concern education and support for lifelong learning, while
levelling the playing-field for those unlikely to be able to afford to
buy the new technology themselves.
- People perceived the library as the natural place for self-learning
and training in appropriate skills.
- The librarian was seen to have an important role to play in helping
and coaching people in IT. The presence of the librarian was also
necessary to maintain a 'human feel' - especially to encourage those
people with 'techno-fear', worried about the 'coldness' and
inaccessibility of IT.
- Access to the world's information bank was seen to be necessary but
was not a primary driver. Most needs were already fulfilled by the local
library bookstock and an occasional special request or visit to a main
central library. A more tangible benefit was having immediate access to
information when all relevant books were on loan.
- More advanced services, such as videoconferencing and virtual
reality, were especially appealing to the young audiences, and were
acceptable as long as the ideas were information- or
communication-related. The possibility of videoconference links created
- The people who did have possibilities of access from home were very
receptive to the idea of using services remotely.
- Most people felt quite strongly that development should not be at the
expense of the things that make a library special.
- A minority was slightly turned off by the concept of IT making
greater inroads into peoples' lives generally. This minority tended to
be older, enjoyed libraries the way they are, and simply wanted the
future to invest in more bookstock, longer opening hours and a few more
comfortable chairs. However, they did recognise the value of IT in
libraries as an investment for the future of younger generations.
- In the rural user group, the women with the greatest interest in
networked libraries were those who had children doing homework projects.
Meeting the needs of children
- Specific educational benefits of IT were welcomed with considerable
enthusiasm among both parents and children.
- Homework clubs with IT facilities were thought to be a
brilliant idea. The reasons given were:
- IT would motivate children and give them practise in essential
computer skills and other new technology;
- the library network would also ensure access to a wide choice of
relevant and interesting references for children's project work;
- the children would be less distracted in a library environment and be
able to concentrate more;
- help and guidance would be on hand, if needed.
- Links to schools were also felt to be a good idea - mostly
because schools' resources were thought to be limited and such links
would provide valuable support. Use for parent communication with the
school was of interest only among a minority; it was generally felt that
a direct link with schools would not be practical and could potentially
take up valuable time of teaching staff already under pressure. However,
mothers did feel it would be a good idea to have access to the national
- Women in the rural user group with children doing homework projects,
showed great interest in networked libraries and were very enthusiastic
about the idea of being able to remotely access information from home or
at a convenient access point.
Meeting the needs of school-leavers
- IT was perceived to be particularly beneficial to this age group. Not
surprisingly, they were particularly motivated by the concept which
Easy and fast access to a complete up-to-the minute picture on
- careers advice
- training opportunities
- FE, HE places
- company information
and at the same time be able to find out how to write a CV and practise
for an interview on a CD-rom.
- User suggestions:
'Real insight into courses and universities: town, campus, student
'Could catalogue people's opinions about the courses, and what the
college is really like. That would be very useful.'
- This age group especially welcomed the idea of an established base
where you could learn and use new information technology, including more
- Remote access from home was mentioned by this group as a potential
additional benefit, for those times when the library was closed or when
there was no need to use any of the other services.
Supporting lifelong learning
- People we talked to who were participating in any kind of lifelong
learning already used the public library for that purpose. The library
was regarded as a good place to go to pursue self-education with more
personal goals, or leisure interests and hobbies. Primarily it provided
a quiet study space and reference materials that people could use in
their own time - provided the library was open. Longer opening hours
were obviously a particular issue here.
- The majority thought that IT skills were necessary in a world in
which technology-based employment is growing, and some had already taken
steps to acquire these skills through public libraries. Others showed
enthusiasm at the possibility of acquiring these skills at the library.
- The concept of open learning in a library environment was
appealing to many, though a minority felt they would personally prefer
to have the greater social interaction from attending a course. The
greatest barrier for some would initially be that they would need to
acquire basic computer skills and to overcome some kind of 'techno-fear'
in order to do this.
- A few more socially minded females recognised the value in
encouraging literacy among people disadvantaged by a culture/language
who they felt would be less likely to enrol into formal education.
Meeting the needs of the community
- The library was already used as a local knowledge centre by
some, though it was recognised that IT could potentially significantly
improve that service and provide a way to be better informed about what
was going on in an area - either local or remote, if you were planning a
trip. People showed considerable interest in using such a service.
- Local history and culture archives had been used from time to
time, mainly for assistance in school project work, and were thought to
be an essential library resource, though IT applications in this area
were found to be of limited interest.
- Providing links to local government received a mixed
response. Some felt in principle it was a good idea but were doubtful
about how effective it would be. Women who seemed most likely to
participate actively in local government matters were the least
interested in this application of IT:
'Don't believe that local community action would really work.'
'Would my point really be heard on a computer? You can ignore a
computer - you can't ignore a person.'
Training centre for information and communication skills
- Reactions to the potential use of the library as a training centre
depended to a large extent on the subject-matter. People wanted what was
on offer to be complementary to how they perceived the role of the
library. Training connected to information and communication skills
received an enthusiastic response and fitted with their perceptions. The
advantages were that it would bring people into the library who could
not go to college.
- Basic computer skills training was particularly appealing,
though it seemed more appropriate for adults than for younger groups,
who were already taught such skills at school. The idea of an
introductory session to the Internet created strong interest in all
- Centres where people could improve interpersonal communication
skills generated interest and appeal across all groups, and overall
the library was felt to be an appropriate place to house them. People
responded favourably to the idea of improving communication skills
through subject-matter they were interested in. Not surprisingly,
guidance on interview techniques was of particular interest among
A place to try out new learning experiences
- The opportunities presented by videoconference links had
broad appeal. As well as education-related use, the most relevant
general application was as a way to access support groups in health
matters. The relevance of the subject-matter would encourage people to
use unfamiliar technology and to acquire basic skills.
- The idea of shared learning experiences through this channel had
mixed appeal. The prospect of being able to 'attend' a lecture or
consult an expert remotely was very motivating for a few, though the
majority of the people we talked to were uninterested in this
possibility. Learning a language was of interest to a few, as was the
benefit of being able to have a tutorial if doing a correspondence
- Access to advanced services, such as virtual reality, was
especially motivating for younger male audiences, who were very
enthusiastic at the prospect and thought it appropriate as long as the
ideas were information- or communication-related. It was seen as a way
for the library to move ahead and provide a unique service in allowing
people to try out and use the latest new technology. Moreover, this
group saw the library as the natural place where this could happen in
'If the library doesn't offer it, who will?'
- Security aspects were a concern across several of the groups. Worries
were expressed about vandalism, and about 'dealing with kids
Access to rare archives
- The idea of being able to delve into 'rare hidden collections' had
mixed appeal. Some were very enthusiastic, especially about the idea of
being able to visit a museum or exhibition. Many were indifferent, and
the males especially were more excited by the possibilities of being
able to access moving images such as sporting archives or news bulletin
Issues for users in introduction
and use of IT
Issue: Achieving the right balance
- People were passionate about books, about being surrounded by books
in peace and quiet, able to browse and find the unexpected - all
important library values people do not want to lose. There was a strong
concern expressed that 'once IT gets a foot in the door it could take
over' at the expense of the bookstock and the 'good values' of the
'Nothing's going to stop new technology, but don't go too far.'
'IT mustn't take over from the books but bring the library into the
'Worried that through technology the library will change and that
books might eventually disappear. Must retain the value of the library.
Issue: Will it be free?
- Keeping the service free was really important for many:
'The second you have to pay, you're putting it in a different
'If it isn't free, the people who couldn't afford to pay would be
- Mixed views were expressed regarding the acceptability of charges.
Young people were more prepared to pay for services generally. Many felt
that it would be acceptable to charge for some services, and compared
this to the charges now made for ordering a book, while others felt
quite strongly that all services ought to be free. There was a general
consensus that initial trial of IT services, and basic instruction,
should be free. Access from home was seen as a convenience for the
slightly 'better off' who had their own equipment, and as such could be
more acceptably charged for.
Issue: Having enough terminals
- The demand for IT in libraries was further evidenced by the issue
raised regarding the number of terminals required to provide an adequate
'Would you ever get enough terminals? How would you get on them?'
- Apart from the funding aspect - which raised some concerns - people
reacted negatively to the thought of banks of terminals, which they felt
could be intimidating. If the number of terminals was limited, people
accepted that some rationing/booking system would be necessary, to give
everyone a chance to use them.
- Other concerns were mentioned at a low level, but are worth noting:
- 'The introduction of new technology nearly always sees a
reduction in staff. For an effective service, more staff would be
needed: librarians to help and coach in skills, and technicians for when
the computers crash.'
- 'Techno-fear' was evident among some - especially women. Despite some
of them using computers at work, they did not seem confident about using
them in other situations. The role of the librarian in encouraging and
coaching will be vital with this group.
3 Skills for the
- A comprehensive training initiative in information and communication
technology (ICT) for the public library sector will be seen as an
important component of the government's plan to foster a learning
society. There will be a considerable impact as a result of reskilling a
large group of people who come into contact with over half the
population, including all ages and social classes. By building on the
skills and commitment of public library staff, the government has the
chance to develop a high-quality training initiative that will enable
the public to understand and exploit the potential of ICT in daily life.
- Public library services across the UK have a strong tradition of
accessibility, combined with helpful and proactive service delivery. The
60 per cent growth in the number and complexity of enquiries made to the
public library over the last ten years (CIPFA, 1986-) illustrates the
public's growing expectation and confidence that library staff are able
to help them to access and interpret information from a variety of
- Public library staff already have many of the communication and
customer- care skills which underpin high-quality public service
delivery. These skills, and librarians' status as 'honest brokers',
clearly make a strong base from which to build the skills for working
with a growing diversity of material - including both print and
electronic formats, from both global and local sources - that the
information society will bring. The additional skills which staff will
need in order to offer services using the UK Public Library Network can
be integrated into a sound model of education and public service. This
makes a UK-wide training and development initiative for this sector a
- A UK-wide training initiative must ensure that public library staff
are ready to meet the challenges of their new role. In addition to
anticipating and meeting the public's demand for access and
interpretation of a wider variety of information material, library staff
will be expected to add value and create new content that will be
relevant in daily living and learning. People - especially new users -
will rely on library staff to support them in exploiting the potential
of networks for increased community communication and for interactive
links with government and public services.
- The aspirations surrounding the emerging technologies in other
countries are outlined in Appendix 1. There is a widely held view that
librarians will play a significant role in helping users adapt to and
embrace ICTs in their daily lives. A European perspective on this role
is cited in the European Commission report Public Libraries and the
The two main aspects in the professional discussion focus on the new
roles of libraries and the changes required in order to arrive at a future
oriented curriculum. The study has analysed roles such as
- Net navigator
- IT gatekeeper
- Information consultant
- Information manager
- The educator
The study has identified some new, emerging 'roles ... and professional
conditions for improved services taking into account experiences such as
information overload leading to the demand for more selection thereby
forcing public libraries to work in closer cooperation with users and
their needs'. (Thorhauge et al., 1997)
- The introduction of the UK Public Library Network will thus have a
profound impact on the operation and management of the library service.
As with all organisational change programmes, the 'people factor' will
be one of the most significant issues in ensuring success, and with such
a large-scale project a comprehensive and focused training and
development programme will be essential to provide rapid enhancement of
services to the public.
The need for investment in training
- There are over 27,000 employees in the public library sector, of whom
26 per cent are professionals and 74 per cent support staff (LISU,
1997). Staff at all levels - whether functioning as strategic managers,
middle managers or service-delivery staff - will need an understanding
of the current and future impact of networked information provision, and
the skills to apply this understanding. Research shows that the extent
of Internet and other networked information provision is minimal in
public libraries at present (estimated at less than 3 per cent of
libraries) and very little ICT training is thus actually in place, but
most library authorities* do recognise the need for Internet and ICT
training for their staff if they are to realise their potential role in
the twenty-first century (Stone, 1997).
(*The term 'library authority' is used in this report to
refer to the various statutory bodies responsible for public library
services in the UK, being local authorities in England, Wales and
Scotland, and, in Northern Ireland, the five Education and Library Boards
under the Department of Education, Northern Ireland.)
- A UK-wide programme of ICT training for all library staff will
require a considerable investment over and above current training
provision. This need for large-scale investment in skills development in
public libraries has been recognised elsewhere. Bill and Melinda Gates
have formed the Gates Library Foundation, which is providing $200
million in cash and $200 million in software to public libraries in
low-income communities throughout the USA and Canada, to support
Internet access and to provide support and training for librarians and
library staff (ALA, 1997).
- There is much to learn here from other UK public-service sectors that
have introduced systemic technological and culture change. Within higher
education, the impact of information and communication technologies has
led to significant changes in many learning environments, and successful
implementation of ICT developments has been shown to depend on clear
direction, critical investment appraisal, and skilled, motivated staff.
The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education
Funding Council has encouraged universities to pay particular attention
to training and development issues, and ICT training programmes have
been set up for all staff - including vice-chancellors, academic staff,
librarians and ICT professionals. In the JISC's current five-year
strategy, training and development form a major part of the
implementation plan, with the need for both local and nationally
organised programmes being emphasised (JISC, 1996b).
- The JISC set up the Electronic Libraries (eLib) programme to bring
about pragmatic technology and communications solutions to improve the
range and quality of HE library services in the electronic age.
Upgrading the skills of the librarians who implement, manage and support
the immense variety of constantly developing services is an essential
component of the investment strategy. eLib national training programmes
cover culture change, applying ICT to enhance work quality, network
skills, networked information resources, and training the trainer (JISC,
- The NHS has also recognised the need for national training
initiatives to support major cultural and organisational change. In the
last five years, the NHS not only has introduced a national initiative
to improve clinical effectiveness through production and dissemination
of systematic reviews of research but has also implemented a national
ICT network, NHSnet. Both changes have been supported with investment in
national training programmes, some of which lead to new national
qualifications such as the Master's degree in Evidence-based Medicine
and the professional qualification for NHS information management and
technology staff. The role of NHS librarians as active participants in
change management - both as drivers towards a knowledge-based and
technology-based NHS and as consumers and providers of training in
finding and appraising resources on the Internet and the NHSnet - has
been recognised and financially supported (Palmer and Streatfield,
- In a project introducing ICT skills training for teaching staff, the
Bristol Education Online Network found that, despite previous experience
with use of IT in their work, and short-term intensive training,
teachers' confidence in their ICT skills remained low, and that further
expert guidance was needed for them to understand how to use ICT to meet
the needs of students and how best to guide them in the use of the
system. The budget estimate for training and learning support activities
in this project was £1,600 per member of staff trained.
- Other examples of national training initiatives include the training
of 35,000 Camelot Lottery operators, which is estimated to have cost £1
million, and the training of 85,000 Post Office staff, which cost £30
- It is clear from these examples that significant and long-term
investment in ICT training is already evident in other public sectors
and will be needed in the public library sector. The exact level of
investment will be determined only through a comprehensive survey of
current ICT training and a detailed training needs analysis; however,
the following sections offer a description of the design and
implementation of a UK-wide ICT training initiative for public library
staff, with indicative costs.
The elements of a training initiative
- The training and development activities required to support a
successful programme of managing change on the enormous scale
anticipated here must address three key areas:
- It will be necessary to:
- understand the culture, values and aims of the government, the
library authority and the public;
- understand the relevance of the UK Public Library Network to
advancing these principles;
- steer the public library to maximise its potential to understand and
meet the requirements of the individual and the community.
- It will be necessary to:
- implement this strategy to meet the specific requirements of the
local authority, particular user groups and individuals;
- enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of front- and back-office
systems and activities;
- improve the quality of the working environment.
- In the very broadest sense, it will be necessary to maintain and
develop the UK Public Library Network to:
- meet changing demands;
- anticipate the impact of competing pressures and partnership
- influence the forces for change in the light of external
- These key areas affect all staff working in public libraries, whether
they are generally regarded as strategic managers, operational managers,
technical support or service-delivery staff. For example, the chief
librarian, the network manager and the library assistant will all
require technical training, but they will also need to understand the
strategic implications of the network for the responsibilities within
their particular span of control.
- The educational outputs that would be expected from a training
initiative for all 27,000 public library staff in the UK are as follows:
- all staff trained in the concepts of the UK Public Library Network
and its likely impact upon each of their specific roles;
- all staff understand the magnitude of the change programme upon which
they are embarking;
- all staff acquire new ICT skills that meet UK Public Library Network
competence levels, and can apply these skills to all relevant aspects of
- all staff are formally assessed on these skills as part of their
learning programme, and have an up-to-date record of learning
- To ground this in reality, the new ICT-based skills that staff will
need to deploy in providing services to members of the public are
illustrated in the following scenarios drawn from those used in Chapter
1. In these scenarios, the activities shown in green
have always been core skills but now have an ICT element, and those
shown in red are completely new skills
which the networked environment requires.
Susan thinks about a career
- While the librarian is already skilled in defining the woman's
information needs, she will now have a
knowledge of electronic resources to draw
on in answering questions. She will show the woman how to
use the Internet and
issue her with an e-mail address, having
first made the necessary security checks.
The librarian has designed the Web interface
to be particularly useful for local members of
the public, and has mounted a news page
for students, including useful hypertext links.
- Earlier today she installed a new printer
and loaded the local software after
liaising with the help desk. She also ran
her weekly monitor of the performance of the
site library server and checked the
automated backup routine.
- Technical staff are working behind the scenes to
implement the local wide area network links,
gateway access to the metropolitan area network and the UK Public
Library Network and to monitor network
performance. Network management tools have
been installed, as has remote
troubleshooting software for local server diagnosis. The
firewall server has been installed, and
security reports have been developed in line
with national standards.
- Staff are installing and maintaining new kit
as they build the local network infrastructure,
in line with the project plan. The
new Web server has been installed.
Telecomms links are being run through the
local metropolitan area network. Staff
have set up a system for smartcard management.
The e-mail database is now automatically
- Library managers have been marketing
the new electronic services, building on
contact with the local schools. They have
set in place a systems design and development
methodology. Overall implementation has depended on
project management skills. The electronic
resources available have caused managers to
review their investment appraisal model and enabled a
purchasing consortium to negotiate competitive
rates from suppliers. A network security
policy has been introduced, together with an agreed
Charging mechanisms have been established
using smartcard technology. There is a
new collection management and digital archive
policy. New performance indicators have
Zahir learns to read
- The librarian defines the child's needs
and then identifies helpful resources,
including electronic books. The
design of the children's Web interface
works well. However, there is also a useful range of help guides. The
librarian demonstrates the use of the Internet
and the local help screen that is
available in several languages. The
purchase of relevant image sources
complements the service well. The librarian's knowledge of the
word processing and e-mail packages is
put to the test.
- Technical staff have implemented the local
gateway access and the library's new ICT
security policy. An Internet screening
service is in place to ensure children do not have access to
inappropriate material. Special kit has been
installed to make the system easy for children.
New image bases have been mounted on the network
in a way that does not degrade overall network performance.
Server space allocations are being reviewed,
and automated 'clear out' programs are run.
Links with the library management system
are now in place.
- The new services have caused the chief librarian to
review the building services management and
investment strategy, the definition of investment
priorities, the equal opportunities
policy, and the health and safety policy.
Financial and technical analysis of the
implications of the cost of bandwidth and of storage costs has
led to modification of the network. Serious consideration is being given
to moving to networked computers. A new
policy on video and images archiving has
been implemented, as has a programme to audit the library's
compliance with copyright and intellectual
The Patels go into computers
- The librarian defines the business need
and, via an electronic information gateway,
evaluates the information resources available, and runs a
brief training session in using the Internet
and downloading data into a word processing and
spreadsheet package. Links with other
local business providers are already in place, but
smartcard services have helped members of
the public access their services directly. Providing
training courses on the use of business information and guiding people
to FE and HE colleges is welcomed.
- The technical staff have set up the network
in such a way that dial-in access is
possible. Considerable work has been done to ensure
national and international standards are
followed, making the current project to
integrate telecommunications and network support less problematic
than might be.
- The library manager is pleased that the marketing
strategy is successful, and that there are active
contacts with the local business community. A new
pricing policy has been developed for
services. The legal implications of
information provision have led to a legal disclaimer being introduced.
The negotiations with the telecommunications
providers to support dial-in links between the library and home
businesses have been successful.
Implementing a training initiative for public libraries
- The sketches above give a broad overview of the range of training
needs to be addressed in implementing the UK Public Library Network.
Clearly, they are not specific to one library but are relevant to the
whole public library sector. Some library authorities have introduced
programmes which address some of these learning needs, but few have the
financial resources, telecommunications equipment or skilled staff to
contemplate running by themselves the training programme needed to
support the changes to service provision.
- The key issues surrounding the development and delivery of a
structured ICT training to all 27,000 public library staff are:
- how such training is to be accomplished, on a large scale and over a
- the extent to which existing training courses, resources and packages
- the design and production of new generic materials and courses;
- the capacity of local training agencies to tailor generic resources
and develop resources of their own.
- Where conceptual and structural issues are concerned, training
resources will be provided most cost-effectively at a regional or
UK-wide level. Trainees will then share the wider range of experiences
of a national cohort and will develop a common conceptual understanding
that will make for greater cooperation and collaboration - an important
element in organisational change of this magnitude. However, local
training is also essential in those aspects of networking that affect
the routine part of a job, and all training - at whatever level it is
managed - must be capable of being delivered in the workplace.
- Flexibility in implementation is thus important. A UK-wide training
initiative should be delivered in such a way as to ensure consistency
yet respect local autonomy, and should enable members of the network to
benefit from national and regional approaches and from assessment of
learning within recognised qualification structures in partnership with
accredited training bodies.
- A variety of training approaches must be adopted, ranging from
flexible learning using distance-learning packages, through to formal
classroom activity. Much learning can be provided through routine
coaching, or can be cost-effectively delivered through cascade
approaches to training, by which the trainee becomes a trainer, training
many others. This will also create a de facto UK-wide network of
trainers. Some of the resources required for this training programme may
be available from national library and information training providers,
but it is likely that much will also have to be developed specifically
for the UK Public Library Network and be tailored to meet local needs.
- It is essential that a training initiative of this magnitude is well
managed, and that the right balance is achieved in local, regional and
national delivery. The Public Library Networking Agency must develop an
overarching UK-wide training framework to ensure that:
- library authorities have the practical support of a formal body
tasked with a partnership approach to training and development to
deliver much needed resources;
- formal structures are developed to report on training outputs, both
in terms of direct performance indicators and also as a component of
project evaluation and value-for-money analyses;
- training activities are devised and implemented in parallel with
technological and service changes, and financial plans for technical
innovations always include training costs;
- training activity is linked to accredited training structures and is
accredited to recognised standards - for example, specified as Scottish
and National Vocational Qualifications (S/NVQ) competences, or
undergraduate and postgraduate degree course learning outcomes;
- resources are not duplicated, and delivery is undertaken in a
- programmes to ensure the continued and continuous development of
staff are put in place.
- Under the umbrella of this UK-wide framework within which library
authorities will exploit shared resources to meet local requirements
there will be several components:
- At UK level:
- Over a five-year period, the Public Library Networking Agency will
implement an ICT training programme which will include:
- UK-wide coordination and articulation of training needs;
- specification of core competences, training targets and
- reports on training outputs, in terms of direct performance
indicators, project evaluation, and value-for-money analyses.
- The agency will commission training initiatives from
local/regional/UK training providers who will run training activities,
produce learning materials, and manage assessment and accreditation
processes to specification. Initially the emphasis will be on using many
of the learning resources already available, but eventually new
resources will be developed which emphasise learner flexibility and can
be readily tailored to local requirements.
- UK-wide and regional training will particularly focus on anticipated
changes, strategic skills development, project management, areas where
standards or complex systems interfaces are important, and specialist
ICT networking and telecommunications skills.
- A competence S/NVQ type approach will be adopted, to provide a
commonly recognised framework for training. It will be sufficiently
flexible to ensure local training priorities remain paramount. Non-S/NVQ
training may also be accredited through the quality assurance systems
managed by higher and further education or by professional providers. At
the higher levels, where S/NVQs may not be appropriate, credit rating of
undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications may be more appropriate.
The role of the British Association of Information and Library Educators
and Researchers (BAILER) will be important in this, as will the British
Computer Society and the Library Association.
- At the local level and regional level:
- Local and regional initiatives will cover most of the training
output. Tailoring and delivery of core learning materials produced
centrally will take place to enable local managers to address particular
service and strategic objectives. It is expected that many of the local
library and information service providers will also generate their own
- An important element in implementation of the training programme will
be cooperative and collaborative initiatives at regional level, such as
cascade training consortia. Sharing of expertise and planning joint
ventures will be accomplished through a regular series of seminars and
- Training programmes will be quality-assured using favoured
organisational methods. Examples include integration within
organisational Investors in People programmes, and kitemarking of
service providers by TECs.
- As mentioned earlier in this chapter, it is difficult to specify
accurately the costs of implementing this training framework without
further needs analysis and mapping exercises, but it is proposed that an
average of £2.8 million be spent each year for five years on the
development, delivery and accreditation of ICT training resources. In
addition, commissioning the development, delivery and accreditation of
this training programme and monitoring the relevant contracts which are
the responsibility of the Public Library Networking Agency will have
associated costs estimated at £200,000 per year for five years for
staff and overheads, creating a total cost of £3.0 million per year
for five years.
- It is estimated that every public library employee will require an
average of five days' formal training in each of the first two years of
network implementation, with three days of formal training in Year 3 and
1.5 days training per year thereafter. Exact timings will depend upon
the project implementation schedule, but it will be important and not
impossible to achieve the widest distribution possible of ICT skills
early on in the implementation of the network. This totals 135,000
training days for the first two years of network implementation, 81,000
days in the third year, falling to 40,500 training days per annum for
the entire sector in subsequent years.
- In addition to formal training, staff will be expected to be involved
in independent, self-managed study time to further develop their skills
in the relevant areas. An annual commitment of five days per employee is
- It will be very important to ensure that staff are able to have time
away from their normal duties for both formal and informal ICT training.
The Bristol pilot project involving ICT training for teachers showed
that it is critical for confidence and skill-building to have sufficient
time to practise the new skills on an appropriate system, with support
when required. Obviously, with library-wide training required, services
to the public could be totally disrupted if funding is not found to
cover some staff-release costs. It is proposed that funding is required
to match at least 50 per cent of training release costs; this is
estimated at an average of £2 million per year for five years.
- It will also be important forat local and regional level to share
experiences and to develop collaborative approaches to sustained
training and development. An incentive scheme of £300,000 per annum
should be established for regional and local cooperative training
ventures such as videoconferences, seminars, cascade training schemes,
- The total investment over five years for a UK-wide programme to
develop, delivery and accredit training to 27,000 public library staff
is £15 million - plus £11.5 million to cover regional
cooperation and 50 per cent of staff-release costs. Library authorities
would be expected to cover the other 50 per cent of training release
costs. This is additional to current library authority spending on
training, but is a modest and cost-effective investment (less than £1,000
per employee over five years) in comparison to other national training
initiatives and in terms of the benefits which will be passed on to the
58 per cent of the population who currently use public libraries.
- Investment in the training of librarians creates a human resource
with talents that benefit all sections of the community. The skilled new
librarian will be confident in providing enlightened support in
navigating the information maze, advocating accessible routes to
learning for all, and welcoming all citizens into the people's network.
ALA (1997). 'Bill and Melinda Gates establish library foundation to
give $400 million to libraries'. ALA News Releases, 2(30), June.
CIPFA (1986-). Public Library Statistics: Actuals. London: CIPFA.
JISC (1996a). Electronic Libraries Programme, 3rd edn. Bristol:
JISC (1996b). Five Year Strategy 1996-2001. Bristol: JISC.
LISU (1997). Library Information Statistics Tables for the United
Kingdom. Loughborough: LISU.
Stone, P. (1997). Project EARL(Electronic Access to Resources in
Libraries): Networking for Public Libraries' Information and Resource
Sharing Services via the Internet. Final report. London: BLRIC.
Palmer, J., and Streatfield, D. (1995), 'Good diagnosis for the
twenty-first century', Library Association Record, 97, pp. 153-4.
Thorhauge, Jens, Larsen, Gitte, Thun, Hans-Peter, and Albrechtsen, Hanne
(1997). Public Libraries and the Information Society: Study on behalf
of the European Commission DG-XIII/E/4 Prolib/PLIS 10340. Draft final
report. Luxembourg: European Commission.
4 The network
- This chapter examines how and at what cost an infrastructure can be
created to meet the vision of the networked library service of the
twenty-first century. These are preliminary views - within the very
tight time-scale of this report - and there is still work to be done
once these proposals have been adopted in principle by government.
- The infrastructure has been considered at local and UK-wide levels,
and recommendations cover the provision of networks, hardware for users,
management and coordination issues.
- The implementation of a technology infrastructure should be fully
integrated with the creation of content that people will want to use,
with the National Grid for Learning, with training and development
programmes inside the library service, and with coaching programmes for
users. The funding proposals presented here attempt to provide the means
for such an holistic approach to implementation.
- These proposals provide the means to encourage innovation across the
library networks. When implemented, they will make networked information
and learning resources available to every UK citizen in all communities,
linking individual learners - adults and children - and their teachers
to a panoply of institutions and organisations. At the same time this
network can make UK public libraries' services available worldwide, and
give UK citizens access to global information sources.
- The chapter gives a summary of recommendations; an examination of the
network requirements both locally and for the UK (the bulk of the
discussion); the recommendations in more detail and the reasons behind
them; a discussion of the factors involved in implementation; funding
and management recommendations; and finally a section on costs.
Summary of recommendations
- The objective is to create a network infrastructure that will enable
a step change in the way the public library service operates. The
service has to be made easy to use, attractive to use, and accessible in
all communities. The proposals should encourage innovation and
sustainable continuous improvement.
- This chapter sets out to scope the requirements but not to present
them in detail. That is for the next stage. There are more than 4,700
fixed and around 700 mobile libraries; there are also over 19,000
service points - mainly unstaffed - in hospitals, prisons and community
locations. All of them should be well equipped, so that all users in all
places get ready access to the best networked library available.
- People should see that these facilities are readily available to
them, so the smallest library should have three or four multimedia
terminals for users, plus terminal(s) for librarians' use. The largest
libraries will need forty or more terminals for users, plus those for
librarians'. If we estimate that an additional 40,000 terminals are
required - together with printers, other ancillary equipment and
installation on a suitable LAN (local area network) - then a spend of
around £120 million is likely.
- Maintenance and upgrading also need to be funded. In practice it is
proposed that funding be made available on a flexible basis to cover
hardware provision, training and other requirements according to local
circumstances - see below.
- To ensure people have fast access to networked services, every
library should be connected by ISDN (Integrated Services Digital
Network) where available. Where this is not currently possible, a
negotiation with the network providers will be required to plan and
agree the provision and financing. As the number of terminals and user
sessions increases, higher bandwidths will be required. Sufficient
bandwidth (i.e. capacity) will be required to deliver distance learning
and real-time interactive visual services, as applications become
- The whole of the system should be linked by a UK-wide network that
ensures that individuals in any area can enter into and interact with
resources and learning programmes available outside their immediate
- Technology is available to help do all this, but the best, most
advanced and highest capacity is not available everywhere. As a start,
the core requirements for information and learning can be delivered
everywhere, and it will be possible to go beyond this in many places.
Main sites in all authorities can be connected to the proposed UK-wide
network. Within authorities, technical and cost constraints will prevent
all of the requirements being delivered to every single place from the
start - it should be possible to reach all locations as the project
continues. Right from the start, funding and contractual arrangements
should be created that enable remoter places to have services otherwise
- The costs of the network technology are difficult to estimate at this
stage, before a full audit and design study. In round terms, a gross
budget of £36 million is proposed for connections and £48
million annual rentals should be made available for local library
systems. This would provide for a mix of network capabilities designed
to fit local requirements. A budget of around £10 million for
connection and £36 million annual rentals for UK networking would
also be required. This budget envelope includes an allowance for full
- We have examined some individual operating costs and ICT investment
proposals as a guide. However, exact figures will arise from the
detailed audit recommended elsewhere in this report.
- The overall investment can be related to the current ICT spend for
public libraries. Replacement and new projects capital costs for IT in
the library services of England, Wales and Northern Ireland were
reported as £7.6 million in 1996/97 (Information for All, 1996). In
1995 IT expenditure for all libraries in the UK during 1994/95 was
reported as approximately £20 million (CIPFA, 1995).
- A detailed implementation plan will need to account for the systems
library authorities already have in place or are developing, and some of
the above costs will be offset by these. There is scope to share the
costs of the local infrastructure between local and central government.
- For local networking, an important point to consider is the
possibility of libraries being connected into a local branch of an
education network such as that being considered by government.
- An ICT project of this scale will also create opportunities for
efficiency savings, as well as new revenue-earning services, including
payment from central government for the delivery of electronic services.
- It is proposed that the network should consists of two main
- the library authority networks;
- the UK Public Library Network.
The library authority networks
- The objective here is to assist library authorities to continue to
develop their networks with maximum flexibility, responsiveness to local
needs, and sensitivity to existing infrastructure.
- It is proposed that library authorities should be assisted with
funding which could be bid for according to agreed criteria and could
cover the cost of:
- Web sites/servers;
- special needs;
- convenient and extended opening hours.
- Allowing a choice of how funds are allocated between these areas
would ensure local flexibility and sensitivity.
- There should be minimum standards of connectivity for all locations,
- fast connection to the Internet;
- interactive sessions using videoconferencing and multimedia tools
with locations inside and outside the libraries network.
- The capability (subject to demand) for higher-quality real-time
services should also be considered.
- A mixture of network provision dependent on local conditions is
envisaged, including ISDN and higher-bandwidth networks.
- We also recognise that some digitally recorded material could be more
cheaply and efficiently provided by increasing the availability of
- It is also proposed that minimum standards of hardware provision
(terminals for users) should be set out, to ensure wide availability to
library users. These standards should be specified in detail by the
Public Library Networking Agency when established.
The UK Public Library Network
- This would interconnect all public library authority networks at a
guaranteed level of bandwidth. This should be scalable in the range of 2
to 35 Mb/s in the first instance, with development pathway to 155 Mb/s
and beyond, so that libraries can deliver such services as access to
digital film archives, or real-time interactive distance learning. This
capacity would allow a universal availability of multimedia to
- The UK network would enable higher-quality connections to other
similar networks, and permit the creation of services for delivery
across the whole of the network. It is recommended that a managed
network service be purchased for the UK public library service.
- There should be a UK-wide funding programme in which there are two
pools of funding:
- for the library authority networks - funded by a procurement process
through a managing agent. Funds should be available for regional
consortia where library authorities choose to have cooperative
arrangements. Compliance with the minimum standards will be required.
The managing agent should be capable of managing an allocation process
- for the UK network - the network to be specified and awarded to an
operator or operators after a tender process.
- The whole process should be managed by a managing agent under the
supervision of a designated body.
Developing the infrastructure
- It is widely recognised that the Internet will continue to be the
principal driving force for the development of the information society.
The Internet is a versatile and pervasive digital network capable of
supporting a wide range of applications and providing access to a
diverse and rapidly expanding range of information services. The
Internet also provides a dynamic development environment that is
pioneering a wide range of new technologies, applications and services.
Connecting the UK public libraries to the Internet will therefore enable
them to extend their services to a wider user community and to
participate fully in the development of the information society.
- The Internet is formed by the interconnection of thousands of
separate networks in different management domains. Within a single
management domain there may be several networks, and the management
domains cover both private and public network services. The component
networks exploit numerous telecommunication technologies, ranging from
the dial-up telephone network to state-of-the-art broadband switching
technologies. The objective of the Internet is to integrate this
complexity and diversity into a single unified network from the user's
point of view.
- The Internet approach offers considerable flexibility for networking
the public libraries, allowing a solution that matches the
organisational and funding characteristics of the sector, that can take
advantage of specific UK opportunities and developments in
telecommunications at both UK and regional levels, and that can embrace
a variety of network technologies - including new technologies that will
help the networking programme to evolve in the future. Furthermore, the
Internet is associated with a rich and diverse development programme
that is pioneering new applications and addressing major issues such as
privacy, security, copyright, etc. The public libraries will be able to
participate in the benefit from this programme.
- However, the Internet alone cannot provide the level of service
required by the UK's public libraries. The Internet has bottlenecks of
information flow which cannot be managed, and it is a complex
environment in which undesirable material cannot easily be controlled.
It is therefore proposed that the library service adopts a model which
allows management of these and other important issues.
- The proposed model for networking the public libraries has two
- the provision of local networks to interconnect the libraries
associated with each library authority;
- the interconnection of the library authority networks and their
connection to the Internet and to other UK and international networks,
including the National Grid for Learning and the University for
Library authority networks
- Although this project is directed at the public library service,
implementation has to be through the library authority structures and
funding mechanisms. In referring to library networks, it is recognised
that these are sometimes part of a wider integrated local network. It is
assumed that funding can and will be earmarked for library services
within this context.
- The following assumptions have been made about the nature of local
networked public library services:
- Every local public library service can be represented as:
- clusters of users;
- a provider and publisher of content and services;
- a provider of expert guidance through information channels and
sources, and in content publishing.
- Users are in a variety of contexts, combining location, need and
- in major lending and reference libraries;
- in local community libraries, where (for example) after-school
and student use should intensify from late afternoons, particularly
when stimulated by homework clubs;
- in mobile libraries;
- in schools and other educational institutions;
- at other community information and service access points - such
as information kiosks in rural post offices or in hospitals;
- at home and at work (thereby impacting on the remote dial-in
services offered by public libraries), from where users should be
able to access a range of free and chargeable services, via the
- in prisons.
- Users will be presented with a range of services and advice, and
these should be matched to users' ability to make use of the systems and
software available. The principle of access to increasingly
sophisticated systems, software and advice should be built into the
services presented. Expert assistance and guidance will be integrated
with the services, and this expertise will be available online (via
telephone helplines) and on-site, and will include an extended-hours
- All publicly provided locations will benefit from full multimedia
access to services - text, audio and graphics and simple video services
as a minimum, but ranging to higher-quality video and other services,
dependent on demand - and for the purposes of costing there will be a
minimum standard of terminals provided for users, to comply with the
overall UK framework.
- Library authorities will continue to plan and purchase systems
independently, but public library development will be in line with the
UK-wide policy being developed here.
- Individual local public library systems will be interconnected (using
agreed UK standards) to provide a UK Public Library Network service that
provides interactive communication with:
- other public-sector online services;
- commercial online and Internet services;
- services running on SuperJANET and other similar networks in the
higher education sector.
- The purpose is to provide:
- guaranteed high-quality levels of service for users;
- cost-effective purchase for the public sector of the
infrastructure and content.
- Each library authority will be responsible for managing an
Internet-compatible network connecting all the libraries within its
jurisdiction. These networks could exploit specific regional initiatives
and opportunities where they exist - including collaborative ventures
with local industry, schools, colleges, universities, etc., and local
telecommunications opportunities. Each local network will exploit a mix
of network technologies to meet its specific requirements. These
technologies include the standard telephone network, higher-bandwidth
services available on public and private networks, leased lines, and
cable/modem, radio and satellite solutions.
- It is expected that responsibility for each of these networks will be
a local matter, but they should be supported via a UK programme that
pump-primes and stimulates development and offers technical support and
coordination. An appropriate UK-wide support programme will help to
ensure local network compatibility, will encourage sharing of resources
and experience, and will help to ensure that complete coverage of all
libraries can be achieved within a time-scale to be defined.
A UK network
- Two basic approaches have been considered:
- a managed approach, under which there would be coordinated
procurement and management of the network;
- a totally decentralised approach, under which library authorities
would separately negotiate and procure their own Internet connections.
- Option (a) would allow the provision of specific network resources
and guaranteed levels of performance for inter-authority traffic. This
is important to facilitate close collaboration among all of the library
networks on a UK scale - for example in realising the vision of creating
a National Digital Library, or for sharing networked resources at the UK
level. If, however, the primary requirement is to provide access for
each library network to the global Internet without any specific
requirement for good UK-wide interconnection of library networks then
the decentralised option - option (b) - would be appropriate.
- For option (a) it would be necessary to develop or procure a switched
wide area network providing some 200+ access points spread across the
UK. This could be developed and managed by the Public Library Networking
Agency, or it could be supplied as a managed service by one or more
network service providers; it could also be part of the framework of the
National Grid for Learning. A mix of these options is also possible. The
final choice would be determined by cost-effectiveness and flexibility
to meet changing requirements. A central management team would be
required to oversee the operation and development of the network. The
JANET/ SuperJANET network in the higher education community is an
example of this approach which could provide useful guidance for the
public library community.
- Option (b) does not require the provision of any dedicated UK network
resources. Each library network would independently connect to the
Internet, using an appropriate Internet service provider (ISP). It is
likely that several ISPs would be involved in covering the full set of
library networks. These connections could be procured either
independently by each authority or by a central procurement initiative
covering all networks, though this would carry with it the problem of
reconciling dispersed funding with strategic direction. Central
procurement would have the advantage of bulk purchasing on a UK scale,
which should attract considerable interest from the ISPs and yield
reduced costs compared with independent procurements. The central
procurement would identify the best ISP for each library network, and
the library authorities would then individually contract with the
- It is strongly recommended that option (a) - the managed approach -
is taken, on the grounds that it offers advantages of:
- technical resilience;
- guaranteed service levels;
- realisation of a UK-wide strategy.
- There is already an example of this approach in UK, namely JANET -
the Joint Academic Network, linking higher education institutions -
which is recognised as a success and is much envied abroad. This is not
to say that the UK Public Library Network would emulate the technical
infrastructure of JANET: the world has changed since JANET was
established, and there are many other options now available. However,
the benefits and outcomes of a managed network like JANET are those
appropriate for the UK Public Library Network, as follows:
Reasons for a managed network
Guaranteed service levels
- A managed network will ensure that within the UK Public Library
Network minimum levels of bandwidth can be guaranteed which will provide
predictable and reliable levels of service for users. This is essential
for user satisfaction - particularly in providing the multimedia
services which are required for lifelong learning and educational
applications. At the same time the managed network will ensure that
capacity can be geared to traffic need and overcapacity can be avoided.
A managed network will also guarantee universal access and service
levels irrespective of geography, and thus overcome the potential
disadvantage of rural locations. In this way a UK-wide strategy can be
realised, ensuring equality of access and maximum benefit for all
Combined purchasing power for telecommunications
- A managing agent acting on behalf of all the public library
authorities would be in a powerful position to negotiate advantageous
rates. This would be particularly helpful to smaller authorities and
rural areas, where bandwidth and connectivity costs could aggravate
geographical disadvantages. Access to advantageous tariffs for libraries
has been identified as an objective by OFTEL, which is committed to
facilitating this process. The costs of operation of this model are
likely to be significantly better than those of a decentralised model of
Management of content
- This solution would make it considerably easier to filter out illegal
or otherwise unacceptable content being distributed over the UK Public
Library Network, although this important policy issue must be the
subject of further discussion.
A mechanism for licensing of content
- A concerted UK-wide approach to negotiation of national licences for
access to copyright material would be a powerful and simplifying process
for large-scale access, with the potential for immense savings to the
public purse. Substantial progress has been made in the university
sector which will pave the way for this development.
Creation of content
- A managed network will encourage UK-wide cooperation on creation and
maintenance of content generated by public libraries, avoiding wasteful
duplication and creating a trading environment where useful products can
be shared and disseminated - in cooperation with the private sector
where appropriate. The managed network will also be a more favourable
environment for the development of new services, and will bring all
citizens within equal reach of these opportunities.
Mirroring of content
- A big problem with the Internet is that it can become clogged with
traffic, and access to remote resources and can be slow and frustrating.
A useful solution to this is the mirroring of resources, whereby
important information sources are copied and held where they are more
readily accessed. This is already happening on JANET. It is envisaged
that in the managed network libraries will cooperate to obtain a licence
for a major reference resource and hold it on a public library server.
The guaranteed bandwidth of the network will provide the required access
capacity for all the public libraries.
Links to other networks and abroad
- Links to other networks such as JANET and NHSnet will be facilitated
through use of a managing agent, which would be well placed to negotiate
service-level agreements, cooperative licensing schemes, and so on.
- The World Wide Web (WWW) will be an important element of public
library networking for the foreseeable future. To improve the
performance of wider WWW access and make efficient use of network
capacity - particularly high-cost international links - it is
anticipated that WWW caches will be required. Caches significantly
reduce the number of external access requests and allow the
implementation of filtering to screen some of the unwanted information.
The UK Public Library Network would allow these facilities to be
provided and managed efficiently for the whole sector.
- The whole public library service could benefit from improved
management information from the UK Public Library Network, not solely
about the technical performance of the various networks, but more
importantly about user behaviours and preferences. This would enable
improved demand forecasting at the micro and macro levels and enable
demand-led development of new services.
- A UK-wide service will allow the public library service to offer a
consistent look and feel to users. This should be used to encourage
take-up, and will further ensure universal access through better
marketing and through friendly easy-to-use screens and menus that
reassure all users, enable them to find the service they want quickly,
and act as signifiers of quality.
Capabilities of the UK managed network
- The UK network will be a wide area network interconnecting all of the
library networks and providing access to the wider Internet, including
international access, and linking into the National Grid for Learning
and the University for Industry. Access to the network from the library
networks will be via permanent connections. The network must be capable
of offering a range of access bandwidths from several hundred kilobits
per second to tens of megabits per second, both to meet the different
requirements of the library networks and to provide a future upgrade
- In considering the linking of the library networks to the Internet,
it is important to specify the requirements for the connections. These
requirements will include the bandwidth of the connection, reliability,
Internet options - which service providers are used, and how they are
connected - etc. The bandwidth requirement will depend on a number of
factors associated with the development of the library networks to be
- the size of the end-user community requiring access to the Internet -
this will be a function of the number of simultaneously active user
- the capabilities of the available user terminals, and in particular
the multimedia capabilities;
- the range of Internet applications and services of interest to the
users. It is expected that e-mail and basic information access via the
World Wide Web will be standard. More advanced applications using
facilities such as multicasting (delivering the same data packet to a
number of locations), videoconferencing, video content and virtual
reality will become increasingly important (see implementation stages 2
and 3 - paragraphs 4.64 and 4.65);
- the range of networked information and library services available on
the library network that can be accessed from the Internet.
- It is expected that over a period of only a few years the bandwidth
requirements will grow considerably as the public libraries develop
their networked services. The provision of Internet access must
therefore include a performance-upgrade path that is within the funding
capabilities of the sector.
- Three stages of implementation are envisaged.
Stage 1 - establishing connectivity
- This will involve:
- using services that can be provided now by existing companies to
upgrade all libraries - irrespective of location - to current best
practice, providing bandwidth to accommodate the factors listed above;
- establishing a managed UK network with appropriate interfaces to
local and other networks as described above.
- The network should be provided as a managed service, available
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A service-level agreement
should be developed to define the required services in detail. A growing
number of British Internet service providers are capable of providing
private networks on a UK scale, and the most appropriate method for
obtaining the network would be via a competitive procurement for a
- The contract with the selected service provider should include access
to the wider Internet. In addition, specific bilateral links to other
networks might be required - for example, to the higher education
community's JANET network or to the Government Data Network. These links
would be negotiated separately. International access should be sought as
part of the requirement for the UK network, but the possibility of
separate provision should also be explored. As a guideline, the cost of
a 2 Mb/s transatlantic link is estimated at £0.5 million per annum.
Stage 2 - re-engineering and adding value
to the public library services UK-wide
- This will involve service development requiring investment in content
origination and in the quality of service delivered to identified user
groups - for example, in:
- cooperatively managed UK-wide services;
- remote (dial-up) access for every household and business that wants
to be connected;
- content and services exploiting links from local libraries to local
schools, adult education centres, business training establishments,
- improved content publishing and distribution capabilities;
- extension of information-user groups with targetable needs for
service - for example, business users in an industry sector; people with
disabilities; environmental action groups; ethnic groups with special
cultural, learning and language needs;
- charging mechanisms for added-value services - for example, to
- enhancements to messaging networks for individuals to communicate
with councillors, local government offices, MPs, etc. from all access
points via e-mail and videoconferencing (the simple provision of which
should be within Stage 1).
Stage 3 - advanced services development
- This will involve piloting and implementation of services utilising
leading-edge networking and software, enabling:
- personalised libraries using intelligent agents to seek out material
likely to be of interest in the light of past user behaviour;
- totally new services created specifically for the network;
- new inter-regional and international networked library services;
- more advanced and fully interactive community/citizen services,
extending democratic access to government representatives, officials and
- next-generation content and services providing educational software,
Management of the network
- A range of issues which will need an expert professional management
approach has been identified. These issues are:
- procurement - procurement of products and services which form the
network services, and achievement of economies of scale on behalf of the
public library community;
- network contract management - managing contracts with the
telecommunications suppliers on behalf of the public library community;
- service-level monitoring - operation of the network to standards set
by and on behalf of the public library community;
- service coordination - coordinating the provision of services offered
on the network either by participating libraries or by third parties -
for example, mirror sites;
- network links - managing the interface with other networks, including
government departments, SuperJANET, NHSnet, international links, etc.;
- support - providing expert advice to participating libraries;
- development - keeping up to date with technical development on behalf
of public libraries, and promoting continual improvement;
- registration - management of public library participation and
(possibly) looking after domain names etc.
- These issues would almost certainly need to be handled by a managing
agent. Two models are possible:
- the cooperative model - by which all participating public libraries
would agree to set up an agency to act on their behalf;
- the contracted model - by which a tender document would be drawn up
on behalf of public libraries for open competition by competent parties,
and the successful bidder would operate the service on behalf of the
- Option (a) is likely to present formidable problems. At present there
is no mechanism by which libraries could reach such an agreement, and
reaching consensus from an ab initio position would be costly
and time-consuming. Such problems would hinder the speedy and effective
implementation of such an important initiative as this.
- On the other hand, option (b) could be organised with relative ease
through existing mechanisms. Assuming that central funding is
forthcoming for the UK Public Library Network, the Department for
Culture, Media and Sport, in consultation with other relevant
departments, could channel this through to the Library and Information
Commission. The LIC could oversee a tendering and selection process,
calling on specialist advice as necessary. The LIC could either advise
government on the letting of the contract, or let the contract on behalf
of government. Following the award of the contract, the LIC would be the
appropriate body to monitor and arrange for audit of compliance.
- Local development for the new services has been considered with the
following factors in mind:
- Library authorities already operate networks in a variety of
configurations, and with variable degrees of sophistication, for public
- It is recommended that all library authorities bring their networks
up to a minimum standard in order to deliver world-class standards of
networked information services to their users.
- Any solution has to be responsive and flexible to local needs and
- Differences in population density and geography need to be allowed
- Implementation should be compliant with a UK-wide framework that will
emerge from the detailed design phase, and which will include:
- Internet compatibility;
- interconnecting all libraries within an authority;
- compatibility and connection with the UK network.
- There is no prescription for the hardware configurations required to
meet local needs beyond the requirement to comply with a minimum UK
- On this basis, it is recommended that a pool of funding be created
that enables objectives to be met on a matched funding basis. The
assessment of such funding should take account of in-kind resources such
as staffing for extended opening hours and similar operating costs.
Library authorities should have access to funds that will enable them to
acquire the appropriate mix for their local needs of connectivity,
hardware, training, and so on.
- Finally, library authorities should meet the needs of the library
service by being prepared to outsource implementation - this will help
to overcome resource bottlenecks that some library authorities' in-house
ICT departments are experiencing.
Choice of network solutions
- A number of network solutions to meet libraries' needs both locally
and UK-wide have been considered, and indicative proposals have been
provided to summarise how currently available services could meet the
requirements. Over the short to medium term, market conditions are
likely to drive down the costs of networking (but, equally, usage rates
are likely to increase significantly). The question of migration to
technologies with greater capacities and capabilities is catered for -
in general, this is better managed by purchasing a managed solution -
and the network should be reviewed frequently in the light of user
demand and the content and services available.
- The assessment is that a mix of SMDS (Switched Multi-megabit Data
Service) and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) technologies could meet
the need, matched to appropriate local networking. ISDN links would
provide additional flexibility for audioconferencing and simple
- Present needs can be satisfied by this (or an equivalent)
combination, and future needs - including the delivery of more advanced
content applications - should be provided for by a growing proportion of
ATM and other new technologies in the network.
Network solutions and costs
- The network descriptions and costs outlined below are for
illustrative purposes only. A particular solution cannot be recommended
without first conducting a full tendering exercise.
- SMDS is designed to integrate with LAN data networking architectures,
and its connectionless nature (see below) and multicast facilities make
it ideal for interconnecting LANs over the wide area. SMDS suits
'bursty' data applications, and extends down to sites with relatively
low bandwidth requirements. SMDS is also ideal where bandwidth between
sites is required 'on demand' up to the agreed service-class bandwidth.
This means that SMDS is very efficient where the volume of traffic
between sites is unpredictable and varies significantly on a daily or
weekly basis. In the context of intranets, in which closed user groups
obtain the benefits of the Internet on a password-controlled basis,
users can rapidly access information, download trade and financial
market information, access corporate news and directories, view archived
photograph and film collections, and so on.
- ATM is an emerging communications technology which can be used as the
basis for both local and wide area networks. Its specification enables
it to support voice and real-time video as well as data applications.
Within both the customer and the service-provider domains, this creates
opportunities to reduce total communication costs by streamlining the
operational and support overheads.
- ATM can provide quality-of-service guarantees which SMDS (and
Ethernet) cannot, and ATM supports real-time services such as voice and
video. While some video applications, such as desk-to-desk
videoconferencing, may be supported over SMDS, it is inappropriate for
high-quality video services, such as business television or real-time
- While it appears that the majority of the requirements for
application and information availability between libraries could, in the
short to medium term at least, be satisfied by a core network based on
SMDS (probably with ISDN serving the smaller and outlying libraries), it
would also be appropriate to consider migrating to ATM at some or all
sites at some point.
- Interworking between SMDS and ATM networks can be delivered where
- Networking technology is evolving rapidly, and this, combined with
likely changes in user requirements in libraries, suggests that
contractual arrangements should allow for migration and future-proofing.
Basis for the costing of the UK managed network
- The costing is based on the following assumptions:
- The network will interconnect all library authority networks.
- The costs for the UK managed network service have been prepared to an
agreed outline specification. The suggested solution is based on an SMDS
network, to allow the overall investment to be estimated and to provide
a standard for comparison with other potential solutions.
Being a connectionless service, SMDS simplifies the planning and
dimensioning process for constructing the network. 'Connectionless'
means that customers do not need to pre-establish connections of a
particular bandwidth before information is transmitted. The customer
needs only to forecast roughly how much traffic will be going into and
out of a site - the destination or origin of that traffic and exactly
how much of it there is is not important. If the access class at any one
site starts to become a constraint, the access can be upgraded to
provide greater bandwidth.
- The cost of such a network can be estimated with accuracy only when
the requirement has been studied in more detail. A guideline estimate
for a network providing 2 Mb/s access for 189 library networks indicates
costs in the region of £1.7 million for installation and £7.5
million annually - exclusive of VAT and the costs of routers and other
hardware. Upgrading the performance of all connections by a factor of
five would increase the costs to £6.2 million for installation and £14.9
million annually. These figures are derived as below.
- The SMDS price consists of a connection charge and annual rental,
both of which are based on an access class. An additional
distance-related rental will apply for any customer site more than 25 km
from the nearest SMDS service point. As 16 Mbit/s and 25 Mbit/s access
classes are offered only as part of discrete closed user groups and
subject to Identified Traffic Connection charges, the costing has been
based on 2 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s access classes only. Of the 189 sites
whose details were provided for the costing exercise, 121 were located
within 25 km of an SMDS service point and 52 were over 25 km. Sixteen
sites had either no postcode or the wrong postcode, so an assumption has
been made that they have an average distance of 67 km - the mean
distance of the 52 sites which are over 25 km - giving a total of 68
sites which are an average of 42 km over 25 km. The resulting costs for
the 2 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s access classes are as follows:
2 Mbit/s access class
Connection charge = £9,000 x 189 sites » £1.7
Annual rental (up to 25 km) = £16,000 x 189 sites » £3.0
Additional charge over 25 km = 68 sites x 42 km x £1580km » £4.5
10 Mbit/s access class
Connection charge = £33,000 x 189 sites » £6.2
Annual rental (up to 25 km) = £55,000 x 189 sites » £10.4
Additional charge over 25 km = 68 sites x 42 km x £1580/km » £4.5
Total annual rental = £10.4 million + £4.5 million »
- It should be noted that these costs are for budgetary purposes only
and exclude VAT. A more detailed breakdown would result as part of a
tendering process for the provision of a UK library network.
- In addition, these costs do not include hardware costs such as
routers and associated SMDS cards for each of the 189 local network
sites. An allowance of £0.4 million for connections and £6.4
million rentals for a 10Mb/s service has been built into the overall
funding proposals to allow for these.
- Typical bandwidths per site with SMDS are 0.5 to 2 Mbit/s, and the
service supports only data applications. It is ideal for LAN traffic and
relatively large numbers of sites. However, where the total aggregate
bandwidth per site is around 5 Mbit/s or is growing rapidly, an ATM
network may be a more cost-effective solution compared with the 10
Mbit/s service quoted above, and additionally provides the ability to
support real-time applications such as voice and video alongside the
- The diagram below shows a very simple model of connecting four of the
189 sites, with each site having a single physical connection to the
SMDS 'cloud', allowing it to communicate, in theory, to any other site
connected to the cloud. SMDS uses incoming and outgoing address
screening to form closed user groups, thereby maintaining security.
- While SMDS already offers a gateway which allows customers high-speed
access to and from the wider Internet community - as indicated in the
diagram above - costs for such Internet access have not been included.
- In addition to providing the 'network' to link all the library
authority networks, SMDS has the capability to connect the 'network' to
other intranets such as the academic networks - for example SuperJANET -
as shown in the diagram below.
- Where two or more customers' intranets join together, this forms what
is becoming known as an 'extranet'. Again, the introduction of a cloud
network such as SMDS can simplify the process of integration of already
existing systems, at least at the network level. The 'new' site(s) has
only to connect to the cloud, using the single physical connection, to
then be able to establish connectivity to all the other sites. The fact
that connectivity is changed through software rather than hardware means
that connections can be rapidly established and changed in response to a
physical or logical restructuring of the organisation.
Information for All (1996). Millennium Libraries: A National Public
Library Network. Cambridge: Information for All.
CIPFA (1995). Public Library Statistics: Actuals 1993-4. London:
- The UK Public Library Network will require a mix of funding solutions
to meet the different financial requirements associated with developing
the infrastructure, operating and managing the network, creating
content, and developing new services. Although central government will
need to play its part in funding, given its other priorities and
public-expenditure pressures it will be necessary to draw on as wide a
variety of funding sources as possible, and to seek to maximise the
possibilities of cross-sector collaborations and partnerships with other
public agencies and the private sector.
- Possible sources of funding include:
- local and UK-wide partnerships with the private sector;
- central government/National Lottery;
- partnership between central government and local government,
including library authorities;
- revenues from the users of certain added-value services;
- many other libraries which could potentially be considered as
partners - for example:
- the further education and higher education libraries, which are
funded through FEFC and HEFC;
- the school libraries, which are non-statutory;
- special libraries in commercial, public-sector and voluntary
- The sources of funding will in turn govern the procurement methods
that are possible - for example, it would be very difficult to procure a
core central infrastructure through local financing.
- The implementation of the network must be informed by the emerging
vision for the public library service and the core aims and values which
underpin it - particularly the key principle of equality of access. It
must therefore marry short-, medium- and long-term goals within a
strategic framework that avoids quick-fix solutions driven solely by
- To realise a UK framework that is concerned with maximising public
access to digital resources and ensuring no one is marginalised or
excluded, a UK solution is required. Such a solution will need to ensure
core funding to provide an agreed threshold of access provision in all
libraries. Additionally, it will provide a focus to inform, coordinate,
promote, facilitate and stimulate access to other funding opportunities
at local, regional, UK and European level. This will maximise
opportunities for collaboration, and will encourage innovative and
imaginative ways of developing added-value services that in turn will
help to sustain core services.
- Unless provision of the proposed network is seen as a public service
- if it is left to the private sector - there is a danger that the flow
of information will be controlled for commercial purposes. The librarian
must act as a disinterested broker - in certain instances ensuring that
the user has access to a range of information from a number of different
- The first task is to conduct an inventory and audit of current
infrastructure and services, so as to understand what is already in
place, what is currently planned, and what needs to be boosted. Let us
assume that we can then proceed by way of modular systems as follows:
- library authority networks of computer terminals in libraries, and
perhaps elsewhere, mainly to link libraries and to access information on
the Internet, but also to provide local tools such as educational
software, and access to new services - see (b);
- the provision of library-generated community information services on
Internet Web sites, however accessed - including possible access from
- the purchase of access by library users to subscription services
already available on the Internet;
- the scope to transact specified central government, local government,
utility and/or retail shopping business over the Internet - the precise
services to be selected by the library authority;
- the issuing of library cards, in whatever technological form,
uniquely to identify readers, and perhaps also to charge them for any or
all of the above uses.
- A central body should be appointed to:
- specify, procure and supervise the UK managed network service;
- specify the service levels and connection policy to the library
- set and monitor the standards for implementation of the network;
- coordinate procurement and direct the production of content;
- drive the overall implementation programme - including change
management, training and support;
- establish an arrangement to enable local procurement of standard
components such as PCs at standard terms, such that local areas benefit
from the total purchasing power of the group;
- ensure equity of service across the UK;
- coordinate distribution of development funding to library
- The following table illustrates the most appropriate source of
funding for the various elements envisaged. Note:
'Central' means existing or new government programmes or grants and
|Public Library Networking Agency
||Centrally negotiated,locally procured
|Consortia purchasing team
||Central/local and partnership funding(education
sector/DTI/government; local authority as information provider)
|Digitisation of rare and special collections
|Common information framework
|Training and development
|Training programme management
|Networked courses: delivery and accreditation
|Local training incentive fund
|UK 'backbone'/Public Library Network (PLN)
|Local library networks to PLN standards,plus associated kit
||Central/local or Central/local/partners(where metropolitan area
networks, distributed access to catalogues, etc. are in development)
- Funding for ICT projects could, in principle, take a variety of
forms, as follows.
Private finance initiatives
- In view of the extensive possibilities open to the private sector,
there should be scope for private finance initiatives (PFI). The most
- where an entire building or unit is built and operated by the private
sector and leased back as a managed facility to the library authority;
- where just the ICT facility - kit and network services - is operated
by the private sector and is leased back, for a fee, to a single library
authority or a group of library authorities.
- Whatever the sunk investment in ICT, or the scale and type of
provision, there is scope for a PFI project in funding a specified level
of service provision, over a specified contract life, with open
communication standards and suitable training, operating and maintenance
obligations. The more that appropriate risks can be transferred to the
private sector, the more likely it is that the higher cost of finance
incurred by a private-sector company rather than a public-sector body
will be outweighed by greater value for money over the life of the
contract as the private sector achieves better management of technology,
service flexibility and risk. Provided the library user gets the service
specified in the contract, there is no obvious reason why the library
authority needs to own the hardware by which the service is provided.
- Any mixed mode of funding might require some mechanism to ensure that
the service can be sustained if one of the sources of funding is
Central government funding
- Central government funding might be available - potentially as grant
finance (no repayments) or loan finance (repayments funded from income
according to a fixed schedule and interest rates), or even as some form
of launch aid (repayments according to a percentage of commercial income
above a threshold level, but no repayments if commercial income does not
reach that threshold), though this last option would be seen as one that
penalises the more successful operation. In view of the important role
that the UK Public Library Network will play in the National Grid for
Learning, it is important that funding for the National Grid for
Learning should embrace public libraries as well as schools.
- The key question for the library authority is whether the investment
project looks sustainable. The key question for central government is
whether seeking some form of return from early projects might help
restore the resources to fund later developments.
- In terms of distribution criteria, funding could be provided:
- on a formula basis (per head of population served, or based on the
size of the local library network);
- on a challenge basis - for example, the best new content proposals
for community information, say, drawing on a variety of partnerships
between library authorities and/or others;
- based on geographical considerations (urban/rural factors).
- It may be possible to secure funding from the National Lottery, if
central government sets suitable criteria for eligibility and
distribution. One possibility is for the Millennium Fund to be replaced,
after the year 2000, by a fund for connecting libraries, schools and
others to the information superhighway.
- One particular point to note here is that adequate revenue provision
must be found to cover the operating costs of capital investment funded
by the Lottery.
- One way of addressing this might be through a Lottery endowment
grant, where the funding is invested and the interest can be used as
revenue - to pay staff costs, for example.
- It should be noted that libraries are not currently eligible for
Lottery funding of their core activities. To use Lottery funding for
this purpose would require government intervention either:
- to change the eligibility criteria; or
- to identify this development as being such a significant enhancement
to libraries' current role that it is no longer seen as a core activity
and so falls within the Lottery's provisions.
Local government funding
- Local government might likewise contribute funding by obtaining
credit approvals (permissions from central government for the local
authority to borrow funds on the market). Basic credit approvals can be
used for a variety of purposes, and supplementary credit approvals can
be used on condition that the funds are put to a specific use.
- Credit approvals score as public expenditure, and affect the PSBR, so
central government will have views on the overall availability of
finance. Within this overall total, local authorities can exercise their
discretion on their own priorities, except where central government
imposes a view - perhaps by means of top-slicing credit approvals to
give greater priority to funding specific types of investment project.
New information providers
- There are new information providers who are required to reach
specific audiences. TECs and business development agencies have been
given a large amount of public money to do this - to brief small
companies on how to export, for example. Public libraries are frequently
seen as providing a useful channel for these agencies, and partnerships
have already developed in some parts of the UK. The library can continue
to act in the role of information broker and service provider. This
would be a natural extension of its core role of providing mediated
access to library services and resources, and would reaffirm the
fundamental position of the library as a key node in the public
- A situation could be envisaged in which certain services - such as
job search - were provided by franchisees within the library who could
offer supplementary services across the library network. One way this
might work is by the franchisee offering so many hours per week free to
selected categories of client in return for the facility, and then
charging for the service from there on. Additional revenues could also
come from allowing companies to advertise their services across the
library network. These examples show how added-value services may be
developed to help sustain core services.
- Clearly the cost benefits of such developments will depend on local
circumstances. These developments will not be viable in all areas, and
should not be regarded as a replacement for core funding, but where
opportunities exist or can be encouraged - for example via a consortium
approach, promoting models of best practice etc. - such partnerships
will provide a valuable resource to support and sustain basic levels of
access to networked services.
Other financial opportunities
- It is also worth noting that statutory or regulatory instruments may
be available to central government to affect the distribution of costs.
For example, where there is a public interest in obtaining Web-site
access to records of agendas, minutes and papers taken at meetings of
statutory bodies, effective cross-subsidisation could be imposed on such
bodies by legislating to require them to deposit such records with
libraries in electronic form. This might also be the case with local
government proceedings or issues.
- As a condition of their operating licence, railway and bus companies
could be required to deposit copies of their timetables and fare
structures with the library, in electronic form - though the commercial
benefits from making this information easily available to the public
make it unlikely that regulation would be needed in this area. There was
also talk, in the run-up to the recent general election, of
telecommunications companies being required to provide libraries and
schools with access to the information superhighway as a condition of
their operating licence. Such a requirement could provide the foundation
for a wider UK government information policy.
Financing knowledge provision
- The issues involved in financing the construction of Web sites
generated by the library sector to display information and resources on
the Internet are substantially different from those concerning the core
funding of the network. Again there are a number of different funding
mechanisms, which would all apply:
- central funds to establish a core set of facilities;
- a pool of funding to upgrade the less well equipped libraries to a
minimum level of facilities;
- pioneer funds (perhaps from the National Lottery), to enable
particularly innovative proposals to be taken forward.
- It will be important for the library to own the intellectual property
represented by the information on its Web site, and to establish
copyright where appropriate. If there is scope for a PFI project in this
area, it may be limited to digitising important or rare archive material
in return for a licensed period of exploitation under specified price
and other terms, at the end of which period full ownership of the
material must transfer back to the library. But, even this design,
build, operate and transfer (DBOT) approach may be less satisfactory
than a fully public-sector approach in which the library authority owns
and manages the whole project - albeit placing a (fixed-price) contract
with a private-sector company to build and manage the Web site to the
- As well as the capital costs of construction, account should be taken
of the revenue costs of keeping Web sites constantly and consistently up
- It would be appropriate for the Public Library Networking Agency to
issue guidance on the open standards to which Web sites should be
constructed. One model might be that adopted by the Cyberskills
Association, whose Cyberskills Exchange provides its members with a set
of tools to provide a standard architecture, a common look and feel, and
a structure for:
- holding 'libraries' of information;
- discussion forums;
- billable services.
- The Cyberskills Exchange also provides a support group for the
community of information managers that run the 'information hubs',
offering advice and guidance on best practice.
Purchase of access to subscription services
- It seems likely that, as with the printed word, different library
users will want to access different sources of information on the
Internet, some of which may set licence conditions or charge a
subscription fee. For example, a student may require access to an
economics journal, or a member of the public access to back issues of
New Scientist. As part of the normal operations of the
library, the library authority may elect to purchase access to these
subscription services for its readers, whether or not it passes on
charges to them.
- The obvious requirement here is for a UK initiative to form a
purchasing consortium to negotiate the very best terms for purchasing in
bulk, where this is appropriate. Given the proportion of the UK
population represented by library users - 58 per cent - the purchasing
power of this consortium should be considerable.
- There needs to be a consistent access policy, with perhaps some local
flexibility where charges are deemed appropriate. But there is a need to
ensure against situations whereby one authority charges and another
doesn't, thus compromising the principle of equality of access.
Financing the infrastructure
- This chapter is written on the basis of the recommendations made in
Chapter 4 - namely:
- a single UK managed network service to provide the core 'backbone'
- a standard connection to existing library authority networks;
- a central fund made available to encourage library authorities to
upgrade their existing networks and access devices where necessary.
- Different library authorities will start with different sunk
investments in ICT. Some may have well-developed internal systems -
perhaps even with links to other parts of local government, and perhaps
servicing most, if not all, the libraries in the area. The requirement
for these authorities may be to extend the network to all libraries, to
introduce some form of external gateway to the Internet, to upgrade the
bandwidth of telecommunication links to a more suitable open standard,
and/or to introduce security firewalls between the public and private
parts of the network to prevent hacking. Other library authorities may
have little sunk investment in ICT, and their local networks will have
to be substantially upgraded.
- If certain libraries wish to make available to their readers the
opportunity to conduct business transactions over the Internet, the two
main requirements are:
- an enhanced certainty that the reader is who he or she claims to be -
to ensure that the library is not party to fraudulent misrepresentation;
- being satisfied that the reader is both able and willing to fund the
costs of his or her transaction.
- These are discussed further below.
- Another opportunity for libraries may be the provision of suitable
software for a variety of off-line uses. Typical hobby uses may require
family history, gardening, computer-aided design or financial software.
Further ranges of software will be needed for children's education after
school hours or in the holidays, or for lifelong education programmes.
Some libraries might choose to offer business applications, but this
might be seen as beyond their remit and might impact upon local
companies offering services to small businesses on a commercial basis.
Alternatively, this is another area for potential partnership with the
- On the other side of the fence, the library may be able to secure
commission income from service providers who transact authorised
Internet business - for instance from the sale or purchase of stocks or
shares. Consortium negotiations may be needed to secure the best
- In deciding whether or not to provide such commercial services,
libraries will need to consider the impact such provision might have on
the conduct of normal business. There might be controversy if libraries
were seen to be stepping beyond the bounds of their public-service role
and competing with local businesses. In any case, it will be necessary
for library authorities to ensure that they are not undermining local
business potential through anti-competitive activities.
- Library cards currently fulfil a number of important functions, which
could be enhanced by the use of smartcard technology, including the
- membership details;
- borrowing status;
- items on loan;
- use of facilities available - levels of access, and whether free or
charged for etc.;
- approved charges for use of any library facilities;
- discretionary allowances - for example, for children and for those
- approved business transactions on the Web;
- residency status - to allow the potential for votes being registered
electronically, on local issues or in central referendums or elections.
No such services exist at present, but these could be envisaged in the
- In the case of establishing identity, it would be possible for
libraries to make use of a central-government-sponsored smartcard, if
one were introduced. Failing this, or while waiting for it to be
developed, the library would follow the procedures it currently uses
when issuing library cards to borrowers.
- One solution might be for libraries to make use of a smartcard
already in circulation, such as those which will be used for social
security benefits (which would enable certain groups to be targeted for
preferential or free access to key services, such as might help
unemployed people to find jobs). Or there could be some form of
prepayment card, like telephone cards.
- Once again, there will be virtue in library authorities acting
together to agree common standards for the issuing of library cards and
the obligation to make payment in respect of debts incurred. This would
facilitate out-of-area services being made available to professionals
away from base, or to the general public on holiday or visiting
- See paragraphs 5.55 to 5.60 for more on the subject of charges for
- All procurement will be via open tendering, to secure best value for
money. The EC Procurement Directives require advertising in the EC
Journal for contracts in excess of £180,500.
- All the usual public-sector disciplines will apply. Officers placing
the contract will be accountable for propriety, regularity and best
value for money, and will need to consider in advance the precise
mandatory and desirable user specifications put out to tender, the
appropriate degree of risk transfer, the scope for fixed-price or
incentive contracts, and the penalties to be triggered by breach of
contract terms or project milestones.
Risks and reward management
for ICT projects
- In a PFI project the private sector will take on the project risks -
both technical and business - but will expect to be rewarded
accordingly. The supplier will usually be responsible for designing,
implementing, running and maintaining the project solution, and also for
any technology update needed to keep it current.
- Many contracts specify a reward for the supplier based on how well
the system is used. It is important to agree the right balance here
between unit cost and level of usage, so that the supplier may incur
some penalty if the system is not used as well as had been predicted,
but gains extra revenues if it is used more.
- The critical issue in any PFI contract is for both sides to have an
agreed commercial deal at an early stage - each side has to understand
the other's position vis-à-vis the way in which costs
have been allocated. It needs to be made clear who bears the costs if
anything goes wrong.
- A risk register must be agreed that covers all areas, including
technology, usage and any vulnerability to changes in legislation. The
register must specify who is responsible for each risk, and both sides
must agree how the risks will be minimised and managed. If too much risk
is passed over to the supplier the costs may well soar, so the right
balance needs to be found.
- There needs to be a process of continuous review, monitoring how the
contract is being managed, and this too must be defined at an early
stage. It must be made clear what will happen if the requirements
change, if new applications are needed.
- An exit strategy must also be defined, specifying what will happen at
the end of the contract period, who owns any assets, and how the
contract will be rebid.
- Access to network services could be free at the point of use, even if
the library is required to make payment to a service provider, or could
be charged to the user. This crucial issue cannot be determined in
principle at this stage, since it will relate to the funding source of
the UK Public Library Network, particularly if public/private
partnerships are involved.
- There are a number of key factors which underpin and inform this
- The principle of free access (to a defined level of service) at the
point of delivery raises the question of how the service should be paid
for rather than what level of charge is appropriate.
- The emerging information and communication technologies are the new
literacy, and the successful communities of tomorrow will be those who,
given access, are informed and educated in the use of these
- Without such access, groups of people will be cut off from this
developing knowledge-rich world, and their ability to survive and
succeed in the information economy will be greatly reduced. This will
have knock-on effects in terms of social inclusion/exclusion, impact on
local communities and local economies, and a widening gap between the
information-rich and the information-poor.
- Conversely, establishing a threshold of free access within a UK
public library network will:
- ensure a basic equality of access throughout the whole country;
- provide a UK platform to facilitate the cultural change necessary
to encourage people to acquire and use the new information and
communication skills and to adjust more rapidly to the developing
- very quickly build up the critical mass of users that justifies
investment in the infrastructure;
- move the debate away from the bottle's neck to the bottle's
contents: the future of the network lies not in the technology but
in the content and services that can be made available.
- Investing in the skills base of the country now will both stimulate
demand for content and develop the necessary expertise to provide it.
Given the global nature of the developing information and communication
technologies, this will help the UK to gain market advantage and build a
more secure future for the country. Any charge will act as a barrier to
access. It will not affect the ultimate direction of change, but it will
affect the pace of that change. Where the threshold of access is
established will determine whether the country takes a quantum leap
forward into the information society or merely breaks the sound barrier.
- Having established the threshold of access that is free at the point
of delivery - and that may require a change to the legislative framework
- attention can shift to the development of added-value services that
may provide revenue streams to support and sustain the core service. For
example, just as today books are free but one pays to borrow CDs and
videos, a fiction library might be free but added-value services for
business might be charged for. One could charge a user to access a
commercial database or to book a holiday, or even rent 'virtual' space
out to a business on the library Web server.
- Charging according to use within this framework will not compromise
the principle of equality of access. Where resources are still scarce
initially, access to 'free' services may be time-limited to provide a
simple regulatory mechanism.
- Collaboration with other public- and private-sector bodies will be
vital, not only in terms of developing added-value services but also in
enabling maximum benefit to be derived from available resources - for
example, bending existing local ICT resources towards development of
integrated networks, realising potential economies of scale, cost
sharing, resource sharing and expertise sharing. A number of examples of
public/private- sector partnerships have already been outlined above.
While all have (potentially) a local application, much can be done at UK
level to facilitate such arrangements to ensure effective coordination
and exploitation of best practice.
- The proposed investment will result in a number of opportunities to
generate income which can be used to offset some of the costs or to
improve or diversify the service. These might include:
- new services which exploit the infrastructure and are offered on a
- sponsorship and advertising fees;
- charging for specialist training - which may be delivered through
- enabling commercial organisations to use the infrastructure - to
'rent' space on the library network, for example;
- charging for commercial use of content whose digitisation has been
funded through this initiative; this represents a major opportunity for
UK content and services as worldwide exports ;
- income from central government for the provision of electronic
- No attempt has yet been made to quantify the value of these
& licensing issues
- The success of the UK Public Library Network will depend crucially on
its ability to make substantial amounts of material ('content')
accessible via the network. This in turn will depend on those who own
copyright in content (including their licensees - for example,
publishers) being willing to permit its inclusion on an agreed
commercial basis in the databases to which the network will be
- In the vast majority of cases, the digitisation of content and its
incorporation into the databases connected to the library network, and
its subsequent accessing (and possibly copying) by users, will require
permission from the copyright owners. In some cases it may be possible
to obtain permission through relatively uncomplicated negotiations with
the copyright owners (see paragraphs 6.29 and 6.30). In many other
cases, however, permission may be harder to extract.
- This permission will be granted in the form of licences - preferably
based on a standard licence or on a set of standard licences prepared in
advance to set the agenda for negotiations with copyright owners. There
is a lot of work taking place by various interested parties to point the
- In responding to any request for permission, most copyright owners
will be predominantly influenced by two considerations:
- Will their rights be adequately protected, given the current state of
copyright law and the procedures for rights administration and
enforcement proposed for the network?
- Will they obtain a satisfactory return for granting permission to
download content on to the network?
- Having determined who should be approached on behalf of copyright
owners - and also whether they are entitled to grant the rights required
and whether warranties and indemnities should be obtained from them -
the agency responsible for managing the content on the network will have
to address these questions in reverse:
- Can adequate assurances be given in relation to protection of
copyright, and what steps should in principle be taken to protect the
copyright owners' rights?
- Will the network generate the sums necessary to offer a return to
those copyright owners that demand one?
- The UK public library sector benefits from certain special privileges
(see paragraph 6.23). Although these cannot easily be transposed into
the electronic domain, they should not be neglected in the search for an
equitable balance between the UK Public Library Network and copyright
Protection of rights on the network -
summary of the copyright position
- UK law in this area - the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as
amended) - is further developed than that of many other countries. It
provides that copying a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work
includes 'storing the work in any medium by electronic means' (although
this provision omits sound recordings and films). It also states
(Section 17) that copying in relation to work of any
description includes making 'copies which are transient or are
incidental to some other use of the work'. Both 'electrocopying' and
'digitisation' are therefore included in the concept of copying.
- The unauthorised downloading into a computer of electronic copies of
material or extracts from databases accessible via a network will
therefore infringe copyright under UK law, subject to 'fair dealing' and
other exceptions to infringement (see paragraph 6.23). The printing out
of such material from screen would also amount to an infringement of
- Transmission of copyright works via telecommunications systems and
therefore via networks is also generally considered to be an
infringement of copyright.
- The law itself, as it stands in the UK, therefore:
- requires the agency managing content on a library network to obtain
licences from the copyright owners; but
- allows copyright owners to grant a licence to make their content
available on the network in the knowledge that remedies are in principle
available in the UK against infringements.
- It does need to be acknowledged at the same time that the copyright
issue is not restricted to the UK but is a global one. Copyright owners
will own rights in other countries, and the UK Public Library Network,
if delivered via the Internet, will be accessible to users around the
world. This creates the possibility of infringements occurring overseas
or involving overseas rights. A number of initiatives are being taken to
attempt to harmonise laws internationally to deal with some of these
problems, although legislation is still some years away. A first step
has been taken with the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances
and Phonograms Treaty, agreed by the World Intellectual Property
Organisation in December 1996.
- The existence of similar initiatives in other sectors - such as the
site licensing model developed jointly by the Publishers Association and
JISC - will serve to reassure copyright owners. In the non-profit
sector, networks such as SCRAN (the Scottish Cultural Resources Access
Network) point the way to the creation of networks with primarily
educational content aimed at schools, and in the commercial sector there
are numerous examples of databases being set up which charge for access
Protection of rights on the network -
- Copyright owners who are invited to contemplate the possibility of
licensing material for the network will need to be reassured by the
agency responsible for managing the content that:
- procedures will be in place whereby infringements of copyright
occurring on the network can be monitored and, when identified, the
relevant copyright owners will be informed;
- appropriate steps will be taken to restrain instances of
unauthorised copying of material from the network.
- Rapid action taken in sustainable cases will dissuade others from
infringing copyright material accessed via a library network. Who should
take these steps, however, will be a subject for negotiation between the
content management agency and the copyright owners.
- Given the cost involved in enforcing copyrights, it is recommended
that it should be a term of the standard licence proposed by the content
management agency that it is the copyright owner's responsibility to
take action in respect of any infringement which comes to light (see
paragraphs 6.34 and 6.35). However, copyright owners are likely to be
persuaded of the merits of this approach only if the agency agrees to
take practical steps to minimise the risk of infringements. The agency's
responsibility could be limited to monitoring and informing copyright
owners of infringements, while making the terms on which users can
access material from the network very clear (see paragraphs 6.37 and
- The problems of enforcement of copyright and indeed of identification
of unauthorised copies or copying should not be underestimated. However,
there are various practical and technical means of protection to
buttress the existing protection afforded (at least in the UK) by
copyright law. There are many experiments currently under way involving
the use of encryption and security-key technologies to allow access only
to authorised users - for example, those who have paid the requisite fee
or can prove their right to access - as well as electronic copyright
management systems such as COPICAT, COPEARMS, COPYSMART and IMPRIMATUR.
Some of these technologies are now being used in connection with
electronic banking and other commercial activities on the Internet.
Can copyright owners be offered
an attractive return?
- Most (though not all) copyright owners can be expected to demand some
return in exchange for permitting the digitisation of their material and
its incorporation on to the network.
- One initial project for Public Library Networking Agency should be to
investigate the categories of copyright owners for whom a non-financial
(or very modest financial) return would be adequate. These are most
likely to be found in public-service and non-profit sectors. Foremost
among them will be other libraries, but they will include other groups
and bodies for whom public access and education are policy objectives as
important as generating revenue:
- local libraries and library networks;
- educational and academic institutions;
- charitable trusts;
- museums and galleries.
- These groups will own copyright in material which will be a vital
component on the national network. There may well be scope for
negotiating licences with such bodies in return for non-financial
benefits or a relatively modest licence fee, although they can be
expected to seek a commercial return for commercial exploitation
generated by the network (see paragraph 6.21(e)).
- It will take time to accumulate content on the UK Public Library
Network.There are clear advantages in building critical mass in the
early stages by acquiring content that is both quantitatively and
qualitatively credible from sources in the public-service and non-profit
sectors. However, as time progresses, libraries will need to widen their
scope and embrace content from the vast array of commercial sources.
- For copyright owners who license content commercially, the expected
return for the grant of a licence will be largely financial. It will
typically take the form of a royalty, but should take account of the
following (accepting that these are all matters for negotiation):
- the limits on affordability imposed by the amount of revenue
generated from funding sources and charging (see Chapter 5);
- some level of discount to reflect the primarily non-commercial nature
of the library network, and the possibility that users - or certain
users such as educational users, students, etc. - may be able to access
it free of charge;
- a discount to reflect the exemptions afforded to libraries under
copyright legislation in the UK (see paragraph 6.23);
- whether the royalty should be a one-off fee rather than a continuing
liability (supplementary fees could be offered on digitisation of new
editions or revised editions of works), or whether the fee should be
based on usage measured by 'hits' on the system or on some other pricing
model (e.g. printing fees or subscription payments);
- to the extent that there are any commercial spin-offs from the
library network, then commercial rates or near-to-commercial rates could
be offered in relation to these;
- any possibility of ancillary benefits - such as publicity - accruing
to the copyright owners as a result of their works being incorporated on
the network could be factored into the royalty calculation;
- any precedent set by the payments made under the Public Lending Right
- It must be a fundamental premiss for the agency seeking the licences
that all rates are negotiable. Opportunities for royalty-free or
low-royalty licences from copyright owners in the business sector should
not be ignored. Databases containing commercial information, for
example, might be licensed for a modest return that reflects the
promotional/advertising benefits of inclusion in the national network
(see (f) above).
The special position of libraries
under UK copyright law
- Sections 37 to 44 (inclusive) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act 1988 contain special provisions that relate to copying of copyright
material by prescribed libraries and archives. Under these provisions it
is possible for the librarians of prescribed libraries to do certain
things which would otherwise be infringements of copyright:
- to make and supply a copy of an article in a periodical; and/or
- to make and supply a copy of a reasonable proportion of a published
- provided that certain conditions are complied with. These conditions
are, broadly speaking, that the person requesting the copy confirms that
it is required for the purposes of research or private study; that only
one copy is supplied; and that at least the cost of making the copy is
paid. Multiple copying is prohibited.
- Nothing here militates in principle against the making of such
copies, their supply, or the confirmation of fulfilment of the
conditions, by electronic means. The conditions mentioned in the
previous paragraph could be incorporated into the licence terms
applicable to users of the network, or they could be included in special
'non-paying' licence terms.
- There are certain practical difficulties, such as ensuring that only
one copy will be made if it is transmitted via the Internet, and
obtaining a signed declaration from the person requesting the copy.
These are most likely to be addressed in the context of the technical
forms of protection (for example, encryption, security technology)
currently being developed.
- As indicated in paragraph 6.21, these special provisions should be
taken into account in any negotiations with copyright owners in relation
to applicable royalties or fees.
Who should be approached on behalf
of copyright owners?
- The number of copyright owners who will need to be approached will be
very large. It will increase in proportion to the number, and type, of
copyright works which are sought to be incorporated on the network.
- The cost of negotiating with each of the copyright owners
individually will be prohibitive, quite apart from the time involved.
What will be required, therefore, is:
- a collective approach on behalf of the entire sector - which is
implicit in the idea of a managed network serving libraries throughout
the country (see paragraph 6.32);
- that, wherever possible, any approach is made to collective bodies
empowered (or who may become empowered) to negotiate on behalf of entire
groups of copyright owners. Examples of such bodies are the Authors
Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the Publishers Association, and
Mechanical Copyright Protection Society Limited (MCPS). Other bodies
could be approached, depending on the nature of the material which is
sought to be included on the network and the way in which it can be
exploited or used by users - for example, the Performing Right Society
Ltd in relation to public performance or broadcasting of musical works,
or Phonographic Performance Ltd in relation to public performance or
broadcasting of sound recordings. There may also be scope for using the
Public Lending Right scheme as a platform from which to approach authors
or their estates, at least in respect of books eligible under the
scheme, although this would necessitate amendment to the relevant
- that, wherever possible, model licences are developed for groups of
works, to avoid the need to seek clearance for every single work.
- There might be a number of ways of dealing with the need to obtain
licences from copyright owners via collective licensing bodies
representing them. Either a licence could be negotiated with the body on
behalf of its members (assuming that the body was or became duly
empowered to grant such a licence), or a form of licence could be
negotiated which the body could then recommend to its members.
- In sectors which are relatively informally organised and have no
collective body, attention could nevertheless be focused on bodies which
'represent' their sectors. In the case of museums and galleries, for
example, the Museum & Galleries Commission and/or the Museums
Association could be approached and a 'model' licence be negotiated for
use with museums and galleries. A similar model agreement would need to
be developed for use with local libraries/library networks.
- The problem of how to deal with material where the copyright owners
are difficult or impossible to trace will need to be addressed. It could
be a contractual term applicable to users of the network wishing to copy
such material (or even calling for it to be made accessible on the
network, thus requiring someone else to copy it by putting it on the
system) that they indemnify the networking agency against claims
arising. However, enforcing such indemnities may not be cost-effective.
Another solution to this type of problem would be for the networking
agency to undertake a risk assessment of the likelihood of claims and
then, based on this risk assessment, build a contingency for claims into
its budgets. The possibility of obtaining insurance to cover the risk of
claims should not be ruled out, although the premiums offered would have
to be set at a feasible level for insurance to be a full answer.
Who should negotiate, and who should
hold the licences?
- It is likely that the agency responsible for negotiating the terms of
the licences will need to be separate from, though working under
contract to, the proposed Public Library Networking Agency that will
hold the licence (see also Chapter 4). The purpose of such a separation
would be to reflect the following principles:
- the content on the network should be managed by a professional
agency chosen for its expertise in administering networks and in
negotiating with third parties, and which is very likely to be either a
commercial entity or driven (at least in part) by commercial interests;
this agency may therefore need to be different from the
public-interest-type body (a charity?) which 'owns' the network or on
whose behalf the network is managed;
- the content management agency may be retained under the terms of a
management contract which may be terminated or expire, whereas the
licences from copyright owners should (so far as possible) be perpetual
or of long duration (see paragraph 6.35);
- the content management agency will be capable of becoming insolvent,
whereas the licences should be immune to any disappearance of this
- If this separation of functions is adopted, then any agreement
between the content management agency and the Public Library Networking
Agency will need to contain a grant to the content management agency of
any rights needed to carry out the management function.
The terms of the licences
- As indicated, the terms of the licences should be as standard as
possible, on grounds of cost, ease of negotiation, and transparency.
- In determining what terms the licences should contain, the following
are among the issues that will need to be considered (acknowledging that
these are matters for negotiation):
- the rights granted, including:
- the digitisation of the relevant works or, if the works are
accessible online, permission to access and/or download them (more
sophisticated provisions would be appropriate in the case of
licences to allow whole databases to become connected to the
- the incorporation of the digitised content on to the network (or
making it accessible via the network);
- the right to enable users to access this material and any rights
to copy it, and in what circumstances or on what terms such rights
may be exercised (see paragraphs 6.37 and 6.38);
- any ancillary rights to exploit the material commercially;
- the right to create hypertext links from content pages to other
- what works are covered by the licence;
- the duration of the licence - preferably perpetual or of long
- the warranties sought from the copyright owner - in particular that:
- the copyright owner is entitled to grant the rights licensed;
- the content management agency will not be exposed to claims in
defamation or for other unlawful statements made over the Internet
(negligent misstatement, breaches of confidence or privacy, etc.) -
these warranties will be important, because the content management
agency will have neither the time nor the resources to vet content;
- an indemnity against breaches of the above warranties;
- which party bears responsibility to take action in respect of any
- Specific model licences could be developed for use with public
access/educational-type licences (see paragraph 6.18). These licences
might contain reciprocal provisions benefiting the copyright owners -
for example, by granting hyperlink access to their content on the
national network fro m local library networks, university intranets, and
museum or gallery Web sites.
- Copyright owners will have an obvious interest in the terms on which
end-users will be permitted to gain access to the network. These terms
will almost certainly have to be agreed by or acceptable to the
copyright owners, and will need to be drafted by reference to the
technical gateways established for the network.
- The terms applicable to end-users will be contractually binding even
if imposed via the network, provided that:
- the terms are brought to the reasonable notice of users before they
communicate their acceptance of the service - perhaps on a screen which
appears before the screen on which acceptance is communicated; and
- a contract actually exists; this requires that consideration of some
sort passes from the user. Consideration can taken the form of promises
in return or of payment. The existence of such promises in return will
be determined by the record of any communications between the parties.
- There will be material on the network in which the content management
agency can claim rights because it will have been generated for the
purposes of running the network:
- explanatory material, screens, screen layouts and the like - care
should be taken to ensure that whoever is commissioned to create these
works should assign the copyright in them to the content management
agency or to any other body holding the rights (see paragraph 6.33);
- the act of compiling all the material for the network will (provided,
of course, that such compilation is licensed) create databases which are
currently protected as full copyright works in the UK - they fall into
the category of literary works (as compilations). Following
implementation of the European Directive on databases, the databases
will probably attract the new form of protection provided in the
Directive. Again, whoever is commissioned to compile the databases
should assign the copyright in them to the content management agency or
to the body holding the rights in the network.
- In addition, as already indicated, local libraries/library networks
will also have created material and databases in which they will own
copyright, and which should merit special treatment as falling into the
public access/educational category.
- In embarking on the implementation of the public library networking
programme it will be necessary to build in processes to evaluate both
systems and services. Initially this will be in order to ensure that the
best value for money is obtained in both procurement and service
development. Subsequently the performance of what is being developed
will need to be monitored and evaluated so that provision can be adapted
and developed in ways which will have the maximum benefit. Ultimately
the users' views on what they get from the networked library will be the
most important in determining the future direction of the programme.
- In addition to the traditional methods of counting the use of
resources and services, the development of user surveys has considerably
advanced the understanding of perceptions and satisfaction levels among
library users. Many library authorities have supported recent national
initiatives led by CIPFA to establish standards in user surveys, for
both adults and children, and a UK picture of library user appreciation
is now beginning to emerge.
- Performance evaluation of networked electronic library services is
even more recent. Counting the number of accesses of a particular
electronic resource is straightforward, and 'Webwatch services' are
enhancing the capacity of the technology to monitor both usage and
users. However, evaluation beyond this level - testing the impact and
outcomes which result from use - is still at the development stage. In
this area, the public library networking programme will need to draw on
the research currently being undertaken in other sectors - especially
the higher education library sector. This chapter presents an overview
of the literature and the work currently in progress in this important
Principles of performance evaluation
- In recent years interest in library performance measurement has been
intense, and various studies have been published on both sides of the
Atlantic. The reasons for this interest are not hard to find: pressure
on resources has led to an ever-more intensive search for efficiency of
operation, while concern to serve users' needs has focused attention on
effectiveness. Funders have demanded not only that value for money be
achieved, but that it be demonstrated by reference to factual data.
Users, and other stakeholders, have become more vociferous, while the
adoption of an 'access' strategy - using ICTs to reach remote resources
- in contrast to a 'holdings' strategy - the continual accumulation of
physical collections on site - has led to a greater reliance on external
providers, and, with it, greater use of contracts, service-level
- The performance indicators that are needed and how they are used can
be viewed from a number of perspectives. Policymakers, library managers
and customers will have varied attitudes to what constitutes an
efficient and effective public library service, although it is possible
to identify some commonly accepted indicators. Generally it is the
library manager who will need most the comprehensive approach, in order
to adapt services to meet needs and expectations. However, the
'stakeholder' approach does draw the attention of managers to the need
to demonstrate the value of the investment - it is axiomatic that the
user's perspective is, ultimately, the most important.
for the networked library
- There has so far been no systematic study to develop and make use of
performance indicators for the new networked electronic libraries. There
are moves in this direction, however. The higher education community -
and the HE library community in particular - has amassed a wealth of
experience in developing networked services to the HE user community.
With this have come much debate on the role of the HE library in the
provision of electronic information and a recognition of the need for
new kinds of management information and performance indicators.
Electronic services are increasingly being delivered to the desktop, in
or beyond the campus.
- In making effective use of 'library' services, end-users will no
longer require access only to physical stock. In these circumstances the
contact between user and resource is invisible, and library staff may
not know who is using which service; they may be unaware of alternative
solutions which users find for themselves. The effectiveness of library
services is thus more difficult to judge than in a conventional
print-based environment. However, two recent research studies of
particular significance have focused on developing strategies for
generating management information and devising performance indicators
for (a) the academic networked environment and (b) the electronic
The networked environment
- Assessing the Academic Networked Environment: Strategies and
Options (McClure and Lopata, 1996) is the outcome of a study
supported by the Coalition for Networked Information in the USA. The
publication is described as a manual which 'can assist network managers
and higher education decision-makers with improving the usefulness and
quality of their networks and ultimately increasing the satisfaction of
network users' (p. 3). Its authors:
- describe a range of techniques that assess the academic networked
- identify and discuss data-collection issues and problems;
- provide procedures for collecting and analysing the data needed to
produce the assessment;
- provide a baseline set of measures (e.g. counts of users, costs,
network services, support services, user satisfaction, etc.) for
conducting network assessments as a means for improving academic
- Performance measurement allows the organisation to:
- Identify the successful and less successful aspects of the network
in relation to user needs and organisational goals.
- Provide trend data to assess changes in the use of the network and
network services over time.
- Assist decision makers in allocating (or re-allocating) resources and
in planning for future network developments.
- Assist network and library managers in justifying expenditure and
accounting for those expenditures.
- Monitor network activities and services to detect any change in
activities or the quality of services.
- Determine the degree to which users are satisfied with the network
and networked services.
- Serve as a first step in benchmarking, i.e. identifying best practice
performance, using that performance as a goal, investigating the factors
that led up to that performance, and then trying to replicate that level
of performance. (McClure and Lopata, 1996, p. 5)
- Assessing the Academic Networked Environment places a heavier
emphasis on qualitative methods of data collection than is usual in the
literature of performance measurement, and includes details of
techniques such as network benchmarking, focus groups, critical-incident
techniques, group process surveys, scenario development, and
The electronic library
- Management Information for the Electronic Library is a UK study in
progress for the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher
Education Funding Council, and is examining how performance indicators
for the electronic library might fit into the context of performance
measurement as discussed in the Joint Funding Council's Ad-Hoc Group on
Performance Indicators for Libraries report The Effective Academic
Library (HEFC(E), 1995). A range of indicators similar to that of
McClure and Lopata is being developed, but from a perspective of
information access and delivery. The study is being conducted at the
Centre for Research in Library and Information Management at the
University of Central Lancashire, following an earlier scoping study
(Brophy, 1995). The final report is due in summer 1997.
- Work in progress for this study (Brophy, 1997) demonstrates that
types of management information and performance indicators can be
identified in relation to library managers' needs for decision-making
information. Managerial tasks can be combined with identified functions
of the electronic library to provide guidance on the kinds of decision
which library managers will need to take to inform library planning and
ensure that outcomes represent the best value for investment and effort.
- The Management Information for the Electronic Library study is
highlighting the complexity of managing the ever-changing mix of
traditional and electronic services to deliver end-user services to ever
more diverse locations through the present-day academic library. The
need for defined and agreed performance indicators to evaluate these
services is an important issue.
- The networked public library will present the same challenges to
public library managers. Research in performance measurement and
performance evaluation in the networked public library will need to be
aligned with ongoing work in other sectors, and especially with that in
Brophy, P. (1995). Management Information for the Electronic
Library: Report on a Scoping Study undertaken for the Joint Information
Systems Committee under FIGIT's Supporting Studies and Activities
Programme. Preston: CERLIM, University of Central Lancashire
Brophy, P. (1997). Management Information Systems and Performance
Measurement for the Electronic Library: eLib Supporting Study. Draft
report to JISC/HEFC(E).
HEFC(E) (1995). The Effective Academic Library: A Framework for
Evaluating the Performance of UK Academic Libraries: A Consulative Report
to HEFC(E), SHEFC, HEFC(W) and DENI by the Joint Funding Council's Ad Hoc
Group on Performance Indicators for Libraries. Bristol: HEFC(E).
McClure, C. R., and Lopata, C. I. (1996). Assessing the Academic
Networked Environment: Strategies and Options. Washington, DC: CNI
8 Implementation -
creating the momentum
- The proposals contained in this report pave the way for the complete
transformation of public libraries in the UK. Libraries can now assume a
central role, delivering access to information and communication
technologies vital to national success. The networking of public
libraries will place them in the forefront of the drive to create an
educated, informed and ICT-literate society.
- Information and communication technologies are a major force for
change in almost every sphere of activity, including areas which already
have well-established links with libraries - particularly in education,
government, industry and commerce. This creates an exciting mix. It is
essential that the implementation of our strategy relates to this wider
- We see the following as the main challenges:
- For government - to take a lead in developing and delivering
an integrated national information policy with a strong emphasis on a
central role for libraries.
- For the technology and communication industries - to seize
the opportunity for provision and management of network infrastructure,
services and content for libraries.
- For libraries and library authorities - to embrace the
concept of the new library and to provide a new and dynamic interface
between people, technology and information.
- For educators - to ensure that the benefits that can be
delivered by information and communication technologies are available
both to those in school and formal education and to independent lifelong
- Partnerships between these groups will be essential to achieve the
revolutionary transformation we are seeking. Each has an important role
- The single most important step is for government to signal its
commitment to its information policy by providing a comprehensive and
consistent approach to the development and application of information
and communication technologies in public libraries, with the UK Public
Library Network at the centre. This approach must mesh with similar
initiatives in the education sector and elsewhere, building on the
relationships that already exist, and - given the high level of
investment required for each component of our strategy - focusing
resources on areas of common purpose.
- The government's commitment may be registered in four ways:
- by establishing a central coordinating mechanism which brings
together the appropriate government departments and regulatory
- by establishing a development agency - the Public Library Networking
Agency - to energise and coordinate networking developments in public
- by developing appropriate partnerships between the public and private
sectors to implement the strategy;
- by providing a funding commitment which will encourage others to
contribute to the costs of the public library networking plan.
Agents for change
- The main elements in each of these strands should be as follows:
A central coordinating mechanism
- This should be specifically responsible for ensuring that our
proposals for libraries are taken forward by government in step with
similar initiatives, particularly in education and learning. It should
therefore involve those departments and agencies with interests in the
development of a national infrastructure, the creation and dissemination
of content, and the provision of education and lifelong learning. It is
essential for this mechanism to have a UK-wide focus and remit.
- Our strategy for libraries provides the opportunity to combine a
public good with a commercial return. We believe that partnership is
essential if we are to unlock the resources required to deliver and
develop our vision and stimulate achievement. We recommend that
government initiates urgent discussions with telecommunications
companies, service providers, content creators, and hardware and
software producers in order to establish new partnership arrangements
that will provide the means of implementing our strategy.
The Public Library Networking Agency
- There is an immediate need to establish a single UK body - a
development agency - to act on behalf of the public library sector in
- lead and coordinate development and implementation of networking
across the UK public library sector;
- act as a focal point for discussions with the private sector;
- provide the link with government in developing the public library
element of an integrated strategy for information;
- market the concept of public library networking among library
authorities, identifying the benefits that will result from prompt
- be responsible for the management and channelling of central funds
towards the implementation of the public library networking plan;
- establish a programme for developing new products in:
- content and services;
- network infrastructure;
- staff training.
- The Public Library Networking Agency will be a small tight-knit body
with a UK-wide remit. It should take its policy direction from the
Library and Information Commission, with the necessary arrangements for
full participation by representatives from Scotland and Wales. (The
LIC's remit covers only England and Northern Ireland - except in matters
related to research and international issues, when Scotland and Wales
are also represented.)
- It will operate by commissioning other bodies to undertake the
various elements of the public library networking development. The
elements of its responsibilities are as shown below.
Content and services
- Bodies will be commissioned to provide the following:
- consortia purchasing - supporting the arrangements at local, regional
and national level;
- new databases and resources - developing subject-based or
local/regional resources and databases around key needs and issues;
- digitisation projects - local/regional/UK initiatives to access
special collections or those best served by digitisation technologies;
- information on the Internet - coordinating and facilitating access to
- enhanced library cooperation - networked access to library catalogues
and enhanced interlending and related facilities.
Training and development
- Bodies will be commissioned to provide the following:
- training strategy management - overall management of the UK training
- networked training resources - commissioning new resources for
manager and staff training, networked for local use;
- training events - organising local and regional training events;
- training trainers - managing the training of local library trainers
to support a 'cascade' process.
- Bodies will be commissioned to provide the following:
- UK infrastructure - managing the higher-level public library network
for speed and quality of connectivity;
- local infrastructure - negotiation with library authorities to
upgrade local networks to a common standard;
- access innovation - developing innovative technology to ease access
for new users, the isolated, and people with disabilities;
- access policy and strategy - coordinating policy and strategy around
free/charged services, cross-sectoral networking, and community
A funding commitment
- Funding will be required from various sources, but it will be
necessary for government to provide a meaningful contribution, both as a
signal of intent and as an incentive for others to participate. We
therefore believe there is a minimum requirement for government to:
- fund the work of the Public Library Networking Agency;
- underwrite the costs associated with a UK training programme for
- provide or broker central funding to initiate the implementation of
the UK Public Library Network and to incentivise library authorities and
other partners to participate from the beginning.
- In this way government leadership will generate and guarantee the
momentum to create a model of excellence which will be visible across
9 A summary of
recommendations & costs
Summary of recommendations
- That government signals its commitment to an information policy with
a strong emphasis on a central role for public libraries by:
- establishing a central coordinating mechanism which brings together
appropriate government departments and regulatory authorities;
- establishing a development agency - the Public Library Networking
Agency - to energise and coordinate UK-wide networking developments;
- developing appropriate partnerships between the public and private
sectors to implement the public library networking plan;
- making a funding commitment which will encourage others to
contribute to the investment in the public library networking plan.
- (Chapter 8)
- That the Public Library Networking Agency be charged with developing
the public library network through:
- the creation of a UK 'backbone' infrastructure to link individual
public library networks;
- negotiation with library authorities to upgrade local library
networks to a common UK standard on a shared-funding basis.
- (Chapter 4)
- That the Public Library Networking Agency undertakes to procure
and/or develop content and services to enable 'access to knowledge,
imagination and learning', and that content development be given
priority in the following areas:
- enhancing education and lifelong learning opportunities for children
- supporting training, employment and business to foster economic
- nurturing social cohesion through fostering a politically and
culturally informed society.
- (Chapter 1)
- That this content to be delivered via the UK Public Library Network
- commercial publications;
- government/public information and the facility to undertake
electronic transactions with central government as part of the government.direct
- library-generated new resources, or resources developed by libraries
with partners in the public and/or private sectors;
- a programme to digitise rare/special collections in public libraries
and the delivery of other digitised collections from the national
libraries, museums and galleries, and other partners;
- access to Internet resources - both 'free' and commercial;
- support for the common information framework proposed, initially, by
the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee of the
Higher Education Funding Council.
- (Chapter 1)
- That the Public Library Networking Agency develops a training
strategy for the 27,000 employees in the public library sector, through:
- the development of new training resources to be delivered over the
UK Public Library Network;
- the organisation of face-to-face training events;
- a part-funded programme of staff release in order to realise the
substantial training and development needs at strategic, managerial and
operational levels in all library authorities;
- the allocation of a local training incentive fund to facilitate
training at local and regional levels.
- (Chapter 3)
Summary of costs
- The indicative costs given in the various parts of the report are
brought together below. However, costs have here been staggered, since
expenditure in each area will not begin at the same level at the same
- For each element of cost, the recommended source - a 'central' fund
for UK-wide investment, funding from the library authority, or
contribution by partners - was indicated in paragraph 5.9. There will be
an initial period during which the funding source is confirmed. The
first step of implementation will be to establish the Public Library
Networking Agency, which will address this task in partnership with the
Library and Information Commission, the Department for Culture, Media
and Sport, and other appropriate government offices and departments.
||£ million in year
|Public Library Networking Agency
|Consortia purchasing team
|Library/partnership new resources
|Digitisation of special collections
|Common information framework
|Training and development
|Training programme management
|Networked courses, delivery and accreditation
|Staff release (50 per cent of total)
|Local training incentive fund
|UK 'backbone' - Public Library Network
|Local 'kit' (terminals, printers, etc.)
- All the elements of the plan should be funded up to and including
Year 6. In Year 7 the Public Library Networking Agency, in consultation
with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, other government
offices and departments and any other relevent body, should undertake a
review in order to redefine the strategy for the ensuing period.
- This report has identified ways in which the UK Public Library
Network will contribute to the transformation of the United Kingdom into
an information society. This appendix provides a brief literature review
of some of the reports in which governments around the world have given
their views on the importance of the information society, and the role
that libraries will play in bringing this about. The reports were
typically very high-level visionary documents that suggested policy
- The reports used for this review were identified through a literature
search of the Internet and print sources. Twenty-four documents from
fourteen separate countries were used in its preparation. The survey was
limited to documents published in English; countries that had produced
suitable reports but had not made them available in English have not
been included. Nearly all of the reports cited are available on the
World Wide Web, and where possible Web addresses are provided in the
references. The reports are cited by their country of origin in this
review. The references are also ordered by the country of origin of the
- The literature review is in eight sections:
- What is the information society?
- Reasons for developing an information society
- Visions of the information society
- Barriers to the development of the information society
- Overcoming the barriers to the information society
- Some roles for the public library
- Brief summary
What is the information society?
- Of the reports surveyed, very few actually offered an exact
definition of the information society. Generally there was a recognition
that society is about to undergo a 'revolution where there will be an
explosion in the amount and exchange of information' (Denmark). This
revolution is taking place due to the development of information and
communication technologies (ICTs)(EU 1, EU 2). These technologies are
therefore 'generating a new industrial revolution already as significant
and far-reaching as those of the past' (EU 2).
- Only one of the reports specifically defined what it meant by the
term 'information society:
The term 'information society' describes an economy and a society in
which the acquisition, storage, processing, transmission, dissemination
and utilisation of knowledge and information, including the ever- growing
technical possibilities inherent in interactive communication, play a
decisive role. (Germany 1).
Reasons for developing
an information society
- None of the reports in any way argued that a government should act to
prevent the development of an information society within its country. It
was universally accepted that society is going to develop in this way on
a global scale, and that action must be taken to prepare for the great
changes ahead as soon as possible. There is a widespread fear that
unless a country develops its own information society as soon as
possible it will become actively disadvantaged in global economic terms
(Finland). Other possible consequences could be that if a country does
not take charge of its own developing information society it will have
one imposed upon it from elsewhere in the world.
As a society we have choices to make. If we ignore the opportunities [of
the information society] we run the risk of being left behind as other
countries introduce new services and make themselves more competitive: we
will become consumers of other countries' content and technologies rather
than our own. (Australia)
- This could have a very large negative impact on the culture of a
country, as it may be swamped by that of the global society (Iceland,
Australia). These fears are stated very clearly in a Canadian document:
If we fall behind our trading partners in building our Information
Highway, its worldwide counterpart will come to Canada - later - and not
the way Canadians want to see it. Failure to seize the opportunity of
using Canada's Information Highway will also result in reduced
competitiveness and the loss of high-growth knowledge industries and
high-quality jobs. The social costs in terms of lost job opportunities
will be enormous. Our national cultural dialogue will languish and our
governments will be less able to keep up with the rapidly changing
realities of the electronic age. (Canada 1)
Visions of the information society
- The visions of the information society can be divided into two types.
Firstly, many reports had visionary statements which detailed the
aspirations of how the information society should impact upon a country.
These aspirations were very high-level and very grand, and can perhaps
be considered the equivalent of a mission statement. The second type of
vision was much more pragmatic and looked at the potential impact on
certain areas of life. These included the impact on the economy, the way
that citizens can interact with their governments, and most importantly
the way society will have to become based on lifelong learning.
- The grand aspirations typically state that the country will:
- become a leader in the development of the information society (USA
- develop an advanced society based on networking (Finland);
- build a stronger sense of community and sense of national identity
- become a lifelong learning society (EU 1);
- grow in economic terms (Canada 2);
- enable citizens to participate more actively in government (Ireland);
- give every citizen access to the networks upon which the information
society will depend (Thailand).
- Perhaps the grandest statement of this type can be found in the
report from Singapore entitled IT 2000 - A Vision of an Intelligent
IT 2000 aims to transform Singapore into an Intelligent Island, where
the use of information technology is pervasive in every aspect of its
society - at work, home and play. Singaporeans will be able to tap into a
vast well of electronically stored information and services which they can
use to their best ends - to improve their business, to make their work
easier and to enhance their personal and social lives. Singapore, the
Intelligent Island, will be a global centre for science and technology, a
high value location for production and a critical node in global networks
of commerce, communications and information. (Singapore 1)
A lifelong learning society
- The majority of the reports envisage that the information society
will need to be a lifelong learning society - where, irrespective of
their physical location, individuals must continue to develop new skills
and take part in education courses. This is stated very clearly in a
In the new global economy, where knowledge is the key resource, the
quality of the nation's human resources is critical to ensuring
competitiveness, For this reason lifelong learning is a key design element
of the Information Superhighway. The Key to Prosperity in the knowledge
economy is for workers to make intelligent use of information. Learning
must span all our working lives. Technology will make that possible.
- Teaching and training will become more easily available over the
networks, and consequently will be more accessible to more people. New
methods of learning will be made possible, as personal interaction with
a teacher may no longer be required (Germany 1).
- The information society is seen as having a major impact on the way
that businesses operate. The market in which business takes place will
be opened up on a global scale (Iceland), and, in order to be able to
compete, businesses will need to have access to the latest technology.
There will be a move towards more 'knowledge-based' activities, and
there will be job losses in some more 'traditional' areas of employment.
However, many new jobs will be created in the knowledge industries, and
there will be a constant need for retraining and reskilling of the
workforce (Canada 1).
- As more resources become available online, more people will be able
to and will chose to work from home (Ireland). This will lead to the
development of 'virtual' communities, as people will socialise over the
networks. Membership of these communities will not be limited by the
geographical location of their members.
- Working from home also has implications for the traditional
The emphasis will change from training to become an employee to
acquiring skills which are marketable. Thus, increasingly, people will
look for 'customers' instead of employers. Relevant skills will be largely
based on the new technologies. (Ireland).
- The information society will have a population that is able more
effectively to interact with its governments. Public information will be
more easily accessible, and citizens will be able more effectively to
participate in decision-making (EU 1). Denmark in particular has a
strong vision of the new ways in which the government will be accessible
and responsible to its people. This vision includes the principle that
all 'official publications with public promulgations will change to
electronic form' (Denmark).
- Increasingly homes will be equipped with the new communications
technologies, including access to the Internet. There will be a rise in
home shopping through the convergence of television and communication
Barriers to the development
of the information society
- The reports identified barriers that are preventing countries from
developing into information societies. These barriers are:
- lack of public awareness about the information society and the
- lack of access to the information superhighway;
- lack of training to make the most of the new technologies;
- legal and technical difficulties which exist;
- lack of infrastructure on which the necessary networks will run.
Lack of public awareness/use
- A barrier that is frequently identified in the reports is the lack of
public awareness of the information society and the information
superhighway, and of the potential impact they will have on many aspects
of society. This lack of awareness means that businesses in particular
are not developing networked services and will not be prepared for the
move to the global economy.
- That consumers are not yet active enough on the information
superhighway is partly responsible for the low number of commercial
services available. This is leading to a vicious circle whereby many
consumers do not use the information superhighway as it carries no
services in which they are interested, and companies are not providing
networked services because there are not yet enough consumers to use
Lack of access
- Only those who have access to a networked computer will be able fully
to participate in the information society. This participation is
therefore limited to those who either can afford a computer or can get
access through their place of work or education. The lack of universal
access is seen as an extremely important barrier to overcome. All the
reports identify that without universal access the information society
which develops will be undemocratic, as it will be split into
'information haves and have-nots' (EU 2). The commitment to ensuring
universal access is stated very strongly in many documents. One example
is 'equality of opportunity is a fundamental tenet of American
democracy' (USA 3). 'Opportunity' in this quote refers to access to the
- Those who do have access to computers are often finding that the cost
of using the networked services is prohibitive. This is also acting as a
Lack of skills
- Another barrier identified is the inability of people to make use of
the new technology. Large sections of society currently lack the
necessary skills to make use of the possibilities that the information
society will hold. Providing access needs to be matched with the
provision of training (Australia).
The development towards an information society must not create new
inequalities between those who master the technology and understand its
potential and those who refuse or are unable to make use of it. (Norway)
- There are a number of legal issues that also act as barriers to the
development of a functioning information society. Copyright issues are
particularly problematic, as electronic versions of documents not only
can be copied an infinite number of times but may easily be modified for
reuse, making it difficult to distinguish the original (Sweden). Other
questions to be addressed are authenticity of information and labour
legislation in respect of the increased number of home workers, for
- There are technical barriers which still need to be overcome, such as
the development of universal standards which will make all applications
able to interact seamlessly. Also, services and applications tend to be
designed for use by people who already have considerable technical
skills (Japan 1). These services and applications are therefore not easy
to use by those who have fewer technical skills (Germany 1).
Investment required/infrastructure required
- There are many countries which do not currently have the necessary
infrastructure to support a full-scale information society. At present
the necessary infrastructure may be found only in urban areas of high
population. This is particularly the case in the more rural countries
such as Ireland and Thailand (Ireland, Thailand).
Overcoming the barriers
to the information society
- Across the reports, there is surprising similarity in suggested
policies which would assist the move into an information society. These
policies generally concentrate on overcoming the barriers that have been
- The public and industry will be made more aware of the information
society and its implications through the adoption of two main policies.
Firstly, there will be a move in several countries to set up a national
government-funded organisation that will have responsibility for raising
awareness of the information society with the public and with commercial
organisations (Ireland, Iceland). Secondly, government institutions at
both national and local level must start to use information and
communications technologies themselves, in order to be demonstrators and
so lead the way for the rest of society (Thailand, EU 2).
Since the government is an important element of the economy and society,
and public services provided by the government are essential for daily
life, the dissemination of information systems in the public sector serves
as a basis for the same process in the overall society. (Japan 2)
- The development of physical access points is generally again touched
upon in two ways. There is a move to ensure that access for all who
require it in their homes is available at a reasonable cost (Canada 1,
EU 3). There is also a call for strong legislation or suggestions that
'local access points are needed to allow everyone to plug into the
networks of knowledge and information' (EU 1). Typically these access
points will be provided for free (Denmark). The location of these access
points will be in public buildings such as libraries, schools and
government offices. (The issue of access points in public libraries will
be discussed more fully below.) These local community access points are
strongly identified as having a key role to play in preventing the
development of a society divided between information haves and have-nots
- A considerable amount of attention is given to the need for all
citizens to have the opportunity to develop the skills that they will
require to participate fully in the information society:
It is therefore of decisive importance that adults are also offered
suitable facilities for acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills
irrespective of whether this is given priority by employers. (Norway)
- Ways to achieve this are suggested at either a local or a national
level or both. At a national level, one example is the Irish move to
develop a 'national learning initiative' (Ireland). Such national
initiatives generally concentrate on ensuring that all education
facilities incorporate the applicable ICT into their teaching. The
local-level approach concentrates on the development of the 'lifelong
learning society', in which those outside institutional education will
have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills over the networks
or through work or local education/training initiatives (Thailand).
- Policy concerning infrastructure concentrates on the details of how
it will be funded. Most countries have adopted an approach that combines
a mixture of public guidance and commercial money. The very influential
Bangemann Report states that infrastructure must now be developed solely
by commercial organisations, without 'financial assistance, subsidies,
dirigisme, or protectionism' (EU 2).
Technical and legal issues
- To overcome the current legal problems there are recommendations that
new laws be drawn up which will simplify the situation - in particular
with consideration to copyright issues (Germany 1).
- One suggestion for overcoming the technical barriers is the
development of a government-funded research strategy to look at these
issues. This will take place in tandem with a publicity campaign to
convince industry of the importance of overcoming these barriers (Canada
Some roles for the public library
- A number of reports identify special roles for public libraries in
their information societies. The most typical roles are:
- public access points to the networks;
- providing teaching and training;
- assisting in knowledge resource discovery;
- knowledge providers.
Libraries as access points
- A large number of the reports strongly identify public libraries as
being highly suitable locations for public access points to the
information superhighway (Australia, Canada 1, Finland, Germany 1,
Sweden, Thailand, USA 1, 3).
For the large number of Danes who do not have the possibility of using a
computer at work there must be alternative opportunities to become
familiar with this basic tool of the information society and have access
to its information network. In this respect adult education and the public
libraries shall be the principal instruments. (Denmark)
Every individual in this country should have the opportunity to
participate on the Information Superhighway by the year 2000. The
quickest, most efficient way to do this is to bring the Information
Superhighway to the neighbourhood - to schools, libraries and community
centres. (USA 3)
- There is often no mention of how these access points will be funded.
However, there are a few reports which do call for considerable
investment in the public library system in order for it to fulfil the
role of the information net.
The Expert Committee saw libraries as a crucial success factor of the
information society, and it recommends that the whole library system must
be rapidly be brought within the reach of the network services. Adequate
equipment and telecommunication links as well as the existence of
necessary expertise in both research and public libraries must be
The Expert Group recommends, that, with the spread of broadband
infrastructure, broadband links be provided to all schools' libraries and
medical and community centres by the year 2001.The Group recommends that
connections be funded on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the State/Territory
and Commonwealth Governments. (Australia)
- Another country that explicitly states its support for libraries is
Singapore. As part of Library 2000, Singapore's public libraries will be
redeveloped so they can support the island's information society more
effectively. This will involve creating a
'network of libraries without walls' that enables access to information
and resources from anywhere at any time. To do this, 500 libraries and
information centre will be linked by a computer network which will connect
them to overseas libraries and databases. (Singapore 2)
Librarians as teachers/trainers
- Public libraries are identified as places where people can gain the
skills that they need to play a part on the information superhighway.
The first scenario of how this might happen is an extension of the
access point role whereby the library acts as the means through which
people get access to the training provided over the information
superhighway (Denmark, Australia). The second scenario is librarians
themselves providing the training which will be required (Canada 2).
Public access points will be vital training mechanisms, but formal
training mechanisms may also be needed for some key community trainers
such as librarians and teachers. (Australia)
- Public libraries are identified as being important managers of the
new information resources - or, in the terms of the Swedish report,
'information pilots of the future in the ocean of knowledge'. The Danes
more explicitly spell out this role:
The libraries' role and working conditions shall be re-evaluated in the
light of a development where electronic publications gradually take over
the role of magazines and books. The libraries shall act as intermediaries
and play a leading role in helping users to navigate through an increasing
flood of information. (Denmark).
- This role is also seen as vitally important in Singapore:
In the age of information overload, the job of the librarian in the next
century will be to point us in the right direction, where to look and help
concentrate the information that we need, and to do all this in an
attractive, even entertaining, way. (Singapore 3)
- It is interesting to note here that the emphasis in Singapore is not
only to provide new services, but also to provide them in a
'customer-orientated' manner (Singapore 3).
Making content available
- Another role foreseen for libraries (not just specifically public
libraries) is that of information providers. There are recommendations
in a number of reports that library content - i.e. libraries' books and
other resources - be made available in electronic form.
Emphasis should be placed on making all book and magazine files in the
country's libraries accessible to everyone in electronic form. (Iceland)
- Although again not specifically mentioning public libraries, there
are recommendations that the collections of cultural institutions be
available in digital form. A Canadian report states that
collections have been built, preserved and made available at public
expense. They document and allow us to appreciate the cultural diversity
and wealth of expression which is Canada. Digitalisation of these
collections offers a unique opportunity to make them available to
Canadians across the country. (Canada 1)
- The reports that were used in this review uniformly revealed a sense
of urgency in the need to prepare for the development of the information
- Visions of this society are surprising similar, irrespective of the
country of origin. The information society will be one that needs to be
based on lifelong learning.
- There are a number of barriers which need to be overcome - one of the
most important being the lack of universal access to the information
- Very similar policies are being developed globally in order to
overcome these barriers. These policies will concentrate on raising
awareness, putting training mechanisms in place, ensuring that universal
access is possible, and developing the necessary infrastructure.
- Public libraries are being seen not only as a means to implement
these policies, but also as a vitally important component of an
effective information society:
In the 21st century, the basis of all wealth and achievement will be
knowledge and culture. The cities which contribute most to human
civilisation will be those which are best able to educate and organise
their people, attract talent from all over the world, make use of
available existing knowledge, originate new knowledge and apply them
sensibly. Public libraries of a new kind will play a vital role in
creating and sustaining such dynamic human communities. (Singapore 3)
- Broadband Services Expert Group (1994). Networking Australia's
Future: Final Report of the Broadband Services Expert Group
(online). Available at
(accessed 30 June 1997).
- Information Highway Advisory Council Secretariat (1996). Building
the Information Society: Moving Canada into the 21st Century
(online). Available at
http://info.ic.gc.ca/info-highway/ih.html (accessed 20 May 1997).
- Information Highway Advisory Council Secretariat (1995). Connection,
Community, Content: The Challenge of the Information Highway
(online). Available at
bin/dec/wwwfetch?/sgml/ih01037e_pr702.sgml(accessed 16 May 1997).
- Ministry of Research (1994). Info-Society 2000 (online).
http://www.fsk.dk/fsk/publ/info2000-uk/ (accessed 21 May 1997).
- European Union
- Information Society Forum (1996). Networks for People and their
Communities: Making the Most of the Information Society in the European
Community (online). Available at
(accessed 21 May 1997).
- Bangemann, M., et al. (1994). Europe and the Global Information
Society. Recommendations to the European Council (online). Available
(accessed 20 May 1997).
- Pigott, I. (1997). Green Paper on the Role of Libraries in the
Information Society (online). Available at
(accessed 23 May 1997).
- Finland's Way to the Information Society (1996) (online).
http://www.ncb.gov.sg/nii/96scan1/finland.html (accessed 21 May
- Council for Research, Technology and Innovation (1995). The
Information Society: Opportunities, Innovations and Challenges.
Assessment and Recommendations. Bonn: Ministry of Education,
Science, Research and Technology.
- Federal Ministry of Economics (1996). Info 2000: Germany's Way to
the Information Society (online). Available at
(accessed 23 May 1997).
- The Icelandic Government's Vision of the Information Society
(1997) (online). Available at
(accessed 3 June 1997).
- Information Society Steering Committee (1996). Information
Society Ireland: Strategy for Action (online). Dublin: Department of
Enterprise and Employment, Irish Government. Available at
(accessed 15 July 1997).
- Telecommunications Council (1994). Reforms toward the
Intellectually Creative Society of the 21st Century (online).
(accessed 30 June 1997).
- Ministry of International Trade and Industry (1994). Program for
Advanced Information Infrastructure (online). Available at
(accessed 30 June 1997).
- Information Superhighway Steering Group (1995). A Vision for
Acceleration: Working Plan for the Information Superhighway
(online). Available at
(accessed 23 May 1997).
- Ministry of Transport and Communications (1997). The Norwegian
Way to the Information Society. Bit by Bit: Report from the State
Secretary Committee for IT (online). Oslo: ODIN. Available at
(accessed 20 May 1997).
- IT 2000 - A Vision of an Intelligent Island (n.d.) (online).
Available at http://www.ncb.gov.sg/ncb/vision.asp
(accessed 20 May 1997).
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(accessed 8 July 1997).
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for a Renaissance City (speech) (online). Available at
(accessed 8 July 1997).
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(online). Available at
(accessed 23 May 1997.
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and Prosperity: Thailand IT Policy into the 21st Century (online).
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(accessed 21 May 1997).
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(1996). A Nation of Opportunity: Realising the Promise of the
Information Superhighway (online). Washington, DC: National
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(accessed 20 May 1997).
on library users
Aims of this study
- A considerable amount of quantitative research exists which provides
detailed knowledge of current library usage patterns. Chapter 2 in this
report presents the results of research carried out to gain a
qualitative understanding of user needs and motivations, and to
investigate reactions to potential developments of new technology and
networked libraries. This research is intended to provide directional
guidance for the implementation of the report .
- Specific application concepts were identified and tested out,
assessing appeal, relevance and potential impact among key target
groups. Fieldwork was carried out in four different locations, selected
to represent a range of library services: a small local library, a main
central library, a library in a deprived inner-city area, and a rural
library. The methodology used is outlined at the end of this appendix.
- As background to the main findings presented in Chapter 2, this
section outlines perceptions of the existing library service among our
- The public library was perceived to be a keystone in each local
community, and there was a common understanding as to its role and
purpose. The library was seen mainly as a place to borrow books, but
there was a tremendous respect and appreciation of the special space it
provides. Other aspects which users perceived as important were:
- a source of information;
- expert staff to help you;
- a place to study in peace and quiet 'without distractions';
- an important resource for children, to develop their interest in
books and reading ;
- a place to help people develop interests/hobbies;
- somewhere to go when you don't know where to go (especially true for
- a free service - 'a safety net' for all.
- While the library was known to be the place where local culture and
history are preserved, and people had drawn on this service from time to
time, this function was more recessive.
- The imagery was dominated by the large-scale presence of books, but
other attributes associated with the library were:
- its 'public' nature, for use by everyone;
- an appealing environment - being surrounded by books an important
- a familiar, relaxing place - unthreatening and safe;
- a quiet haven from busy urban life;
- 'Not as stuffy as they used to be' - the rule of silence no longer
- helpful staff;
- an important social place - especially for students and older people.
- A few younger respondents held the view that the library tended to
have a 'downbeat' image and to be full of people killing time when they
had nothing else to do. They thought that it needed to become much more
mainstream, pushing itself forward and leading with new media rather
- In general, people's experiences were based on one or two libraries
in their immediate vicinity, so they were not generally aware of any
wide variations in quality of service. There was a tremendous amount of
goodwill expressed towards the local library. Satisfaction with the
service was generally high, and also with the library environment. Any
dissatisfaction was at a low level and usually about lack of comfortable
seating, poor layout/labelling, and slowness of supplying a book on
order from another library.
- The public library was perceived to be under increasing financial
pressure, as evidenced by restricted opening hours, closure of some
small libraries, and apparent lack of newly published titles in
- Given this view, for some people the concept of the introduction of
IT seemed unrealistic, and the funding of it became a major issue for
- The research programme was in two stages. In Stage 1, concepts were
developed by consolidating existing thinking and carrying out a
combination of in-depth interviews and brainstorming among key
individuals, as well as paying a visit to a leading-edge library. A
workshop was held among futurists and technologists, and included
individuals whose specialisms were in the fields of education and
language as well as advanced services in IT. In addition, twenty experts
were consulted representing LIC members, librarians, education, small
businesses (including Business in the Community), local government,
technologists and futurists.
- Stage 2 was a small-scale qualitative study among six key library
user groups , and included mid-teens (aged fourteen/fifteen years in a
deprived inner- city location), school-leavers, families with a general
interest in the library, 'lifelong learners', and adults engaged in some
form of part-time study to make a career change or return to work.
Fieldwork was carried out in the locations described in paragraph A2.2.
- Various items of stimulus material were used in the groups, to aid
exploration, and included a video of 'The Library of the Future' to
demonstrate some of the possible applications of public library
networking, mood boards encapsulating various images, and concept boards
covering the main themes identified in Stage 1.
- Stage 1 was used to inform Stage 2 and the conclusions presented in
Members of the working group
- Chairman: Matthew Evans, Chairman of Faber and Faber and The
Library and Information Commission
Vice-chairman: Professor Mel Collier, De Montfort University
(to July 1997); Dawson Holdings PLC (from August 1997)
Project leader: John Dolan, Head of Central Library, Birmingham
- Richard Bent, HM Treasury; now Department of Trade and
Robert Craig, Director, Scottish Library and Information Council
Lorcan Dempsey, Director, UK Office for Library and Information
John Diamond, Journalist
Sir Brian Follett, Vice-chancellor, Warwick University
Margaret Haines, Principal Adviser, Library and Information
Grace Kempster, Chief Librarian, Leeds City Council
Richard Livesey-Haworth, Group Executive Director, ICL plc
Bill Macnaught, Director of Libraries and Arts, Gateshead
Metropolitan Borough Council
Dr Robert Sabin, Vision Campaign Project Manager, BT
Linda Tomos, Director, Wales Information Network, Department of
Information and Library Studies, University of Wales Aberystwyth
Peter Wienand, Farrar & Co.
Sally Booth CBE, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Neville Mackay, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
- The working group broke into smaller groups to prepare each chapter,
and we are extremely grateful to the following, who joined in, gave
their time, and made significant contributions to the finished report:
Chris Armstrong, Centre for Information Quality Management
Chris Batt, Borough Libraries and Museum Officer, London Borough
Leigh Brownsword, Pentagram Design Ltd
Professor Peter Brophy, Head of the Centre For Research in
Library and Information Management, University of Central Lancashire
Bob Christie, Society of Information Technology Management
Dr Bob Cooper, Strategy Director, UKERNA
Revd Graham Cornish, British Library
Joe Crofts, BT
Guy Daines, Head of Professional Practice, Library Association
Philippa Dobson, Head of Information Services, Leeds Library and
Jane Drabble, Director of Education, BBC
Jonathan Drori, Head of Digital Media and New Learning Channels,
Professor Judith Elkin, Dean, Faculty of Computing and
Information Studies, University of Central England
Ian Everall, Public Library Services Manager, Walsall
Metropolitan District Council
Leo Favret, Library Operations Manager, Bromley Leisure Services
Anne Fisher, Policy Adviser, Library and Information Commission
Shelagh Fisher, Principal Lecturer, Centre for Research in
Library and Information Management, University of Central Lancashire
Brian Gambles, Head of Information Management and Networking,
Birmingham Library Services
Vivien Griffiths, Assistant Director, Libraries and Learning,
Birmingham City Council
Chris Hart, BT
Frances Hendrix, Director, LASER
David Inglis, Director, Digital Library Project, British Library
Graham Jessop, Financial Services Manager, West Sussex County
Helen Kilpatrick, County Treasurer, West Sussex County Council
Dr Brian Lang, Chief Executive, British Library
Nigel Macartney, Director, British Library Research and
Martin Molloy, County Librarian Archive and Arts Officer,
Derbyshire County Council
John Neighbour, BT
Sandy Norman, Information Manager, Library Association
Sarah Ormes, Research Officer, UKOLN
Steve Pollock, Head of Learning Support, BBC
Sue Reeder, Head of Personnel and Member Services, Hertfordshire
Libraries, Arts and Information
David Ruse, Chair, Project EARL
Lynda Samuels, Market Research and Planning Consultant
Sue Schreiber, Business Analyst, ICL
Ross Shimmon, Chief Executive, Library Association
Anthony Tilke, Professional Adviser, Youth and School Libraries,
Pearl Valentine, Chief Librarian, Northern Ireland North Eastern
Education and Library Board
Rob Wirszycz, Director General, Computing Services and Software
Chris Yapp, Manging Consultant, Lifelong Learning, ICL
- We consulted widely as we wrote the report, and John Dolan and others
addressed many groups. In addition we arranged focus groups in different
parts of the UK to address specific areas of the plan. We are grateful
to all those people who joined in, and also to the following people who
gave their valuable advice:
- John Blagden, Chair, LINC
William Blomfield, BT
Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey Bart., Information for All
Martin Dudley, Hertfordshire County Council/Information for All
Hilary Hammond, Director of Arts and Libraries, Jane Churley,
Principal Librarian, John Creber, Principal Assistant Director,
Norfolk County Libraries
Kevin Harris, Information Manager, Community Development
Graham Jordan, Director, Cabinet Office Central IT Unit
John Lewis, Principal Consultant, Admiral Managment Services Ltd
(for the Computer Harmonisation Project Board, Northern Ireland)
Dougal McInnes, Local Government Association
Bob McKee, Assistant Chief Executive, Solihull Metropolitan
David Owen, Director, Libraries and Theatres, Manchester City
Ursula Owen, Education Extra
David Ritchie, Regional Director, Government Office for the West
Ken Worpole, Comedia
- I am very grateful to everyone on the working group. We came together
in a hurry, and had just three months to deliver our report to the
government. Everyone worked extremely hard, and under a great deal of
pressure managed to keep not only their sense of humour but also clear
minds about what we wanted to do. This was undoubtedly helped by the
fact we had a shared vision of what we wanted for the public library
- I am most grateful to Mark Wood, Editor in Chief of Reuters, for the
discussions we had and the very considerable help he gave with the
introduction as well as other parts of the report.
- Bob Davenport, the editor, took the whole thing in a raw and
unfinished state and worked wonders with it. John McConnell of Pentagram
then took over from Bob and designed the final report. My assistant at
Faber and Faber, Clare Reihill, bore a huge and additional burden for
the past three months, and my grateful thanks go to her.
- Finally, I come to John Dolan, the project leader. John was seconded
from the Central Library in Birmingham in April 1997 for four months,
and I know that everyone on the working group will agree with me when I
say that without his work this report would not exist. He approached the
project with a calmness and an intelligence that everybody responded to;
he has my gratitude, and the thanks of the entire working group.
- Matthew Evans, July 1997
Terms of reference:
Library and Information Commission Working Group on
- The overall aim of the Working Group will be to report to Government
on the steps which need to be taken for public libraries in the United
Kingdom to respond effectively to the challenge of the new information
and communications technology. The Group should report by the end of
July 1997, although their work may continue beyond this date, A critical
success factor for the Working Group will be establishing a practical
method of ensuring quick and effective communication and negotiation
with local authorities. The Group should address:
- what services and 'content' a public libraries information technology
network might deliver to the end-user;
- how a public library network might contribute to the more efficient
management of the nation's library resources, by improving
communications between libraries;
- the value of electronic data links for the exchange of information
between public libraries and other networked information resources in
the public, academic and commercial sectors, including the value and
feasibility of links to existing networks such as JANET, and to museums
- the possible role of a public libraries network as a gateway for
remote users to a whole range of sources of electronic information;
- the implications of (i) to (iv) above for the design and technical
specification of a public libraries IT network, building on the work
done by Information for All, but not constrained by it. The Group should
also consider a more flexible approach, incorporating a number of
different financial and technical models;
- funding of the network and the potential role of the private sector
and the Lottery in providing the initial capital investment, managing
the system and supplying content;
- charging mechanisms and policies;
- how the network should be procured and run, including how
negotiations with suppliers of IT systems and copyright owners might
best be handled;
- how training and development requirements might be met.
- The Public Libraries Review highlights some particularly important IT
developments, which the Group will need to take into account in framing
its recommendations. The relationship of a public libraries network to
the British Library's electronic services, including its programme of
text digitisation, will need to be carefully examined. The impact of the
Government's IT for All and government.direct programmes and how
public libraries can contribute to these initiatives should also be
considered with the relevant agencies and departments.
- Because of the range and diversity of the issues and interests
involved, the Working Group will not itself aim to be representative,
but will be a small team drawing on the advice of a number of specialist
sub-groups focused on particular tasks or problems.
- The definitions of networking terms included below are not intended
to be technically rigorous but will serve to provide the necessary
understanding for the purposes of this report. Terms in italics
have a glossary entry of their own.
- ATM Asynchronous Transfer Mode: a communications
network using ATM technology enables multimedia services of all
kinds to be delivered at high rates of use.
- bandwidth A term used to describe how much data you
can send through a connection to the Internet, measured in bits
per second (or, more usually, kilobits per second or megabits
- bit The basic unit of information used by
computers: the status 0 or 1 in the binary number system.
- broadband A transmission medium capable of
supporting a wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video
- broadband switching The ability to direct traffic
around a broadband network to a variety of locations, as opposed
to using point-to-point facilities.
- browser Software used to access information from
the World Wide Web.
- bursty Data transmission across a communications
network is described as a 'bursty' if, rather than a steady flow
of data, periods of inactivity are followed by a big burst of traffic.
Modern networks can be designed to handle this pattern of traffic in an
efficient and cost-effective manner.
- cache A server used to hold a local copy of
frequently accessed information so that it does not have to be retrieved
from the network - particularly, in the context of this report, as a
means of managing access to Internet sites more efficiently.
- connectivity The state of being interconnected.
- dial-up services Services accessed by using
telephone lines or ISDN networks to connect a computer to the
- domain The part of the Internet address
that specifies a computer's location in the world. The address is
written as a series of names separated by full stops. Some of the most
common top-level domains are:
- .ac.uk academic and research (UK)
- .com commercial (US)
- .co.uk UK company
- .edu education (US)
- .gov public bodies
- .mod Ministry of Defence
- .net network resource
- eLib The Electronic Libraries programme, set up by
JISC to bring about pragmatic technology and communications
solutions to improve the range and quality of HE library
services in the electronic age.
- e-mail Electronic mail: an electronic means of
communication in which (a) usually text is transmitted, (b) operations
include sending, storing, processing, and receiving information, (c)
users are allowed to communicate under specified conditions, and (d)
messages are held in storage until called for by the addressee.
- Ethernet A cable-based system of communication for
local area networks that prevents more than one computer
transmitting at a time.
- extranet A network formed by connecting an
intranet to another network - for example, when two companies
decide to share information about design and supply.
- FE Further education.
- FEFC Further Education Funding Council.
- firewall machine A dedicated gateway
machine with special security precautions on it, used to service outside
a network, especially Internet connections and dial-in
lines. The idea is to protect a cluster of more loosely administered
machines hidden behind it.
- gateway 1. In a communications network, a
network node equipped for interfacing with another network that
uses different communication conventions. 2. Loosely, a computer
configured to perform the tasks of a gateway.
- HE Higher education.
- HEFC Higher Education Funding Council.
- HTML HyperText Mark-up Language: the software
language used to create Web documents.
- HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol: the standard way
of transferring HTML documents between Web servers and
- hypertext link On Web sites, an instant way
of going to another site with related content - usually by clicking on
an icon (or symbol).
- ICT Information and communication technology.
- information superhighway A 'network of
networks', combining a range of computer and telecommunications networks
and services. The ability, through appropriate technology, to link
individual libraries, schools and homes with the high-speed broadband
networks will make available a new range of information and multimedia
- interactive A term describing the exchanging of
information between users on a network or between users and the
network host. The commonest such interaction is a telephone call.
- interface A boundary across which two systems
communicate. An interface might be a hardware connector used to link to
other devices, or it might be a convention used to allow communication
between two software systems.
- (The) Internet A worldwide interconnection of
individual networks operated by government, industry, academia and
private parties. The Internet originally served to interconnect
laboratories engaged in government research, but has now been expanded
to serve millions of users and a multitude of purposes.
- Internet service providers (ISPs) Companies that
provide a service to consumers and businesses such that they can access
the Internet, use e-mail, and use other Internet-based
services (for example, home shopping). ISPs also provide services that
include help with design, creation and administration of Web sites,
training, and administration of intranets.
- intranet An intranet uses Internet
communication conventions and applications over an internal,
password-controlled company network.
- ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network: an
international-standard public network supporting a wide range of
applications based on voice, image, text, video and data - all over one
- ISP Internet service provider.
- JANET Joint Academic Network: the wide area
network which links UK academic and research institutes, providing
connectivity within the community as well as access to external
services and other communities.
- JISC The Joint Information Systems Committee of the
Higher Education Funding Council.
- kilobits per second (kb/s) Thousands of bits
per second - a unit of information transfer rate.
- LIC Library and Information Commission.
- local area network (LAN) A data communications
system that (a) lies within a limited spatial area, (b) has a specific
user group, (c) has a specific topology, and (d) is not a public
switched telecommunications network, but may be connected to
- LANs are usually restricted to relatively small areas, such as rooms,
buildings, ships and aircraft. They are not subject to public
- An interconnection of LANs over a city-wide geographical area is
commonly called a metropolitan area network (MAN). An
interconnection of LANs over large geographical areas, such as
nationwide, is commonly called a wide area network (WAN).
- managed network service A service where the
customer chooses to buy in the administration and management of their
network; the customer can contract for the required quality of
service, and leave how it is achieved up to the supplier.
- megabits per second (Mb/s) Millions of bits
per second - a unit of information transfer rate; for example, Ethernet
can carry 10 Mb/s.
- metropolitan area network See under local area
- multicasting In a network, a technique that
allows data to be simultaneously transmitted to a selected set of
- multimedia Pertaining to the processing and
integrated presentation of information in more than one form - for
example, video, voice, music, animated graphics, or data.
- National Grid for Learning A term used in the 1997
Labour Party manifesto: 'For the internet we plan a National Grid for
Learning, franchised as a public/private partnership, which will bring
to teachers up-to-date materials to enhance their skills, and to
children high-quality educational materials.'
- network An interconnection of three or more
- NHSnet A UK-wide information network for
the National Health Service, used, among other things, to disseminate
systematic reviews of research.
- NVQ National Vocational Qualification.
- Ofsted Office for Standards in Education.
- OFTEL Office of Telecommunications.
- open standards Publicly maintained, readily
available standards that are not owned or specified by a single
commercial organisation and so can be used widely.
- PFI Private Finance Initiative: a means by which
public-sector projects are financed and developed by the private sector
for an agreed reward.
- server A central computer which provides some
service for other computers connected to it via a network. The
most common example is a file server, which has a local disc and
services requests from remote users to read and write files on that
- smartcard A plastic card (like a credit card) with
an embedded integrated circuit for storing information. One use is as a
form of token in banking systems; electronic money is stored on the
card. The idea is that one smartcard is easier to carry around than a
multitude of paper tokens or tickets.
- SMDS Switched Multi-megabit Data Service: an
emerging high-speed public data network service developed by
Bellcore and expected to be widely used by telephone companies as the
basis for their data networks.
- SuperJANET An initiative started in 1989 with the
aim of developing a national broadband network to support UK
higher education and research.
- SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification.
- switched network A communications network,
such as the public switched telephone network, in which any user may be
connected to any other user through the use of message, circuit, or
packet switching and control devices.
- TECs Training and Enterprise Councils.
- University for Industry One of the new government's
proposals for education: 'we will be publishing detailed proposals for a
University for Industry, which will harness information technology to
help people develop skills for their present job and the skills they
need to go on to other jobs. Acting as a public/private partnership, it
will also help enterprises deliver training and learning in new ways.
Our aim is to provide low-cost packages to firms and individuals - on
disk, CD-rom or online' (David Blunkett).
- videoconference A two-way electronic communications
system that permits two or more persons in different locations to engage
in the equivalent of face-to-face audio and video communications. At its
simplest, a phone call with pictures.
- virtual reality A computer-generated simulated
environment with which users can interact using specialised peripherals
such as data gloves and head-mounted computer-graphic displays.
- (The) Web The World Wide Web.
- Web server A server process running a Web site
which sends out Web pages in response to requests.
- Web site Any computer on the Internet
running a server process for the World Wide Web.
- wide area network See under local area network.
- World Wide Web (WWW) Also known as 'the Web', this
is the generic name given to all of the hypertext-based HTML
documents on the Internet. These documents have links to each
other and are accessible from HTTP or Web servers.The
WWW has been the application which has most contributed to the Net's
- Roedd yr ogof yn gofiant:
anifeiliaid a than, fel lluniau plant
ymhob marw, pob rhamant.
- Rhoddwyd pob diferyn o dalent
fel yr aeron sur ar fur di-rent
eu cartref a'u mynwent
- i gyhoeddi'n derfynol
yn felyn a choch, yn wlyb ddiferol
y buont yma'n byw. Ac ar eu hol
- gadawsant nid esgyrn yn unig
ond y waedd oesol, gyntefig,
y waedd sy'n dal i chwarae mig
- yn swbwrbia'r llenni tynn,
ar ddalennau pob perthyn,
yn storiau'r dyddiau hyn.
- Ar fas-data'n profiadau
bathwn ystyr a geiriau
pennod arall yn agor a chau.
- Y Prifardd Dafydd Pritchard
Llyfrgellydd Cynorthwyoll, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru
Assitant Librarian, National Library of Wales
Bardd y Goron 1996
Crowned Bard 1996
- 'Confiannau' means 'Biographies'. From the day man inhabited caves he
felt a need to express himself, orginally with simple pictures painted
on cave walls, and people have always wanted to know about those who
have gone before them. The urge remains; only the technology has
'Cofiannau' copyright © 1997, Dafydd John
Report copyright © 1997, Library and Information Commission
'Hear It Again' copyright © 1997, Ted Hughes
'Cofiannau' copyright © 1997, Dafydd John Pritchard
Design copyright © 1997, Pentagram Design Ltd
This report is available online at
The covers and divider pages of the report are reproduced from originals
designed and printed letterpress from metal types, wood letters and blocks
by Alan Kitching RDI at the Typography Workshop, London.
The main body of the report was printed from computer files received via
an ISDN line.
Printed in Great Britain by A&R Associates Ltd, Shere, Surrey.
- 'The medicine chest of the soul.'
Inscription over the door of the library at Thebes
- I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was
not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true
architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child
whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open
door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful
that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
- If it is noticed that much of my outside work concerns itself with
libraries, there is an extremely good reason for this. I think that the
better part of my education, almost as important as that secured in the
schools and the universities, came from libraries.
- My mother and my father were illiterate immigrants from Russia. When
I was a child they were constantly amazed that I could go to a building
and take a book on any subject. They couldn't believe this access to
knowledge we have here in America. They couldn't believe that it was
- There is a growing view, however, that the strands of community life
are unravelling - violence, alcohol and drug use, crime, alienation,
degradation of the political process, and ineffectual social
institutions are increasingly accepted as inevitable. Computers and
communication technology are often touted as saviours of the modern age,
but the benefits of the 'computer revolution' are unevenly distributed
and the lack of access to communication technology contributes to the
widening gulf between socioeconomic classes.
D. Schulder, Community Networks, 1994
- Librarians are almost always very helpful and often almost absurdly
knowledgeable. Their skills are probably very underestimated and largely
- Less than 1 per cent of Britain's MPs have e-mail. As of last
November, 80 per cent of all US members of Congress had Web pages.
Slate, May 1997
- I do miss [politics] sometimes, I actually miss sitting in Roehampton
library on a Saturday afternoon trying to help people sort out their
David Mellor, 1997
- Libraries gave us power,
Then work came and made us free
'Design for Life', The Manic Street Preachers
Questions that public librarians have been asked
- Where do I go to get a licence for a small lottery?
- What is European Directive 93/68/EEC about?
- How did Mrs Tiggywinkle die?
- I need a list of MPs and MEPs in Scotland.
- What is dyspraxia?
- What did Genghis Khan look like? (from a look-alike agency)
- I need to know all about medical ethics committees.
- I am trying to find out about the dietary requirements of different
- I need information about a company called Heat Technology which has a
base in Riyadh.
- I'd like information from the Internet on cafes and restaurants in
- Do you have a contact for the local Yeshiva community?
- I'd like to look at Ofsted reports for local schools.
- I would like information on the progress with Agenda 21.
- I need to know about the history of the Soroptomists.
- I would like a list of all local women's groups.
- Do you have any leaflets on divorce and separation?
- My son needs information on photography courses.
- Do you have any historical photos of John Barrass, a local brewer?
- What's the name of the new Health Secretary?
- Do you have a list of successful tenders for transport services for
- I need information on the Working Time Directive.
- Could you give me the current pay scales for the construction
- I want to find out about a communication system called Makaton.
- Do you have any tourist information on Parma in Italy?
- When did electricity first come to the Gateshead area?
- Are there any Agatha Christie sites on the World Wide Web?
- Which part of the body is the phalanges?
- What was the date and location of the Hindenburg crash?
- Are there any regulations regarding the way you fly flags?
- Do you have details on local drama schools for children?
- Could you find out some information about the Tenants' Incentive
- Who holds the record for long jump?
- I'm looking for an article from the Daily Telegraph on Eton
- Could you give me the price of BT shares on 13 October 1995?
- 'Do you think me a well-read man?'
'Certainly,' replied Zi-gong. 'Aren't you?'
'Not at all,' said Confucius. 'I have simply grasped one thread
which links up all the rest.'
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