BL RIC logo Foreward and Acknowledgements

'A more strategic approach to providing library facilities in support of research in all subjects needs to be developed involving both higher education institutions and other providers of research oriented library and information services'. From: The Libraries Review Group Report. 1993.
'Libraries are the guardians of collections of local, national and international importance. . . . Libraries contribute to the quality of our lives by encouraging creativity, supporting our democracy, promoting cultural values, fostering literacy and lifelong learning. Now they stand on the brink of the information revolution which could offer the people of Britain so much'. From: A Library Manifesto, issued by the Library Association. 1997
'The Commission believes in the added value of library and information services which . . .
* are the memory of society through collecting and preserving knowledge . . .
A holistic rather than sectoral approach is necessary in order to realise fully the potential value of library and information services in society.'
From: 2020 vision, issued by the Library and Information Commission. 1997.

Working 'definition' and note

Foreword and Acknowledgements

This is a report of two studies. The first, Retrospective conversion of library catalogues in institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom: a study of the justification for a national programme, was commissioned by the Follett Implementation Group on Information Technology (FIGIT) and funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC); the second, Retrospective catalogue conversion for libraries in the UK other than those funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils, was commissioned a year later and funded by the British Library Research and Innovation Centre (BLRIC). This second study was on behalf of a range of other libraries e.g. public, learned and scientific society, professional, religious, but not including the national libraries (see Section 2.3.1). The latter,of course, would be essential participants in any national programme of retrospective conversion.

A report on the first study was submitted to FIGIT in June 1995, but it was not published at the time because it was considered advisable to await completion of the second. The publication of a combined report should give a more coherent picture of the overall situation and clearer view of the nature of any possible future national strategy.

I refer throughout this report to the first study as the 'FIGIT study' and to the second as the 'BLRIC study'.

The membership of the advisory groups established for the two studies was:

FIGIT Study's Project Monitoring Group

Bernard Naylor (Librarian, Southampton University and Chair)
John Akeroyd (Head of Library and Learning Resources, South Bank University)
Barry Bloomfield (Library Association Rare Books Group)
James Elliot (Records Supply Manager, British Library National Bibliographic Service)
Chris Hunt (Director and University Librarian, John Rylands Library)
Julian Roberts (Deputy Librarian, Bodleian Library)
Russell Sweeney (Library Consultant)
Alice Colban (HEFCs/JISC Secretariat).

BLRIC Study's Advisory Group

Barry Bloomfield (Library Association Rare Books Group and Chair)
Nicolas Barker (Library Adviser to the National Trust)
Alan Bell (Librarian,The London Library)
Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey
Lewis Foreman (Librarian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Henry Heaney OBE (University Librarian, Glasgow University)
Dr.Lotte Hellinga FBA(Secretary, Consorteum of European Research Libraries)
Peter Hoare (Chair, Historic Libraries Forum)
Peter Hoey (Librarian, Royal Society of Chemistry)
Professor Peter Isaac (Bibliographical Society)
Chris Koster (Director of Libraries and Arts, Kensington and Chelsea Central Library)
Margaret Croucher and Graham Jefcoate (BLRIC)

My grateful thanks are expressed to Bernard Naylor and Barry Bloomfield for all their hard work and invaluable support as Chairs of the Groups and to all the other members of the Groups for their advice and ready cooperation.

In connection with work on the FIGIT project, warm appreciation is expressed to Russell Sweeney, David Streatfield and Graham Robertson for the considerable efforts they made to meet deadlines; to Ann Chapman (Research Officer, UKOLN), Steven Prowse (then Technical Support Officer, UKOLN) for their professional and technical assistance, to Thay Gordon (then Secretary, UKOLN) and to Alice Colban (JISC Secretariat).

Useful additional information for the FIGIT study was received from the:

Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections
BLCMP Library Services Limited
Bodleian Library
Essex University Library
Leicester University Library
National Art Library
National Council on Orientalist Library Resources
OCLC Europe
Reading University Library
St. Andrews University Library
SLS (Information Systems) Limited
Sussex University Library
University of Wales Aberystwyth

Grateful thanks go to Frances Hendrix, Director of LASER and Martin Harrison, Managing Director, Libpac Computer Services Ltd for arranging for analysis of overlap in the LASER database.

When I visited Washington in October 1994 I was pleased to receive information and advice from colleagues at the Council on Library Resources, Coalition for Networked Information, Association of Research Libraries and the Library of Congress.

In connection with the BLRIC study, valuable discussion took place prior to preparation of the project proposal with Leo Favret (Bromley Public Libraries), Richard Carpenter (British Library), Professor Bernard Donovan (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers), Seamus Ross (British Academy).

This report is being issued six months later than planned mainly because Steven Prowse, who worked hard and effectively in the early stages of this second study, had to take early retirement on grounds of ill-health. At the University of Bath I am therefore especially grateful to Sally Jones of the School of Social Sciences for assistance with the statistics and also to Danah Dajani, a post graduate student from Jordan. At the University, thanks must also go to the University Librarian Howard Nicholson for his encouragement; to Margaret Wootten of Administrative Computing and her staff for data entry from the questionnaire; to Mike Johnson, Eddy Zedlewski and Dawn Gallagher of the CHEST and NISS Centre for much valuable cooperation; to Dr.Paul Christie of the Bath University Computing Services for advice on software and, once again, to Ann Chapman of UKOLN for her invaluable assistance. Christine Small, assisted with the dispatch and receipt of questionnaires.

Thanks must also go to the following colleagues for descriptions of initiatives in a number of sectors: Ian Mowat (Higher education Non-Formula Funding of Special Collections in the Humanities); Helen Copeman (Public Libraries and EARL); Ed King (Cathedral Libraries Project) and Yvonne Lewis (National Trust Libraries). In addition Sue Broughton, Information Manager Resources at the Library Association gave advice regarding the degree of duplication of titles in public libraries.

I especially appreciate the much needed guidance which has been provided first by Margaret Croucher, and then by Graham Jefcoate of the BLRIC.

Last, but by no means least, grateful thanks are extended to all the librarians involved in both studies for their ready cooperation. The studies would have been impossible without them.

Any faults are, of course, my responsibility.

Philip Bryant