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The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

2.11 Open Learning materials

From a library point of view, open learning materials are seen as a hybrid form of publication, usually supplied in the form of a pack containing various media including audio tapes, video recordings, printed materials, and computer programs. In the future, they can be expected to include an increasing volume of CD-ROMs and other forms of electronic publications such as CD-I disks. As library materials, they give rise to all the problems of electronic publications in general, as discussed in this report, including the need to have appropriate equipment available to read, listen to, see and manipulate the study materials.

A current research project, Open for Learning, is giving many public libraries first-hand experience of the problems of handling open learning materials. This project, funded by the Employment Department, is designed to make open learning widely available through public libraries, and thus make it better known and more easily accessible to the public. In the first phase (August 1989 - March 1990), ten libraries participated in the project, supported by Training Agency funding. The results were encouraging, and by summer 1993, 20 libraries were participating, and contracts were being extended. No serious problems have been reported by the libraries in processing open learning materials, which were treated in much the same way as audio-visual materials that they already handle, but in combined formats. According to the evaluation report, "Cataloguers rose to the challenge and quickly adapted systems to accept the records in the ... libraries, adding records to the main catalogue (2 adapting the Marc format), or creating suitable records for separate computerised or manual listings".

In October 1993, the Open for Learning Project Advisory Committee held a workshop on bibliographical control of open and flexible learning materials, which recommended that there should be a national deposit collection where cataloguing direct from the materials is carried out; and that the rules for cataloguing should conform to the standards in Using learning information published by ADSET (ref9).

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