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

2.7 Network publishing

The EPS Report (ref2) concluded that current network access by academics in the UK and US, at present mostly confined to E-mail, file transfer, remote computing access and campus administration, will be transformed when the additional capacity and speed of the new super-computing networks (SuperJANET in the UK and NII in the US) become available. The same trend will be facilitated, at a more general level, by the arrival of commercially available high-speed broadband networks. Given the current limitations on collection building, a considerable increase in use of networks by libraries can be expected. This will be very varied, and will, no doubt, include a mix of apparently free and commercial 'paid-for' services. Distinctions between such categories as 'online databases' (see 2.5) and 'network publishing' will be increasingly difficult to make. In practical terms, however, the 'online databases' act as sources of reference material giving access to primary material, while 'network publishing' can be considered in terms of primary material entered on a network for subsequent dissemination.

An important factor in the growth of network publishing has been the widespread adoption of the Internet as a network of networks, based on the TCP/IP telecommunication protocols. This has grown from an experiment begun over 20 years ago by the US Department of Defense, into a global network covering North America, Europe (including the former Eastern Bloc countries), Australasia, Africa and the Far East. The extent of the Internet is increased through gateways to networks running other protocols, such as X25. Formerly dedicated to the academic and research communities, the Internet is increasingly used by other organisations such as industry and commerce, the public sector, and individuals. Connection to the Internet for these groups is supplied by an growing number of commercial providers.

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