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

3.2 Typology of problems and opportunities relating to electronic publishing

It was clear from the beginning of the Working Party's discussions that a very wide range of issues relating to electronic publications would have to be considered. As a first stage of analysis, all the issues identified were categorised within a matrix according to the different aspects of production and different stages of information transfer between authors and users. The results are shown in Tables 1 and 2. N.B. These tables can only be viewed if your browser supports tables.

This simple analysis is inevitably imperfect, because it attempts to generalise about the considerable number of different products and services that are regarded generically as electronic publications. As will become evident in the sections which follow, some of the issues discussed are specific to one kind of electronic publication while others, such as copyright, apply to several or to all. The emphasis of the discussion in this chapter is on the impact of electronic publishing on libraries and information services, although some implications in other areas were noted by the Working Party. (For example, a specific problem was brought to the Working Party's attention with regard to taxonomic literature. The name of a new species in the animal and plant kingdoms has no validity until a description of it is published in print form. Until there is some change in the International Codes which govern both disciplines, electronic publishing will have a serious obstacle to overcome in this field.)

In parallel with the compilation of Table 1 and 2 (only suitable for browsers that can support tables), a sub-group of the Working Party drew up a list of desiderata that would help librarians and information workers to make best use of electronic publications. This was used as a discussion document for a specially convened meeting (on 28 September 1993) of representatives from professional organisations in the LIS sector. The views expressed at the meeting provided a valuable extension to the Working Party's own breadth of experience, and have been incorporated in this chapter of the report. One issue identified as being of particular concern was that of contracts and agreements relating to the use of electronic resources. This was made the subject of a separate research project, as reported in section 3.9.5.

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