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

3.7.2 Document exchange

If documents already exist in digitised (character-coded) form, or can readily be digitised by a holding library, and their location is known, they can obviously be easily supplied to other libraries. In order to avoid the possible production of a number of slightly variant versions, in consequence of scanning errors, it would be desirable that a mechanism existed for registering the existence of a digitised text when the digitised version was first produced; an authentication process ensuring the reliability of the text should be incorporated.

Present copyright law allows some libraries to supply another specified library with a copy of a printed work without infringement, if the copy is to replace another copy formerly held by the requiring library. Presumably in an electronic context, a digitised version could only be supplied under the same terms if the requiring library were able to prove that it had previously held an electronic copy which required replacement for some reason.

In a fully networked environment, there would be no need for document exchange between libraries. The only requirement would be for the location of document holdings to be known to a potential user, who would then be able to request a copy directly without troubling his or her local library.

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