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

3.7.6 Support for users

In order to realise the benefits of the electronic library, users must not only have access to networked and stand-alone services, but also have the skills and confidence to use the facilities. This implies an ongoing awareness and training programme, with refresher sessions as well as initial instruction (supported by adequate documentation and/or on-screen help). In addition, users need to be able to obtain immediate assistance with problems typically arising in day-to-day use, ranging from technical faults to difficulties in formulating and conducting searches.

Depending on the standard of service offered, some or all of the following will be necessary:

Introductory "show and tell" sessions to raise awareness and demonstrate the range of facilities available in the library and/or over the network;

Instruction, including "hands on" practice in securing network connections and navigating through the systems;

Advice on database selection in relation to particular subject areas and topics of interest;

Guidance and advice on matters relating to copyright and other legal issues (to include warnings against plagiarism in the academic environment);

Training in the use of specific electronic information systems, covering search strategies and techniques such as truncation and use of Boolean operators;

Training in "post processing" and wider aspects of information management, eg
- downloading, storing and manipulating data,
- translation of search results into requests for document delivery,
- integration of citations into word-processed documents using bibliographic management software;

Comprehensive and regularly updated documentation to support the above activities;

On-screen help, instruction or tutorial facilities as a substitute for, or supplement to theabove;

Technical "trouble shooting" to solve problems with network connections, printer jams, etc (available throughout the hours when facilities are offered to users, eg via a "help desk");

Information-related point-of-need assistance to help users experiencing difficulties in retrieving relevant items (available throughout library opening hours).

Thus both technical/computing and information/library expertise will be needed to provide full support, involving a combination of timetabled and ad hoc sessions for groups and individuals, ideally with trained staff available in adequate numbers throughout service hours.

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