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

4.9 Training/skills

The growing use of electronic information resources will have a wide impact on the work of librarians and information specialists, whose roles are increasingly becoming those of advisors, instructors and facilitators, for which new skills are required. As their role extends further into operational management of resource provision for particular client groups, involving negotiations with suppliers, oversight of the installation and testing of new electronic information systems, project management of the implementation and launch of new products and services, and continuous monitoring and evaluation (including cost/benefit analysis), a wider set of management/business skills will be needed at the operational level.

All enquiry desk staff will need to acquire sufficient competence and confidence to support electronic information systems, including the ability to search the range of databases on offer and to solve basic technical problems; these skills have hitherto been concentrated in a smaller group of specialist staff. The present widely differing practices of departments of information and library studies in covering these elements of basic professional education in sufficient depth give cause for concern for the future.

In order to realise the benefits of the electronic library, users must not only have access to networked and stand-alone services, but also the skills and confidence to use the facilities. This implies the availability of an ongoing awareness and training programme, with refresher sessions as well as initial instruction.

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