This talk will describe how government funds for scientific research in the United States are shaping the next generation of libraries.
Internet services have become a major factor in the distribution of research results and scholarly information. While publishers and librarians have made important contributions, most of the energy and expertise is coming from scientists, engineers, and computer scientists. Much of the underlying technology comes from scientific researchers supported by government funds. European research in high energy physics supported the development of the World Wide Web. Without United States government funding there would be no Internet, no Mosaic, and no web indexing programmes. Many of the corporations that exploit the new opportunities have spun-off from such research.
In the United States, agencies such as the National ęScience Foundation and ARPA are sponsoring the next generation of digital library research. Federal money has attracted talented, entrepreneurial researchers with enormous vision, but little knowledge of the traditions that shaped libraries in the past. They are carrying out research on system architectures, rights management, naming active objects, distributed agents, authentication and security, network billing, cataloguing and indexing, and so on. At the same time they are very conscious of the economic, social and legal framework. They are publishing their results on the Internet and using it as their front-line research library. Their work will have profound impact on the libraries of the next generation.
This talk will discuss the benefits and dangers of this process of digital library research and highlight some of the major activities. The speaker will also describe work that is underway to harmonise this research and to make the results available to all.