Follett Report

Chapter 7 - Information Technology


The potential for further application of information technology (IT) is one of the single most important areas which has been considered by the Review Group. It is also one where specific investment by the funding councils is essential, and is likely to have considerable effect. This chapter discusses the likely direction of future change, and makes recommendations for funding council action.
The shape of things to come cannot be forecast precisely, and information technology is a rapidly developing field. Even so, the broad outline of likely developments and their application over the next five to ten years is reasonably clear, and while seeking to adopt a practical and realistic approach to the likely impact of information technology, the Review Group believes that it has the potential radically to alter the way information is provided and used in higher education. These opportunities should be embraced with enthusiasm.
Information technology makes it possible for almost every kind of information to be stored, accessed and transmitted electronically, and without reference to traditional print on paper media. As an illustration of these possibilities the concept of the electronic or "virtual library" is helpful. In a "virtual library", all information would be held electronically. The user working at an information terminal would have the information required, regardless of its physical location. Indeed, to the user the location of information is irrelevant, as is the location of the terminal which provides the means of access to information. Librarians would essentially be enablers of information access, regardless of its form and location. Some of these ideas are developed in the sketches on pages 60-63.
In practice, most libraries will continue to combine traditional media with electronic media for the foreseeable future, and the purely electronic or "virtual library" will be rare. As a guide to what is possible it is however an important concept.
This chapter considers developments in information technology in relation to the provision of library and information services which will stimulate greater use of electronic media and enable higher education institutions to benefit from the many opportunities now opening up. The Review Group has sought to identify areas where IT might be employed to underpin significant shifts in the ways library services operate, and which, if implemented, would provide an impetus for change across the whole higher education library sector. Whilst much of what follows is of primary relevance to the role of libraries in support of the researcher, some also affects their position in support of teaching and learning. Discussion of these issues is brought together in a single chapter, but many of the recommendations made here need to be taken in the context of the discussion of other aspects of library provision in the preceding chapters.
This chapter also draws on the work of the former ISC's Libraries Initiative, whose goals were to contribute to meeting the needs of an expanding undergraduate population, and to facilitate resource sharing without creating new research libraries. Through its major recommendations it seeks implementation of the main elements of that initiative. It also takes account of other relevant developments such as the creation of the SuperJANET network.
The Review Group has focused on how to facilitate development towards the electronic library, and on the following issues in particular:
The recommendations made by the Review Group are intended to offer practical proposals, with a time horizon for significant impact over the next five to ten years, and to exclude areas where it is judged that IT cannot provide solutions in the short to medium term.



Before considering information technology itself in more detail, copyright issues are dealt with first, because unless progress is made in this area, the potential of information technology is unlikely to be realised. Arrangements are needed which protect all legitimate interests, but which at the same time do not stifle opportunities for the new products and services made possible by new technologies and networking.
Electrocopying - electronic copying of text and other electronically held material - is potentially the most contentious issue as it is perceived to create threats and opportunities for both owners and users. The basic threats perceived by the owners of the information concern their ability to control distribution, and to the integrity of the material. Publishers have traditionally controlled the distribution of their works through agency agreements and other contracts. In the eyes of publishers conversion into electronic formats only serves to exacerbate problems of control. They consider that it will be difficult to control access to their materials and see a need for information about how they are used by libraries, private individuals, industry or academics.
The major threat seen by users is that the publishers will not permit copying into electronic formats. This would severely inhibit the development of new services in libraries and the use of computer technology by end-users for storing and consulting text. Generally publishers do not wish to prohibit access but rather to control it in order to ensure adequate payments. On the other hand, it would be damaging to the interests of users if charges were excessive.

General Principles

In dealing with these concerns, the HE sector has first to recognise that publishers' and authors' interests in copyright protection (qualified by "fair dealing" provisions) are legitimate and that copyright is a defensible means of protecting their investment and intellectual property rights (IPR). If freer copying and more flexible use of material results in loss of revenue it will force reduction of print runs which will mean higher prices. Recognition of this legitimacy, and open appreciation that most publishers are, of necessity, commercially orientated, is the required starting point for the HE community to approach the copyright debate. Confrontational approaches have not in the past been successful, and are unlikely to be so in the future.
Second, publishers need to recognise that the use and manipulation of copyright material is inevitable in higher education, and that it is by no means always unreasonable or illegitimate. They must be pragmatic and recognise that new technology will inevitably alter the means whereby information is disseminated, and that the way forward is to agree a basis for the use of the technology. Publishers and authors have had to accept photocopying where it is carried out by an individual for his or her private use as legitimate "fair dealing". Similar applications of electrocopying should be recognised as equally unobjectionable.
Third, it needs to be recognised that the legislative framework affecting copyright is unlikely to change significantly in the foreseeable future. Certainly it is doubtful whether any future changes in the law would lessen the protection given to authors and publishers. What is more likely is that legislation will be extended to give clearer definition to the protection given to copyright material stored and transmitted electronically. Copyright law is recognised in almost every country in the world as an essential protection for authors and publishers, and the principles it embodies and the benefits it brings are widely accepted. There is the possibility that EU legislation may affect copyright law in the UK, not necessarily in ways which interested parties in the UK would find beneficial; and it is important that the Department of Trade and Industry is alert to this and that it consults with the HE community (and particularly librarians) should EU action seem liable to occur.
Fourth, the suggestion that HE institutions might themselves become publishers should be viewed realistically, and with some caution. In both the USA and the UK, many small university presses have been uneconomic. Of course, many learned societies themselves publish successful journals, either independently or in conjunction with ishers, but while in some fields this may be viable it should be recognised that producing, marketing and distributing books and journals is a complicated and expensive matter, and one which institutions in general have neither the skills nor the resources to undertake.
Fifth, it should be appreciated that electronic dissemination of material does not in itself provide any easy answers to copyright questions, nor simple solutions to libraries' funding problems. Whilst information technology can facilitate access to material, authors and publishers of work in electronic form will continue to want their copyright protected, and overall costs may not be much lower than for the traditional printed form.
Finally, those involved in higher education, having recognised that publishers and authors may legitimately protect their revenues through copyright, should accept that electrocopying and reproduction of materials should be subject to regulation. However, the academic community is entitled to expect that regulation - which will mostly be via licensing - will produce systems which work speedily, have predictable results and are demonstrably fair.

The Way Forward

This Report's publication offers an opportunity for a constructive dialogue to take place between publishers and higher education interests to resolve current uncertainties and difficulties. Publishers should be prepared to be receptive to the requirements and interests of higher education if the latter can offer:
An understanding that licensing agreements should be effectively policed. Institutions must develop an ethos in which abuse of copyright is recognised as illegal. ntal benefit for publishers through the policing of copying of material will be an indication of the level of demand for and interest in various titles).
The opportunity to take forward work on developing technical controls to monitor electrocopying and particularly to monitor mass dissemination. Much of the necessary technology is currently becoming available.
There is a clear role for the funding councils to take a lead in creating a dialogue between publishers and the higher education community - and a willingness to play such a role would be more valuable than any financial commitment. The objective of an initiative would be to reach an accommodation between the two sides which is based on mutual understanding, assurance and awareness of the legitimate interests of each. Such an understanding would be eased if there was some market research undertaken to indicate the level and mechanisms of payments which would be acceptable to all concerned for the reproduction of materials for both undergraduate teaching and academic research.
The Review Group believes that the way forward is to establish a model agreement with a number of individual publishers representing a cross-section of publishing interests. The Review Group therefore recommends that as a starting point, a pilot initiative between a small number of institutions and a similar number of publishing houses should be sponsored by the funding councils to demonstrate in practical terms how material can be handled, stored and distributed electronically while protecting publishers' copyright. The councils should be prepared to provide modest operating costs to support this initiative.

Information Technology and Libraries: Current Developments

A number of important developments are already in hand which will contribute towards the infrastructure necessary for greater use of information technology in libraries. The Review Group has considered how this contribution can be made more effective.


At present, the Joint Academic Network (JANET) links 150 sites in the UK and provides connections to networks worldwide. It provides facilities for electronic mail, file transfer, direct use of remote machines (including central supercomputers), bulletin boards, access to national library services and around 100 on-line library catalogues, and gateways to international networks. The national network carries services used by teachers and researchers across all disciplines and will foster new and improved ways of inter-university cooperation.
A major new function of the JISC is the implementation of SuperJANET, an advanced fibre optic network that will have the potential for a thousand fold increase in JANET performance. This will provide an excellent basis for mounting networked information and document delivery services; and for providing a platform for multimedia communication and electronic journals. However, institutions will need pervasive internal networks if they are to take full advantage of the networked information services which will be available over SuperJANET. Many institutions not previously funded by the UFC have neither a connection to JANET, nor internal networks to enable them to take proper advantage of SuperJANET's potential.
It is important that all institutions should be able to benefit from SuperJANET, and the Review Group therefore recommends that institutions should review their internal network as part of the overall information strategy to ensure it is up to a standard where it can make use of services provided over JANET and its successors. To encourage this, it also recommends that the funding councils, through the JISC, should support a study to assess the cost to former non-UFC institutions of bringing their networking facilities up to a standard where they can make use of the services provided over the also recommends that DENI should give early consideration to the extension of SuperJANET to Northern Ireland.
Finally, the Review Group recommends that the funding councils (through the JISC) and DENI should collaborate in securing access, at the most advantageous tariffs, to advanced data and telecommunication networks (including SuperJANET and Internet) for the HE sector as a whole.

Navigational Tools

The advent of computer networks has enabled researchers to find, exchange and share information with colleagues throughout the world. Each researcher who is connected to the global Internet has the potential for "publishing" information to the rest of the world via this network. To date only a small number of users are taking advantage of this, but the problems of information searching, discovery and retrieval are already significant. Computing and networking experts are therefore facing the problems that librarians have had to deal with for hundreds of years: those of classifying (networked) information resources, of uniquely identifying them and then of enabling users to identify and locate the information which they require.
As networks have grown, there has been an increase in the number of software tools and applications to navigate them in order to search for and locate the many information resources available. Within the past 18 months there has been widespread adoption of networked information discovery and retrieval (NIDR) tools and a corresponding effort to enhance and customise them to meet the needs of particular groups of users.
To date most of these tools have been developed by volunteer effort and there has been no funding to support them. A more systematic approach is needed and it is ed that the JISC should fund the development of a limited number of top level networking navigation tools in the UK to encourage the growth of local subject based tools and information servers. The report of the IT sub-group sets out details of the proposed initiative and it will be forwarded to the JISC.
In tandem with this, attention also needs to be paid to training both library staff in the use of networked information retrieval and the use of networking tools in general. This is dealt with in paragraphs 305-309 below.

Information Systems Strategies

The JISC has proposed an initiative to assist institutions to develop information systems strategies by developing a framework for them to adopt and adapt for this purpose. This will include suggestions for performance indicators and methods of evaluation and monitoring. The JISC's Information Systems Strategy initiative will have important management and policy implications and these should include consideration of how these impinge on library management.
There is clearly a relationship between this initiative and the recommendation in chapter four that all institutions should include in their overall institutional plan an information strategy. The Group recommends that this information strategy should be sufficiently widely drawn to encompass the information systems strategy proposed by the JISC.


Greater use of IT in libraries will inevitably involve communication between information systems over a wide area. Services will be required which allow a user to or information and gain access to it (for instance via a CD-ROM or an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue)) without switching between terminals, user interfaces or command languages. Services will be built on the basis of the routine exchange of documents between libraries themselves, between libraries and publishers, and between libraries, publishers, and document suppliers.
These requirements have hitherto been addressed by a variety of customised approaches which are usually incompatible. The flexibility of future solutions will be limited unless standard communications, applications and data interchange services are developed. International standards are now beginning to emerge for the construction of distributed information resources on server systems in the United States which are potentially of strategic importance for future library and information services in the UK.
The UK higher education community has had limited input into these standardisation activities. The Review therefore recommends that the funding councils should invite the JISC to monitor the development of these standards, and that financial support should be made available if required to take forward developments of benefit in the UK. It also recommends that funding should be provided to mount an innovative demonstrator project using the searching tools mentioned above.

The Virtual Library

The year 2001 is fast approaching, but we are far from the world envisaged by Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick in the film of the same name produced in the late 1960s. In libraries as in space exploration, predicting the future is rarely simple. Most forecasts turn out to be inaccurate, and factors other than technological ones are often critical. However, to illustrate some of the possibilities opened up by the technology of the "virtual library", we offer the following three sketches produced during the work T sub-group.

An Undergraduate's Day

There was a loud bleeping noise from the computer. Alice awoke with a start and then groaned. She had forgotten to switch off the computer alarm which now flashed at her from the screen at the opposite side of her study-bedroom. Her screen displays not only her favourite soap operas, but more importantly output from the pc that she and all other first year students had purchased upon their enrolment three years ago.

Alice gets up and, as on most mornings, turns to her computer to check the day's events. She asks it to display a list of any recent messages, their senders' names and the topic. She saves for later the two messages from her mother (who has just acquired a hand-held pc at home in Aberdeen). Her eye is caught by an URGENT message from her German tutor. It reminds her that the final version of her term's essay is overdue: she has been struggling with a comparative assessment of the sentence structure in Heinrich Boll and Gunter Grass, using a new software package called down from Bremen University. She replies with a message that she will submit the paper later that day. She checks her on-line timetable. She may have to skip a lecture on European monetary union, being beamed in from Strasbourg, but that's not too much of a problem as it will be recorded and replayable on demand over the campus video-review channel. More importantly the Departmental on-line calendar reminds her that this afternoon the Department plays its football match against the Physics Department in the Challenge Cup quarter finals, a game not to be missed!

A quick breakfast and then Alice asks the computer to display her draft "paper", (an anachronism since papers seldom are written on paper in this university), which had been returned yesterday with suggestions and comments from her tutor highlighted y in the margins. He suggests two further references. Alice switches to the library catalogue. Fortunately one reference is available on the campus textbook server: she requests it for printing in the hall of residence. The other reference takes longer to locate: it is an electronic journal article and will cost 10 for immediate transmission. Second groan of the day - her credit card limit is going to be stretched, but it's urgent. She calls up the abstract/front page option on screen, decides it will be worth reading, swipes the credit card and in a few seconds the article is on screen, transmitted over the networks from an electronic document delivery exchange in Colorado. And so her day unfolds....

The Academic

Meanwhile, Professor Higgins has arrived in her office. As Head of Department she checks the electronic diary for her own immediate commitments, and for those of colleagues, both on the local campus and those associate lecturers who work from their homes, mostly in the Border Country and beyond. There is a message from the Departmental administrator who has checked the latest Departmental accounts: the error was a simple one so the Department still has some funds left! She sees that the Vice-Chancellor is not free until six o'clock in the evening and leaves an urgent message because she needs to see him face-to-face to discuss a recruitment problem. There is just time before the first lecture of the day to check through a manuscript with several minor queries, which is just in by e-mail from a colleague from Texas. Queries are answered, and the corrected document is returned to await her, when she starts work in a few hours time. The library is pressing again for reading lists (another anachronism, as the list are for multi-media materials, computer courseware, video programmes, with only one book and two printed journals included). She needs to verify a couple of references, and so scans the on-line catalogues of the UK. No luck, but eventually they are located in Sydney and she mails the library to get an urgent fax for reading tonight. On screen she skims the minutes of yesterday's Senate: no more informative electronically than they were on paper - thank goodness for electronic wastepaper bins! She checks through the video link that the experiment she set up yesterday in the lab is under control. It looks good and the data log is producing some interesting results already, which can be displayed on her screen and saved for later examination.

A quick walk to the audio-visual studio for a seminar with a dozen students, taking her final year course in molecular modelling. Just four are here on campus, the others being located in similar studios around the UK. They will be simulating the experiment that took place live last week, and which was beamed in from Berlin. She calls down the appropriate courseware and checks with the computer technician that the network and pc connections are set up for each student.

And so her day goes on.....

The Virtual Librarian

Meanwhile, the librarian has a meeting first thing with the group responsible for a new course on "Redesigning the Inner City", for which he has assembled a package of material written within the department, along with a wide range of other resources. These include review articles, some commercially published for which copyright clearance had been paid, and some from "MasterClass" and "Improf", the collaborative inter-university resource banks. They also comprise links to the main library catalogues and the relevant abstracting and news feed services to which the University subscribes, sample sets of demographic data, previous examination papers, and a range of example dissertations from previous years. With another colleague in Information Systems, a software specialist, all this has been loaded into the departmental server, and wrapped into a brief hypertext overview of the course.

The meeting is soon over. All the units had been written to schedule, the course had been successfully previewed at the recent annual conference, and two universities had shown serious interest in using the course materials as a basis for their own teaching. The librarian enjoyed this close involvement with teaching. Over the last few years he had stopped trying to predict his future: innovation and change had come unexpectedly, leading him down unexplored avenues. "Just go with the flow, and paddle like mad", he thought. Some had been delightful, like the ease with which he had written and set up a fully-indexed subject guide on the "Economica Europa" server, and the enthusiastic responses and contributions from around the world that had followed. Nonetheless each technical innovation, by making information even more accessible for the economists or the people in International Relations, obliged him to seek out something else new to offer, to be one jump ahead. And the undergraduates seemed to pick it up so quickly these days.

He crossed the campus. Some of the old University Library had been given over for parking since the building was extraordinarily strong, and had successfully resisted the installation of so much cable. The new buildings were light, flexible and unpretentious. One architect had been bitter: "since religion and government command no centre, libraries were the last great symbols of society for my profession to design. Now even you offer no certainty!"

The role of the University Librarian had changed. Once it had been a stock character part, the very image of scholarly exactitude, ever open to trade influence for tradition, a relic of the institution's past and uninvolved with its future. Now, the reformists' cry of "access not holdings" had worked right through the information chain. Publishers had abandoned their warehouses - they too could adopt "just in time" management: their role was now in packaging, marketing and brokering. The actual storage of knowledge -the articles, texts, interactive experiences - had been passed back to its iversities and elsewhere, to be retrieved, reformatted into the house style, and delivered to whoever ordered it. So the Library had gradually picked up both ends of the chain: managing the University's backlist and negotiating its sale and delivery world-wide. At the same time it worked with academic staff in a more traditional function to identify and garner good material from the ends of the earth - and within budget.

Universities' librarians had been quick to use the network to reduce duplication of effort. Indeed a quarter of the professional staff were working on central or jointly-funded consortium projects, and another quarter on one and two year programmes funded by the University. The University Librarian was now an equal seeker after R&D; money, and his staff's job security depended not on a never-reducing cataloguing backlog but on good project control with results on time.

He had coffee with Mary, who was still called Head of Cataloguing. In practice most new books now went onto the shelves within a day. One swipe of the barcode settled up with the booksellers, who had already added the details both to their catalogue and the regional database, and had printed out the labels to be stuck in the book.

There were still a few things to clear up for the course team. They had opted to produce a small course reader of only 20 articles in order to give the students access to a far larger document set on-line: copyright charges for print were still relatively high. He logged in to the on-demand "Master Class" server at the neighbouring university, identified the articles to be printed, and ordered initially 50 copies for delivery on Monday. He cleared the invoice on-line: it still left enough in the resource budget for generous use of newspapers and other expensive database items, even a thirty-minute virtual reality trip as chairman of the city council. In the afternoon he ran a weekly seminar on "information discovery and management". He had done this for several years. The discovery elements, knowing where and how to use the many network ressively easier. He had always insisted that academic staff came with their students: it wasn't that the students treated it as an unnecessary side-show - rather they could run ahead of their tutors if unchecked.

Information Technology and Libraries: Future Developments


This section considers further practical steps which the Review Group believes need to be taken to further the use of IT in meeting the information needs of those working in higher education. Most recommendations envisage collaborative partnerships between libraries, academic staff, publishers and others, to promote large scale pilot and demonstrator projects focusing on the components of a future electronic library service, and to provide a major stimulus to its creation. Some, relating to databases, datasets and navigational tools, aim to build on an existing core programme which has already been developed by the funding councils through the JISC.
In the discussion which follows, the Review Group has used common working descriptions of new developments such as the electronic book, electronic document delivery and electronic journal. It recognises however that these are imprecise and overlapping concepts, which may change out of all recognition if and when electronic media come to predominate over the printed word. At present, they are convenient labels, and should be treated as such.
For the 'virtual library' to develop and to provide students and researchers with access to all the information they need, while remaining at a single terminal, it will be necessary to have the printed material in electronic (digital) form, and it will also be necessary to have in place the electronic infrastructure for the delivery of the digitised material. The review group has considered a number of measures which might be taken to help these developments
For users such developments would represent a considerable advance, and would allow them to identify, search, select and read individual articles at their desks. Not only could material be made available more easily than in traditional formats, but it could be used much more flexibly. It would mean in particular that material could be obtained without the need physically to travel to the library in which it is held.
As far as libraries are concerned, the trend towards adoption of an access rather than a holdings strategy - particularly in institutions new to research - underlines the advantages which electronic delivery of articles and other documents can bring. It would enable material stored in one place to be readily transmitted elsewhere, and would thus make available the resources of the major libraries to other institutions which do not themselves have extensive holdings in traditional formats. It would also allow the adaptation of space currently occupied for stock holding to other uses, and in particular to provide more work space. It would have a similar benefit for publishers, who would no longer need to hold significant stocks of material of relatively low use and low commercial value.

Electronic Document and Article Delivery

The technology necessary to permit the electronic storage and delivery of documents and articles exists already. For example, the development of the SuperJANET network will facilitate the delivery of multimedia documents, images and the full text of articles directly to individual work stations in different institutions, while the increasing availability of electronic indexing tools will also make the use of electronically d documents much easier and more flexible. Given the major advantages which electronic document delivery can bring to users, and the potential savings of storage space, the Review Group recommends that funding of 1 million a year over three years should be provided through the JISC for the following initiatives:
The establishment of subject based consortia to collaborate in developing electronic document delivery routes.
The establishment of metropolitan and regional consortia to collaborate in similar document delivery services.
The development of the necessary technical tools which might be used by libraries to send and receive electronically transmitted articles.
The details of these proposals will need further development, and will need to take account, for instance, of work by the British Library, which is also developing electronic document and article delivery systems. The Review Group envisage a variety of models, which may include partnerships with commercial publishers or with learned societies.

Electronic Storage of Books and Journals

The Review group recommends that funding of 0.5 million be made available by the funding councils to the JISC for a limited number of large scale subject based demonstration projects to convert into electronically readable form backruns of journals out of copyright currently held in university libraries. This should result in approximately 1,500 digitised volumes across a number of subject areas. Conditional on the success of these projects, the Group also recommends that a further 0.5 million be h the JISC to distribute the digitised product to the HE community and evaluate the outcome. They might also be made available through other means, such as the British Library.
The objectives of such an initiative would include:
The benefits for the higher education community of progress in this area would include improved access to a wider range of materials; faster delivery of documents; more cost effective use of library resources; and improved integration of networked bibliographic data and document delivery services.
Although, technically at least, electronic document and article delivery is an immediate possibility, its effective use requires several other issues to be tackled first. One concerns copyright, and the Review Group has made recommendations about how this can be taken forward. In addition, fuller consideration needs to be given to how article readers search for and gain access to information, recognising that this differs between major disciplines. An important additional dimension is the different patterns usage in different disciplines.

Electronic Journals

A more radical step (though a development of the proposal for the conversion of books and journals into electronic form) would be the successful development of the "electronic journal". Instead of simply digitising material which is already available in printed form, all aspects of the preparation, refereeing, assembly and distribution of the journal and its contents would take place electronically. The term "electronic journal" covers a range of different formats for journal publishing, most of which are as yet in early stages of development. The Review Group has examined some of the prototypes of developments in this field which have been established in the USA. In comparison this country, where the technological infrastructure to support the electronic journal is gradually being put in place in the form of SuperJANET, is in many ways in a very good position to exploit the potential of the electronic journal.
Potentially, electronic journals offer many advantages. They could release valuable space used to store back runs of journals; they could help to make scholarly communication and the publication of new research findings quicker and more flexible; and they could enable much more flexible searching and analysis, as well as selective use, of journal contents. There are some credible electronic journals in existence, and many of their users have found that they are proving a stimulating addition to research communication, and that the benefits of powerful searching and cross-referencing facilities and of integrating text, moving images and sound, are considerable.
It is sometimes argued that the main advantage of electronic journals will be that they will be cheaper than printed ones, and that they will lead to savings for higher education subscribers. The Review Group has not formed any conclusion on this, y since so few prototypes have as yet proved themselves. Much more development work, and proper commercial analysis, would be required before sensible conclusions could be reached. What is clear however is that the possibilities of electronic journal publishing hold other potential benefits, and that further development should be encouraged on these grounds.
The most significant problems associated with the successful development of electronic journals are not technological ones. The main difficulties are twofold. First, within the academic world, a major difficulty is the current lack of acceptability and status of publishing in electronic form for the purposes of peer review processes associated with research funding and individual academic career progression. Emerging refereed electronic journals will need to attract readers and top quality papers to reinforce their acceptability. Unless this happens the technological possibilities will not be exploited. Second, existing publishers fear that electronic journals will undermine the present market without offering a reasonable prospect that it will be replaced, and they also fear loss of control over the contents of journals, which would threaten their own copyright and that of authors.
The vast majority of journals used by academics in British universities originate overseas, and it is important to be realistic about the impact of actions taken in the UK on the development of electronic journals worldwide. On the other hand, a number of individual academic and commercial groups - here and overseas - are currently exploring new journal models. Co-operation with such activities and the encouragement of further experimentation involving all those concerned with using, publishing and paying for learned journals could accelerate understanding of the costs and benefits and the development of viable long term models.
The Review Group thus recommends that the funding councils should provide 2 over three years to contribute to the development of a limited number of refereed electronic journals, paying particular attention to the choice of partners to ensure that the benefits of legitimacy, awareness and academic credibility are realised. The work should be undertaken in cooperation with learned societies, research councils and other relevant bodies. It should also include the development of mechanisms to support copyright permissions and payments to authors and publishers as discussed at the beginning of this chapter.
To help promote the status and acceptability of electronic journals, the Review Group also recommends that the funding councils should make it clear that refereed articles published electronically will be accepted in the next Research Assessment Exercise on the same basis as those appearing in printed journals.On-Demand Publishing and the Electronic Book.
Further down the road - both in terms of technology and likely usage - is the possibility of the fully electronic book. The major marketplace for this type of publishing would appear on early trends to be in the leisure, general and reference publishing fields, with little interest being shown so far in this format by academic publishers. Indeed, most observers in academic research publishing consider that an electronic equivalent of the monograph is unlikely to be desirable or available in the medium term. Nevertheless electronic books have the potential to make an important impact in due course on learning support.
On-demand publishing is a generic term denoting all circumstances in which publishers create information which does not require inventory or conventional distribution techniques, and in which printing becomes partially or fully the responsibility of the information user. It can also involve "customisation" where products are tailored to suit the requirements of individual users . This is also books", where anthologies of texts, from a variety of sources, are created, and which effectively represent new books in their own right.
The Review Group has considered whether and if so how on-demand publishing might address the requirement for simultaneous access by many students to the same textbooks or to very similar material, which libraries, however generous their multiple copy provision policy, cannot solve in a traditional way.
There are a number of overseas projects exploring customised texts and on-demand publishing. In all cases they require the "book" to be available in electronic form, often stored in a central location and available across a network. In order to mount projects of a similar nature in the UK it will be essential to create mechanisms whereby copyright permissions are ensured and appropriate payments are made. For this to succeed, it will be necessary to work in close collaboration with publishers to ascertain how such mechanisms could best be supported by new technology; and the proposals which follow thus need to be taken with those made earlier concerning copyright.
The Review Group recommends that the funding councils should provide 1 million per year over three years to promote the creation of digitised texts that can be customised to individual requirements. They should invite bids for funding to contribute to the costs of projects which should include:
The purchase and/or licensing of software and associated systems, to be mounted at one or more host universities, to provide a framework within which on-demand publishing initiatives to support the requirements of taught course provision could be developed.
A system to support access controls, copyright permissions and payments, to be developed as an integral part of such a pilot service.
The Review Group's proposals are designed to promote the wider use and acceptability of the electronic book and on-demand publishing. Their objectives are to create a substantial resource base faster than market forces would provide and to assist in solving the current high level of simultaneous demand for undergraduate oriented material. The benefits would be enjoyed by all user groups. Wide availability of on-line material would help to improve access to material, make it easier for students to use, and make it easier for their teachers to provide flexible, tailored material.
The Review Group does not wish to be prescriptive about those who might wish to bid to exploit this opportunity. It is envisaged that commercial publishers, academics, subject consortia, computing companies, libraries and any combination of these and other interested parties will wish to put forward proposals

Databases and Datasets

The JISC has already devoted considerable attention to developing a policy for an integrated dataset service available to institutions and the research community on subscription over the network, but free at the point of use to both students and academic staff. The need for a clear policy on dataset acquisition and service provision has been demonstrated in recent years in a number of ways through the increasing number of datasets and their rapidly growing use in all disciplines. The Review Group strongly endorses the JISC's interest in this question.
A major area for JISC involvement will be the establishment of a small number of datacentres to hold datasets funded by the JISC and others, meeting appropriate quality conditions and service definitions. As part of its policy the JISC intends to maintain a three year programme for its expenditure on datasets. In keeping with the idea of the rary as the facilitator of access to information of all kinds, whether traditional journals or electronic datasets, these costs have generally and rightly been borne by libraries. It is nevertheless important that in setting budgets, institutions should take account of the very substantial and increasing costs relating to the mass provision of information services, and that appropriate mechanisms are put in place to meet the costs.
In two areas the Review Group wishes to make additional recommendations. First, a recent report from the British Academy proposes the establishment of an Arts and Humanities Datacentre. Given the absence of a research council for the humanities, the Review Group recommends that the funding councils should support a feasibility study, including consultation of the relevant user groups, to consider how this will fit into their overall dataset strategy and to identify how the proposal might be taken forward.
Second, the bibliographic database established and maintained by the Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) with the aim of sharing and reducing cataloguing costs now contains machine readable data. The university libraries of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Oxford currently meet its development and running costs in full. Use of the database for reference only is at present free to non-members, although charges for use of the full records for cataloguing purposes by non-members were introduced in 1992. Adoption and extension of the CURL database would be a valuable contribution to the Review Group's proposals, set out in chapter six, for a cooperative approach to research provision, exploiting more fully the research facilities which currently exist.
The Review Group recommends that the JISC should fund the setting up, operation, and development costs of the CURL database as a national OPAC service. This would be mounted at a national datacentre which would be free at the point of use to the academic community. This must be linked with a range of additional services including cost inter-library lending and document supply services to provide a full scale document delivery service to complement the database. Such services are integral to and dependent upon the development of the database into an on-line public access catalogue (OPAC).

Retrospective Conversion of Catalogues

Much unique material, particularly early books and books printed outside the UK, is often still accessible only through the manual catalogue systems of libraries. Some consideration was given by the Review Group to whether there should be a national programme for the retrospective conversion of catalogues of significant research libraries and other research collections within smaller libraries.
The Review Group concluded that further analysis of this issue is required. It recommends that the funding councils should commission UKOLN to assess whether a national retrospective conversion programme would be justified and what the implications would be for much wider access not only to the records so converted, but also to the actual collections. Particular attention should be paid to the problems of collections housed in small institutions often least able to fund significant investment themselves. Such a study would aim to establish the following:
How much retrospective conversion of research collections has been undertaken.
What remains to be done.
The benefits that would accrue to users from national investment in this activity.
Any evidence of demand for access to such material which is not being met at present.
The identification of costs, methods of assisting the process, and sources of funding that might be drawn upon for such activities.
The Review Group recommends that this study should be monitored by a group of representatives of the academic community, research and other libraries, the British Library, the British Academy and the research councils.

Awareness and Training

The emergence of the electronic library and the widespread availability of electronic information provide many opportunities to enhance the role of librarians in support of learning and research. However, some librarians are daunted by such a challenge, and enthusiasms can be dampened where relevant training is not provided. The development of new skills is particularly important where information is provided through electronic services accessible over networks. If the full potential of the investment proposed earlier in this chapter is to be realised, it must be accompanied by investment in awareness and training.
Librarians must take advantage of appropriate in-service training, and they in turn also need to be able train their users to cope with the vast amount of networked information that is now available. They will need to develop information retrieval skills and, in particular, to make effective use of the tools available for searching and retrieval.
The Review Group has been impressed with the model of the ESRC Network Information Officer, charged with responsibility for raising awareness and encouraging exploitation of networked information resources and services by social science researchers. This l should be adopted, appropriately scaled, to support the main elements of a national networked information resources training programme for librarians and information scientists working in academic libraries.
Although in general the Review Group has referred matters concerning staff training to the CVCP and SCOP, there is a strong case for more direct action in relation to IT. Accordingly it recommends that a national training programme should be established with funding of 1 million over three years. This could be provided either by the funding councils directly, or by subscription; but it is an essential counterpart to the other expenditure proposed in this chapter, and represents only a small proportion of it.
The programme would encompass the following areas:
Development and provision of in-service training courses and workshops for librarians in the use of networked information.
Development and maintenance of training materials for use by librarians and others to teach users how to use the network.
Promotion and publicity in the use of networked information resources.
Network training workshops aimed at groups of users.
Collaborative pilot projects to encourage shared use of training resources.
Liaison with Schools and Departments of Information Studies on both initial professional training and on the needs of the profession for continuing education programmes in this area.

Library Management Systems

The remainder of this chapter deals with issues concerning the contribution of IT to the internal management of libraries.

New Directions in the Library Automation Industry

In recent years there has been dissatisfaction among academic librarians about the commercial library management systems on offer. Although library automation has undoubtedly delivered significant efficiency gains over the last decade, there is a widespread feeling that suppliers are proving unresponsive to the changing and expanding needs of libraries in the 1990s and beyond, and that library systems are being left behind by developments elsewhere in the computer industry.
This lack of innovation has been particularly evident in relation to the application of standards; the development of the user interface; the provision of self-service facilities; the availability of management information; and the development of applications which interact with other systems and services.
Much of the apparent unresponsiveness of the library automation industry can be attributed to the fact that it now stands at a critical point of change. The current generation of systems, based largely on closed proprietary technology, has reached the its life, and a new generation, built around modern industry-standard products, is beginning to enter the market. This is a difficult and expensive transition for the industry to make, but there are now signs that the stronger companies are achieving it.
With the emergence of a new generation of systems, libraries can have some confidence that at least some developments will occur. There ought to be dramatic improvements in the user interface, and an increase in ease of operation and reliability. A wider range of effective self-service facilities can also be expected to emerge, along with more effective provision of management information.
Having considered these issues the Group has concluded that there is no specific need for action by the funding councils.

Gaps in Provision in Library Automation Systems

Although there are now grounds for confidence about the ability of the industry to deliver a new generation of library automation systems capable of providing an enhanced level of functionality in the existing core areas, there are still important areas which are not receiving adequate attention. These relate to the interaction between the traditional library management system and external systems and services.
More consideration should be given to the relationship between the mainstream library automation system and new methods of teaching and learning. In a future where technology is used much more widely in teaching and learning, the traditional model of access to information may change. Instead of the student approaching the library as an individual in search of material, with access mediated via more or less sophisticated OPACs, much more information might be pre-processed in the form of courseware packages or electronic course packs. However, the potential role of the library automation system not being adequately explored.
Libraries are already vital to independent learning and there is an increasing demand for the simultaneous use of information in multiple formats. The Review Group recommends that any further developments based on the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) or other initiatives should give explicit attention to the interaction between IT based learning materials and the developing role of the library in this area.
The development of a new generation of library automation systems will certainly ensure that the technical capability to provide better management information will be present, but the development of resource management tools and systems will depend on analysis both of the precise needs of and of the relationship between the library system and other academic, administrative and financial systems.
The Review Group recommends, that the JISC should fund a study to explore the development of a Management Information System (MIS) specification, with the aim of providing libraries with tools to facilitate quantitative analysis of the full range of their activities, and to permit more effective management of their resources.

Library Systems and Campus Information Strategies

The preceding paragraphs have identified gaps in library automation. These gaps point to a general problem of inadequate integration between library systems on the one hand and institutional strategies for the management of information (whether academic or administrative) on the other. This may be in large part the result of a failure to look at information management from the point of view of the end-user rather than the provider of information.
The Review recommends that the blueprints for IS strategies being developed by the JISC, and referred to in paragraphs 267-268 should include consideration of this desirable integration.

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