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More Pressure for Better Portals

The recent report “Re-Defining Libraries for the Google Age” by Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, is very interesting. She writes that it is a UK national imperative to create a national digital research collection to ensure the UK’s future innovation and economic growth. She also goes out on a limb with some EPS study projections and starts to apply some numbers to what the world of publishing will look like within 15 years:
“Most people are aware that a national switch to digital broadcasting is expected by the end of this decade. Rather less well known is the fact that a similar trend is underway in the world of publishing: a study by EPS, commissioned by the British Library, projects that, by the year 2020, 40% of UK research monographs will be available in electronic format only, while a further 50% will be produced in both print and digital. A mere 10% of new titles will be available in print alone by 2020.”
For those of us who manage the bridge between print and electronic formats this is quite the challenge. Some libraries still manage their digital collections quite separately (in terms of staff, budgets, classification, portal interface, etc.) from print, microform and other hard copy collections. I’ll go out on a limb too – for the foreseeable future we must provide seamless access to both without regard to format. By this I mean that navigation and discovery of all resources should ideally be based on a principle that the user just doesn’t care to decide in advance what the preferred format is before they ask their questions and begin to search. We seem to be getting there slowly but we might need to pick up the pace a bit.
It is also interesting to see how some folks have adapted their OPACs to discover a wider range of formats (like audio files, e-books, streaming media, etc.). It seems that these experiments are still coming somewhat from a physical object mindset rather than a virtual object mindset. I suppose when the next generation of AACR3 and FRBR rules are ultimately promulgated we’ll need to see another mindset.
Pretty interesting to think about…

Posted on: July 18, 2005, 11:06 am Category: Uncategorized

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