Digital Dilemmas: Are Libraries and IT Centres Causes for Concern in the Twenty First Century?

"Maybe people don't prize possessions now like we did in the premillenium. How could they? All their money goes into the Net. For games, or business, or television - things that come over the wires... Young people these days, maybe they don't hanker after a Mercedes or a Jacuzzi. But they'll brag like sixty about their data access." (Sterling, 1989)

All one can do in the area of prediction is to judge as best one can from the trends of the day and then insert left field visions. Corn (1986) has shown the various failures and successes of the predictability of visions of American futures. Science fiction writers like Bruce Sterling, Tad Williams and William Gibson (although the latter wrote Neuromancer on a old typewriter) are often far ahead of contemporary pundits such as Nicholas Negroponte ranging from utopian visions of information access to the data pirates and the underbelly of the information society of the twenty first century.

David Gerrold, another SF writer, has said "the hardest lesson to learn is that learning is a continual process". In the twenty first century this will become a truism as lifelong learning and skills maintenance will be essential. In that century libraries and IT centres may well be a cause for concern. They will have either evolved like butterflies from the chrysalis or imploded as users gain virtual access to entertainment and information.

The AUCC/CARL Report The Changing World of Scholarly Communication: Challenges and Choices for Canada indicates the changes in scholarly communication affect the whole education spectrum but they recognise "financial considerations have prevented some universities from investing in information technology to the same degree as have others. There is a very real danger that the wealth of opportunities afforded by electronic communication may not be available equally across the university system. Indeed, even within institutions, some faculties have far greater access to these technologies than do others.

In short, the current evolution of the scholarly communication system is affected by a series of complex issues, including questions relating to copyright, the basis for recognizing and rewarding scholars, the inability of university libraries to keep pace with the growing body of knowledge, and the daunting task of digitizing the enormous volume of knowledge that now resides largely in paper form if, indeed, that is a desired option. There are concerns, too, about the cost of investing in the infrastructure of information technology and telecommunications facilities.

We are at a crossroads: there are critical questions to be considered, choices to be made, challenges to be met. We have a unique opportunity to offer our own contributions to influence the development of the scholarly communication system, and to advance solutions that reflect Canadian realities, goals and values. At the same time, we must recognize that changes in scholarly communication are taking place around the world, and that some of our choices will be limited by what occurs internationally." (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 1996).

The pace of such change is crucial in terms of futurology. Dolence and Norris's vision for learning in the twenty first century Transforming Higher Education (1995) remains one of the best documents to consider immediate options, along with more volumes such as the Getty Art History Information Program's Research Agenda for Networked Cultural Heritage (1996) which, while seemingly specialist, offer significant insights into knowledge management issues.

Back to the Future

Looking back to the papers in CAUSE 94 Conference in Melbourne one is struck, even in that short space of time, of how the information caravan has moved on. Tony Barry covered gophers and predicted a revolution in network publishing. Donald Riggs, now no longer University Librarian of Michigan University, talked of Mosaic and the possible use of digital libraries. I'm sure Greg Porter and Josephine Shanks in 'Casmac - Making it Happen' would have preferred if it had happened. If three years is a long time in IT developments and organisations then just think what will be the situation in ten, twenty or even fifty years?

The essential point of the future is that users will not care who delivers the information providing it best meets their needs in content, delivery and is economically priced. If "nomadic computing", as Professor Len Kleinrock of UCLA predicts, becomes the norm then the wired individual becomes the information universe rather than the large library.

Peter Lyman (1996) in one of his perceptive overviews has outlined the sea changes in access to information encapsulated in the term "digital library" published in a recent issue of Daedalus. We have to move from the imitation of print electronically to the creation of new knowledge access patterns and useage. Clifford Lynch (1996) also picked up this point at the 1996 ASIS Annual meeting in Baltimore with the emergence of a set of new genres of communication as we move away from the "tyranny of text". We will also need to move to personalised systems developments in terms of information organisation.

What are the steps in the development of such a scenario and core centralisation to achieve decentralisation. In some cases it is convergence of structures on campus - on others co-operation. In the UK convergence of IT, libraries and Teaching/Learning facilities is very much more common than in Australia. Fifty of the ninety eight UK universities have some form of convergence, ranging from total staffing integration at Hull and Birmingham Universities, to Leeds and Sussex Universities where sharing co-operatively is in place but the Librarian is Dean or Director of Information Services/Planning and is responsible for overall strategic planning. Four-fifths of the converged areas resulted in the person responsible for overall co-ordination being the "former" or actual University Librarian.

In the USA at Arizona State a huge computer cluster linked to the Library has recently been opened with $20 million US funding. A new position of Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs has been created. At the University of Southern California the Leavey "teaching" Library was opened in 1995 for total round the clock access in a high-tech environment. In 1997 this Leavey Information Commons is a centre for librarians, navigation assistants and computer consultants to deliver information to users at homes, offices and computer user clusters. At USC the newly created post of Chief Information Officer has in his portfolio to create a consolidated managerial environment for administrative information systems, university computing services, university telecommunications, university libraries, and other campus information providers and facilitators on campus. This position will chair the university's new Information Council, which will be composed of representatives from each of USC's primary information providers and facilitators. The council's initial mandate is to devise and recommend, but no later than July 1997, a strategic plan - complete with comprehensive, long range objectives - for the university's information systems.

Dartmouth College have initiated planning for an 80,000 square foot extension to the Library Building which will accommodate Academic Computing to form "computarian" alliances. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has been planning for an expanded and renovated library facility for several years. As a part of the planning process, a Library "Vision for Today, A Building for Tomorrow" has been developed which includes a significant number of concepts and principles:

"As information technologies change, faculty and students no longer need to come to the facility because there are alternate means of finding, accessing, and delivering information. Therefore, if Library and Information Services both as an organization and a building which houses its functions are to be relevant to the University, contact with customers must be the emphasis. No service can or will exist without the customer. It is only when the customer is engaged that we provide service. In other words, the user or customer is defined not by whether he/she is an undergraduate or graduate student, a member of the faculty engaged in research, a faculty person involved solely in instruction, staff member, or a person from the general community, but simply as one who presents him/herself to us seeking service. A guiding principle then is that there is a greater emphasis on interaction than on warehousing. The organization of the building and the Library and Information Services Unit must take this into account. The building must enable most staff to serve and collaborate with customers and must de-accentuate the current departmentalisation". Client service is thus the key.

The Paul Hamlyn Learning Resource Centre at Thames Valley University has a Head of Development who is quoted: "People are looking for information in different formats now - not just book and booklists. We are trying to create the old scholar-librarian type of model by employing cyberlibrarians, who can pull together information that is published on the Net, on CD-Rom, in databases. They will bring it into electronic libraries on the intranet, and then make it learning material by adding comments and linking it to specific courses." (The Independent 7/10/96 Section Two, p15). Among the first to benefit in their environment will be student nurses, based in hospitals, and roving district nurses, who will be able to tap into information on prescribing drugs. Revenue will come from running similar networks for the university's corporate partners, which range from major airlines to banking and insurance houses. If better immediate medical data resides on my desk terminal than in the information tapped into my local doctor or consultant then an intelligent base line of debate can be delivered in a number of specialist areas.

The underpinning of this process comes through the effective linkages of associated activities. The University of Westminster has opened its first integrated Information Resource Services (IRS) Centre at its Harrow Campus with AV, Computing, Library and MIS services merged under one managerial structure. The IRS Centre has been designed as the first "information workshop" of the University, a place where students and staff can study, research, find electronic information, use software applications, print, photocopy, fax, use audio-visual materials (slides, music, videos), use self-learning packages, produce videos, cassettes, receive hands-on IT training, prepare assignments, etc.

This would be seen to be an increasingly standard structure with curriculum development and electronic publishing added in some institutions, as at Sheffield Hallam University, whose Learning Centre contains more study spaces than the new British Library at St Pancras - a total of 1,600 - all of them IT compatible. The Learning Centre contains a TV studio, a graphics studio, a print unit, multimedia designers and the university press are all on the same site. As well as this the university's Learning and Teaching Institute has been brought under the same roof. The Institute has two roles: it co-ordinates educational research across the university, and it supports innovation in teaching and learning with IT state of the art lecture rooms and facilities which are available to both university staff and students, and also commercially to organisations in the city, for example for training their own staff. The Institute also carries out educational research, evaluating the effectiveness of new approaches to learning. Four distinct departments have been brought together at the site comprising library services, computing provision, production facilities for multimedia material and the Learning and Teaching Institute. (ANU for example still has in early 1997 these areas reporting to four different heads in the ANU Chancelry!).

The establishment of an Information Arcade and Info Place by the Library and IT Services in 1997 and another larger structure in the Hancock building at the end of 1998 will bring together electronic induction programmes, Internet training, electronic publishing (the embryonic ANU Electronic Press), authors workbenches, PC and Mac labs, scanning stations, ANU On-line etc.. The juxtaposition and merger of skills is essential but cannot be compromised by historical "turf wars".

We are therefore seeing more physical concentration of facilities as well as remote Net use. As for libraries, if research library material is relatively little used then we don't need extensive opening hours (expensive in Australian terms) to cater for needs but instead have lengthy borrowing periods. Libraries can then concentrate on what is being used and make material available electronically outside the physical library confines eg. for course material, electronic textbooks, document supply etc.

Technologies and Innovation

The CAUSE Current Issues Committee (1996) has produced a thought provoking set of questions concerning the integration of technology in teaching and learning. It argues "as the necessary technology and support become more readily available, faculty will integrate World Wide Web, multimedia, desktop video, and other new technologies into the teaching and learning process to serve students on campus, within commuting distance, and at great distances from the institution. Other providers will enter and compete for educational services business.

CAUSE identifies issues that need to be addressed as:

• What is the role of information technology in the transition from teacher-centered to learner-centered instruction?

• What is the information resources organization's role in this transformation - leader, supporter, participant in the creative process?

• How do we help our institutions to approach this in a way that effectively plans for and leverages the investments that will be necessary in technology, process, and pedagogy?

• Is there a model for effectively supporting faculty in using technology in their teaching and incorporating it into the learning experience of their students?

• How do we address the policy issues and challenges raised by distance education?

Catherine Lilly and Gloria Thiele (1996) have identified the following aspects as necessary in reengineering in a university environment. Firstly to develop customer focussed and marketing concepts that enable information technology staff to become more customer driven and to link process innovation into total quality programmes, strategic data planning and continuous improvement.

The digital networked environment breaks up the whole structure of knowledge organisation and argues for the provision in new collaborative partnerships. Risk-taking versus consensus will be a tension which will be a constant in a rapidly changing environment. A case study might be relevant here. The ANU Library won the VALA award for IT in 1993-4 for its work on electronic access provision largely based on the work of Tony Barry. The fact we probably wouldn't have won it in 1996-7 reflects on ANU's recent budgetary cuts, staffing overloads as well as a structural committee conservatism that emerged. Individual change agents are more than ever important, although they need to be harnessed effectively into the evolving structures, ie, we need to link the vision of the future with making it happen on the ground or in Cyberspace. In similar vein re the need to balance reality and visions, the Director-General of the National Library of Australia has acknowledged in recent months that the NLA's major financial investment in World One, running into many millions, had been overtaken by the Net.

In the early days of the Net in Australia ANU had a number of leaders - to name but five Geoff Huston, Peter Elford, Tony Barry, Dr David Green and Roger Clarke. All have now left the ANU much to that institution's overall IT loss and Dr Matthew Ciolek of the Coombs Virtual Library fame sits somewhat precariously in a one year funded position. This reflects poorly on the overall policy makers of the ANU (in my opinion I hasten to add) but also there may be historical analogies here too. These individuals could be seen as the scouts or the forerunners of the Net Discovery - going ahead and blazing pathways like the discoverers of the American West. After them came the wagon trains, the carpet baggers, the railroad track layers and finally the integration of the discovery into the routine bland landscape of cybermalls of the twenty first century.

Tony Barry and I tried for years to interest Reuters Australia in electronic newspapers. We pioneered with Reuters, and the relevant ANU staff of LITNSU, the delivery of e-mail profiles from international newspapers to user terminals. At the beginning of 1997 we were delivering to circa 260 users via 50 profiles. Reuters Australia didn't have an R and D vision nor any vision of the Internet in 1994 - nor incidentally did Reuters USA at that time. They were also largely stand alone providers of business information, because it was their core money maker rather than selling e-mail newspapers, which incidentally once set up could have just as easily have delivered them to anywhere in the world. Now Reuters have finally come up with an Net version of their newspaper profile product but Reuters and ANU perhaps missed, an opportunity to influence the US because of the 'colonial' status and the division of the Reuters world by area when the Net is a global form. Multinational publishing offices in Sydney and Melbourne are the same in terms of taking their IT leads from overseas.


Structures and Staffing

We need to evaluate services overall so that the total vision is apparent. This is often difficult if IT Service Directors and Librarians are excluded from the top overall management processes of the University. The models chosen by UNSW, QUT and Griffith provide useful models of policy development and access. We also need in structural change to separate people from positions otherwise the waters can get muddy indeed. The DEETYA study on IT structures and management, completed in 1997 by Christine Page-Hanify at UNSW, reveals the diversity of organisational structures in Australia and outlines some basic structural models.

Sheila Creth in her 1996 October Follett Lecture titled her talk 'The Electronic Library - Slouching Toward the Future or Creating a New Information Environment'! The term "slouching" may be a relevant one for some in the library profession? The organisation by division of knowledge will be the key to coping with change process. The IT environment is usually more associated with change then has been the case with libraries. The 1996 CAUL (Council of Australian University Librarians) Seminar on 'Convergence in Universities' held at Adelaide University heard comments that generally speaking that IT professionals were insensitive to users but able to introduce rapid change, whereas the reverse was true for the Library environment ie. slow to change but good with users who come into a Library!

In a distributed IT and Learning environment what is the correct mix of central support and devolved assistance? Individual teams work best but overall network standards and compatibility will also be required. Users are best provided to aid financially if it is in their best interest eg. Law Faculties supporting law cluster laboratories and the information which they can provide. More generic databases provision, however, may need more central co-ordination as some American university libraries are now realising.

How do staff interact in this process of convergence which has as its aim the better provision of teaching and research locally, nationally and globally? As the Cornell FABIT Report (Cornell University, 1996) stated "We have done a good job of distributing technology, but we have not done as good a job of distributing the support infrastructure. Central staff and faculty work well together, but we haven't achieved a level of organization that is efficient; too often we practice in the same area, sometimes creating duplication while leaving other areas unaddressed".

To achieve this synergy we may be better served by a vocabulary which does away with historical terms like "librarian" which are rooted in historical and missions and goals. Staff values can be fixed to historical routines when new paradigms are required. Library schools in America now have become Schools of Information with courses such as the Implementation of Distributed Information Systems. As Sheila Creth (1996) has indicated "It is time to develop a vocabulary that will not bind us to the (past) while retaining the values of librarianship that are the core of the profession. As we consider and reconsider options and approaches for reference service, we need to grapple with a number of underlying issues and not shy away from a dialogue in which there will be disagreement and differences - philosophy, values, roles and responsibilities along with specific activities, programs and services are essential to discuss in relation to reference but more generally in terms of the future of librarians and libraries."

At the CAUSE 96 Conference in San Francisco Patricia Battin and Brian Hawkins provided the following influences on 'The Changing Role of the Information Resources Professional'

• traditional roles will need to change, a radical change may not be in individuals best interests in the short term

• future education will be customised rather than centralised

• change may be discontinuous and transformational

• need budget flexibility, access will be ownership

• need contribution from scholars, librarians and information technologists

• perception of information technologists as "anarchist" and librarians as "control freaks"

• need to establish a baseline of service

These processes are not without stress, emotion and problems as the ANU Library restructure this year has shown where powerful interest groups have come into conflict with the change process. Our ultimate work will be measured in outcomes and needs to be based on evolving and flexible competencies and skills. Gilliland and Tynan (1996) have stated an immense amount of time in an organisation is given to "terrorists" who complain, refuse to offer solutions nor participate in eventual ones. Gilliland and Tynan believe leaders must focus time on those individuals and the teams that are committed to their project and being part of the solution. Hierarchies exist throughout institutions and need to be addressed at all levels if a true team based solution is to eventuate.

Virtual University Scenarios

What will be the backdrop for libraries and IT centres in an educational framework? The Virtual University concept is one if not the major scenario. There are a number of models in this context eg. niche and mega-university concepts (Daniel, 1996). Two significant seminars in the second half of 1996, one in Singapore sponsored by the British Council and IDP Australia, and the other at Melbourne University (Hart and Mason, 1996) produced some fascinating future scenarios and models. In this area of development, the traditional University and libraries may cease to exist and therefore IT centres libraries will mutate organisationally within each concept perhaps as virtual libraries on the one hand and local support organisation with specialised assistance on the other.

The Western Governors University is another model <>. It has as its aims

• Removal of the obstacles of both time and place to post secondary education opportunities for individual and corporate citizens of the West.

• A means for learners to obtain formal recognition of the skills and knowledge obtained outside a traditional higher education (campus) context and/or from multiple providers through the assessment and certification of competency.

• Joint development of new learning and assessment materials among states and with private entities

• Technology standards that will ensure connectivity.

The WGU is focusing its initial efforts on:

• linking employers and academic institutions in setting skills standards

• linking individuals seeking assessment of their competencies with assessment providers

• linking individuals seeking to enhance their level of competence in one or more of these areas with providers of educational programs/courses/modules who can meet the learners' requirements regarding time, place, and content of services delivered

• providing support services needed to help ensure that students receive appropriate guidance and that barriers to access to education offerings are minimised or removed entirely

• providing credentials to individuals - academic degrees and industry-recognized certificates - based on assessment of competencies.

Do we have the visionaries to appreciate the trends? The Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University has come out with his vision of the future in speeches to the Virtual University Conference last November. A survey late last year reported in The Australian (14 January 1996) by Trudi McIntosh stated "nearly 60 per cent of employees are rapidly falling behind the Internet and desktop PC skills base". Only 16 per cent of employees, including middle management, said they had a basic level of PC literacy, according to another survey conducted by one of Australia's largest recruitment companies Morgan and Banks. Senior executives, aged 55 and over, were still the least IT-literate group with most senior executives lacking even the very basic computer keyboard skills. I wonder how many Vice-Chancellors really understand the Net developments? If so where is the vision to come from, and particularly how does this interact with resource allocation?

New technologies have to be incorporated into complex and often inflexible structures. Dr Peter Taylor, co-author of a recent report Flexibility, Technology and Academics' Practices: Tantalising Tales and Muddy Maps found "formidable barriers to change - mainly funding work against the introduction of flexible delivery technologies and that universities concentrated on helping staff acquire technical skills that to think about new teaching patterns (Australian Higher Education Supplement 12 February 1997 p36).

As mentioned earlier the Australian IT pioneers were to some extent loners not at ease in an hierarchical organisational structure. We need to integrate ideas management with the managing of user needs. John Kao brings up the jazz metaphor by the synthesis of individual effort into a collective form (John Kao. The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, Harper, 1996 <>. Others might prefer the Wagnerian style of leadership but in a distributed learning environment, particularly when telecommuting is common, this is hardly likely to succeed.

The Institute of Data Processing Management has predicted (Times Internet 23/10/96) that as companies move from different office networks to intranets and simpler networks based on Internet standards then, this will remove the need for large numbers of network specialists and systems integrators. The Report concluded "prepare for retirement or retrain preferably out of IT" Grim words indeed? Yet in contrast Richard Day, Director of Black Horse Relocation, in the same issue, argues knowledge of IT is vital for future employment. One suspects here it is how IT is defined. In addition, according to more than 700 chief executives, chairmen and managing directors of UK companies, the most important skill a job applicant can cultivate is the ability to work in a team.

In the staffing structures we must move to flexible broadbanded skill structures. In the ANU Library restructuring debates of 1996 much play was made by some staff of the sacrosanct nature of professional library qualifications even though their traditional library qualifications had been obtained often in the 1960's and in the 1970's when the current access and delivery models were literally science fiction dreams. In my opinion the more one rises up the salary ladder the more flexible and adaptable the skills need to be and the wider the classification parameters.

Flexibility, responsiveness, team based projects and quality benchmarking will set the standards. ANU currently has a variety of classification grades eg. librarian, computing, administrative. These qualification debates are false divisions in an interchangeable support structure and the sooner they are abolished the better. I hasten to add once again this is a personal opinion. I won't even enter the debate on academic/general staff dichotomies. In my lectures (Steele, 1996) on the Electronic Library at the University of Tasmania last year I stated:

"The "general staff" have as much to offer as academic staff in the access to and transmission of knowledge. The students will be in "interactive " mode in learning, while researchers will decide from their desktop where they will access information... We cannot allow local internal 'turf wars' between various parts of campuses at a time when overall resources are declining. The library profession or increasingly as I would prefer to put it those who work in libraries will need to decide their role in this future".

One term which has been coined in the present changing environment is "cybermanagement", ie. the management structure of the future when libraries and IT centres as they are currently constituted no longer exist. Project (short or long term) teams become the basis of information action. ANU Library's evolution into subject and support cluster teams will give groups the autonomy to move funds between previously earmarked funds such as access to information (books and serials), staffing and equipment. They will, depending on the interaction of user groups, provide team based approaches to campus wide issues. IT skills will be an important element of such clusters. The cluster or group scenario reflected in the ANU and University of Queensland library environments sees and will continue to see development of a mix of skills. At above core support level the use of ITLO's (Information Technology Library Officers) in the University of Queensland environment has provided new skills for staff in the software installation and maintenance at an HEW3/4 level in subject groupings in areas previously guarded by centralised network support groups.

The best mix may be one of effective decentralisation with agreed overall standards of service support. ANU's Audit Office looked at ANU Library's IT strategies and achievements in 1996 and, while praising certain aspects, found weaknesses in the lack of the integration of IT into the overall strategic planning process and clear priority settings. Customer satisfaction, and the need to benchmark and continually evaluate obviously takes resources on a regular basis. Let's ignore those who say they are too busy to evaluate their operations for otherwise how do they effectively judge their operations - historical models are no longer relevant. The users who never enter the Library, for example, are just as relevant as those who do!

Deborah Allmayer and Phyllis Davidson (1996), respectively the Human Resources Administrator and the Director, University Computing Services of Indiana University, in their paper 'The Employee and Organisation of the Future' to the December CAUSE Conference argued that the traditional principles of employment are "dead". The organization of the future could only support continued employment for those jobs that contribute to the stated goals of the organization, placing immediate demands on incumbents to become employees of the future - committed to those goals, adapting to change with multiple skills... For our partnership to be credible, management had to accept its obligations as well. Communicating organizational direction and engaging in dialogue, facilitating a professional growth plan and providing opportunities to achieve those development objectives for staff members became essential elements of the manager's tasks."

"Power teams" has been a jargon word in the business community with teams establishing their own goals within an overall strategic framework. Does it really matter how a team achieves the end goal as long as it does within the agreed parameters, eg., financial, strategic and physical. Power teams can exist both in the long term or short term. The mix of skills in short term projects provide results and a sense of achievement when a task is finished. Reward and satisfaction mechanisms need to be in place for both operational situations.

The University of Minnesota Libraries at Minneapolis have moved, under the direction of Thomas Shaughnessy (1996), to a coach type environment. This has aroused scepticism in some of his American colleagues but it is an interesting and valid approach. The replacement of the word 'manager' by 'coach' has important ramifications if treated seriously rather as glib management jargon. There are, however, different types of coaches. Bob Simpson seems for example a different sort of coach then was Geoff Marsh to the Australian cricket team! Coaches assist the team to achieve their goals but at the end of the day someone has to be ultimately responsible and that can never be forgotten be it the Provost, Vice-Chancellor, or Cyber Coach of the new IT and Library organisation.

The CAUSE pamphlet Reflections on Leadership (CAUSE Professional Papers #15) identified leadership as "contextual". More than one of the writers used the example of taking sequential solo leads in a jazz group in contrast to the conducting of an orchestra as a metaphor which is one much favoured by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southern Cross. The need for new leadership images is constant. Thus Thomas West, Vice-Chancellor of the State University of California, has canvassed the transition of the CIO "from Butch Cassidy to City Slicker" ie. from greenhorns in the IT area to accomplished practitioners in the widest sense (West, 1996). West stresses only the most broadly based and adaptable IT personnel will be able to function at the highest level, ie, they should not only have the vision but be able to manage the change process. There clearly needs to be a team based approach and input at the top of organisations as no one can encompass all the future IT environment in its total context. Indeed IT will be seamless in many operations.

Carla Stoffle (1996) in her November 1996 Follett Lecture has described the move at Arizona University to create a "customer focussed, continuous learning, constantly improving, flexible, quality - based library". Here comments are pithy and relevant, for example, "academic libraries are no longer the only game in town or the monopolies we once were". The same could be said for IT centres and providers. Current jobs have to fit into an evolving reorganisational pattern in our context of changing access to information models. The mix between private and public activities will need to change too. Job rotation will also be a common function. The Vanstone budget cuts and the non funding of salary rises are worrying because they have impoverished Australian infrastructure potential in the world scene, although equally they have provided a dramatic and traumatic catalyst for change in Australian universities.

Like some of Margaret Thatcher's cuts to higher education in Britain it is often difficult to identify any Government vision behind the cuts other than a simple economic budget driven process. There is, for example, no published ARC or HEC vision to be debated in terms of collective infrastructure approach. The DEETYA Infrastructure Committee (which is 90% comprised of scientists but "old" scientists who seem to have often no real personal cognisance of the Net revolution) has approved a number of library and database projects in recent years whose validity is questionable to say the least. Audit procedures of these grants have also been relatively lax in recent years.

Both the library sub-committee of DEETYA and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), have been trying to ensure the debate is more focussed in national or quasi-national terms. The CAUL Datasets trials have shown that a national approach provides a collective thirty eight university benefit for relatively low costs nationwide eg. the Academic Press and IAC full text and abstract initiatives which began at the beginning of February for a one year period. Twenty first century initiatives will also be on a global rather than simply a national level.

Many of the strategic plans of the American scene eg. Cornell and Arizona identify I.T. (whatever that means) as an integral part of the university environment of the twenty first century. The Australian Higher Education Review has one major reference to I.T. which is somewhat vague and the composition of the Committee has arguably no major expertise in the Net revolution, a point which Professor Ken McKinnon, the former Vice Chancellor of Wollongong has argued.

What is the projected role of librarians? Are they the Internet facilitators, the analyses of Web indexes, the creators of Web content, the integral element of the teaching and research process. Search tools will continue to advance with relevancy rankings, file format interchangeability, document operability etc. Nonetheless the specialisation and sub division of information will require specialists with rankings devoted to academic needs. Some of the current developments in the Asian Virtual Library scene at ANU will emerge in this context as research goals, methods and interpretation differ a great deal from popular Net sites indexing.

Alan Turing of World War II Enigma fame predicted that in the next century intelligent machines would be pervasive. Perhaps not as evident as HAL in 2001 by that date (Stork, 1996) but capable of actions as distant as current computing seemed in 1968, the year of Kubrick's movie of 2001. Neurodynamics a company associated with AI developments and linked to Cambridge University has released "Autonomy" whose agents can function while you are connected to the Net, allowing you to monitor its searches or carry out other tasks. One way is to send agents off like bloodhounds, while you are off line. Once they have finished sniffing around, they rest in "kennels" on a designated computer server, with their bag of files and other goodies, waiting for their "master" or mistress to call them home. The agent stores all the site addresses, allowing you to switch back to the original sources. What makes these agents so special is apparently that they can "learn" from experience. Agents can be programmed to work the other way round, screening out material you may prefer not to see.

Michael Lesk of Bellcore has indicated that by 2010 scholars will use text libraries as currently they do manuscript collections. Most of the new information produced by 2010 will be in digital form and only the material that has economic or major academic value will be retrospectively scanned and digitised unless costs begin to reduce significantly. Professor Carol Tenopir (Tenopir, 1996), in analysing the end user searching trends, notes that for twenty five years the end user markets had been difficult and relatively static because

• not many end users knew what online searching was;

• not many end users had the equipment to go online;

• not many end users were willing to learn how to search;

• and, not many end users were willing to pay for online information.

Currently these have changed because of the Net and five major end user trends have emerged: web versions; end user systems through the library; integration of information sources; the rethinking of proprietary software solutions; and specialized focus/customized products. As we bring systems to users we will see increasingly sophisticated web enhancements. In terms of content developments such as Biomed Net and Engineering Information Village set examples of intellectual conglomeration.

Australasian Universities On-Line (AUO) which was formed early in 1997 again has a valid concept, ie, to retain the intellectual copyright of Australian academics and course providers and make them available on the Net with improved remuneration for the individual academic and university. What AUO requires is to obtain the necessary content material which at the time of writing it doesn't hold. Without the content, the embryonic business structure, partly funded by Telstra, will be like a car with out an engine. The relevant groups need to come together to provide an effective structure in national terms. These could bring together Norsearch at Southern Cross University, the Griffith University/Stanford "Highwire' developments in information access and the relevant DEETYA infrastructure grant teams in the information access forums.

As the technical developments divide into predicability and basic operations eg. one stop boxes for TV, information and entertainment provision then network infrastructures, which currently take up a lot of current discussion may become only a question of price and performance.

The first market for them will be the DUBS (Digital Upscale Believers). Paul Mockapetris at the December CNI Conference in San Francisco spoke of his company's role @Home's strategy making use of:

• caching and data replication

• proactive network management

• added value at every level of the network

Gore Vidal identifies stages of civilisation which include theocratic, democratic and dictatorial, all of which are essential cyclical. As the individual user in the twenty first century becomes one to one with the information provider he or she will be as the seventh century monk in the scriptoria and a cyclical pattern will occur. In the IT environment West identifies the academic, bureaucratic, technocratic and network-centric processes - the latter to include individual empowerment on the one hand and the facilitation process at the managerial levels.

The Benton Foundation Report Buildings, Books and Bytes (1996) found that in America the age group 18-24 were the least enthusiastic of any age group about the importance of libraries in a digital future. This was presumably because of the flow on of he TV and Nintendo generations into the Net "nerds" environment. This Study said that if this age groups wanted to enhance their computer skills it would be from "someone they know" rather then from a local library. In the Benton Report public libraries were perceived in the USA to be reactive and to be "behind the technology curve". Interestingly the "super-bookstores" like Borders were seen as competitors with discount offers and presumably cyber-cafes. Libraries in the academic area in Australia are probably less in danger, although they could be if the user becomes the focal point of information access. Physical and temporal walls will change for libraries in the twenty first century.

The challenges identified by the University of California (1996) in its Digital Library Framework are extremely relevant for most Australian libraries. They aim from an organisational perspective to provide a set of human, financial, and technological systems which enable knowledge generation, access, and use, with four primary roles:

• information preservation, storage, and retrieval;

• information access and delivery via electronic communications;

• the on-line publishing of the scholarly and scientific knowledge base, or knowledge management; and

• information management consultation and training.

It is important to note that these roles are viable only in the context of new business models which are scalable with an exponential growth in digital information.

Working collaboratively at a distance will come as a significant achievement as hierarchical structures evolve into regular team based work groups and then into individual joined together from home bases in university content creation and knowledge provision. Dr Clifford Lynch from the University of California System-wide Automation indicated at the January 1997 On-Line Conference in Sydney 'the World Wide Web' is not a Library. There will be a need for organisational overlays but that organisation may well not reside in libraries but rather in software houses.

Future Trends

The Polish writer Stanislaw Lem once said "Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man. But they don't bite everybody". In the twenty first century structures to provide access to information will have as many variants as cybernetic fleas. The one constant will be the direct access of information and entertainment by the user at his or her desktop in the office or home.

A timetable for publishers, whom to date have been more reactive rather than proactive, might be as follows (Barber, 1996):-

2005: The Internet has become cheaper and faster. Most homes have access. E-cash now a reality. Publishers' core business continues to be books, but they have now become skilled at marketing their titles through direct sales and electronic extracts. Specialist publishers flourish as they can now target readers on the Web. Ninety per cent of new titles are from small publishers.

2010: Publishers now distribute a large portion of their stock through the Internet, selling titles both as books and now increasingly in electronic form. CD-Roms are relatively cheap and used almost exclusively for reference. Book publishing more or less confined to fiction, literary and blockbusters.

2050: A new art form has emerged, hybridising literature, video, animation, and music. The "creators" perform on their Web pages where they connect directly with their audience.

My feeling is that this process will be much faster than Barber predicts as 2005 for the first scenario is almost here now.

What are some of the technologies which will change the future? Will it be a "wireless future" with college and university libraries unplugged as Clifton Dale Foster argued at the December 1996 Cause Conference. Northrop Frye, the Canadian author, has said "our real crystal ball is a rear view mirror". One way out of this is not to say what are the standards or the physical pieces of equipment which will provide desktop access but rather what is the concept and what will be the results. The video is ubiquitous but not with Beta standards. Digital audio tapes and digital assistants hit a time warp but the concept of the latter is increasingly valid. George Gilder believes the Java 'teleputer' will overtake the PC and will be as portable as a cellular phone.

What impact will all this have on people? Professor Sherry Turkle has analysed the impact on human society in books such as Life on the Screen. Identity in the Age of the Internet (Weidenfeld, 1996) which reflects the fragmentation of lives in cyberspace. Magellan's Search Voyeur, as reported in The Australian of December 10 had people searching at one slice of tim on just some of the following: black nude women, power boat photos, dolphins swimming, Albrecht Durer and cross dressers. This is a window to a huge world and not simply one confined to the physical walls of a library which in any case would not necessarily be the place to find black nude women crossdressers, although we would have done better with Albrecht Durer! The future will be, until we get neural links, the "war for the eyeballs" as Andy Grove of Intel has said. In this context an eminent, and not that old, Science Professor at ANU cannot read ordinary screen type because of eye problems. If science print journals disappear variations will have to be sought for those browsing if only two or three words a screen is their maximum. New forms pose new problems as well as solutions. The Net will be a browser/sifting mechanism with print on demand in the immediate future.

The question will also then occur of "who pays" - already we are seeing gaps in access between university libraries on the one hand and public and small special libraries on the other. The National Library's switch to provide articles from Uncover for users instead of from print serials puts the cost back on the user. If Pay-TV increasingly charges by sequential 'slots', as it does already with the rounds of boxing, then the greed of the media moguls will know no bounds in the information arena. We do need to monitor and retain the intellectual property of the creators in the academic arena.

John Birt (1996), Director-General of the BBC, stated in the 1996 MacTaggart Lecture "When you switch on your TV/PC in the year 2010, I fear BBC1 will not appear as it does now. In all probability, someone will pop up trying to sell you something. The vital gateway into the home in the digital age will be controlled by those who own means of delivery into the home; the navigation system which helps the consumer locate what is available; the encryption system which encodes and decodes the services; the subscriber or transaction management system which extracts payments for services used - probably all contained in a single set-top box. The battle for control of and a share of the enormous economic value passing through that gateway, will be one of the great business battles shaping the next century, to rival the 19th-century battle for the railroad or the 20th-century battle for office software systems. But no group should be able to abuse control of that set-top box to inhibit competition. The hallmark of the digital age must be full cultural and economic freedom."

The move to intranets either within a single organisation or within a group - the new Optus AARNet in Australia or the Internet 2 concept dedicated to academic traffic will continue. Voice and video will also become norms in the future. Digital slim line TV's which are interactive for shopping, banking, information, entertainment etc. This trend will need to be associated with cable modem and similarly high speed delivery mechanisms associated with digital compression devices. Users will have to figure real costs into the operations unless subsidised. Economists such as Hal Vanon from University of California at Berkeley and Jeff Mackie-Mason of Michigan University are just two commentators who believe use-based pricing is essential to encourage the rational allocation of scarce transmission capacity.

Just think of the current legal problems of America On-Line with its unlimited offer of use monthly subscription. The leasing of international lines which benefits the US maybe overcome by the Graves/Gates satellite provision forecast by George Gilder. Cost could also be segregated by type of access eg. currently higher costs for video and substantially less for e-mail or basic text. Through the protocol of RSVP people will be able to specify the quality the service they need and be theoretically billed for it. (The Economist 341 (1996), pp23-27).

Many of the IT provisions of the twenty first century will be "invisible". How many TV repairmen are there now - my TV has lasted 20 years without needing repair yet in the 1950's and 1960's TV repairmen were ubiquitous. The Net provider support firms are currently mushrooming but once delivery mechanisms and software become standard then they too might disappear. The Internet as depicted in David Brin's Earth (1991) is simply taken for granted by the characters of the novel.

Brin wrote "And to think, some idiots predicted that we'd someday found our economy on information. That we'd base money on it! On information? The problem isn't scarcity. There's too damned much of it. The problem usually wasn't getting access to information. It was to stave off drowning in it. People bought personalized filter programs to skim a few droplets from that sea and keep the rest out. For some, subjective reality became the selected entertainments and special-interest zones passed through by those tailored shells. Here a man watches nothing but detective films from the days of cops and robbers - a limitless supply of formula fiction. Next door a woman hears and reads only opinions that match her own, because other points of view are culled by her loyal guardian software."

Bruce Schatz in Science has shown how the immediate access to scientific literature is now possible, whereas once it was just the dream of writers like H.G. Wells (The World Brain concept) or information science analysts like J.C.R. Licklider in his book Libraries of the Future (1965). Now large-scale simulations on the HP Convex Exemplar supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications have resulted in generating concept spaces for 10 million journals abstracts across 1,000 subject areas covering all engineering and science disciplines - the largest vocabulary switching computation ever achieved in information science. Future developments will require automatic indexing with scalable semantics to coordinate searches among the one billion repositories likely in the next century. (Schatz, 1997, p327).

Schatz concludes that the "first major revolution of the Net millennium will come when the information infrastructure supports routine vocabulary switching. Then scientists will be able to break the bondage of their narrow specialities and effectively utilise the whole of scientific information in their research. (Schatz, p333).

Every technological change of a major nature leads to the debate as to whether technology drives the development or whether they enhance an agreed mission eg. the educational process. That process clearly will be an encompassing multimedia one rather then the centuries old print on paper environment as the TV generations of "microserfs" come through. What we will need to blend is the increasing decentralisation and individual access with the need for centralised co-ordination and facilitation.

Mirror sites, caching, competitive price structures, consortia deals are all part of the organisational infrastructure which have to meld with content provision, software gateways, intelligent agents etc. Structures will need to accommodate the now intertwined strands ranging from course content and development to network infrastructure to library pro-active organisational skills. Virtual firms will mirror virtual universities and mass skills will be bought where they are cheapest eg. programmers in India/China etc. The virtual stock market is not far off in terms of home linkages to brokers and the world.

The New York Times said of the 1939 World Fair "television will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't got time for it". What we currently don't have time for is to encompass the myriad flow of information which encompasses print, TV and now Net access. The pace of life has decidedly accelerated through e-mail communication. No one composes (or do they?) elegant e-mail letters in the way of the Victorian era nor even in the library field as did Leonard Jolley, the Librarian of the University of Western Australia up to the late 1970's.

We're faced with a deluge of data, a hailstorm of hype, a depression of data, and an inundation of information! Information anxiety has been termed as the black hole between data and knowledge. Librarians and IT personnel will face future anxieties but someone has to be the interpreters - it's really whether the institutional frameworks we sit in are the right ones to allow the necessary growth. This is not the fashionable 'endengenous growth', cited by Victor Keegan, which leads to economics selectively booming from a knowledge or skills base. (Guardian, 5/11/96, pp2-3). Keegan further stated "Nearly 20 million words of technical information are being recorded every day - so a quick reader covering 1,000 words every three minutes for eight hours a day would need nearly five months to get through one day's output. Around 1,000 books are published every day; and one celebrated copy of the New York Times contained 1,612 pages and 12 million words - more data than a man in Bacon's time would have encountered in his lifetime." (Guardian 5/11/96, p2-3).

Cybernetic sifting agents will thus be increasingly providing information supports which in science fiction terms will be neural links - the android Data in Star Trek being the ultimate logical outcome. Professor Donald Dennett of Tufts University at the Sydney Writers Festival in January 1997 illustrated his work on bringing philosophy and biological research together. Dennett sees the human mind as a conglomeration of 'robotic items' withconsciousness as the software run by the brain computer. There is no reason, he argues, why machines cannot be conscious, because we ourselves are machines.

Arthur C. Clarke in his new novel 3001 invents "braincaps" which allow small libraries of "instant knowledge" to be transmitted, stored and interpreted in the human brain. It also incidentally brings social re-engineering in terms of criminal tendencies. This is not far away from Martin Redfern who has written "So far, individual neural networks have no more brain power than a flatworm; they are, however vastly more efficient at handling information. Link them all together and you have, potentially, the sum of all knowledge. Add to that computer network a degree of artificial intelligence so that it can use knowledge selectively, and you have something very powerful indeed - and surely a long way up the evolutionary scale from a flatworm." (Independent on Sunday 6/10/96 Supplement, p 15).


The entertainment industry also perhaps provides a model (sadly) for the future. The world is dominated by firstly American media and secondly by the English language. Burgeoning local industries eg. Australian and British film industries have risen and fallen given US dominance of finance and distribution chains. Similarly global libraries and global laboratories are not impossible in the future. The University of Illinios is working to create a World wide facility which can be utilised anywhere in the World.

The same could be said societally. With the car and the move to suburbs, the ring road (UK and USA) hyper markets sprang up and inner city corner shops died. By the twenty first century with online supermarket shopping and home delivery direct through timed deliveries or cool store secure devices, then the growth of "isolationism" will continue for basic services. Social commuting will occur deliberately rather than randomly. If people today will pay $40 a week for ironing services in the cash flush/time poor environment then the Internet is just one step away in service provision. Home shopping in the UK will get a boost in 1998 when B. Sky-B launches its digital satellites. These, BSkyB says, will have the computing power of an average PC and a very fast modem. BSkyB is negotiating with possible partners such as British Telecom, in the hope that they will give initial subsidies for the decoders to kick start the market. In return, they will be allowed to run home shopping and banking services on the system. Anyone with a satellite dish and a decoder could then go on shopping trips that cut out shops. (Hague, 1996).

Bill Gates also picked up the supermarket analogy in his address to the 1995 Food Business Forum when he congratulated supermarket executives in getting shoppers to do most of the work, ie., drive to shopping conglomerates, buy food, load and unload trolleys and drive home. This is unproductive time. Information will be the same. Users will want their information accessible to them when they want it. Driving to a library, which may not be open, hoping to find the information wanted, is not the future model. The twenty four hour on line Net reference Library and IT service will supersede the check out circulation clerk. Private services will provide this if public and university libraries don't.

These dimensions of service may well be simply on extrapolation of the current CD-Rom approach eg. in Melbourne to medicine and veterinary science but increasingly an interactive Internet mode. SF guru William Gibson's latest novel Idoru has a rock star trying to marry a Japanese virtual reality star! The future can be utopian or Orwellian in cybernetic visions. Do we have Murdoch's dominance, the decline of the ABC and SBS or do we have a myriad of individual Net accesses - a plurality of cyber villages but with most users ghettoised in their dedicated information and entertainment channels. Floridi (1996) argues that digital harmonisation will increase the risks associated with the growth of monopolies.

The mutation of libraries and IT providers have an integral part to play in this process from a societal point of view but only if they have vision and only if Australian companies and universities have the funding and political backing to compete and create internationally. Will we be inside looking out or outside looking on - both scenarios have the potential to stimulate or depress.

The twenty first century is nearly upon us - I'm not sure how adequately Australian universities are preparing for it. I refer again to the terms of reference of the West Review of Higher Education Commission. Do they really appreciate the vast changes in the virtual modes of teaching and learning which will occur. Libraries and IT centres will disappear in their current format by 2025 if not sooner. The question will be whether basic functions will remain especially those of the librarians who since the Alexandrian Library (B.C. period) have had a role in society. It's just whether we and they believe Argonauts can be transformed into cybernauts! For that answer we'll need to go back to the future and our digital dilemmas.


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