New Paradigms in Access and Delivery


The rise of the information society by the early twenty first century and the infrastructures on which it is based will dramatically alter access to "infotainment" by the individual whether he or she be at work or at home. All sectors of society will be affected by the "telecosmic" changes which will occur.

The era of Internet 2 and its equivalents outside the USA will provide bandwidth between 100 and 1000 times current speeds and be able to support such features as high quality audio and video, instant bitmap images and telephony. Developments such as virtual medicine and universities will be more easily accessible.

Bill Gates in his keynote speech to the Special Libraries Association meeting in Seattle in May 1997 (Gates, 1997) indicated that the two key initiatives in moving the Internet forward would be scaleability and manageability. Cost and ease of access will be the essential determinants of change. Some products will be available at a price, others will be "free to air" and this will be as true for information content provision as well as entertainment.

Don Tapscott, who coined the term "paradigm shift" to describe the impact of the information society, has indicated in his 1997 publication The Rise of the Net Generation - Growing up Digital that as the current generation has grown up "bolted in bits", they will not only be familiar with the Net environment of non sequential access, but they will also demand highly customised products. Future generations will reflect their use of computer games, multimedia and the Net in that their habits of accessing information. As Alberto Manguel (1997) has said in his seminal work The History of Reading the cyber generation returns from the book centered Hebrew traditions of Augustine to the bookless Greek tradition.

Manuel Castells (1996) in his stimulating book The Rise of the Network Society urges us to address the cultural and institutional effects of such rapid changes in the access to and exchange of information. The segmentation of knowledge encapsulated in the Net may be reflected, Castells argues, in an extreme flexibility of work patterns and the individualisation of labour. Will societal structures be fragmented in consequence? Castells writes "the struggle between diverse capitalists and the miscellaneous working classes is subsumed into the more fundamental opposition between the bare logic of capital flows and the cultural values of human experience" (Castells, 1996a). Sherry S. Turkle (1995) in her books, specifically, Life on the Screen, has argued in similar vein.

If globalisation of information access is inevitable then individualisation of access will follow along with the Net collaboration of like minds and subject interests. Groups of users in the future will be linked more by their global subject interest then the loyalty of their institutions. Most scholars, for example, medieval historians or chemists, will prefer the interaction of their collective global group rather then the local technocratic demands and accountabilities practised by most Vice-Chancellors of western society universities.

Personal information access systems are going to be essential in the two way flow. One process will deliver the relevant information required for leisure and professional work and the other will block out the flood of information available. As David Brin wrote as far back as 1990 in his novel Earth (Brin, 1990): "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".

A wider societal role for information may be required for the information needs of the general population and lifelong learning. The California Digital Library Initiative, Ohiolink and other state initiatives provide various models from the USA which may be easier to replicate within federal structures of other countries. The two tendencies - availability of knowledge on a widespread scale and the fragmentation of knowledge to select groups will need to be counterbalanced. The roles will be to acquire, disseminate and to be able, most importantly, to interpret knowledge.

Most users agree that in the future most students will have access to computing Internet facilities in the form of institutional work "sweat stations", personal laptops or wired homes. Japanese researchers have recently indicated that laptop computers will have the capacity of 1997 supercomputers in the twenty first century. Whether users require such computer power is debatable but for multimedia Net use they do need effective access and delivery modes. In this context paper will be an output mechanism rather than an original format. The Net will be the initial source of information rather than the physical library. The convenience of the Web is the key compared to the physical inconvenience of most of the information currently stored in libraries.

Material in university settings will be increasingly global in terms of access to courses by 'megastars' of the Net to the dumbing down of education in the mass provision of core material. The UK Dearing Committee Report in 1997 indicated the need for effective information and communications infrastructures in universities and predicted that by the middle of the first decade each individual student will or should possess laptop computers. Plug in facilities will be as necessary in university libraries as photocopying machines have been in the past.

Peter Drucker has recently stated (Gregg, 1997) that "higher education is in deep crisis ... the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care". The above "dumbing down" of education can lead to the American model of base undergraduate source material and a system where appropriate levels of instruction and education are offered unlike the basic 'forced' homogenisation of Australian education.

Information Provision

Ubiquitous satellite provision of information via consortia, such as Microsoft, Intel and Boeing have formed, will provide relatively cheap distribution mechanisms while local area wireless networks will allow niche redistribution. In that environment and with 'slim line' computer facilities the cost of some infrastructure provision will drop, although it may be counterbalanced by the rising cost of information if scholarly communication patterns do not change in the context of the offerings commercial publishers such as Elsevier and Springer Verlag.

In an era of increased co-ordination the constituent elements will include electronic library facilities, multimedia interactive classrooms, virtual reality laboratories, design and innovation centres which sit within or by the side of traditional print libraries. Twenty four hour electronic reference "intelligence" services could be available from our libraries but how many currently offer them on a interactive basis? They could be funded on a fee for service basis. In other areas of electronic access services, where funds are tight, there have been established definition between 'core' and "value added services".

The convergence of functions is essential as the teaching/learning process changes. Librarians will need to decide whether they want to be more involved in the instructional process in the virtual arena. As Chris Ferguson (who has the intriguing title of Assistant Dean for Redesign of Subject Libraries) and Charles Burge (Ferguson and Burge, 1997) have indicated now is a time for librarians to dramatically reassess the way libraries provide services, the way they interact with clients - "the network compels librarians to seek new alliances, to radically change their perspective on user needs, and even to transform the ways in which they organise themselves to serve these needs".

What is knowledge access in an information environment? Dr Peter Lyman, one of the best thinkers on this topic, and perhaps not coincidentally a non-librarian, has outlined (Lyman, 1996) the massive changes encapsulated in the term "digital library". Another overview by Lyman can be found in a collection of essays arising from Harvard University Library's 'Gateway' symposium (Dowler, 1997) which address some of the issues which are embodied in electronic library access.

Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, reflected (Lynch, 1997) at the 1996 ASIS meeting in Baltimore of the need to move to personalised systems of access to knowledge and the emergence of a set of new genres of communication as we move away from the "tyranny of text". As voice and video streaming via terminals and handheld devices becomes a economic technological norm in the early days of the next century, then multimedia information access will supplement or even replace the textual environment.

Is information access to be push or pull or a mixture of both? At the 1997 Computers in Libraries Conference, Paul Pinella of Individual Inc (Maloney, 1997) described his company's software product that uses in-house intranets to filter information on the Web in both push and pull modes. Documents are ranked, tailored to each person's organisational requirements with a maximum ten minutes reading brief. Relevant items are pushed, within that time frame, to the individuals e-mail with links to pull down further information in place. Such operations are relevant to most current information management forums. This format allows relevance ranking, timeliness and a stable but evolutionary information requirement.

Distributed knowledge work environments is probably a better collective term for this learning environment than digital libraries and the emphasis has to be a user centered environment rather then a collective one.

Higher Education Future and Knowledge Management

In a higher education market research collections will have to be linked at a global co-operative level as the basic information for undergraduates will be limited, albeit flexible in a Web content. As banks have been reducing staff because of automation and on-line transactions, so information access will follow suit in traditional service downsizing. There will however be an associated growth of specialists in organising knowledge and the development of niche markets. The basic problem to date is that the segmentation of educational institutions and the competitive nature of education provision both nationally and globally, vis à vis the probable dominance of primitive corporations such as Microsoft in this process.

Sir David Puttnam at the Singapore Virtual University Conference in August 1996 compared the development of the video industry with that of global virtual education and called for visions for the twenty first century. Puttnam cited his desire circa 1970 to gain venture capital to buy up the Rank film library and was asked by the British banks for what purpose. His response as to rights for video dissemination was treated with disdain despite film rights now being major bargaining chips. If, as he now states, the British film industry is an oxymoron then what will be left in the virtual university and global information arena? Will a university and student education be in the same state in the early twenty first century?

Andrew Odlyzko at Bell's AT and T Labs, like Michael Lesk at Bellcore and Dr William Arms, has produced some of the best thinking on electronic publishing and access to information from outside the traditional profession. Odlyzko (1997) argues the pace of change is growing more rapidly as the decade reaches its end. He quotes J.R.R. Licklider who once stated that people tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to underestimate what can be done in five to ten years. Such dimensions, however, make it extremely difficult to prepare forward plans more than three years out in the IT environment.

At many research institutions print information is largely held in a diversity of locations, accessible only when libraries are open unless items are borrowed. Twenty four hour access is relatively rare unless material is electronic and Net accessible. One can easily discern the trend line of the future. As Michael Lesk indicated in his Atlanta 1997 Mellon Scholarly Communication and Technology Conference speech: "the goal is to use university web publishing, information searching mechanisms, and rewards for a new kind of creativity to build a new kind of university community" (Lesk, 1997).

Service Paradigms

Neil McLean, the Librarian of Macquarie University, has stated in a keynote address to a UK/Australian Seminar on Cooperation in London in July 1997 the new service paradigms will include the following (McLean, 1997).

• the capacity to influence both the form and makeup of information consumed

• the personalisation of information/communication services

• location should not be a distinctive barrier to access

• transparent access is expected to a range of information resources

• the ability to access a number of remote information sources at the on time

• the ability to mix different media in real time

• the provision of a choice in suppliers

• the ability to interact with other colleagues in a collaborative networked environment

There also needs to be appropriate technology platforms to deliver information. There is no point in requiring the latest software releases of say Netscape and Adobe to deliver Web text if the client hasn't got sufficient capacity on their desktop to access material. Local concerns such as Internet access concerns have to be taken into account. In Australia major providers are being encouraged to establish mirror sites, as AARNet 2 (a local university and research microcosm of Internet 2) has reduced local costs, in comparison to accessing sites directly overseas.

Role of Librarians

Thus access to information is far removed from the print environment of say fifteen years but how many libraries have moved their mindsets to accommodate the changing information environment? It has been a contention of this writer for some time that the breakdown of the library profession into self contained (for protection?) enclaves such as cataloguers, reference and acquisition librarians are no longer valid as different modes of information access demand radically different structures to provide them. To give one example serials acquisition work will change dramatically in terms of the dramatic shift in information delivery patterns of the Web (Duranceau, 1997). The print environment is linear while the digital world is cyclical.

Are librarians indeed the only people to be involved in the provision of information in the twenty first century? How many cataloguers are metadata or Webpac experts? Webpac links to full text from OPAC's (On Line Public Access Catalogues) are as much a responsibility of collection managers as they are of cataloguers. Development of electronic link specialists including the evaluation of automatic link checkers are as vital as classification expertise in the traditional modes of UDC, Dewey or Library of Congress. How many colleagues maintain subject Net gateways? How many liaise directly with user clientele and assess services? How are values measured in terms of the new products in terms of user satisfaction, organisational co-operative efficiencies etc? Will clients in future require for their own desktop needs and what will the consequences be?

The implications and challenges for collection managers and technical services librarians are immense. No longer are the sacred cows of traditional librarianship permissible eg. print storage or acquisition without evolution and evaluation. Collection managers have to evaluate more complex issues of electronic licences, digital archiving and site compatibility for access to a variety of electronic files. There is no point in gaining access to full text electronic files if a significant intranet is not available in the organisation nor adequate linking is maintained.

Delivery Issues

The fax machine was very slow to take off in the 1970's and only be the end of the 1980's did its use become relatively cheap and relatively ubiquitous. Will fax become simply a subsidiary part of the P.C.? Certainly delivery mechanisms will be spin off screen access facilities in a variety of forms. Collection managers will need therefore to be involved in a number of wider network dimensions.

If paper costs continue to rise then hand held digital devices with variable type faces may well evolve more rapidly. It was fascinating that when the digitised serial project JSTOR began its public release in the USA in May 1997 that the one problem that the developers had largely overlooked was the diversity of print outlets across some two hundred universities across the USA. How to retrieve and store information is thus as important as how to initially access it.

The invitation only Mellon Conference on 'Scholarly Communication and Technology' (papers available at <> held at Emory University in Atlanta in April 1997, which this author attended, revealed the difficulties of the major content providers and the diverse cost models therein. Many of the skills required for a Net access environment can be provided by those not involved in the traditional librarianship or information sector. This should not be seen as a threat, as many do in an increasingly insecure job environment, but as one which offers new windows of opportunities as clients access information directly themselves. Facilitation of access will be just as important as the physical purchases of the past.

In this context Johanson, Schauder and Lim (1997) have written in the electronic only Australian Humanities Review "many humanities scholars have stood by the centrality of fixed, canonical texts; part of the authority of texts has derived from their longevity in print form, and their survival in large publicly-accessible libraries. Undoubtedly some information technologies radically threaten the sanctity of traditional text, causing some concern. At the same time, many of the key texts are being reproduced (in facsimile) and disseminated more widely on computer networks than they have ever been. Generally what causes concern is that texts are no longer fixed in printer's ink on tangible paper, and that they are not presented with all the texture of their original physical embodiment, but in fact are no more than a string of bits, volatile, easily-altered, and infinitely-copyable on screen, and all at a keystroke.

The chaos apparent at times in the new electronic forms of sources is paralleled by the intellectual process of deconstruction of the canons themselves. This intellectual reaction requires still an intimate understanding of the contexts of textual creation. Whether or not a humanities scholar today uses primary, traditional texts, all humanities scholars need large collections of symbolic artifacts in order to function. There is a tradition of textual referral, of checking back to prior knowledge, accepted wisdom, the key writings or icons of proponents of influential ideas. Summaries of texts are insufficient for the humanities scholar: the full text is revered in that it may contain hidden meanings for future generations of scholars to recover".

This article while short is both stimulating and an attempt to reconcile the print and digital mediums. The fact that this author printed it out to read from is indicative of trends. The fact that the article also has links to relevant electronic humanities sites is a microcosm of the print/electronic environment.

Electronic Access

Ian Mowat (1997), the Librarian of Edinburgh University, has written as follows in a future "retrospective" on the fate of serials "by the end of the first decade of the new century the last of those academics appointed during the sixties had finally retired... The increasing emphasis placed by university management on meeting standards of performance in technological as well as pedagogical expertise had already weeded out most of those who were totally unreconstructed. With widespread familiarity with new technology the reluctance to accord the same value to electronic information as to traditionally printed information had gone. This was helped by developments in the handling of networked information itself."

What is required for future access in institutional terms, in no particular order, are customised slices of information at lower prices, individual customisation of services, co-operative mechanisms and faster decision making. The issue whether to collect or to access data is an increasingly important and contentious one. In the research academic community the general dependence on print bears little relevance to useage but generations of scholars brought up before the Net have been reluctant to move to on demand access.

It is well understood that monographs at the present time are unwieldy on the Net yet increasingly expensive for university presses to produce. Scholarly communication patterns will need to implement developments whereby books and chapters are available on line with hypertext references and links, but with an easily available network print access outlet at reasonable cost and with appropriate copyright protection.

The method of delivery can also be diverse - by a variety of FTP (File Transfer Protocols) methods, by e-mail, by fax or by post. Open platform technology is essential. In terms of pricing we need to move to the "Millicent" approach, ie, by pricing articles relatively low so that they get high use and thus high turnover using digital cash transactions. By pricing articles available electronically so highly that no-one uses them is to replicate the high cost print serial scenario. In the bigger picture the links between the current different providers eg of ILMS's with Webpacs, database providers, citation indexes, software agents and delivery mechanisms will all blur.

What is required at present is a global one stop shop. At present (October 1997) the user has often to find out the publisher of electronic information rather than the title of a journal for example and to know what licence or arrangement articles are to be accessed. Science is even basing, at the time of writing, its 1998 offerings to institutions on how many public access terminals are available to access the source! A bizarre concept!

Some publishers are offering individuals of a professional society access to on-line journals for as low as $25 per annum yet forcing institutions to pay exorbitantly high rates for the same access. How long before institutions refuse to subscribe and tell individuals and the publishers to get on with it! Academics from professional societies won't see any need to change habits if costs are borne by a Library and they get low personal cost access to data.

Most commercial publishers at the present time don't really know how to collectively market their scientific publications let alone price them. Many simply replicate their print costs or add an additional 10-15% for electronic access. It is inevitable that the global academic communities (if they can get their collective act together - no easy matter) will eventually organise themselves to provide the refereeing and editorial services required for scholarly authentication. They will then make the texts available to non-commercial Net publishers or those publishers who have traditionally worked with the scholarly community but not derived excessive profits from the process.

A number of universities have claimed critical success in mass cancellations of journals and instead rely on document supply on demand via firms such as Uncover. Such "success" should be qualified until true electronic delivery is available on a desktop by the Net or e-mail attachments. Uncover requires the user to go through several processes of access and varying copyright fees which is often a disincentive to use. It's not surprising that access levels decline in comparison to the print subscriptions. Uncover trials in Australia, such as at the University of Western Australia and the University of Central Western Queensland in 1995/96 were not spectacularly successful and, in the case of the latter, direct ordering using Library funds by academics has been terminated. Real on line access to all the world's information will however increase demand for material.

The cost of scientific publications in the commercial arena continues to rise inexorably. Predictions for 1998 from a number of scientific/medical/legal publishers see a 10% inflation average over 1997 irrespective of any currency movements in local areas. The Australasian currencies, for examples, all moved dramatically downwards in 1997. The cost of information and indeed higher education needs to be addressed as the publishing cycle continues upwards while governments wish to extend education but are not willing to invest more funds per student.

Dilemmas of Electronic Publishing

Various vendors now offer the same publisher's material. Ann Okerson, Deputy Librarian of Yale, in a speech (Okerson, 1996) given at the 1996 IFLA Conference in Beijing, indicated how universities prefer to buy information delivered through widely accepted non-proprietary formats and standard protocols so that this information can easily be accessible through a common front end for users. It is expensive and inefficient to deal with dozens of incompatible formats and services.

In Australia in 1997 users are offered a number of consortia deals each of which is different to each other in pricing structures and availability. Unless there is a full text link to the catalogue entry (and some universities are unwilling to provide links on a single year basis) then the user has to remember, as mentioned earlier, who is the publisher of each journal and have to go to a generic web site access. Some vendors provide customisation by subject, others don't. Some are linked to document supply agencies - others aren't. The mechanisms of dealing with a number of diverse publishers has slowed down projects like Blackwell's Electronic Navigator in ensuring a critical amount of material is uploaded.

Intelligent agents in many areas will replace intelligent librarians. As users can delineate their requirements in terms of access to 'x' or 'y' topics in their specialities then commercial and non commercial providers will increasingly provide access profiles on a daily or weekly basis. Material inside that profile delivered by the agents will either be free, available under an institutional site license, or at a price as the user pays to open the envelope of information. Resource discovery is thus increasingly a global activity with the focus of information search being in ever expanding circles rather then focussing inwards back to a local print library as has been the situation in the past. Who provides the "intelligence" in the searching is the key factor in the future digital library environment. Are libraries and librarians going to be the agents of information selection?

In future the indexing services will be less and less popular unless they are linked to full text sources, either of the original creator direct, or by document access. Traditional catalogues are equally endangered unless seen as multi-source entry points to full texts. Why spend resources in future simply outlining the outside physical characteristics of a book item when it is the "inside" text which is important. Is it more important to provide access to the material on-line then in a physical repository where use may be restricted to once a decade.

This is not to decry the need for "print stack museums" or traditional libraries. Harold Billings, Director of Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin, described at the Chadwyck-Healey American Advisory Board Meeting in San Francisco in July 1997 the impact of a section of the University of Texas philosophy book stock, hardly used since 1931, but was now vital to a change of fashion in one particular mode of philosophical inquiry.

This writer unearthed in 1971 a collection of Mexican Independence pamphlets in the Bodleian Library, Oxford which had been uncatalogued and unused since their purchase from Henry Stevens of Vermont in the second half of the nineteenth century. This collection turned out to be one of the major collectors of such pamphlets in the world. We need properly supported physical repositories with all the costs involved recognised by outside researchers even if they are utilised in the future as perhaps manuscript collections are today. In this context there is always going to be a struggle between those who see a library as a place with resources that can be used now and those who see it as a museum for the preservation for future generations.

The majority view on resource access will always win out on campus because formulae allocations will reflect the use or number criteria but there has to be a system in place to accommodate the title used material in a collaborative local, national or global framework. The relative failure of Australia's Distributed National Collection policy during the 1990's could partly be attributed perhaps to the perceived ownership of the concept of the National Library of Australia (to whom academic input is relatively limited) and to the fact that librarians involved in subject schemes believed that rationalisation of resources could take place without involving the relevant academics eg. the Deans of Law or Medicine. "Older" collection managers may no longer inhabit the real world? The user in future will, to a large extent, determine the overall shape of the acquisition game.

National consortia already exist in the UK, Australia and New Zealand while in the USA many states such as Ohio, Georgia and California have statewide initiatives on behalf of their population. Consortia deals are currently the flavour of the month in the USA so much so that there is now a 'Consortia of Consortia' group. Such groups while extremely laudable in terms of bringing down costs, are often time consuming to co-ordinate and to keep track of the various options being offered to institutions who are part of several consortia. As I indicated in my 1997 CAUSE Australasia keynote speech (Steele, 1997) mirror sites, caching, competitive price structures, consortia deals are all part of the infrastructure which has to meld with content provision, software gateways and intelligent agents.


One of the major areas which will need global resolution in the transmission of data and this easy access is copyright. Electronic access had so far produced even more restrictive action by many publishers through extreme licensing arrangements than has been the case for print. The example of Science magazine cited earlier is representative of the complexities that have entered the access and licensing scene.

Professor Paul Goldstein of Stanford University Law School has titled his 1997 book Copyright's Highway: From Gutenberg to the Celestial Jukebox (Goldstein, 1997). He uses the term "celestial jukebox" to incorporate a console/terminal which allows access to online text, music and video. In such a multimedia environment the nature of copyright, eg, in interactive visual images becomes more complicated but the concept of 'fair use' in a university environment is one which is in need of universal protection. The experiments with electronic reserves, eg, at Monash and Loughborough Universities have revealed the difficulties in gaining site provisions to date when individual publishers are contacted already for permission to scan articles into an electronic reserve.

Outsourcing and Staffing

Outsourcing is back in favour in the late 1990's. Technical services are the prime area for outsourcing (Hirshon and Winters, 1997) but collection access profiles and electronic reference services seem ripe for others to come in. Providing data and services was part and parcel of the trade of the major suppliers in the 1960's but this receded as OCLC, RLG and similar groupings eg. BMCLP in UK and CAVAL in Australia took over such roles. The movement into the digital library environment coupled with significant budget cuts have led to a reinvestigation and popularity of outsourcing.

Griffith and Queensland University of Technology Libraries have both signed outsourcing deals with Blackwells (UK) in 1996 and 1997 respectively. What is the role of the local library if print approval plans coupled with on site delivery of supporting infrastructure is provided by a commercial vendor? The impact on staff and job security is an obviously important one but the needs of the user and the budget of the institution have also to be included in the initial debate.

Many organisations are still driven by past traditions of collection service and access. Staff flexibility and risk taking are essential. While total commitment to a strategic plan is essential on the one hand to ensure success, on the other hand a desire to seek total allegiance and/or collegiality can lead to conservatism and slowness in decision taking. Just as organisations need to establish niche markets, so institutional libraries will need to refocus into groups which meet the needs of their specific clients.

Librarians must recognise that change is continuous, change can be disconcerting and is certainly transformational. Library and other knowledge workers in traditional settings cannot be shackled by the historical ideologies of the profession. Matson and Bonski (1997) have indicated the need for information partnerships in the infrastructure for digital libraries. These would include domain experts, information technology providers and librarians.

The necessary skills base can be found in a variety of IT professions. Greg Anderson (Anderson, 1997) sees the fundamentals in reengineering as organisation alignment, vision and knowledge work and these must be continually placed within the goals of the parent organisation. Access to information will be by the individual at home or in business at the terminal screen and will be permanent or temporary depending on the mode of access. "Look and see" will be followed by either "pay and get" or public good free access. Accountability and flexibility in information provision will need to be juxtaposed in delivery the new paradigms of information access and delivery.

The 1996 Australian National University Library Review recommended the establishment of subject and support clusters which has led to devolved budgets (including personnel, access and information votes etc) with specific client foci. This should allow flexibility and diversity in the management of and access to information both print and electronic. There is still need for "generic" overlays, which cover databases on a campus wide basis such as JSTOR and Reuters, but this process allows vastly different approaches to say the acquisition of Chinese vernacular material or slices of electronic science material.

New strategic alliances will need to be formed. The Australian National University at the time of writing has become part of the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance, which includes major university libraries from USA, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan as well as the ANU. Initial projects of PRDLA will focus on digitisation of texts of Pacific exploration and Chinese serial access via the Internet.


Looking far in the future is a dangerous game and the analyses of the "retrohistory" of librarianship is both a fascinating and a salutary one. This writer undertook one such retrospective and prospective view for cataloguing in the 1980's. (Steele, 1985). Recently Professor Gregory Benford has updated Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Some of Asimov's original technology background look pretty woeful even by today's standards let alone the far future eg. in terms of Asimov's inter-library loan delivery predictions.

Dr Peter Lyman (Lyman, 1997) has succinctly envisaged some possible future scenarios for libraries ranging from the privatisation of knowledge (the reader is conceived of as a consumer not a citizen) to new forms of cyberian community. New "public places" may well emerge in an information rich society which have far wider dimensions then our present print environment allows. Who knows where new paradigms in access and delivery will take us. If the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, produced a global frisson in September 1997 and a global commonality in relation to individual reaction, then the potential for engineered global events at a variety of levels is immense. The changes in global information access will be as dramatic when we look back from the vantage point of one or two decades hence.


AT and T Labs, 600 Mountain Avenue, Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974, USA. URL <>

BMCLP (Library Services) Ltd in UK.

CAUSE. The Association for Managing and Using Information Resources in Higher Education, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301 6114. URL: <>

CAVAL Ltd, 4 Park Drive, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia.


CNI. Coalition for Networked Information, 21 Dupont Circle, Wasington, D.C. 20036. URL

Individual, Inc., 8 New England Executive Park West, Burlington MA 01803. URL <>

Microsoft Corporation, Seattle, USA.

URL <>

OCLC. Online Computer Library Center, Inc. 6565 Frantz Road, Dublin, Ohio 43017 3395 USA. URL

Research Libraries Group, Inc., 1200 Villa Street, Mountain View, California 94041 1100. URL

Reuters Australia Pty Limited, Level 11, Advance Bank Centre, 60 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601. URL


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