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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

The Expanding Role of Electronic and Networked Information

Mounir A. Khalil, The City College of CUNY, U.S.A.


The electronic information technology has increasingly developed from the automation of indexing and retrieval systems. Computer networks, ranging from local area networks to internation-al internetworks, make inter-connectivity locally as well as across international borders a reality. Academic tea ching faculty, researchers, and students use telecommuni-cations network to exchange information on a daily basis via e-mail,computer conferences , and by trans-ferring files and download- ing copies to their computer desktops.

This paper describes the application of new information technology (computers and telecommunications) for accessing documents using electronic networks along with the development of the electronic do cument delivery system. The system can provide instant access to needed information without relying on the manual interlending services. Copyright compliance and legal considerations for accessing documents over net-works will be touched upon.



In the past several years, we have witnessed many changes in the way we use information. New information technology (computers and telecommunications) has tremendous impact on our library services. T echnology has greatly modified the traditional patterns of how we do business. Duties and functions become more integrated and overlapped with those of other library and university departments, and w e have much more powerful means for communicating and moving information from one place to another.

Information technology has enhanced our daily library operations by automating the organization, storage, and retrieval of information. Technologies such as public access catalogues and other databas es have increased access to bibliographic information, providing faster and more efficient access to wider materials.

Microcomputers have become indispensable tools in our daily life because of the decrease in hardware prices and increase in computer power, speeds, and memory capabilities comparable to the most powe rful minicomputers a few years ago. There is increasing use of micro- computer systems, such as personal computers and UNIX-based multi-user workstations. Use of telecommunications, using networking, is the essential factor for inter-connection among all small systems. The purpose of the network is to move data from one place to another. Networks are often called "Data Highways" for this reason. Just as highways connect towns from one place to another, networks connect computers and people using those computers to exchange information. Now Users of computer systems are able to access inform ation from several sources in preparation of a document. This is vastly different from the capabilities of the telephone network built to carry voice signals at a fixed speed of 64,000 bps. The telec ommunication networks use a common language in digital form.

Due to heavy financial pressures,libraries are forced to shift from the acquisitions for local materials to providing access to those at remote libraries. Nowadays, technological capabilities (and t heir costs to libraries) are increasing, while libraries purchasing power for maintaining the depth and breadth of their collections is decreasing. This was due largely to reduced support for librari es and library programs at the national and state levels, reduction of the value of the dollar against foreign currencies, and increases in the amount of foreign material being published as well as t he prices for such materials. We find ourselves debating about access versus ownership. Consequently, as a result of the increase in biblio-graphic access in searching CD_ROMS and other remote netwo rked-accessible catalogues, the discrepancy between bibliographic access and document delivery will become wider.

Libraries have become increasingly dependent on accessing information from outside sources using manual or electronic document delivery services. As more libraries automate their catalogues, bibliogr aphic and holdings information are made available through union databases and over networks, including LAN, WAN, MAN, Internet and dialups, Interlibrary lending and document delivery services have al so expanded rapidly. As more information is converted to or published in electronic formats and distributed over telecommunications channels, a revolution is developing in traditional ways to access and receive documents and information.

Traditionally, the user has depended on the library staff and often bureaucratic procedures to participate in interlending and document delivery programs. Now technology makes it easy or users to pla y a role and be involved in electronically accessing the information from electronic journal databases using Internet, World Wide Web (WWW) and other telecommunications methods. Responses that previo usly took a minimum of a two-weeks turn around time are now forthcoming within hours. The World Wide Web is a very good step in linking related files. The ability to point and click on related topics rather than conducting unique searches for each related subject is a big improvement over the Internet. In reality, there is a wealth of information available on the Net.

In this presentation, I would like to examine not only how the electronic environment is shaping the components of resource sharing in general and document delivery in particular, but I would like t o touch on how a number of types of communications which have networks with their advantages and disadvantages contributing to the increasing need for resource sharing. All these technologies are par t of the electronic library , virtual library, or global library which is still evolving. However, to some, the phrase "electronic library" brings to mind networking CD-ROM"s; to others, the world o f e-mail, Internet and the World Wide Web which are integral parts of the definition; still others go far beyond this and envision some distinct entity that serves as a coordinating agency (storing, archiving and providing access) for electronic materials in a consortium-like setting.

Marjorie Bloss's definition is that the electronic library consists of the hardware and software components that allow us to transmit, transfer and , in some cases , manipulates data (text, images, a udio, video,etc.) electronically from our workstation to an external source and back again." It implies the digitizing, identifying, storing and preserving of information for simultaneous use.


The term "Global Village " refers to information technology which transmits instantly data from one computer in any place in the world to another computer over networks.The National Informa-tion Inf rastructure (NII) is based on the interconnections among computers and the communication networks. This information infra-structure has great impacts on our lives, society,and our working habits in g eneral and on libraries in particular.


There are many types of communication networks:

The Internet access to electronic information sources is an area of great potential for document delivery services. It provides greater convenience to faculty, students and librarians to access infor mation from their computers in their offices or homes.


The current trend is moving from centralized computing to distributed computing. In other words, the shift from mainframe to microcomputers.

Networking is essential in today's computer environments. It turns isolated computers into integrated systems, providing an environment where resources are shared and capacity problems reduced. There are many advantages in using communication networking:

  1. Resource Sharing Resource sharing of hardware allows users on different computers to share modems, printers,and disk space. Users can send network messages to use a central printer, allowing ev eryone to share that resource.

  2. Communication:Networking allows different systems to communicate with each other. Users can send electronic mail and messages to colleagues across the world. They can use electronic bulletin bo ards to share ideas about different subjects.

  3. High reliability: If applications share data, the data can be replicated across several machines. If one machine goes down, another can take its place and provide the data to the applications.

  4. Growth: If the institution needs more computing resources a new computer can be installed, added to the network, and immediately accessed by other users.

  5. Distribution of Applications: By using networking routines, applications are not limited to a single machine. They can be distributed to machines that serve their needs in the most efficient way.

  6. Sharing information: Data or information files can be shared among computers on the network, allowing users to see journal articles, reports, newsletters,other information.

  7. Lower cost : A single device can be shared by several computers, reducing the need to buy many peripheral devices. Networking saves money because an installation can have several low-cost works tations accessing a single file server. That puts a lot of processing power on the user's desk without the expanse of large mainframe systems.

  8. Electronic Publication Access: access to electronic publications potentially reduces the cost for paper subscriptions and books.

  9. Productivity: the existence of high-speed networks increases productivity.


Networking has its pitfalls as well.

  1. Security Concerns: Security is the biggest disadvantages of networking . When a network message arrives at a computer, it is important to authenti-cate the identity of the user sending the message. With a weak authentication schemea remote user can impersonate a local user and gain unauthorized access to private data.

  2. Increased administration: System administrators must tune the network, monitor the network, administer network database files, and ensure network integrity. The administrator must ens ure that the network runs smoothly.

  3. Network failure: when applications of the use of network increase the possibility of network failure becomes catastrophic. Most researchers are not coded to recover when a network goes do wn.

  4. Virus attack: When a system is connected to a network,it is vulnerable to destructive network messages. For example, a message that sparks a damaging activity (like erasing files) may en ter the same system via the network.

Impacts of Telecommunications on Document Delivery

Nowadays, libraries are using four systems for electroni-cally transmitting the images of journal articles to requesting libraries:

  1. Fax Machines: copied articles could be copied and faxed to other libraries or to their workstations.

  2. ARIEL System: this allows the delivery of materials between two libraries using the Internet which enhances ILL and document delivery capabilities in accessing information in a timely m anner.

  3. North Carolina State University Digitized Document Transmission Project: (DDTP) It can receive faxed articles from any library which does not have the Internet connection and send it over Internet to other libraries which have access to the Internet.

  4. OHIO STATE TRANSMISSION OF FACSIMILE IMAGES OVER INTERNET: The project uses fax machines in transmitting journal articles among ten libraries. The libraries which do not have access to the Internet can receive faxed articles and transmit than to the end-users to their workstations or their microcomputers.

These systems have improved the ILL and document delivery services because the user has depended tradit-ionally on the library staff to provide him/her with the needed materials.

In the coming electronic age, electronic information is available through networks, the user would submit his request electronically to the library which would search for the bibliographic citation o f the printed material. Printed material would be sent out for delivery by mail or fax. Over the last several years , end-user services have become standard practice. Libraries have invested heavily in CD-ROM and online citation databases. Local systems and linked local systems are common. Hypertext and the World Wide Web are making electronic resources both accessible and attractive to end-user s. Library patrons are finding more, and more materials related to their topics and consequently expecting their libraries to provide those materials as quickly and easily as they find the citations. OPACS on the Internet, commercial suppliers,full-text are increasing. Electronic information would be accessed from the electronic database either from the library's OPAC or commercial database and transmitted over the network and to the user's network.

Today, information technology makes it easy for users to play their role and becomes involved in electroni-cally accessing the needed information by themselves from journal database using the Interne t, World Wide Web (WWW) and other electroninc methods. Responses that previously took a minimum of two weeks turn around time are now forthcom-ing with less than a couple of hours.

OCLC's Resource Sharing Strategy white paper states the goals of OCLC as follows: (December 1994)

  1. To integrate PRISM ILL, FirstSearch and document delivery.
  2. To provide cost-effective access to information.
  3. To build on and facilitate interlibrary alliances and relationships. The emphasis is on main access-services that 6 enable end users to easily identify the materials they need and to facilitate fast and reasonably priced delivery.

We will cite some examples of the producers of electronic journals and the role of commercial document delivery vendors in making it easier for end-users to search and electronically access informat ion immediately without the intervention of any librarians in the process. Here are some of the examples as follows:

  1. OCLC ELECTRONIC JOURNALS ONLINE PROGRAM: (EJO): OCLC has already begun to implement this strategy. One major step was the successful migration of the online resource sharing services fr om the First System to the PRISM environ ment. PRISM ILL was introduced in December 1992; Union Listing and Name-Address Directory were moved to PRISM in August 1994.

    The first step toward the integration of PRISM ILL, FirstSearch and document delivery is available now. Since its introduction in April 1993, OCLC has received more than 100,000 requests over the lin k to PRISM. Now OCLC is investigating services that would enhance the link by eliminating the need for staff processing by the borrowing library and including full-text delivery as a normal part of I LL. OCLC is accepting requests from other systems-libraries are sending ILL workforms to PRISM electronically through ILL PRISM transfer, eliminating the need for hand-written paper forms. Also,new a nd upcoming services such as ILL Fee Management (IFM) and customs holdings are intended to facilitate the programs and agreements among libraries.

  2. ELSEVIER AMSTERDAM ELECTRONIC JOURNAL PROJECT: (5) Elsevier Science B.V. and Tilburg University in the Netherlands planned a pilot project for electronic storage and distribution of scien tific journal articles. The aim of the project was to gain insight into electronic use of scientific journal articles and to gather information and data relating to future possibilities for the use e lectronically distributed journal articles. Tilburg University subscribes to 100 scientific journals published by Elsevier. These journals will be delivered in electron-ic format and included in the university database. The University has obtained permission to distribute these articles electronically on campus. The information is full- text and includes the figures , charts and diagrams of 15, 000 articles a year. Scientific staff and students will be able to make paper printouts for research purposes by the summer of 1995. Users will be able to browse journals on screen as well.

  3. TULIP: (5) The TULIP (The University Licensing Program) project, started in 1992, its goal was to make journals available over the network (Internet and campus networks) to the desktops of student and faculty. Elsevier Science Publishers will make 42 of its science journals available to the 15 colleges and universities (including MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell and Princeton) that are -participating in the project. It examines the economic, legal, and technical issues involved in the electronic transmission of journals as well as considering user issues. The main goal is to reduce the unit cost of information delivery and retrieval as well as monitoring the user behavior under different distribut-ion. Scientific journals in science and engineering discipline were se lected because researchers were comfortable with computer applications.

  4. OJCCT: The Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials: (6) OCLC and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have agreed to launch an electronic journal. The Online J ournal of Current Clinical Trials , (OJCCT). OCLC 'aim is to offer an effective, affordable solution to the ever-expanding demand for information. Users want access to a wealth of information -search able full-text journals with graphics, bibliographic database access, and document delivery. OCLC will provide this information to users wherever they are in the library , home, office or in campus d ormitory. It is always available at all times and end-user will never hear the words" checked out, lost, stolen or damaged."

    In addition, users are able to search OCLC-distributed online journals with Guidon, an interface software that runs under windows or with the World Wide Web (WWW) access program, Mosaic and netscape. To subscribe,go to OCLC's HomePage at http://www.oclc.org Select "OCLC and its Products, and click on "Product Information." Select the Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing, and got to the end to find the order form. Guidon can handle page images that have been digitized by electronic scanning of published pages. However, it also handles digital documents encoded with Standa rd Generalized Markup Language (SGML). A standardized code for identifying different elements in an electronic document. SGML has become the preferred format for electronic publishing.

    Nowadays, end-users can search and access electroni-cally full-text documents to their PCs from OCLC Electronic Journals Online Database Program (EJO). EJO provides immediate access, 23 hours a day, to journal information from any location using multiple access methods, including Internet and dial-access. (6)

  5. RightPAGES: (2) There is another electronic library interface program that is being studied by A T & T's Bell Laboratories where 350 users at 25 sites can use RightPages to access more tha n 120 titles in subject areas of electrical engineering, computer science, and business and business fields from 41 publishers.

    A second experiment, called Red Sage,(2) allows 330 users at the university of California, San Fransico and other locations to see online versions of 70 publications from 19 publishers, covering radi ology, molecular biology, and other topics. And 135 users at several Bristol-MyersSquibb sites can view 13 titles from eight publishers on molecular biology, biochemistry,and other topics. THIRD: Document Delivery Vendors:(13) who signed agreements with publishers in order to deliver their products in electronic formats who are willing to pay copyright royalties rather than signing lic ensing agreements. Some of these vendors are as follows:

  1. Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), Genuine Article, who can supply tables of contents as well as journal articles. Nowadays, ISI signed an agreement with IBM to develop a prototype electronic library system for initial implement-ation by August 1995. The system will provide users with desktop access over local area networks to bibliographic data, abstracts and table of contents from 1,350 scientific journals along with their page images. (2)

  2. CISTI and Faxon Xpress signed an agreement to provide services involving certain publishers.

  3. Uncover, with the British Library Document Delivery Center as backup to provide journal articles based on Uncover table of contents database.

  4. UMI has copyright clearance with thousands of journals and has signed an agreement with OCLC and Dynamic Information now (EBSCODOC) to provide OCLC Dispatch Service.


Today, a researcher can sit down at a computer workstation and conducts his/her research by accessing various databases, and possibly getting full-text articles in electronic form for downloading or printouts. During his work session, he can locate and request the following items:

  1. From Tables of Contents he/she can find the articles of interest and can cite and request the articles from the Interlibrary Loan or vendors by e-mail. He can request it to transmit it in e lectronic form and pay the fees including the copyright fees, or he can download if it is a full-text if he has an account with that vendor.

  2. He can get access to the Internet using the World Wide Web (WWW) and retrieve the information and downloaded to his e-mail or bulletin board.

  3. If the library has an account with CARL Uncover, UMI, or any other vendors, he can request it to be sent to his Internet Address.

  4. He discovers a book owned by another university library at University of California, Berkeley,U.S.A. He requests this book through his Interlibrary loan Division by sending a message. He will p ick up in two or three days. Word processing could be used in creating the research paper. Revisions are easily done. Reviewing the finished paper can be electronically sent to some reviewers to revi ew it. Their comments could be sent back to the researcher in electronic form. The finished paper could be published in printed paper or issuing it over the listserv or the World Wide Web for accessi ng by many users.

This scenario described above presents the reality and future vision of how scholars can conduct their research in the very near future. The impact of this scenario presents a challenge to libraria ns.

The technology has made it easy to research the paper ,write it, revise it, and print it and even share it all from the same place of the microcomputer.

We envision, when the electronic library exists in the future, there will be no interlending services because there will be no need for them. All journal articles are digitized and available at anyti me, much to the delight of end-users.


The most vexing issue is that of the ownership of the literature, which is currently problematic with paper and will be complicated by electronic publishing. We will take a look at the current status of electronic publishing.

Copyright is still a problem with electronic documents. The authors and editors of electronic journals currently follow this method of accessing and sharing ideas. Electronic journals permit authors to retain copyright. In most cases copying is allowed for non-commercial use.

Current copyright law is inadequate for electronic journals because these journals are distributed via telecommunications such as Internet and Bitnet. There are many ways of distributing issues or in dividual articles. Files, containing an issue or article, can be sent via e-mail or file transfer (FTP) to subscribers . Another method used is to distribute a table of contents file to sub-scribers via e-mail and let the subscribers retrieve needed files.

However, Charles Oppenheim (11) indicates that E-Journals passing over the Internet, is just as much copyright as any other material. It is likely that the authors choose to waive their copyright. Th ere are some electronic journals produced by commercial publishers which may or may not be charged for. It is worth to readers that material contained in such journals remains the copyright of either the author or (assuming it has been assigned) of the publisher, and that down-loading,redissmenating, printing out of articles ,...etc. will be considered infringement unless it can be justified as " fair dealing".


Unquestionably, technology has been and will be a powerful force in changing the ways in which we get access to information, transmit requests, responds to these requests, and deliver the desired inf ormation. The entire information world, is very much in transition. It is impossible that all print or microfilm materials in existence will ever be digitized. Even if scanning equipment becomes faster, clearer, more accurate and far less expensive, we will have to question whether it will be economically feasible to digitize materials retrospectively.

Solutions are on the horizon that promise to increase network speeds to even 250 mbps, bridges, routers, and gateways. Some systems require a higher amount of brandwith to ensure smooth operation. Legal aspects of the copyright compliance will be resolved in the near future.

What remains to be accomplished is the education of the users on how to select which library catalog would be appropriate to search for the needed material over internet. The user should know the too ls of the Internet in order to conduct his search and the Library should implement the Z39.50 standard which would help the user to process his request as mentioned previously in the senario. Theref ore, the Internet Document delivery will be part of the electronic library and offers potential for retriev-ing and transmitting electronic journals either in digital or digitized forms without relyi ng on the library staff.


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