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

Section on Information Technology

Annual Report 1994

Sally H. McCallum
Network Development and MARC Standards Office
Collections Services
Library of Congress
Washington DC 20540
Fax: (1-202) 7076269
e-mail: smc@loc.gov
is the Chair of the Section on Information Technology.

Christian Lupovici

INIST, 2 allée du Parc Brabois
54514 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy
Fax: (33-8) 3504650
is Secretary.

Standing Committee and Section Membership

During the report period Section membership was 296, with 21 representatives of the membership constituting the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee meetings in Havana were attended by approxim ately 50% of its members; several observers also participated.


Model for Open Systems Protocols

Liv Holm (Norway) project editor, completed the technical report Models for Open Systems Development and it was published as No. 6 in the UDT Series on Data Communication Technologies and Stan dards for Libraries. The report is a survey and description of the issues concerning application protocols that have been internationally standardized in both ISO/TC46 (Information and Documentation) and in ISO/JTC1 (Computer Processing) for use in open systems. It is available from the UDT Core Programme Office.

Classification Format

The Standing Committee is working jointly with the Section on Classification and Indexing on an exchange format for classification schedule data. A project to study the requirements for an internatio nal format was completed and turned over to the joint committee for the format work, chaired by Joan Mitchell (USA), the editor of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Two smaller projects endorsed by the Standing Committee in Barcelona in 1993 were not funded until 1995, so are not yet completed. The first project is to create a mapping from currently used nationa l and international character sets to the new Universal Character Set (ISO 10646). Several Standing Committee members are involved in the work. The second project, headed by Monica Ertel (USA), is to compile a descriptive database of bibliographic systems that are available that support multiple scripts. The Standing Committee would like to make that database accessible over the Internet through the IFLA electronic interface that is currently under development. Work also began at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid on a project to develop a holdings format. Information Technology is working with the Section on Cataloguing on a project to revise the ISBD(CF). Sten Hedberg (Sweden) is representing the Section on the task group.

Discussion continued but little progress was made on a major new project for an interactive learning system addressing, in particular, record input, put forward by Standing Committee member Xavier Ag enjo Bullon (Spain). Such a PC-based self-teaching programme could be very effective, especially in developing countries that are installing automated systems. The proposal may be explored with UNESC O.

New Projects

Three new small projects were approved by the Standing Committee for 1995. One is a feasibility study on the development of standards for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for information retrieval an d online public access systems employing universal prompt symbols that are script and language independent. Standing Committee members Bruce Royan (UK) and Wilda Newman (USA) will lead the study. Ano ther feasibility study will consider creation of an inventory of multimedia software suitable for libraries and museums, and it will be carried out under the supervision of Jan van der Starre (Nether lands). The third small project is a report that will provide information on the new Russian computer library network, LIBNET and BIBNET. Standing Committee member Yakov Shraiberg (Russia), will unde rtake the project.

Partial funding is also being requested for one large two-year project investigating the progress toward the realization of digital libraries. Standing Committee member Michael Malinconico (USA) has proposed to survey university and national libraries to determine the extent to which they have begun replacing or complementing print with electronic sources, including document delivery services. I f funded, a preliminary report could be presented at the Istanbul meeting.


Standing Committee activities produced two publications during the year. The first, mentioned above, came from a Section project and was published by the UDT Core Programme. The second was the procee dings of the IFLA Satellite Meeting organized by the Section and held in Madrid in August 1993: Automated Systems for Access to Multilingual and Multiscript Library Materials published as No. 70 in the series, IFLA Publications. It contains papers on application problems (subject access, union catalogue organization), systems for different scripts, character set and communications issues, and the recommendations for activities to promote the development and use of multiscript systems and services that resulted from the conference. The proceedings were edited by Sally McCallum and Mon ica Ertel (USA). In addition, two papers from the IT open session in Barcelona were published in IFLA Journal.


One issue of the Section newsletter, IT Review (No. 23), was distributed during the year. It included reports on ISO standards meetings, an article on market-oriented enterprises being underta ken by libraries in the Moscow area libraries, and various announcements. The Standing Committee discussed in Havana the overlap between reports in IT Review and the UDT Newsletter. A s atisfactory solution to the duplication has not been found. In 1994/95, experimentation with briefer IT Review issues and placement of longer reports in the UDT Newsletter will be tried and further discussed in Istanbul.

Havana Meetings


Approximately 250 participants attended the all-day workshop entitled "Telecommunications Options for the '90s", jointly sponsored with the UDT Core Programme, the Section on Social Science Libraries , and the Section on Science and Technology Libraries. Though IFLA Conference workshops are generally limited to 50 participants, a larger facility was made available to accommodate as many participa nts from Latin America and the Caribbean as possible. The objective of the workshop was to provide libraries in Latin America and the Caribbean with information on Intenet resources and the varioys t elecommunications options to access these resources. The programme was divided into three sessions: 1) "Internet Basics" with Leigh Swain as Moderator with presentations by Paula Tallim on "Internet Basics"; Marcos Silva on "Internet Protocols"; Steve Cisler on "Navigation Tools" and Monica Ertel on an "Overview of the Information Packet"; 2) "Communications Options" with presentations by Daniel Pimienta on an "Overview of Communications Options from the User's Point of View"; Ermanno Pietrosemoli on "Wired and Wireless Access for Computer Networks" and David Price on "Satellite-based Communications"; and 3) "Options/Issues for Developing Countries", a panel presentation moderated by Sally McCallum with speakers Luis Mourelos and Jesus Martinez. The workshop materials also included a diskette of files containing information about the Internet and details on accessing publicly available Internet software tools (c ourtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.). In general, participants indicated that the workshop provided very relevant information and discussions on Internet use. They also suggested that the use of the Inte rnet to support library operations and services should remain a priority for future IFLA Conferences.

Open Session

"New Communications Options in Use: Focus on Social Sciences" was the theme of the open session in Havana, the programme being jointly planned with the Section of Social Science Libraries and the UDT Core Programme. It provided a follow-on to Information Technology's Barcelona Open Session which focused on Internet technology and protocols. The following papers were presented:

Entering the New Market Place: On the Role of Traditional Social Science Information Providers within the Internet Community

On the basis of the experience made by implementing the German national Internet information server for the social sciences, some general reflections are made on the status of the activity of providi ng information by means of this information and communication channel. At least for a certain time the dissemination of information via the Internet will mean an extra load for the majority of the tr aditional participants in the information market. The other information and publishing media like books, journals or databases will remain the central part of the business. On the other hand it is ob vious that Internet information activities will have an essential impact in the near future, while the market players' positions will undergo a fundamental redefinition. Therefore, it is argued in th e present paper that before entering the new market the providers of information have to carefully analyze their own goals, strengths, and possibilities. In fact the task of social science informatio n specialists is to assure the scientific quality in the information they are offering.

Internet: potencial de servicos en América Latina

Internet connections are increasing rapidly in Latin America; however, there is danger in focusing on the net as if it were a photograph, frozen in a specific moment, without taking into account its previous development and current and future user demands. This paper describes the evolution of connectivity in the region, the diverse "worlds" of domains that have and continue to participate in th is effort, and points out possible future tendencies. The work continues, not simply giving specific answers, but rather by helping to develop a strategic vision of the phenomena of the Internet and raising new questions, especially with respect to the role of national networks, libraries, and user training.

El papel de las bibliotecas en el desarrollo de las ciencias sociales

The author presents an outline on the current situation of social science libraries in Cuba. The history of the libraries, their stock of books, their information services, and their present state of affairs are described. Recommendations are made of important measures for improving the situation now and in the future, including the role of IFLA for the social science libraries in Cuba.