Users can access online and CD‐ROM databases regardless of geographical location. Data communication networks provide relatively cheap links between the user and host computer regardless of distance, and CD‐ROMs can be used to distribute large quantities of data in a small and light physical format. The information as well as the retrieval interface, indexing, documentation, help desks, etc, must all use a natural language, however, with which a user may be unfamiliar. This paper explores the extent to which online use is affected by the foreign‐language barrier and considers how the impact of that barrier might be reduced.
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