For many years, the cornerstone of any self‐respecting academic institution's reference and enquiry service was the provision of a mediated online search service delivered by subject librarians, acting as search intermediaries in response to specific information requests from users. Key staff were trained in the use of command languages for a range of host systems (DIALOG, STN etc.) and a search service of popular databases such as Medline, Chemical Abstracts and INSPEC would be offered, usually for a fee, to members of the organisation.
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