A scenario is given of a possible library of the future. Such a library might have shelves containing talking books, video cassettes, computer programs on floppy disks and the entire contents of Chemical Abstracts and Encyclopaedia Brittanica on biochips. The catalogue of the library stock and the reference books might well be stored on optical disks and viewed on flat screens. Information on the classification scheme and how to use the collection might be provided by listening to tape recordings and voice synthesisers might inform borrowers where to return items. Robots collect these items from dispensers and replace them on the shelves. Each item in the library has a barcode which is scanned by a laser to provide details of loans/returns and patrons. Terminals linked to computers via satellites enable distant files to be searched on demand for information not stored in the library. Most of the journals taken by the library will be in digital form but a touch of a button on the terminal causes the images to be printed out locally. Fact or fiction? The paper goes on to describe some of the equipment that is currently available to them in the future (such as holography, robotics and satellites). Where we are now in terms of technological developments in libraries and information centres is discussed with reference to some actual projects such as Maggie's Place and Dave's Den. Finally, the impact of such futuristic, electronic libraries on the user as well as the librarian is considered.
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