The concept of the electronic workstation/or the information specialist and/or client or user of information services has been made possible by various recent developments in information technology. These include the availability of fast, hi‐tech local networks; interface capabilities to connect these to wide area (digital) networks; large, commercially‐available source and referral databases; local online systems such as CD‐ROM databases; and integrated and intelligent software with which relevant information may be downloaded and repackaged. Reasonably‐priced, high‐speed microcomputers, with which these electronic facilities may be accessed, are now a common phenomenon. The term ‘knowledge gateways’ is already in use. This paper addresses the challenges of the information specialist of today to utilise fully the processing and communication power of the electronic workstation to deliver information services to the right client, at the right time, in the right format and at the right cost. Various studies have already described how information technology (IT) has been used to integrate or centralise various information sources. However, knowledge on the skills and intellectual input needed by the information specialist to implement IT effectively, must still be investigatedfully. Topics to be covered in this paper refer not only to extensive, new developments aimed at creating infrastructures and facilities to achieve integration at workstation level, but also to negative issues, such as the shortcomings of tertiary training programmes, ineffective or even non‐existent in‐service training, lack of awareness of how to use IT, and lack of motivation among senior staff. The emphasis will be, apart from international trends, on the South African scene, with special reference to the academic or university environment.
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