The purpose of a Specialized Information Centre is to provide a comprehensive information service within a relatively restricted subject field. In this country Specialized Information Centres have been established both independently and with the assistance of the Office for Scientific and Technical Information mainly on an experimental basis with a view to gaining knowledge of the operation of, and the need for, specialized information services. The Office for Scientific and Technical Information has drawn up a series of criteria for consideration in supporting Specialized Information Centres so that they can obtain useful knowledge both in regard to their operation and also in regard to their place in the national communication network. Of the existing Specialized Information Centres OSTI has supported six, of which the Biodeterioration Information Centre was the first. The areas to which particular attention has been paid and in which Specialized Information Centres can perhaps be most useful are the newly developing sciences and technologies where existing knowledge and experience is scattered and not well defined, and where literature is spread over a wide variety of sources. Thus the Specialized Information Centre can help not only in terms of its primary role in supplying information but as a catalyst for the overall development of each subject.
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