This work was originally commissioned during 1982, the year that was designated Information Technology Year; the year that the personal computer replaced the space invader machine as a focus for teenage obsession; the year of the library symbol, the Hunt Report on cable TV; the year the US Post Office issued two stamps celebrating American libraries, and the British Post Office issued a stamp for IT year suggesting that libraries were a thing of the past. The work was intended to look at “the background to the IT revolution, the benefits of applying technology to library services and the reasons for its relatively slow progress”. It was envisaged at the time that what would have been effectively a state‐of‐the‐art report on the technology available to libraries, and who was doing what with it, would be a useful tool for library managers introducing or extending library technical services. It might usefully have complemented the LA publication, The impact of new technology on libraries and information centres (LA, 1982). However, for a variety of reasons it was not possible to produce the publication in 1983 as intended; the person commissioned to write it was unable to do so; and eventually, in 1984, it was realised that the speed of development and availability of technology was such that any such work would be useless as a practical guide within months of publication. The growth, during the period, of journals on the subject of library applications of IT of all kinds; the appearance of regular updates in the generalist professional press; the formation of, for example, the Library Association IT Group: all these developments clearly offered better opportunities of current awareness to the library manager than could be achieved by a single monograph.
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