An interesting article by Nick Smith, Head of Information Services at Aston University, appears in Information World Review, No. 65, December 1991, pp. 21–3. The underlying strategy at Aston is not to have an archival library, but to supplement a core collection to meet the immediate needs of staff and students by a wide range of self‐service electronic information sources, interlibrary loans and, eventually, electronic document delivery. There are clearly many problems to be solved, such as the extent to which training in use of the electronic services should (or could) be given, how it is all to be paid for, and even whether the alternative to books and periodicals is entirely acceptable to users. Nick Smith believes that data producers should be willing to offer massive discounts to academic users with unlimited access deals, but it seems evident that as the economic situation worsens attitudes have hardened, driving the university to rely on CD‐ROM‐based network services rather than on‐line sources. Downloading problems evidently cause far more trouble and requests for help than does search strategy. Lack of requests for help on search strategy may, however, be giving false impression that all is well. Users whose search capability is limited could still be receiving information which appears satisfactory to them although an experienced searcher could find much more on the same topics.
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