The New Review of Information and Library Research, Vol. 4

Arthur Winzenried (Eltham College, Victoria, Australia)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Winzenried, A. (2000), "The New Review of Information and Library Research, Vol. 4", The Electronic Library, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 137-146.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The field of library research is a growing one but not a widely advertised one. It is frequently difficult to establish what research is being carried out beyond ones immediate vicinity. This publication is one attempt to extend that vision.

From 1998 a new editorial team, led by Brophy, took over the periodical. This is their first issue and is largely devoted to the reporting of a single conference in London held in December 1998. It is further limited largely to reports on most recent progress in the UK’s Elecronic Libraries Programme (eLib). Though both eLib and the 1998 Conference dealt with hybrid libraries – those that integrate digital and non‐digital materials – the content of this work is necessarily somewhat limited as far as world research, or even UK research, is concerned. It is largely related to academic libraries and so will not necessarily enthrall those from other sectors. With all of this in mind, it might seem that the content together with the high asking price may limit the circulation of this work.

Having noted this, it must be said that in every sector the direction of the future information industry, educational and corporate, is towards a thorough integration of resources. For this reason, any work that deals with issues involved in such development is likely to be of value to managers planning or operating libraries into the future.

The subject of the Conference, and thus these research reports, is the hybrid library. Brophy establishes the basis of the publication by defining hybrid libraries as those offering a range of technologies, different sources and integrating access. Such establishments, he suggests, are most likely to be able to best benefit from electronic or digital models of operation and thus become dominant in the future. Brophy and his contributors then develop these concepts in considerable detail, within the British academic library sector.

In any attempt at a hybrid library there are some recurring difficulties. One of the more immediate is the still not inconsiderable lack of standards. While New Review notes that Z39.50 is becoming more widely accepted, it is still by no means universal. Many writers in this work, notably Gillis and Hogg, discuss standards. They note existing differences between libraries in terms of cataloguing and indexing practices as one significant factor effecting any wide‐ranging standardisation. Similar issues are raised by Eaton in his discussion of access to information across libraries. The HEADLINE project, he reports, further explores the important question of industry standards.

Across all contributors to this work there is common agreement on one theme. The hybrid libraries projects share a common concern for users. Human issues – social, cultural and organisational – are central to the success of electronic libraries. IMPEL projects have made this point clearly (Day, Edwards and Walton) as do reports on the HyLiFe Project (Walton, Edwards and Garrod).

New Review is not a work to be read in a moment. It is not necessarily going to be suitable for every information professional. It is, though, an important part of the library research picture. The projects reported in New Review are important – in most instances, breaking new ground. The research being carried out will affect in some way, all those involved in modern information management during the years to come. Brophy has brought together an important series of reports which contribute significantly to the library research debate.

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