Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Taylor Graham now makes a practice of publishing its journals as annual reviews, rather than as monthly or quarterly periodicals. Given the paucity of good material for journals, there is a good deal of sense in this – although in continuing to charge journal subscription rates (£65.00) for a single volume of, in this case, 171 pages, the publisher seems to me to be hurrying on the day of the free electronic journal as an alternative means of distribution.
This particular volume of the NRILR is devoted to the papers of a conference on hybrid libraries held in December 1998 – a combination of general papers on the theme and papers from hybrid library and other digital library projects. Of the general papers, by Brophy and Fisher (which may have been written for this volume, rather than for the conference), Carr, Priestley, and Price, the most useful, to my mind, are the first and the last. Brophy and Fisher present a useful account of the idea of the hybrid library and an overview of the projects within the JISC hybrid libraries programme, and Price covers the issue of extending the idea of “collection development” to the hybrid sphere. Carr’s keynote paper is very much concerned with the JISC initiative and its underlying ideas and is informative rather than stimulating.
Among the project papers we find “HyLife” (exploring the notion of the joint venture in the non‐commercial sector) from which there are two papers; BUILDER (a hybrid library development at the University of Birmingham – JISC funding of an internal development in one university – I wonder why? Surely universities should be funding these kinds of developments themselves.); RIDING and the M25 Link (Yorkshire and Humberside “resource discovery”, and a “virtual union catalogue of six London academic libraries”); CAIRNS (a Z39.50 project for linking Scottish library catalogues) and Music Libraries Online (involving, again, a union catalogue for a clutch of musical academies); SEREN (resource sharing in Wales); MALIBU (the influence of coffee liqueur on library performance – no, I made that up: actually, the acronym from Managing the hybrid Library for the Benefit of Users – with a focus on the humanities); HEADLINE (focusing on economics, finance, business and management and on the presentation of resources to the user in the context of specific academic situations of teaching and research); and Agora (which, “aims to provide an open, standards based platform for distributed, mixed‐media information management as well as a framework for end‐user‐oriented services”). The odd one out is a paper on the IMPEL project, which was a first phase eLib project.
Overall, this is a mixed collection of papers, with very little to do with research – not surprising since most of the projects are library development projects. At this stage of their development the reports are concerned more with scene setting and the mechanics of the development process and, in this respect, one learns rather less than can be picked up from the relevant Web sites. Perhaps we shall need to wait until the end of the programme for papers that deal with thematic research issues rather than project descriptions – that would make a truly useful volume.
Should you buy this one? Well, it is a useful single volume introduction to the eLib Hybrid Libraries and Clumps programme, and will be of some limited value from that point of view, but for the up‐to‐date detail go to sites like:
from which you will learn a great deal more.