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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1997

Pieter W. van der Walt and Pieter A. van Brakel

In the pre‐Web days, in fact not more than two years ago, there was no mention of the word or even a job description for what we know today as the Webmaster. The…

Abstract

In the pre‐Web days, in fact not more than two years ago, there was no mention of the word or even a job description for what we know today as the Webmaster. The phenomenal and even unexpected growth of the Internet, but specifically the World Wide Web, created the need for a completely new and unique staff member in an organisation with very specialised interests and skills. It soon became clear that practical knowledge of new skills such as HTML formatting and Web server installation and maintenance were imperative for an organisation that wants to stay ahead of its competitors. Today, the main assignment of a Webmaster is to design, implement and maintain an effective World Wide Web site. To be able to do this the Webmaster must acquire knowledge of diverse fields such as network configuration, interface and graphical design, software development, business strategy, writing, editing, marketing and project management. Furthermore, both the growth rate of the Web and its impact on enterprise are responsible for the fact that the task description of the Webmaster is under constant transformation. Instead of being only responsible for HTML formatting, programming and Web site maintenance, Webmasters have become an integral part of a larger Web site team and have to manage other specialised tasks such as being an editor, graphic artist and programmer. The Webmaster has in certain instances become an important part of the team responsible for the entire business strategy of an enterprise, because many Web sites are now being used for their marketing and supporting activities. However, with online database vendors such as KR Dialog, DataStar, Medline and LEXIS‐NEXIS also moving into the Web environment, a few of which have already implemented Web‐based interfaces to assist in the online search process, the Webmaster's responsibilities might extend to that of supporting information professionals and their online search activities as well. Hence the goal and position of the Webmaster will be discussed in an effort to indicate how the Webmaster can play a role in enhancing the online search process.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 15 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1991

Pieter A. van Brakel

The concept of the electronic workstation/or the information specialist and/or client or user of information services has been made possible by various recent developments…

Abstract

The concept of the electronic workstation/or the information specialist and/or client or user of information services has been made possible by various recent developments in information technology. These include the availability of fast, hi‐tech local networks; interface capabilities to connect these to wide area (digital) networks; large, commercially‐available source and referral databases; local online systems such as CD‐ROM databases; and integrated and intelligent software with which relevant information may be downloaded and repackaged. Reasonably‐priced, high‐speed microcomputers, with which these electronic facilities may be accessed, are now a common phenomenon. The term ‘knowledge gateways’ is already in use. This paper addresses the challenges of the information specialist of today to utilise fully the processing and communication power of the electronic workstation to deliver information services to the right client, at the right time, in the right format and at the right cost. Various studies have already described how information technology (IT) has been used to integrate or centralise various information sources. However, knowledge on the skills and intellectual input needed by the information specialist to implement IT effectively, must still be investigatedfully. Topics to be covered in this paper refer not only to extensive, new developments aimed at creating infrastructures and facilities to achieve integration at workstation level, but also to negative issues, such as the shortcomings of tertiary training programmes, ineffective or even non‐existent in‐service training, lack of awareness of how to use IT, and lack of motivation among senior staff. The emphasis will be, apart from international trends, on the South African scene, with special reference to the academic or university environment.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 9 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1995

Pieter A. van Brakel, Cerina Roeloffee and Amanda van Heerden

The World Wide Web has become an important resource of timely information for the information professional. Unlike previous (traditional) formats of information…

Abstract

The World Wide Web has become an important resource of timely information for the information professional. Unlike previous (traditional) formats of information, especially paper‐based publications, the Web has also brought the concept of electronic publishing within reach of any person who has browser access to this Internet navigator. It therefore implies that the information professional can also take part in the publishing process by creating and maintaining a homepage on the Web. Although a few articles have been published on homepage maintenance by information services, not much has been made available about the requirements for homepage design, or guidelines for the planning and structuring of a complete homepage environment. This article provides a few basic guidelines on homepage design, arguing that the physical appearance of a homepage is similar to that of a good graphical user interface (GUI). In designing a complete homepage file, the premise is that basic hypertext design principles could also be applied in the World Wide Web environment.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1995

Pieter A. van Brakel

The feasibility of publishing an electronic journal which will be accepted by the scientific community has always been hampered by factors such as a lack of…

Abstract

The feasibility of publishing an electronic journal which will be accepted by the scientific community has always been hampered by factors such as a lack of standardisation of data transmission codes, limitations regarding the incorporation of graphics and photographs, as well as the absence of special columns, book reviews, letters to the editor, product reviews and advertisements. Standardised communication protocols such as TCP/IP have brought this dream one step closer to reality. The final step could be an electronic journal published through the World Wide Web (WWW), currently one of the frequently used Internet navigators. Three WWW specifications provide the ideal arena for electronic journal publishing: URL (uniform resource locator), HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), and HTML (hypertext markup language). These specifications provide a standardised structure for storing, accessing and sending data, including multimedia (even sound and video) files. The possibilities of such a structure for electronic journal publishing are remarkable: full‐text retrieval could not only be by keyword but also by following hypertext links across articles — even to nodes in other computer systems. In this article the possibilities of publishing via the Web will be addressed and some hints for setting up and maintaining a multimedia scholarly journal will be provided.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1997

Pieter A. van Brakel and Martie Pienaar

Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly being used for effective accessibility to spatial data. A GIS comprises much more than the mere storage of data…

Abstract

Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly being used for effective accessibility to spatial data. A GIS comprises much more than the mere storage of data: spatial data of the earth is being manipulated to create new information, perform complex spatial analyses, and generate maps and reports. An automated GIS system consists of an integrated digital database containing information about geographic features (points, lines and areas); the hardware, software and people used in the analysis of the features (geographic coordinate data); and a description of features (attribute data). It also provides the ability to query, manipulate and analyse the data. However, certain problems exist in the way access is gained to geographic data. Currently geographic data sets (e.g. maps) are scattered across South Africa and the world, with no standardised method of accessing them. Data needed by a specific GIS system must be ‘ordered’ or downloaded from a remote site. No centralised index to existing geographic data exists. The results from a specific GIS analysis are not necessarily directly available to others. When downloading and thus duplicating a set of complex data from an external site, with the purpose of further manipulation, the copy gradually becomes less current when compared to the original data set. In this paper it is argued that most of these problems can be addressed effectively by making GIS data and information available via the Internet's World Wide Web. By creating hypertext links between different GIS sites, data sets could be shared between sites: a type of online atlas system with a task‐oriented user interface geared towards map creation and fact extraction could be developed. A number of experimental interfaces between GIS application software and the Web have already been developed: these and other approaches are discussed.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2003

Pieter A. van Brakel and Justin Chisenga

Neither distance learning courses nor utilising information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance these courses are new to sub‐Saharan Africa. “Long‐distance”…

Abstract

Neither distance learning courses nor utilising information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance these courses are new to sub‐Saharan Africa. “Long‐distance” training by correspondence has been practised here for decades. ICT as basic as e‐mail has the potential to enable the remotely situated student to interactively take part in a particular programme. Additional equipment can simulate the lecture environment by allowing the student to watch a video of a presentation while communicating via telephone. This article is an investigation of the status quo of ICT‐based distance learning in sub‐Saharan Africa. Broad trends were derived from the multitude of sources on the topic, depicting just as many examples of programmes currently being maintained. ICT inroads in Africa are addressed; the problems to acquire and maintain these are discussed, as well as ICT’s potential role in future distance learning programmes. Examples of public‐private partnerships are highlighted. It is emphasised that only through these partnerships will African tertiary institutions succeed in increasing the output of their much needed graduates.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1993

Pieter A. van Brakel

Tertiary programmes for teaching online searching consist typically of the components of an online search system, different categories of databases, overview of database…

Abstract

Tertiary programmes for teaching online searching consist typically of the components of an online search system, different categories of databases, overview of database hosts and their search facilities, methods to create search strategies and command languages, to name but a few. Practical experience, an integral component, is gained by searching interactively on one or more database hosts, where the emphasis is on search techniques rather than the intrinsic characteristics of the databases of the specific system. The extent of students' hands‐on experience invariably depends on the teaching unit's budget, which may preclude extensive ‘live’ exposure. However, the technical facilities and shared resources of a local area network (LAN) are likely to have a significant effect on the traditional teaching methods of online searching. It is now possible, in a LAN environment, to integrate the various information retrieval activities, for example creating and searching personal or local databases, utilising these for indexing, abstracting and thesaurus building, searching locally on CDROM databases which simulate the search facilities and command languages of commercial database hosts and, when the need arises, accessing their external ‘online’ counterparts. This article will demonstrate how the limited concept of ‘online searching’ is broadened when a LAN and local databases are utilised in the online teaching process.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 11 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1991

Pieter A. van Brakel

Trying to keep track of new developments in the information technology area is nearly a full‐time activity — not to mention the complexity of evaluating various options of…

Abstract

Trying to keep track of new developments in the information technology area is nearly a full‐time activity — not to mention the complexity of evaluating various options of a certain product once funds have been allocated to implement IT for a specific task or function in an information service. However, one's problems do not end after the piece of electronic equipment has been purchased, be it as straightforward as a matrix printer, or a sophisticated communication card to connect your LAN to the local X.25 network. Making the equipment function according to the specific requirements of a certain environment, training staff members to use it optimally, and even maintaining and later updating or upgrading it, are all part of the challenge the practitioner of information technology has to cope with.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1998

Philip Barker and Pieter A. van Brakel

We have taken as the theme of the interview section of this issue's Focus (‘The Changing Face of Information’) the question of the role of the information professional in…

Abstract

We have taken as the theme of the interview section of this issue's Focus (‘The Changing Face of Information’) the question of the role of the information professional in the epoch of the so‐called ‘Knowledge Economy’. The following question was put to members of the Editorial Board of The Electronic Library.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 16 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2007

Arthur Hendricks

The purpose of this paper is to gauge how university libraries are currently handling web policies as well as to see if the role of the library webmaster has evolved.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gauge how university libraries are currently handling web policies as well as to see if the role of the library webmaster has evolved.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was created and an invitation to participate was sent to various electronic discussion lists. Most of the questions were quantitative and were coded to find trends in the responses.

Findings

Most of the respondents either are reference librarians or webmasters, and they are mostly staff or faculty. As increasing numbers of resources become available electronically, university library web pages are going to continue to play an important role in academia. Survey responses indicate that most libraries (52 percent) have developed a web policy and 64 percent have formed a web advisory committee to maintain their web content. Responses also indicate the desire for further training in keeping up with the new technologies and the increased workload due to the time spent in maintaining web pages.

Research limitations/implications

Actual policies could have been collected but it seemed beyond the scope of this paper.

Practical implications

Developing a policy or forming an advisory committee is desirable as technology becomes more sophisticated and content and resources are proliferating, as seen in the trends indicated by this survey. Therefore, the amount of the web work can be decentralized and should be shared by all parties involved in order to maintain and enhance the quality of the library's web site.

Originality/value

While there have been many articles written about the role of webmasters in libraries, there appear to be few that deal with the policies of the library itself in regard to creating content for the web. This paper would be useful to academic librarians dealing with web policies.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

Keywords

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