A Non-Slackacademic Approach
Internet (or "Net") historically began as a medium for defense information system in the 1960s. Today the boundaries of Internet have extended from mere defense information to civil lines, from free to priced paths relevant for all walks of life--assumes the position of an essential resource for the academics, as well as, business and entertainment world. It offers a) access to finding out current news and events, b) means of easy ordering and/or buying goods and books, c) facilitates downloading free software's, games, and full journal articles, d) connection to any one across the world, and of all e) promoting the true spirit of distance education and open university system. These advantages have made networks indispensable. The excitement of being hooked is a fashion and using the universally free email services a trend.
A detailed study of how Internet contributes for development of the society is inevitable. Survey of the Web has been done by many, and one such is by Andrew Fernandez . It is a descriptive survey, focuses on development of the Internet, impact on society (in terms of individual, relationships, politics, economics), the future (information overload, Internet access, and network usage). Such theoretical and observation based studies are necessary for a balance image of the virtual reality. In fact there is one more interesting and valuable piece on "Building an Internet culture", by Phil Agre, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, University of California, and available via his Website: Internet . His article on "The end of information and the future of libraries is a real page making us ponder on how alternative thinking can be also possible. Though this paper is published in Progressive Librarian, some may view the journal itself in a different perspective, this diversion is not intentional and should not be taken as diversionary attempt by me.
Information scientists and Librarians, apart, there are a host of others who are interested in training people on how to use the Net, either online or via e-mail, visit for instance the web page of Begum Ibrahim working at MARA Institute of Technology, who has an elaborate online training program. She specializes in language teaching and has focused the training program also for those interested in learning English as foreign language, English as second language, English for special purposes, English for Business purposes.
WEBERIANS or CYBERIANS:
Librarians need to master the Web in more than one way. Mastery here includes not only speed in access, but also comprehending the routes that the Web takes all along and participating in making our own parent organizations entry in to the Internet, as well as, in Intranet.
What roles librarians have to play
in the wake of the emerging new information source, that is the Net? The
answer is they need to improve their skills in areas such as:
Apart from continuous literature that emerges on searching and accessing shortcuts, by librarians as well as cyber specialists, cataloging of internet resources has also caught much attention, and agencies as well as universities are all engaged in it, including some of the following:
An interesting venture in this regard has been of student's own work, in cataloging electronic resources, as a part of the course components for example at Sheffield University, this is a list of projects relating to areas, such as, database design, cataloging in the electronic age, practical computing work, etc.
It is hoped that the profession will balance its role in adding an additional responsibility in its four fold tasks and make itself a key role player in the virtual domain. We had hoped to undergo a paper less era, but did not imagine of a digital library that may run parallel to the printed collection library! Major libraries and institutions are all into converting the printed matter into machine readable format, as for instance the digital library project of LC, and the various electronic magazines and parallel (print/electronic) published scientific journals.
A recent article in Information World Review, (Feb 1998, p. 16), raises issues that have confused the minds about who can be called as professionals, and who are information professionals. I quote: "Recently, the propounding of the concept of knowledge management has arisen. This has transformed information management from being an issue for lowly library and information departments to being one of strategic corporate importance. It seems somewhat ironic that this recognition of the importance of information finds the information in the midst of its greatest crisis. The idea of what constitutes an information professional has been lost".
This is to introduce the profession with a simple and easy way to talk and walk in the Net, and be one with the Information Technology (IT). Internet has raised pertinent issues which are more relevant to us than to any other group or individual in the world wide wet net, if we are to continue surfing the Net. The new role for the profession is to intensify its use of media and learn how to learn and unlearn the past conservatism above staying aloof from technological innovations, see Jose-Marie Griffiths in ASIS Bulletin (Feb/Mar 1998), writing on this topic.
It is appropriate for the professions of librarianship and IT to unite, as both have same objective of using a common media for information processing and delivery. Librarianship uses this technology at a secondary level only for storage and retrieval, as accessing and delivery of documents are its primary tasks. For the IT professionals, storage and retrieval are the primary concerns for using technology. (More about this, unity in diversity, is available at infostructure and infrastructure
A few links are provided in the following to enable librarians get a feel of how and where the profession can move on in terms of coming to grips with the virtual libraries:
Taher, Mohamed (1998),"Virtual Librarianship: A Non-Slackacademic Approach," Available at http://sites.google.com/site/akbanis/home/drmt_geo/virtual-librarianship]. A note about alternative title: This article also carries a title in the header: "Librarianship and Virtual Reality"
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Note: taher.cjb.net: has moved to: https://sites.google.com/site/akbanis
Page updated May 31, 2011