World Libraries Editorial — Marjorie Bloss
The year was 1971. The Ohio College Library Center, headed by Frederick G. Kilgour, had just launched an online union list of serials for a number of academic libraries in Ohio as well as a mechanism for sharing cataloging records. The system was based on bibliographic records encoded in the MARC format. Although MARC bibliographic records had been available for several years, it was Kilgour’s genius that not only saw their potential but captured it for use by libraries in general. It was not long before libraries throughout the United States and then the world saw the value and benefit of Kilgour’s vision. The rest, as they say, is history.
In his “Pioneers” article on Frederick G. Kilgour, Phil Schieber recounts Kilgour’s instrumental role in the creation and development of OCLC. He describes Kilgour’s knowledge not only of the technical aspects of MARC and technology but also his understanding of libraries and the issues they faced. The library world was at the beginning of the technological revolution and convincing academic administrations to spend money on technology in addition to their usual budgets was not always easy. That Kilgour was able to persuade and convince speak to his abilities to walk comfortably on either side of the fence.
We have come a long way since the early days of OCLC. While still a powerful tool, OCLC is not the only tool in our toolkit. Furthermore, the technological functionality for handling a myriad of library activities has expanded enormously. This issue of World Libraries contains articles about three such developments in today’s online world.
“Virtual Reference Service in United States School of Law Libraries: Its Challenges and the Way Forward” written by Olugbenga Ademodi examines virtual reference service — reference service that is conducted in an online environment be it via e–mail, video teleconferencing or instant messaging. While from Nigeria, Mr. Ademodi has spent some time in the United States, working at libraries in Florida and Texas. He examines virtual reference service specifically in law libraries in the United States, providing insight regarding the value of online reference service as opposed to traditional in–house reference.
Our next technological investigation takes us to Tanzania via Yuda Julis Chatama’s article “Exploitation of Current Developments in ICT to Enhance Implementation of ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ in Tanzania.” Chatama’s paper examines the application of information and communication technologies coupled with informatics (computing science) on an agricultural program, Kilimo Kwanza, in Tanzania. A very large proportion of Tanzanians depend on agriculture for their livelihood and the goal of this program is to increase agricultural productivity. While not specifically library–oriented, Tanzania’s forward–looking applications of technology on its traditional agricultural society underscore how technology can serve society regardless of location.
Mary Pat Fallon examines the impact of the difficult financial circumstances on academic libraries, specifically in Ireland. The country has suffered greatly as it has faced a near economic collapse requiring a substantial bailout from the European Union. In her article “The Status of the Irish Research eLibrary” Fallon reviews an alternative to the purchase of print materials — that of providing online resources and the development of an electronic library. The creation of IReL (the Irish Research eLibrary) is a consortium of university libraries which makes resources (both monographs and serials) available to researchers in the seven libraries comprising the consortium. The consortium has done so at lower subscription costs to each participating library than the individual institutions could possibly afford, and has provided significant support for research and teaching. While union lists have existed for many years, the ability both to identify the resources in them and to provide full access to their contents has been made possible only through technology and electronic means.
Our last article is far different from those previously described. In it, Adam Gambo Saleh and Fatima Ibrahim Lasisi examine the information needs of women in Borno State, Nigeria. Their article “Information Needs and Information Seeking Behavior of Rural Women in Borno State, Nigeria” provides an eye–opening reminder that there are areas in the world where information let alone technology is lacking. It also emphasizes the difficulties rural women have in acquiring information when social issues like health care, illiteracy, early marriages, and poverty are take a centralized role in one’s life.
On an administrative note, a number of members of the World Libraries Advisory Board have completed their terms. To that end, we would like to thank the following for their dedication and support of World Libraries over the years:
|Rookaya Bawa (Carnegie Corporation of New York)|
Michael Dowling (American Library Association)
Gertrude Koh (Dominican University)
George Needham (OCLC)
Satoru Takeuchi (retired)
Wu Jianzhon (Shanghai Library)
We would also like to welcome the following individuals to the Advisory Board:
|Archie Dick (University of Pretoria)|
Christine Hagar (Dominican University)
Bob Seal (Loyola University, Chicago)
Sohair Wastawy (Illinois State University)
We are always seeking members for the Advisory Board. Should you be interested, please contact Dean Susan Roman (sroman [at] dom [dot] edu).
About the author
Marjorie E. Bloss is a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, USA.
E–mail: mbloss [at] dom [dot] edu
© 2011 Marjorie E. Bloss.