Volume 12 Number 1
Making Good Use of Digital Library Content and Services
I recently had dinner with friends and former colleagues who work in the information center of a major research and development organization. We discussed the changes that have taken place in the center over the past few years as a result of the increasing quantity and quality of information resources available in digital format. Looking at the evolution of the information center and how it functions today provides an example of how libraries make good use of digital library content and services.
The first thing one might notice is that what was formerly known as the "corporate library" is now known as the corporation's "information center". Information center staff members who previously held the job title "librarian" and later "liaison librarian," now have the title "information analyst". These changes are not merely cosmetic. The information services culture itself has changed as librarians moved from providing traditional services (such as ready reference) within the Library, to (as liaison librarians) being more aligned with organizational development, to becoming members of the divisions' technical, business and management teams as information analysts. Today, these information analysts proactively gather information, rather than just respond to questions, and they are creating databases of digital information that, in some cases, become deliverables to the corporation's clients.
The corporate library once held a large print collection of monograph and serial publications. The print collection today is much smaller, and the physical space needed to house it has been reduced by at least two-thirds. In addition, the consequent savings from the print acquisitions budget were used to buy licensed access to commercial digital resources. For example, instead of library print subscriptions to all the ACM and IEEE periodicals, the information center has licensed access to the digital contents of the ACM Digital Library and IEEE Xplore. Technical staff who once had to physically travel to the library to use print resources, or had to request that such resources be sent to them as available, now have access to many of the resources in digital format from their own desktops.
Another development that has resulted in significant savings in time, effort and financial resources is the creation of an intranet connecting several local and remote sites, some as distant as Japan. The intranet has enabled the information center to provide a portal to corporate digital resources and information services, and it has led to many forms of knowledge-sharing within the corporation. One example of knowledge-sharing enabled by the intranet are the electronic newsletters produced by different corporate divisions and made accessible online.
The changes described here are but a few of those that have occurred over the past few years in the information center of one research organization, where utilization of digital technologies, and increased access to digital resources and services have made the corporation more efficient, productive and competitive. The skills of information center staff have been leveraged to improve the corporation's "bottom line," and that has benefited the corporation's work force as well as its clients.
Copyright© 2006 Corporation for National Research Initiatives
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