Resilient book forces libraries to change access model

December 12, 1997

University library researchers will enter the new millennium acknowledging the endurance of the book. The "library without books" has been abandoned; the latest round of Electronic Libraries (eLib) funding concentrates on the "hybrid library", in which traditional printed materials sit alongside digital resources.

"New students are increasingly trained in the use of electronic information, which is not always of such good quality. We have to find out how to entice them to use electronic resources, and books," said Ian Mowat, librarian at the University of Edinburgh, which hosted a conference on Tuesday aimed at demonstrating the value of utilising hybrid resources.

Phase 3 of the higher education funding councils' eLib programme will support five hybrid library projects, starting from January. Another four will look at ways to ease searching collections of library catalogues in a geographical region or a subject area, known as "clumping".

Projects in London, Scotland and Yorkshire and Humberside will set up pilot clumps, either physically with union catalogues or virtually using Z39.50 technology. A tenth project looks at the problems of preserving electronic information. The projects will cost more than Pounds 6 million over three years, of which JISC's Committee for Electronic Information will contribute around Pounds 3.5 million.

They address the Dearing Report's concerns about making electronic resource provision more responsive to users' needs. Project HYLIFE for instance recognises the increasing diversity of library users. One of its pilot groups is the University of the Highlands and Islands project.

"The focus will be very much on the users", said Ian Winkworth, chair of the project which is managed by the University of Northumbria.

"We want it to be as little as possible about the technology; we are taking real life services and trying to hitch up behind them an electronic interface, customised for particular client groups. How do you deliver non-electronic resources in the distance learning environment, for instance?" In the RIDING project users will be able to conduct a single search through all Yorkshire and Humberside universities' libraries simultaneously, plus Leeds Public Library. Sheffield University's Peter Stubley said: "The aim is to take out the confusion of searching records in a region - to de-duplicate."


HYBRID LIBRARY PROJECTS: AGORA (University of East Anglia), BUILDER (University of Birmingham), Headline (LSE), HYLIFE (University of Northumbria/University of Central Lancashire) MALIBU (King's College London).

BIBLIOGRAPHIC CLUMP PROJECTS: CAIRNS (Scottish Consortium of University Research Libraries, M25 Link (M25 group, led by LSE), RIDING (Yorkshire and Humberside Universities Association , Music Libraries Online (Trinity Conservatorium) PRESERVATION PROJECT: CEDARS (Consortium of University and Research Libraries.

Details on the web at

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