I'm looking at the course description for Introduction to Libraries, which reads as follows:
Introduce yourself to various types of libraries and their organizations, purpose, function, and services. Levels of library employees are studied, with emphasis on the roles and duties of library technicians. Explore library terminology, the history of books and book publishing and the importance of library associations.
Of course, this didn't cover everything I studied for three months in 2002. It's just the main points!
There were seven modules in the course: Sources of information, History of books and libraries, Basic library functions, Types of library catalogues, Types of libraries, Types of library workers, and Library associations.
Sources of information:
Analyze your own perception of a library and learn about the wide variety of information sources available. Identify four ways libraries serve societies, list and describe S. R. Ranganathan's five laws of library science, list and describe the "Five laws for the future" of Walt Crawford and Michael Gorman, identify five major categories of information sources, define and describe various media types, define both physical and bibliographical book parts.
What is a library?
Most people have used at least one library in their lifetime. According to his or her's experience, each person will have different perceptions of the role and functions of a library.
How do libraries serve societies?
Libraries serve societies in four ways:
1. They acquire materials for others' use,
2. They store and preserve materials,
3. They organize materials for easy access,
4. Libraries staff assists clients in locating information.
G. Edward Evans, Anthony J. Amodeo and Thomas L. Carter, Introduction to Library Public Services, 5th ed. (Englewood, Colorado : Libraries Unlimited, 1992)
Ranganathan's Five Laws Of Library Science
S. R. Ranganathan was a famous librarian from India, who stated that there were five laws of library science.
- Books are for use.
This is a reminder that the purpose of a library is to provide access to information. If our rules and procedures hinder rather than promote the use of the collection, then we should take a serious look at our policies.
- Every person his or her book.
Each published item will reach at least one person. Libraries have collection development policies which include statements such as "Freedom to Read" highlighting that the library does not condone censorship.
- Every book its reader.
The fact that an item does not circulate is not necessarily indicative that no one will ever use it. Perhaps it would be useful in another library's collection. Perhaps it has not been catalogued properly or promoted effectively.
- Save the time of the reader.
Libraries must be effective and efficient in providing a service or information to a patron when he/she requires it. Catalogues must be easy to use and lead people to appropriate resources. Libraries now need to provide links to important Internet sites either through their own Website or through the online public access catalogue.
- A library is a growing organism.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about libraries is that they are not stactic. Services change over time. New technologies can improve access to information. The service population of the library may change and therefore different types of materials are required. For example, in cities with large immigrant populations, the collections in public libraries will reflect the heritage language of these new Canadians, to encourage their use of the library.
Ranganathan,S. R., The Five Laws of Library Science. (Madras, India: Madras Library Association, 1931)
Crawford and Gorman's Five Laws for the Future
Although Ranganathan's rules are timeless, Walt Crawford and Michael Gorman felt that they needed updating to reflect today's terminology and the increased scope of services in modern libraries. In 1995, they published these in a book, Five Laws for the Future.
1. Libraries serve humanity.
This law reminds us that libraries provide services. In most libraries other than those in corporations or government agencies, these services are for large populations, not select groups or individuals. Library staff must always put the needs of its clientele first and foremost.
2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated.
It is hard to resist the temptations of the glitzy World Wide Web with its timely access to information. After all, everything is on the Internet, right? WRONG! Thus, one can waste a lot of time searching the Internet when this information may be readily available elsewhere. One real-life example of this occurred in a medical library where a patron had searched for hours on the Internet to locate an address, when the librarian was able to find it within two minutes in a print-based directory. Remember that radio did not replace newspapers, televisoin did not replace the radio, nor will the Internet replace print resources.
3. Use technology to enhance service.
Countless are the times library staff rush out to acquire an integrated automated system without first asking the important question, "How will this new technology improve services to our clients?" If you keep this focus, chances are the best system meeting your specific library's needs will be chosen. It will also gain acceptance by the patrons when you emphasize how the new technology will benefit them rather than how it will help the library staff. Of course technology must also assist the library staff to provide services in an efficient and timely manner.
The concept of free access to information is a fundamental one in democractic societies. Certain types of libraries (academic, research and large public libraries) have a fundamental role in preserving older materials. Failing to undertake this mandate results in a form of censorship. Libraries also need to resist the pressure of patrons demanding materials be taken off the shelf for political, religious, or ethnic reasons.
5. Honour the past and create a future.
Crawford and Gorman state in order to do this we must be receptive to new innovations. However, we must not become technology-driven. These innovations must be seen as tools to be used to provide essential services. Consider the statement, "Let us mourn the card catalogue." It is important to acknowledge that the card catalogue was a brilliant innovation for its time and served libraries well for many years. Modern online public access catalogues were built upon and enhanced the foundations of access to information.
When the word, library, is mentioned, most people immediately think of books. Is that the only type of material that libraries have in their collections?
Libraries now provide access to a wide variety of media formats. Although there may be many ways to classify information sources, there are five commonly used categories:
1. Print resources;
2. Microform resources;
3. Graphic resources;
4. Audiovisual resources;
5. Electronic resources.
Print resources are the most familiar information source types. They include books, magazines, pamphlets and government documents.
Most are familiar with books, but many may not be able to quickly define what a book is nor identify all the parts of the book.
Book: Collection of more than 48 pages with a distinctive title and fastened together in a binding.
Monograph: Complete bibliographic unit on a particular subject. In cataloguing, a monograph is any printed item, which is not a serial. Thus not all books are monographs because some books are serials, like almanacs and yearbooks, and monographs are not serials. Many monographs (such as those in pamphlet form) are not books.
Series: A number of monographs related in subject or form most often issued by the same publisher with a collective series title.
Physical parts of a book
Some books may not have all the bibliographic parts described, nor would the parts necessarily follow the same order given.
Book jacket or dust jacket: The paper cover folded loosely over a bound book. Publishers design colourful and eye-catching jackets to attract the attention of potential purchasers. Jackets are often informative, giving a brief description of the content of the book and a biographical sketch of the author. It may contain excerpts from book reviews or descriptions of other books written by the same author. The information assists library patrons in deciding whether or not to borrow an item, so they keep the jacket protecting it with plastic and taping it to the book cover.
Cover: This is the binding that holds the leaves of a book together and protects them. A hard cover is made of heavy cardboard that is covered with cloth or leather. The cover has three parts - front, back and spine.
Types of bindings: Covers can be in various types of bindings, such as:
Trade binding: Binding intended for sale in bookstores, usually hardcover.
Library binding: Sturdier and expensive binding. Pages are stitched together before being glued into
the book cover. Many libraries no longer request library binding unless they expect heavy use of an item because of its expense.
Adhesive binding: Binding used in producing paperback books where the cover and leaves are merely glued together.
Spiral binding: A mechanical binding using plastic or metal material to bind the pages. Often used for handbooks or manuals as the spiral binding allows the book to lie flat. Heavy use however results in pages loosening themselves, requiring the entire item to be rebound.
Permabounding style binding: A technique of fusing a heavy plastic material to the cover of a paperback book to make it more durable.
Spine: The part of the book which holds the front and back covers together. Publishers usually put the book title, author's name and their name on the spine.
Hinge or joint: The area that joins the front or back cover to the spine. The hinge endures much stress and is often the first area of the book to wearout.
Endpapers: Heavy lining papers inside the front and back book covers. They extend from the edge of the cover of the book across to the edge of the pages of the book. The pastedown is that part of the endpaper which is pasted to the inside board of the cover. The flyleaf is the loose portion of the endpaper that covers the book leaves.
Leaf: One sheet of paper consisting of two pages, one on each side. The 'front' of each leaf, or the right hand page of an open book, is called the recto. The 'back' of each leaf, or the left-hand page of an open book, is called the verso.
Signature: A folded printed page. The text of a book is printed on large sheets of paper, which are then folded and the edges cut to make pages. Signatures are often numbered or lettered so that they will be put in proper order. When signatures are sewn to one another, they make up the printed book. The following are terms used to describe signature types:
Folio: sheet folded once to make 2 leaves or 4 pages
Quarto: sheet folded twice to make 4 leaves or 8 pages
Octavo: sheet folded three times to make 8 leaves or 16 pages. The most commonly used signature.
Bibliographic parts of a book
When you look up materials in a library catalogue, the description of each item is called a bibliographic record. Cataloguers create bibliographic records by following standard rules, known as the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, or AACR. This set of rules was in its second revised edition in 2002 and is often referred to as AACR2R. AACR2R instructs cataloguers to use information in specific areas of books to create the bibliographic record. These areas are known as bibliographic parts of a book.
Preliminary pages: Precedes the book's body. Usually numbered with small Roman numerals to distinguish them from the book's major content.
Half-title page: Leaf preceding the title page, giving the book's brief title and series title, serves as title page's protection.
Frontispiece: Precedes the title page, an illustration relating to the book's subject matter.
Title page: Most important information source to a cataloguer. Includes title, subtitle, statement of responsibility, edition, imprint and series.
Preliminary pages: Title page
Title: Name of work.
Subtitle: Secondary title claryfing or explaining main title. Often in smaller print or separated by punctuation.
Statement of responsibility: Usually includes author's name and other individuals or agencies - editors, illustrators, translators or issuing agencies (an association or government agency) that have contributed in a significant way to the intellectual or artistic content of the work.
Edition: copies of the same work printed from the same type setting, eg., 3rd ed., New ed., Rev ed.
Imprint: generally appears at the bottom of the title page. Often includes the place of publication, publisher's name, and publication date.
Verso of the title page: Reverse side of title page. Usually contains the copyright date, printing history, Cataloguing-in-Publication (CIP) data, and ISBN and may also include restrictions on photocopying, or the type of typeface or paper used.
Copyright date: usually found on the verso of the title page, indicated by the symbol © and may include the name of the copyright owner. In Canada, copyright is the legal right given to a person or organization to the exclusive ownership of a work's content for the author's lifetime plus an additional 50 years. If substantial changes are made to a work's content before it is reprinted, it is considered to be a new edition and is given a new copyright date. Copyright dates are an excellent indicator of how current the book's content is.
Printing history: may also be given on the verso of the title page. The publisher, in this instance, indicates how many tumes the book has been reprinted from the same type setting, for example Seventh printing 1991,©1971.
Cataloguing-In-Publication (CIP): brief bibliographic record produced in card catalogue format. Before items are published, publishers participating in the CIP program submit their galley proofs and/or descriptive front matter to the National Library of Canada, the Library of Congress in the United States, or their designated agents. Cataloguers then prepare a bibliographic record and send a copy of this record back to the publisher so that it may be added to the title page's verso at publication time. CIP reduces cataloguing costs and speeds the access to new materials in libraries. It is important to note any changes made after the galley proofs are submitted may not be reflected in the data.
International Standard Book Number: Regardless of the country in which a book is published, each book receives a unique ten-digit ISBN. The number identifies a specific title, binding and edition of a work published by a particular publisher. If a publisher publishes a hardcover and paperback edition of the same work, each edition would receive a separate ISBN. The numbering system is a standard internationally controlled by the international ISBN agency in Berlin, Germany. It began in 1969 as a method to improve speedy access and management of the increasing number of published materials. The agency adminstering the ISBN program determines how large a block of ISBNs to assign each publisher and provides them with log books to assist them in keeping accurate records of which number has been assigned to each title.
Dedication: Usually printed on the first leaf following a work's title page. Statement thanking or honoring individuals, relatives or friends.
Preface: Short note by the author stating the work's purpose or origin. Author writes directly to reader in a personal manner often stating reasons why the book was written. At the end of the preface the author may identify those who assisted him or her in writing the book, referred to as acknowledgements.
Table of Contents: Lists the chapters of books in order, giving the beginning page number of each chapter or section. Gives information about the work's scope and the amount of material related to each topic.
List of Illustrative Matter: Key to illustrations, photos, other graphic material may be found in the work. Usually follows table of contents.
Introduction: Specifies what the book is about and how the author intends to approach the subject. May be written by another field expert or editor.
Body or text: Includes all numbered chapters in the work. Pages most likely numbered with Arabic numerals.
Supplementary material: follows work's text and may include an appendix, bibliography, glossary, notes and index.
Appendix: may contain material referred to, but not explained in the text or the full text of a document referred to in the text.
Bibliography: list of materials used by the author in researching the book or a list of recommended readings. Lends authority to work and assist others researching the same same subject.
Glossary: Lists and defines specialized terms used in text.
Notes: Explains particular passages in the text or provide bibliographic information about quotations or sources listed. Notes may be found at the end of each chapter or the text. If notes appear at the bottom of the same page, they are referred to as footnotes. When passages or quotes require an explanation or further bibliographic information, they are identifed by the use of superscript numbers. The number refers the reader to the note with the corresponding number. If notes are infrequent in number they may be identified by an asterisk or another symbol.
Index: An alphabetical list of names, places and subjects covered in the work. Each item is followed by a page number or numbers where it appears in the text. Broader topics may have further subdivisions and there may also be cross-references to similiar terms. In some works, there are separate indexes for names and topics.
Colophon: Inscription placed at the end of the book by the printer, containing facts about the production, author, date of publication and title, but the title page and verso are now more likely to contain this information. Unique features, such as special typeface, paper quality, or binding however are usually highlighted here.
Serials: A serial is a publication issued in successive parts, at regular or irregular intervals, to be continued. Serials are also known as magazines, usually considred popular in nature, whereas journals are more scholarly. In libraries, the official term for this type of serial is periodical. Serials also include newspapers, annuals and yearbooks, proceedings, newsletters and any publication meant to be published on a continuing basis. Information in serials is current and is often aimed at a particular audience.
Periodicals: Most periodicals are issued on a regular basis, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, biweekly or bimonthly. Issues are numbered or dated or both. As an example, the cover of Canadian Gardening states that it is the "August/September 1997" issue. If you were to look at the page listing the publisher's address and phone number (known as the masthead), you would notice that it is Vol. 8 no. 5. August/September 1997. One volume of Canadian Gardening is comprised of seven issues in a given calendar year. The first issue of a periodical can be at any time of year. Quarterly periodicals may be identified by month and year or by season. Like books, each periodical title has a unique International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). ISSNs are managed and controlled in the same manner as ISBNs. Some periodicals have continous paging throughout the whole volume. Issue 2 might begin with page 150. Others have each issue beginning with page 1.
Working with periodicals can be confusing. Some publishers do not produce issues of their periodicals during the summer months, so a monthly periodical may actually only have 10 issues per year. Other publishers seem determined to continually change the names of their serials. For example, in the mid-1980's, two American engineering societies changed the title of every periodical they published (between twenty to thirty titles in total). In one instance, all that was changed was the removal of the words 'the' and 'division' from each title. This seemingly small change resulted in many libraries having to dramatically shift periodical collections to keep their periodicals in alphabetical order.
With the growing popularity of the Internet and increasing costs of print publishing, more and more periodicals are being offered online. An example of a print periodical that is also offered online is School Library Journal (SLJ) at http://www.slj.com An example of a periodical that is offered exclusively online is CM (also known as the Canadian Review of Materials). See the Website at http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm Both of these electronic periodicals are among the few of high quality which are also accessible at no cost to the user. Many others are only accessible to subscribers at significant costs.
Newspapers: The newspaper is another common type of serial. Larger city newspapers are issued on daily basis; smaller community papers may appear weekly or less frequently. The content and format of newspapers are what distingush them from a periodical.
Proceedings, Reports & Annuals: Proceedings and reports are more likely to be published on an irregular basis. Annuals, as their name suggests, are serials published once a year.
Pamphlets: A pamphlet is a printed publication of 48 pages or fewer, bound in paper covers.
We've all seen pamphlets in travel agencies, doctors' or dentists' offices, or in our local banks. They are usually free of charge and provide information about a specific service or topic. Pamphlets are extremely useful to have in libraries. For example, a pamphlet written by the Canadian Diabetes Association about issulin would be far easier for a member of the general public to read than a medical text.
Most libraries store pamphlets in special boxes called Princeton files or folders in a file cabinet. Often pamphlets are stored with newspaper clippings, photos and pictures and these collections in file cabinets ar known in the library world as "vertical files".
Government documents: To be classed a government document a publication must have its origins from, be authored by, or published by a government or one of its agencies. Because of the massive number of publications and the way they are listed in government bibliographies or publication catalogues, libraries with large government documents collections shelve them in a separate area, arranging them by the name of the issuing agency. Government documents are viewed as reliable and authorative sources of current information on a wide variety of topics.
Theses & Dissertations: Academic and research libraries collect theses and dissertations. A dissertion is research performed and written up as one of the requirements for a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) at a University. A thesis is research performed and written up as one of the requirements for a master's degree. Most academic libraries have one copy of each dissertation and thesis written by graduate students at that particular university.
Archives: Archives contain collections of unpublished and published materials that have special historical value. Great emphasis is placed on preserving the materials and climate and temperature control and proper storage are extremely important. Even the smallest public library may have an archival collection containing the papers of a notable person in the community or historical publications of interest to the community.
Microform resources: Microform resourcfes are printed text, which has been reduced in size after being photographed. In order to read the text, a special machine with a magnifying glass must be used.
Microforms are produced in two formats:
Microfilm: rolls of 35mm or 70mm film
Microfiche: 4" x 6" flat sheet of film
The machines to read microfilm or fiche are called "readers". Some readers have special attachments to allow both microfilm and microfiche to be read. Reader-printers also allow print copies to be made of the magnified text.
On microfilm, micro-photo images of pages are placed one after another. In order to read a specific passage with the text you must advance the film forwards or backwards. Micro-photo images are arranged in several rows on a piece of microfiche (also known as a grid). A standard microfiche can contain between 60-100 images. An ultrafiche can contain between 1,000 and 3,000 images. The row of images or pages may be lettered and each image numbered, to provide an index for easy access.
Although this medium has never been popular with library users, many libraries replace older harder copy issues of periodicals and newspapers with microform. Not only does microform take up less storage space, but it is also an excellent way to provide access to historical materials, which might otherwise by unavailable or would deterioate from repeated use. A student studying the history of Manitoba is able to read newspaper coverage of historical events as they occurred, by consulting older issues of newspapers on microform.
Another early use of microform in libraries was to replace the card catalogue with a COM (computer output microform) catalogue.
Two-dimensional and three-dimensional items are called graphic resources. These are primarily visual reprensentations of concepts rather than text.
Two-dimensional graphic formats:
As you can imagine, these materials come in a wide variety of sizes and can easily be damaged. LIbraries take special care in handling and processing these materials and often purchase special equipment and shelving for storing two-dimensional materials.
Three-dimensional graphic formats:
In order to be classed as three-dimensional, an item must have depth, width and height and exist independently from other items.
A globe is a spherical map representing the surface of a celestial body, such as Earth. The copyright date of globes, which represent political boundaries and names of countries, is important. This information can become dated and the globe will need to be replaced with a more recent edition.
A model is a representation showing the construction or appearance of something. A type of model most may be familiar with is a model train, complet with villages, mountain tunnels and track switches. A model is often not the same size as the original item. For example, a model of the structure of a chemical substance is greatly magnified in size, whereas a model of Lower Fort Garry would be greatly reduced in scale. Models are excellent teaching aids and consequently, many school libraries have them in their collection.
A diorama is a creation of a realistic scene by placing objects in front of a painted or photographic background. Museums often have stuffed wildlife specimens placed in dioramas to give visitors a better sense of their habitat.
Realia are actual objects rather than the model representation of those objects. For example, an architecture or interior design library might have a collection of fabric samples to assist designers in choosing appropriate upholstery for a given project. An agricultural research library might have slide specimens of different varieties of weeds. A school library may have a display of different types of rock specimens.
Games, puzzles & toys:
Although everyone may be familiar with them, it may not be evident why libraries would have games, puzzles, and toys in their collections. Educational games can assist children in learning to spell, count, add and subtract, and in developing critical thinking skills. The Society for Manitobans with Disabilities has a large collection of toys. Parents with children with disabilities may borrow these toys to assist their children in developing motor skills.
Audiovisual resouces can only be heard or seen when played on specialized equipment. Technology has rapidly changed over the years. In the 1970's, libraries collected long-playing (LPs), tapes, motion pictures (films) and filmstrips. In the 1980's, videotapes began replacing motion pictures and compact discs (CDs) began to replace LPs. In the 1990's, videodics, interactive video and interactive CDs also became available.
Many of these resources require expensive equipment. Libraries now face the challenge of providing access to an increasing variety of audiovisual materials available and to stay within declining budgets. To further complicate matters, some excellent sources of information have not been reformatted to newer technology. As older equipment breaks down and cannot be replaced, valuable information is lost.
Records are phonorecordings of music, poetry readings, speeches, drama and other audible communication, which are mostly found on vinyl discs.
Audiotapes are produced when sound is recorded onto magnetic tape stored on reels. A large machine is required to wind the tape from one reel to a take up reel.
With audiocassettes, sound is still recorded onto magnetic tape like audiotapes, but the reels are much smaller than audiotapes and they are encased in a plastic cassette. The equipment needed to play the cassettes is smaller and portable. Many libraries not only collect music recordings on audio cassettes, but also purchase "Books on Tape" or "Talking Books" for the visually impaired or for individuals who want to listen to books being read to them while they are commuting or jogging. Children's books may now be accompanied by a cassette of the book read by the author or a storyteller.
Introduced in 1983, compact discs consist of sound digitally recorded onto a plastic dusc, 4.75" in diameter. The player has a laser beam, which shines on the disc and translates the encoded data into sound. Because the sound is recorded digitally, background noise or distortions are eliminated. CDs are also more durable than records, which can easily be scratched either by improper handling or by the needle on the arm of a turntable. However, while they may be an improvement over vinyl records, compact discs are far from being "practically indestructible". They may be able to withstand more abuse than vinyl records, but they are still susectiple to scratches, smudges and dirt which can severly affect their performance.
Slides are pieces of film mounted in a 2" x 2" cardboard or plastic envelope. These are placed into trays, which are then placed on a projector. Inside the projector is a lamp and reflecting device, which projects the image onto a screen. Libraries, which emphasizes collection development in art and architecture, will most likely have a large slide collection. Slides become fragile with age and may eventually be transferred to videodiscs in the future.
Filmstrips are rolls of 35mm of film of approximately 40-65 frames. School libraries had large collections of filmstrips, many of which were accompanied by audiocassettes and pamphlets in kits. Although videos are much more popular, some filmstrips are still in use and found in school libraries' collections.
There are at least four different formats of motion pictures: 70 mm, 35 mm, 16 mm, and 8 mm. Early motion pictures had no sound and were filmed in black and white. Later films had sound and were filmed in colour. Motion pictures were often expensive to buy and thus, were often not owned by individual libraries, but by central agencies such as Public Library Services and the Instructional Resources Unit of the Manitoba Department of Education, Training and Youth. Such agencies distributed motion pictures to libraries upon the request of their clients. Motion pictures can deterioate quickly, due to the method of being fed by sprockets through a movie projector. Videos have become more popular because of their ease of use and cost. However, certain quality motion pictures have not been transferred to video, so some libraries still have films and film projectors in their collections.
Videotapes consist of images and sound magnetically recorded onto a standard tape one-half inch in width. The tape, like the audiocassette, is mounted on small reels and cased in a plastic cassette. The tape is viewed by placing the cassette into a videocassette recorder (VCR) which is connected by a cable to a television screen or to a data video projector. A data video projector projects the image onto a screen for viewing by larger audiences. Videotapes are much easier to use than motion pictures and are more durable. They also cost less and cover a larger variety of topics than motion pictures. For example there are more self-improvement videos available than there were motion pictures.
Like CDs, videodiscs are recorded digitally onto plastic discs ranging from 3" to 14" in diameter. Like videotapes, they are viewed by placing the disc into a disc reader, which is connected to a television screen or data video projector. The disc reader shines a laser beam onto the disc and translates the coding to images and sounds. The sound and image quality of videodiscs is higher than that of videotapes. Videodiscs are also more durable than videotapes.
The real advantage of videodiscs is the ability to access specific parts of the disc (random-access retrieval). Each frame is numbered and can be accessed by entering the number on the pad of a remote control device similar to the kind we use with our televisions at home. There may be an index to allow the viewer to go directly to a specific chapter or topic. Some workbooks included with videodics have barcodes, representing frame numbers, beside index enteries or chapter headings. When the barcode is swiped with a light pen connected to the reader, the reader interprets the barcode, searches for the frame number specified and projects that image and sound on the screen. This is far easier than fast-forwarding or rewinding videotapes to show a portion of the tape rather than view it from beginning to end. Unfortunately, videodiscs and the equipment related to view them are still very expensive and are primarily used in educational institutuions.
This category includes magnetic tape, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, hard-drives, networks (including the Internet), remote databases and in-house databases.
With recent advances in computer technology, we are now able to generate, store and transmit massive amounts of information at very low cost. The development of graphical user interface (GUI) technology that is using icons (pictorial representations of concepts) and a mouse to point and click, rather than requiring people to type in commands, have made computers more user-friendly.
Publishers now often produce books with accompanying software on either floppy discs or CD-ROM. Encyclopaedias are available in print, or on CD-ROM, or are even available over the Internet. Many new serial titles are now only available in electronic format. Consequently, the public expects to be able to access electronic sources of information in their libraries.
A magnetic tape is specially treated with a substance to allow it to be used to store computer data rather than image or sound. Magnetic tape is stored on large reels. In PC environments, it is more often enclosed in a smaller type of cassette that is run on a tape drive installed on personal computers. This permits a convenient back-up of computer files which are then kept off-premises for safe-keeping.
A hard-drive is a memory storage device within a microcomputer. Originally a hard-drive had relatively limited storage capacity. Now the capacity of memory and storage of hard drives are measured in gigabytes (billions of bytes).
Floppy disks measuring 5.75" (older technology) or 3.5" (more common) store commercially available software programs. Libraries will often purchase software for use by their patrons. Many educational software packages are available and school, university and college libraries purchase them for use by teachers, professors and students. However, floppy disks are gradually being replaced by CD-ROMs since software is becoming more complicated and requires more memory. One CD-ROM can store the information contained on many floppies.
CD-ROMs are used to store images and text as well as sound. One CD-ROM can hold up to 260,000 pages of text. Libraries are increasingly purchasing CD-ROM resources, as they take up less storage space, and can be networked enabling many library users to access the information at the same time. Encyclopedias on CD-ROM are extremely popular with children.
Libraries now make resources, such as their on-line catalogues or access to the Internet available over local area networks. A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers connected by communication links, which allow them to interact with one another. LANs are usually understood to be contained within one building, or at most within a few buildings in close proximity to each other, such as a university campus. In a university setting, if student residents are wired for the local area network, a student is able to consult the library's catalogue or search a networked CD-ROM or surf the Internet at any time of day or night in the comfort of his or her own room.
A wide area network (WAN) is similar to a LAN except on a much wider scale. The computers in a WAN are connected over a wider area, such as the online catalogues of a regional public library system or the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information's network across Canada. Of course, the ultimate WAN is the Internet.
In-house databases are comprised of many electronic records which are produced, used and maintained by an organization for its own purposes. An association might store the names and addresses of its members on a computer. The name and address of each member would be an electronic record. The file containing the records of all the members' names and addresses would be the membership database. A library's on-line catalogue is an example of a bibliographic database comprised of electronic bibliographic records. A library's online catalogue is also an example of an in-house database as it is created by the library itself to describe what items the library has in its collections. The Great Library in the Manitoba Department of Justice created an in-house database containing references to judgements in Manitoba courts, which have not been included in commercially produced legal reporting services. This database is accessible over the Justice Department's local area network.
Libraries often provide access to databaes housed on other computers outside the local area network. These are known as remote databases. Periodical indexes, in electronic form, which are made available via a telecommunications link, are examples of a remote database.
Last but definitely not least is the massive amount of information available on the Internet. The Internet is a worldwide network of computer networks. Institiutions allow other institiutions or anyone having an account with an Internet provider, such as Sympatico, to access information on their network. Of course, this access is limited. For example, confidential employee records would not be made available to unauthorized personnel. In future courses, you will be learning how the Internet can be used to find bibliographic records for materials, answer library clients' questions and much more. The only real difficulties with using the Internet are that it can be like finding a needle in a haystack and depending on the Internet provider, it may take some time to receive a response to your request at peak periods of the day.