How effectively can computers be used skilled tasks of professional librarianship?
Libraries are expensive and research libraries are particularly expensive. Even in the United States, few people can afford good access to primary scientific, medical, legal and scholarly information. Members of major universities have excellent library services. So do people who work in teaching hospitals, or for drug companies or rich law firms. Others have access to information only through the tedious, inefficient system of interlibrary lending. In less affluent countries the situation is worse; even the best universities cannot afford good libraries. Must access to scientific and professional information always be expensive, or is it possible that digital libraries might change this sad situation? The costs of a conventional research library fall into three main categories: facilities (which include buildings), library materials and staff. In digital libraries, the facilities costs are small, since digital libraries avoid the need for expensive buildings. Digital libraries require computers and networks, but these are relatively inexpensive, and the costs to users are shared with other services, such as electronic mail and word processing...
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