• Discussion topic — The Library and The Digital Scholar

    I’m wondering if Patricia Battin’s framework for the role of an academic library set in 1984 has been fully accomplished? I think we are close, but not fully there yet. Here’s a list of the functions and facilities that she listed in the article, The Electronic Library – a Vision for the Future by Patricia Battin, EDUCOM Bulletin, Summer 1984

    Our Electronic Scholar of the ’90s will find the following opportunities at the workstation:

    • On-line gateway access to the universe of knowledge
    • Bibliographic data for all printed works and machine-readable data bases and files
    • Extremely user-friendly access by natural language subject searching, keywords, titles, etc.
    • Boolean logic, call number searching, backward and forward browsing
    • Information on on-order and circulation status of documents

    In short, the capacity to rummage around in the bibliographic wealth of recorded knowledge, organized in meaningful fashion with logically controlled search:

    • Downloading capacities and local interactive manipulation of all files
    • Full-text access to databases, data files and published works also preserved on optical disks
    • High resolution graphics
    • Capacity to order off-line prints of machine readable text, facsimile transmission of journal articles identified through on-line abstracting and indexing services and/or delivery of printed publications
    • Links to printed works through on-line indexes of books, table of contents
    • Access to current scholarly output through author-supplied subject access
    • Access to on-line Pre-Print Exchange, with papers maintained on-line for six months and then purged unless refereed and preserved in an archival record according to scholarly record according to scholarly standards; the refereeing process would be coordinated by a national network of scholarly societies with accepted data sets being maintained at the home institution and entered into the national data resource — either RLIN or OCLC now linked into one national resource
    • Online access to education, training, and consulting services run by the Scholarly Information Center:
      • information on new services and access
      • technical information on hardware, software, etc.
      • tutorials and consulting services on literature structures, protocols for specialists, seminars for beginners
      • literature search services for those who don’t want to do their own

    NOTE: Used with permission of the author.


  1. Phil Edwards says:

    It’d be cool to bring in some of the late Ross Atkinson’s ideas about the role of the library in scholarly communication activities, too:

    Atkinson, R. (1996). Library functions, scholarly communication, and the foundation of the digital library: Laying claim to the control zone. Library Quarterly 66(3), 239-265. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/4309129

    Abstract: As libraries prepare to convert an increasing proportion of their services to online form, it is essential that they pause to review and define the core qualities of those services; only in that way can the systematic and conscious transfer of such services to an online environment be assured. This definition of core services is especially important for academic libraries, which face special economic and political challenges. Some of the most fundamental aspects of library operations entail the existence of a border, across which objects of information are transferred and maintained. Such a parameter, demarcating a single, distributed digital library (the “control zone”), needs to be created and managed by the academic library community at the earliest opportunity. One basic objective of such a single digital research library should be to serve as an alternative publishing mechanism for specialized scholarly communication. In order to achieve that combination of the collection and the publication functions in the coming online environment, some responsibilities now performed by academic library collection development will probably need to be transferred to the faculty.

  2. Erin White says:

    As a systems librarian I am deeply interested in this topic and very excited to hear others’ thoughts. If it’d be helpful I can provide an overview of current library technology, challenges, etc.

  3. George Brett says:

    I found the 28 year old photo copy of Pat Battin’s article. I’ll scan and PDF it for those interested. – George

    ps bringing some 1989 books of interest to academic tech humanists.

  4. George Brett says:

    I have scanned the article and have posted the PDF at bit.ly/I16Qu3


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