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Volume 7, no. 1 (Fall 2004)

Feature Articles

Dorothy Warner

John Buschman

Studying the Reader/Researcher without the Artifact: Digital Problems in the Future History of Books

Abstract: The study of reading, books, book production, editing, and the research process posits a very simple assumption: that which has been read, edited, absorbed, used and studied will still exist as an artifact. Tthe trend toward digitization, promoted by those who want information available instantly and in a “more accessible” format, poses a very fundamental challenge to the essential assumption that those items will exist in future. In the haste to make information available electronically there are few agreed-upon plans for the preservation of digital information and much has already been lost. There is an urgent need for careful planning in the areas of standards, costs, digital preservation strategies, reading mechanisms, and the context of digitally preserved information.

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Robert Flatley

Mark DeJong

Making Your Library Website Accessible

Abstract: Accommodating the disabled can be a challenge for libraries. Nationwide, libraries have made admirable progress in upgrading their facilities and services to make access more convenient; however, one area that is frequently overlooked is the library's website. This article explains why website compliance with recognized standards is essential for your library and offers suggestions on how to make your site more accessible.

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Alessia Zanin-Yost

Digital Reference: What the Past Has Taught Us and What the Future Will Hold

Abstract: By the end of the nineteenth century, the role of the librarian had expanded to include reference service, and it has been part of the profession since then. New technologies change the way we search for information and what we expect from reference service. With the introduction of the computer and the Internet, libraries expanded the role of reference beyond the use of the mail, telephone, or the fax machine. Today, librarians not only help patrons at the reference desk but also in cyberspace. This new type of service, called digital or virtual reference, is quite new, but has quickly become popular because of demands by patrons to access information anytime, anywhere. This paper discusses issues related to the use of digital/virtual reference in academic libraries in the U.S.

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Jim Kapoun

Assessing Library Instruction Assessment Activities

Abstract: As part of the continuing assessment of library instruction at Minnesota State University, Mankato, library instruction assessment tools/surveys were surveyed. The survey included what types of questions were asked and how they were delivered to the students. A group of 320 peer libraries from across the nation who have instruction programs was surveyed. The results were analyzed to look for common themes and ideas.

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John Fenner

Audrey Fenner

The Future in Context: How Librarians Can Think Like Futurists

Abstract: As libraries strive to increase productivity and efficiency, they may focus on the immediately obvious and on repetitive operations. Subtleties do not survive time limitations, and neither does our ability to think about the future and make sense of it. In the normal course of events, the “past push” process operates. We “push” the familiar into the future, seeing things we do as processes that will continue, perhaps indefinitely. Librarians need to adopt “future pull” thinking in order to forecast the future in a realistic way, and prepare ourselves and our libraries for it. We need to adopt some of the techniques used by futurists to identify problems, focus thinking, and plan future directions. The following is one simple process for examining future possibilities. It is an exercise designed to encourage lateral and creative thinking, and can be carried out individually or in group brainstorming sessions.

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