MEDLIB-L Archives

March 1996, Week 1

MEDLIB-L@LIST.UVM.EDU

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Subject:
From:
Millard Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Medical Libraries Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 11:37:01 -0500
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A taskforce of the Medical Library Association (MLA) is considering new
tools for internetworking between libraries.
This message solicits discussion by people interested in POSTING, ROUTING,
REFERRING AND ANSWERING
    REFERENCE QUESTIONS IN A NETWORKED ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT
Other people should delete now.
 
I am charged with collecting ideas and suggestions from potential users of
a new network tool to be developed.
  Because this discussion may generate heavy discussion, a new temporary
list
   NETREF-L
is being created for this discussion.
1.  People who want to participate FULLY (read all postings and present
ideas)should subscribe to NETREF-L by sending the following message to:
  [log in to unmask]
   subscribe netref-l
Do not include a subject, your email address or any other extra message
content.
 
Discussion will begin March 11 with the posting of a subtopic from the list
below.  (The delay will give time for all interested parties to subscribe
to the netref-l list.)  A new subtopic will be posted each week for six
weeks.  The list will be terminated after eight weeks.
2.  People who would like BRIEF information on this topic and might like to
make a comment or suggestion, but not follow the discussion should read the
section below and send comments to:
    [log in to unmask]
Your comments will be posted to netref-l for consideration by other
interested persons.  At the conclusion of discussion, a summary will be
mailed to you and/or posted to this list.  (This message is posted to
several lists.)
 
Background
  The MLA is considering developing tools to help librarians be effective
players in an electronic information environment.  Some tools under
consideration relate to communication between librarians and their
professional association.  Other tools reflect aspects of what has been
called the virtual library.  In the virtual library users will place
demands for information from terminals in their homes and offices, and
demands will be filled from the pooled information and personnel resources
of a collection of physical libraries.
  Answering reference questions falls logically into the class of actions
identified as the virtual library.  Indeed, patrons already insist on
posting reference questions to various listserves and librarians
occasionally post "stumpers" to lists.  The listserv, however, was not
designed specifically to serve this function.  This discussion will address
design issues for a tool similar to listserv that would process reference
questions with the greatest possible efficiency and effectiveness.  Among
the questions that need to be considered before such a tool can be created
are:
1.  WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL USE -- Is there a significant demand for
Internetworked reference service?  Is reference answering an appropriate
tool of the Internet?  What anecdotal evidence supports or refutes the need
for such a service?
2.  WHO SHOULD BE SERVED -- Should the public (end-user) be allowed to
address questions to the network?  Should librarians that do not
participate (Public or corporate libraries?) be allowed to post questions
to participating (medical?) libraries?
3.  WHO WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS -- What is an effective routing hierarchy for
forwarding unanswered reference questions?  Is there an opportunity for
continuing education and mentoring in such a system?
4.  WHAT CONSTITUTES A SUSTAINING ECONOMIC MODEL -- Who should pay the
personnel costs of the responding library? Should libraries that do not
participate be allowed to post questions?  Should people from organizations
without libraries or librarians be allowed to use the services of libraries
that support libraries?  What are appropriate incentives for participation?
 Should networked reference be left to the commercial sector?
5.  DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS - Is there an existing appropriate
model?  Is there a potential for artificial intelligence(AI) in this
problem?  How might this tool fit in with other tools in an overall design
of the virtual library?
 
 
*********************************************************
Millard Johnson  INCOLSA
[log in to unmask]
I would rather risk failure than achieve it without risk
*********************************************************

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