Internet And The Library

Luan Ho Trieu <[email protected]>
January 1995


This world is right in the middle of the information age. Information is one important input for national development, especially in developing countries.

Information, in their raw state or in their transformed state (knowledge) are always sought after, retrieved, stored in a systematic way by librarians who then provide to people of current and many future generations.

In the current information revolution, the development of the Internet has transformed the traditional library. It is not wrong to say that we are witnessing the gradual transformation of the traditional library into the virtual library of the future.

Yet, on this forum, little has been said about the influence of the Internet on the library. The following article is a first step to fill that gap. It is based on a talk given by the chief librarian of a research library [1]. It is intended to serve as a bare bone for further thoughts on the subject, especially those on the software and hardware development that can transform the way a library can carry out its functions and the benefits thereof.

Please join in and contribute to make this pebble become a stone, a part of the matrials that will help to build the house of knowledge in a distant better future of Vietnam.


This article is concerned with the harnessing of the electronic advantage for a research library. It is going to be on 'nuts and bolts' issues - It is about what can be done with the electronic medium

The Internet features a lot in the function of a library, so a major part of this article will look at the use of the Net, a commonly used term to describe the whole network.or the part of it which connects different libraries together.

This article is also intended to inform many librarians who currently do not have access to the Net but are thinking about it. Hopefully, it will encourage them to gain access to the Net. [2]

It should be stressed here that this article is not a technical one so it will not touch on many technical issues; and the library referred to in this article does not have to be a big one to 'harness the advantage of the Internet'.

The research library

The main purpose of a research library is to support the activities of research staff. These researchers are largely publication-driven, which sometimes means deadline-driven. They not only need information and data on a wide variety of topics, they need it quickly and sometimes immediately. Like many other special libraries, a research library has a comparatively small client-base, but a high intensity of use. A research Library is often held in high regard and has to maintain a high degree of visibility for people in the research field

Implicit in the services a research library offers is the need to be as cost- effective as possible. Access to the Net will help to achieve this.

A research library often has the following sections: The Library Management Section, The Systems Librarian/Catalogue Section, The Reference Section, The Acquisitions Section, and The Loans/Inter-Library Loans Section .They are coordinated and work as a big team in a research organisation to provide a high quality service to its researchers. As it is mainly a research library, the collection is driven by the needs of researchers.

The Net

Many tertiary institutions are connected as well as government and research organisations to the Net. Membership of the Net is increasing rapidly. There are approximately 80 countries connected to the Net, each with their own or several of their own networks. e.g. the UK network is called Janet.

What can be done with the Net in a research library?

Today the Net can be used in several different ways within the Library.

Electronic journals are a useful source and will become more so in the near future with their increase in number.

These services from the Net decrease the isolation of a research library. They are very valuable and allow library staff and the researchers they serve to be aware of current issues and problems in the research fields of the organisation's interests.