A group of professional librarians recently convened in Sheffield, England to participate in a global focus group sponsored by Fretwell Downing, Inc. (FD, Inc.). The gathering’s goal was to answer the questions, "Where does the library world need to go technologically?" and, "How can we get there?" After the two day discussion the group concluded, getting to the "real material" and providing a choice of delivery methods are key issues for the library’s future.
The all-important "library portal" was a hot topic. Libraries need a seamless service allowing users to authenticate once and yet have multiple databases delivered to their desktop. The user wants some control over both the look and feel of the data being accessed. Virtual reference services, community information, selective dissemination of information, e-documents rights management, and open linking technology were all also examined.
Robin Murray, England’s Managing Director of FD, Inc., presented a view of a library portal possible with today’s technology. He said, "A researcher can jointly search the local library catalog with web and other meta-data and full text resources." The various methods of content delivery and ways a library can fit its "best" technologies together were discussed. Acknowledging the modern trend of researchers to bypass the library and go straight to the Internet, the group unanimously agreed, "libraries need new tools to help add value to web resources."
FD Inc.’s long commitment to leading edge research and development projects is exemplifed in this year’s Global Forum’s excellent results. The highly-experienced library professionals participating in the spirited exchange included:
• Madeliene McPherson, University of South Queensland, Australia
• Kerri Blinco, Infostructure Consulting and Services, Australia
• Mike Hosking, Cambridgeshire County Council, England
• Mary Rowlatt, Essex Libraries, England
• Brenda Bailey, Colorado State Library, United States
• Carol Roddy, Ohio Public Library Network, United States
• Mary Jackson, Association of Research Libraries, United States
For more than ten years, Fretwell-Downing Inc. (FD) has been a global leader in the evolution of digital libraries. Delivering the highest level of service and flexibility, FD offers libraries a seamless choice of standards-based solutions. Building toward a solid vision of a "library without walls", FD’s "freedom by design" philosophy delivers the unique ability to integrate disparate library systems, as well as creating entirely new digital solutions.