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The research library and scholarly information; a future for librarians?

By Alex C. Klugkist


The development of information technology reminds me in many ways of the\ud discovery of the printing press. They both have given rise to revolutionary new\ud ways of disseminating information faster and on a broader scale. In the 15th\ud century, no one had any awareness of the enormous impact that printing was\ud to have. The first printed works were remarkably similar in appearance to the\ud manuscripts that preceded them, and have consequently been termed „cradle\ud books” (incunabula). Printing technology’s effect on the community at large\ud was only gradual, and in the initial stages affected the dissemination of learning\ud and culture only to a minor degree. This had little to do with the new ways\ud of producing information or the form the information was in; it was mainly\ud because only few people had access to education and culture. Researchers\ud were few in number. Long after the rise of printing, academics were still exchanging\ud ideas and research results by journeying to do so in person or by\ud corresponding with each other. It was the way they had always transmitted\ud their knowledge, and they remained true to the tradition.\ud It was only after the rise of the middle classes in the middle of the 17th century\ud and the impetus this gave academic learning that the need for transmission\ud of knowledge on a broader scale began to be felt.1 The first academic\ud journals appeared in 1665: the Journal des Sçavants in France and the Philosophical\ud Transactions of the Royal Society of London in England. In the\ud Netherlands, the Nouvelles de la République appeared in 1684. Journals\ud made it possible for scholars to transmit their research results to a much larger\ud number of scholars than was possible via personal correspondence or personal\ud contacts. The academic journal quickly became a new medium for\ud broad-scale presentation of research data and unambiguous accreditation and\ud quality control of research results. It boosted the transmission of academic information\ud enormously while at the same time boosting its quality

Topics: scholarly information, innovations, research libraries
Year: 2002
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