Provenance the Electronic Magazine ISSN 1203-8954 - Vol.1, No.2 March 1996


by Stan Skrzeszewski, with assistance from Maureen Cubberley, Canada's Coalition for Public Information

-- [ part 1 ]
1. Introduction
2. Public Libraries - Statistics
3. Degree of Automation and Networking
4. Provincial and Territorial Networking Reports
5. Libraries And The Internet
-- [ Part 2 ]
6. Issues
7. The Role Of The National Library Of Canada
8. The Role Of The Federal Government
9. Recommendations


The Coalition for Public Information conducted this study which reviews the current state of library and information centre networking in Canada and begins to determine the costs involved in providing a complete networked library and information centre infrastructure in Canada in March 1995. This study was conducted for Industry Canada which provided some of the support for this project. The Coalition for Public Information worked closely with the members of the Provincial and Territorial Library Directors Council in order to obtain specific information as to the current state of library operations and networking in each province and territory. The Coalition also worked with the Council of Administrators of Large Urban Public Libraries (CALUPL) to get appropriate feedback on the state of readiness of the largest urban libraries in Canada. The Coalition sought input from the National Library of Canada to determine the current state of library networking through the National Library and to review the existing and planned linkages between the National Library and the public libraries of Canada. The Coalition for Public Information (CPI), an initiative of the Ontario Library Association, is a national coalition of organizations, public interest groups, and individuals whose purpose is to foster broad access to affordable, useable information and communication services and technology. CPI provides an effective grassroots voice for equitable and affordable access to the benefits of telecomputing technology in the Information Age. The Coalition for Public Information (CPI) was formed in November of 1993 in order to ensure that the developing information infrastructure in Canada, the so-called "Information Highway", serves the public interest, focuses on human communication, and provides universal access to information. The objectives of the study are to begin to examine: * the costs involved in providing a `complete' networked public library and community information centre infrastructure in Canada; * the costs in making community-based networked services available to all Canadians through the public library and information centre infrastructure; * the role government could/should play in supporting this approach to networking all Canadians. This introductory study: * initiates the development of a strategy and action plan to `network' all public libraries and community information centres in Canada, and to open the infrastructure, along with select services, to the public. * begins to identify the operational and capital costs involved in such an initiative, and the possible funding and other support mechanisms to be used. * includes a profile of the public library and community information centre in Canada and its access potential and current readiness to serve as a public access point to the information highway.

2. Public Libraries - Statistics

Public libraries are located in almost every community in Canada, and are obvious public access points to the information highway, and sources of information and training in its use. Librarians have long been early adapters of the new information technologies and networks. Public libraries are found everywhere across Canada and they are available to a high of 100% of the population in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to a still very significant 74% in New Brunswick.

3. Degree of Automation and Networking.

The degree of automation and networking varies from province to province to territory. Yet, in each jurisdiction major planning and implementation processes are under way to automate library functions and to make them accessible electronically through networked access. There is no doubt that public libraries are moving to provide access and information to the information highway. These activities are being hampered by the current economic situation especially in the public sector and by the lack of a national vision and coordination on public access to the information highway. The federal government must set policies guiding the provision of public access through public institutions such as public libraries.

4. Provincial and Territorial Networking Reports.

ALBERTA: The Alberta Public Library Interlibrary Loan Network, which the Libraries Branch coordinates, already provides an infrastructure upon which to build an electronic network. It is partially automated now, is currently involved in a pilot project where connectivity is provided through the government network. There is strong support from most of the libraries for networking. Strategic planning meetings held throughout the province by the Libraries: Alberta Strategic Alliance for Planning Steering Committee (L:ASAP) obtained strong support for an Alberta Library Network which would include all types of libraries in a seamless interconnected network. L:ASAP expects to present their strategic plan at the Alberta Library Conference in April/May/95. Except for a few of the larger centres, like Edmonton and Calgary, who have their own accounts, the Libraries Branch does all of the out-of-province interlibrary loan searching for public libraries in Alberta. The Libraries Branch is not linked into Internet for this purpose as yet. The Branch also represents the public library interests in negotiations with other provinces, and the National Library of Canada on policy and protocol issues. BRITISH COLUMBIA: Public libraries have e-mail services available through Telecom Canada's Envoy 100 network. There is no connecting Internet network at present. Three libraries are currently connected to Internet as separate domains (Vancouver, Richmond, Victoria). Some libraries connect (dialup/dedicated line) through commercial Internet service suppliers. Interlibrary loan traffic is managed over a client server network which establishes dialup connections with each library overnight to pick up, distribute and update status on interlibrary loan transactions. There is no connecting network between academic and public library systems at present. Planning for a "provincial learning network" (PLN) would establish a province wide network connecting public libraries, schools, colleges, universities, training institutes, museums and government offices/services. Public libraries have access to the National Library of Canada through Envoy 100 network. Some libraries have e-mail or other network services available via the Internet. Library services Branch will offer e-mail service on a dial-up basis (via terminal emulation/SLIP/PPP) during fiscal year 1995/96. It is likely that additional internet services will be made available for administrative (not public access) during this same period. The Province continues to plan for a multi-jurisdictional province- wide network infrastructure which will provide a full-range of TCP\IP based services to all communities. Expectation is that the 1995/96 throne speech will provide details of government's commitment. MANITOBA: Public Library Services (PLS) Branch of the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship is guiding and supporting the automation of all rural public libraries to develop an integrated provincial library system known as the Manitoba Electronic Rural Library Information Network (MERLIN). The Manitoba Union Catalogue is the central component of PLS's Manitoba Electronic Rural Library Information Network (MERLIN). The Manitoba Union Catalogue is the database for the provincial library system and holds the collections of PLS and all rural public libraries in the province. Public libraries have begun development of local automated library systems with their own catalogue and circulation systems. These systems will be integrated with the PLS provincial library network to form MERLIN. MERLIN will provide access from regional libraries to the central catalogue at PLS. Public libraries will be able to dial into the Manitoba Union Catalogue on PLS's computer system and directly search the database. Libraries will be able to share resources directly, without going through PLS. For items located at other libraries or electronically, libraries will contact PLS. At the present time the Manitoba Union Catalogue lists books from PLS and certain other Manitoba public libraries. In the near future all rural public library holdings will be on the database. Linking Libraries is an initiative of Manitoba Education and Training. It is "...a library linkage plan which, when implemented, can make the collective holdings of all Manitoba libraries available to all Manitoba students." Consultants have been hired to consult with Manitoba library stakeholders to identify issues/problems related to linking libraries and developing implementation strategies and to provide an analysis which will have the following objectives: that all libraries, including school, public, college, university, special and government coordinate efforts to provide an effective and accessible supply of library information resources and services to all Manitoba learners. The consultants have submitted a report which recommends implementation strategies and includes a budget. NEW BRUNSWICK: The public library system has received an infusion of funds in the order of $1.25 M through the Canada/New Brunswick Infrastructure Program for the purpose of automating the regional and public libraries. Although, as part of the project, the five regional library headquarters and the five resource libraries (main libraries) in the province will be provided with online access to the INLEX database of public library holdings, all other service points will be equipped with CD-ROM catalogues. The plan is to eventually have all public libraries online, so this is seen as an interim measure. As yet, however, no funds have been allocated to cover telecommunications costs. Furthermore, the workstations which are being acquired by the public libraries through this project will be dedicated to library functions such as provision of a catalogue and circulation. More workstations will need to be acquired, as funds become available, to provide access to the Internet. Only a couple of libraries are presently offering this access to the public. One inhibiting factor may be that government-funded library "systems" - public, college, and school - all operate under different government departments which slows down the decision- making process. However, a body known as the Provincial Library Forum has been established to encourage cooperation amongst the different types of libraries and amongst the different departments. Already the Forum has formulated principles to govern the development of library automation, principles which promote standards (MARC format, Z39.50, etc.) that make connectivity and networking possible. These principles have received approval from the four government departments involved. The five regional headquarters have online access to the INLEX database of public library holdings. Also three of the resource libraries in the system have an OPAC situated in the reference area. The plan is to extend OPAC to the five resource libraries in the province, and this under the terms of the Infrastructure project. The long-term plan is to connect all 61 public libraries in the system. The regional libraries are able to access the University of New Brunswick online catalogue (Pheonix, soon to be Quest) and the Universit‚ de Moncton catalogue (Eloise). The reverse is not true, although the potential is there. Up until now, the public library database on INLEX has not been large enough to warrant much effort in making it available online to academic libraries or others. However, the public library system is now embarked on recon and the database is growing rapidly. We will begin to explore access to the catalogue from remote sites. The community college libraries have discussed a provincial approach to automation but have not as yet reached a consensus. All schools within the province are being equipped with LANs and with Internet access. So although there is no connectivity between school and public libraries at the moment, the potential is there for networking somewhere down the road. The ten school-public libraries in the system will, of course, benefit immediately from any advances made on either the school or the public library front. NBLS provides a centralized ILL service to four of the five regional libraries and accesses Dobis for this purpose. Saint John Regional Library also accesses Dobis for ILLs. This coming year, NBLS will study the possibility of making the INLEX database available to the NLC for the purposes of resource-sharing. The government has recently provided seed funding to a project known as NetLearn NB that would provide, through the Internet, a single entry point to online information, e.g government information, library catalogues, indexes, art gallery and museum collections, credit courses, conferences, health information, etc. Public libraries are being considered as prime locations for NetLearn kiosks. NEWFOUNDLAND Newfoundland libraries are very supportive of both province-wide and Canada-wide library networking. Currently several networks exist in the province. Memorial University and its regional college at Corner Brook are connected through the provincial network, NLNet. Community college libraries are connected to Stem~Net, the provincial education network. There are no networks connecting public libraries. Some recent public library automation initiatives include: the introduction of an integrated automation system to provide efficient and effective cataloguing; on-line public access catalogues, and circulation functions for the St. John's Library System; and the computerization of the Gander Regional Resource Library, including a CD-ROM Network. NOVA SCOTIA: The Nova Scotia Provincial Library's integrated automated system, NcompasS, is a powerful multi-faceted system and network. It represents the culmination of careful research, a province-wide vision, cooperative planning, and a desire to position the Nova Scotia Regional Libraries at the leading edge of information technology. The system was designed to provide end-users with enhanced access to all holdings of the Regional Libraries of Nova Scotia, improve the efficiency of Provincial Library's centralized acquisitions and cataloguing services and form the basis of a province-wide electronic network, providing e-mail and Internet throughout the regional library system. Once public access terminals are installed, public libraries will be able to offer limited Internet access to their patrons and provide connectivity with other provincial databases and bulletin boards. NcompasS is a gateway to the worldwide network of networks, the Internet, as well as to Novanet, the University libraries' database, the developing Chebucto and the Cape Breton Freenets. Soon there will also be links with museums, schools and community colleges. The tri-lingual multiLIS library software was selected for its superior cataloguing functions and ability to network. Presently there are three databanks within NcompasS: the NSR bank of library holdings for the nine regional libraries for which Provincial Library catalogues materials, the Halifax City Regional Library, and the Dartmouth Regional Library holdings. The latter two libraries are using Dynix software, and export a tape of their holdings which is loaded on NcompasS. Together, the three banks form a virtual database that is practically transparent to the end- user. The interconnectivity of the three systems will be even greater when they become linked using the ANSI Z39.50 protocol. The Nova Scotia Museums and Education Media Services have been investigating the possibility of sharing the system. This would be of great benefit to end-users, who would have one-stop access to more information. Eventually NcompasS will be a wide-reaching distributed network, with a central system housed at Provincial Library and individual automated library catalogues at the Regional Library level. Functions such as circulation and collection rotation will be controlled at the regional level, while seamless access is provided to all patrons province-wide. Provincial Library will maintain responsibility for the integrity of the database, and provide coordinated authority control. There is an automation plan in place to make funding available for the automation of all Regional Libraries in Nova Scotia. This will extend the benefits of NcompasS to over 85 service points throughout the province. ONTARIO: The major initiative in Ontario is the Information Network for Ontario (INFO). The purpose of INFO is to produce a provincial database of the holdings of automated public libraries in Ontario (170 in 1994), and to facilitate access to materials province-wide. This has been a collaborative effort between the branch, the OLS, and Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library and was first completed in CD-ROM format in the fall of 1993 (7 CD-ROMs and 6 million records). Phase two (spring 1995) is the introduction of interlibrary loan software (AVISO) and telecommunications software. Network 2000: The branch is also working with the OLS, the MTRL, the Archives of Ontario, the Association of Community Information Centres of Ontario and the Ontario Public Library Strategic Directions Council on a major strategy to develop and implement equitable public access to electronic information on a province- wide basis. Network 2000 provides the information infrastructure needed by Ontarians to access electronically available education, training and economic job creation, government and other information needed in a restructuring economy. The proposal going forward to the Ontario Network Infrastructure Program Council (ONIP) is a seven point, three year strategy: 1) the adoption of universal access principles; 2) the development of a broadband, highspeed, interoperable telecommunications network infrastructure for community information providers throughout the province; 3) the provision of widespread public access to the Internet and the global information infrastructure through public libraries and other community information providers, for all Ontarians, including those people who currently cannot access electronic information resources through the school, workplace or from home.; 4) assurance of access to the system for members of designated equity groups and also including the elderly and shut-ins as well as the creation of content relevant to these groups; 5) the coordination of public access network partnerships; 6) the creation of digitized government and community content throughout Ontario communities to provide data resources for the global information infrastructure; 7) the development of information training support for all public information workers and Ontarians who have not received such training in the workplace or at school, college, university or other educational training centres. Networking and electronic clusters A major strategy for the development of the Provincial Information Grid is the "network of networks" configuration. This involves provincial funding support for the development of local and regional networks throughout the province. There are approximately 20 of these local and regional electronic networks to which public libraries are contributing, either as the lead or as a major partner. SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatchewan public libraries have developed a proposal for a province-wide library electronic information system (PLEIS). The first phase of the project is to upgrade the Provincial Library computer to allow the creation of a virtual union catalogue by loading the catalogues from all of the regional libraries and the north, as well as a number of special libraries. The second phase consists of achieving electronic connectivity among the headquarters locations for the 10 public library systems and the Provincial Library. The Provincial Library has purchased an electronic connection for ten library systems through SaskTel's Wide Area Network Service. Phase 3 will be to establish connectivity among other types of libraries and to all library branches within the regions. The Provincial Library has submitted an application for funds from the Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Works Program to make technology grants available to local libraries to purchase hardware. Immediate networking plans in Saskatchewan include: * connecting all regional library headquarters to Provincial Library by March 31, 1995; * connecting all public libraries in cities to the Internet by the fall of 1995. Connections to smaller centres are part of the next phase of development; * connecting public libraries with schools by having Saskatchewan public libraries negotiate sharing the pipelines with Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment. YUKON: The public libraries in the Yukon are strongly supportive of nation-wide library networking. Public Library Services(PLS) currently uses SLQžs LaserQuest system for cataloguing and LaserGuide for the production of a public access CD-ROM catalogue; copies of the catalogue are available in Whitehorse and in nine communities, and include the entire Libraries & Archives imprint and catalogued collection. PLS will be switching to The Library Corporationžs BiblioFile system for these products in coming months. PLS is currently implementing BiblioFile circulation and acquisitions modules and are expecting the circulation system to be up later this year. A number of libraries in the Yukon, including territorial government departments and Yukon College, have standardized on The Library Corporationžs products to enhance resource sharing; future considerations include shared cataloguing and the production of a union CD for all Yukon library holdings. PCs and terminals in Public Library Services and Whitehorse Public Library will be linked through a Novell NetWare LAN; this will also provide access to e-mail and Internet and services of YTG Information Systems Branch through the YTG mainframe. Internet access is being planned through the YukonNet Operating Society, a local non-profit organization which will be the regional service provider for Yukon. Services are scheduled to be available after September, once NWTel has a digital line (56k) operational, and ca*net has a router in place. Plans for library connections initially include full staff access and limited public access in Whitehorse; expansion to the rest of the Yukon is being considered as a later phase. The Yukon is considering a proposal for joint partnership with NWel in the provision of a public videoconferencing facility in Whitehorse Public Library as a pilot project; the first use of the facility will be by Queenžs University for their national Executive MBA program which is being delivered across the country via video conferencing technology. The Yukon is looking at providing public access to computer facilities, for use of CD-ROM and other databases, for word processing and communications; plans are for PC and MAC-based systems for use by adults and youths. In all these initiatives, the LPS is working closely with YTGžs Information Systems Branch (formerly Systems & Computing Services), Yukon Net Operating Society, of which LPS is a corporate member, and other Yukon libraries, chiefly through Information Providers, our professional association. NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: NWT Library Services adopted multiLIS as its library automation system in 1988. Currently around 100,000 records from NWT Library Services, Yellowknife City Library, NWT Legislative Assembly Library and Keewatin Board of Education are in the online system which consists of Acquisition, Cataloguing, Circulation, Rotation, OPAC, Report Generator modules with satellite communications supported by NWT Government Services. In 1993, NWT Library Services installed IBM RS6000 minicomputer with upgraded version of multiLIS 10.8. Due to the cost and complexity of communications in the north, in 1991 NWT Library Services developed its CD-ROM based Union Catalogue to share information with all remote communities. The placement of the NWTLS CD-ROM Union Catalogue in all public libraries in the Territories in mid 1992 resulted in a big increase in interlibrary loans. The 100,000 record database will also be placed in the National Union Catalogue at National Library's request. Currently a major project is undergoing to setup a CD-ROM Reference Tools LAN with remote dial-in access. This LAN will be connected to UNIX based multiLIS online system. NWT Library Services is working closely with Radio & Television and Distance Learning towards a major information service centre of the Department. Internet connection to this system will be considered in the near future.

5. Libraries And The Internet

Ideally all public libraries will have cost-effective connections to the Internet. The Internet is a collection of world-wide computer networks that provides many features including electronic mail and electronic transfer of documents between locations. Internet access would further enhance the sharing of electronic catalogues between libraries and direct public access to library services. Provision of public access to the Internet within libraries promises to expand and accentuate the role of public libraries in the "global information community". Public libraries should consider the use of Internet utilities, such as, ftp, e-mail, telnet, gopher and the World Wide Web for the following functions (New Brunswick Library Service. Province-Wide Library Network Plan): * search other libraries' catalogs; * obtaining catalogue source records from utility or other automated library systems; * interlibrary loan locations and messaging; * electronic data interchange (EDI) for acquisitions and serials control; * electronic distribution of information and documents in support of library services and distance education; * obtaining electronic documents; * access to remote library and government information resources; * access to remote commercial information resources; * access to document delivery services; * electronic mail services; * general communication.


From the information obtained from the survey, it is clear that there is insufficient information available to submit a firm estimate as to what it would cost to link all public libraries in Canada to the Internet. A study which examined each library would be required in order to produce this figure. Several provincial library systems are in the process of conducting such studies (Alberta, Saskatchewan). Some provincial systems may link with a broader education system (British Columbia). Many of the individual larger public libraries are planning for their own connectivity (for example, see chart for estimated costs at Toronto Public Library and the InterLINK group in BC). Some of the costs provided are based on actual studies (New Brunswick and Ontario), while some are educated guesses. It must also be remembered that a better understanding of the actual usage by the public, the actual usage rates, and the costs of accessing fee-based remote data bases would have to be known before firm figures could be provided. Since there are no earlier usage records of what is a new and transformational development actual experience and further studies will be required to determine these figures. In spite of these qualifications, based on an analysis of the numbers available, a general cost estimate for connecting all public libraries is possible. The two studies for New Brunswick and Ontario are the most complete and are based on careful analysis. New Brunswick estimates the cost of full patron connectivity at $1,556,083, while Ontario estimates this cost at $27,950,000. By taking these costs and comparing them to the populations of New Brunswick and Ontario, this provides an average cost of $2.52 per capita for providing public Internet access for the residents of these two provinces. Assuming that the $2.52 per capita figure is accurate, and initial studies suggest that it is, then the cost of providing public Internet access for all Canadians, through their public library, is estimated at $2.52 X 29,248,100 = $73,705,212. Alberta No data is available. Alberta is unable to determine or provide the cost of developing an infrastructure or providing connectivity for libraries to the Internet. A research project undertaken by the Libraries Branch will be compiling this data later in 1995. British Columbia The Branch has funded connectivity for ILL through the client/server model for all public libraries at an annual cost of $30,000. Full network access for all public libraries requires commitment of government to provide the network infrastructure reaching all communities. Other than on a dialup basis, this is not fully in place. Provincial Learning Network proposal calls for an investment of $10 million. Branch has delayed planning full network connectivity for public libraries in favour of the PLN proposal. The extent of direct patron access to Internet resources is not actively under consideration by B.C. libraries at this time. Until full network connectivity is realized and library resources on the Internet are identified and developed, direct patron access is a secondary goal. Manitoba For the purpose of ILLO: $100,000 per annum For ILLO and Reference: $130,000 per annum For ILLO, Reference, and Administration: $130,000 per annum For direct patron to Internet resources: $240,000 per year - would include ILL, Reference and Administrative use. New Brunswick Full Internet access: $1,556,083. one-time start-up and $125,000. annual operating costs. Newfoundland Full patron Internet access: $1,000,000. Nova Scotia For the purpose of ILLO: $63,000 annually - non available For direct patron access to Internet resources: $250,000 Ontario For the purpose of ILLO: $600,000 For ILLO and Reference: For ILLO, Reference, and Administration: For direct patron access to Internet resources: 2.3 Million as an absolute minimum for text-based (non-multi-media) access to the Internet, (to cover costs of computers and connectivity costs for one year only). To secure optimal public access from the provincial information infrastructure to globally available, multimedia information, Network 2000 calls for an investment over four years of $27.95 million in the technology infrastructure, $887,000 for network management administration expenditures, $3.3 million for network access, $3.6 million for training, and $18.8 million for local, regional and provincial database content creation. Provincial Library Project Grants (LPG) funding of $790,000 is anticipated for 1995/96, (pending 1995/96 budget announcements). $500,000 of this could be anticipated to be devoted to public library connectivity, and $200,000 to library automation. Remaining funding necessary for public access to global multimedia information resources is being sought as part of the Network 2000 application to ONIP. $790,000 LPG funding is anticipated. This will only cover costs for gradual implementation of multimedia workstations for public access to INFO or the provincial information infrastructure, and does not address the need for a broadband width network capable of transmitting multimedia information resources. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan public libraries are in the midst of negotiations with Sasktel and are unable to provide this information at this time. Provincial Library will be purchasing the electronic connection from Sasktel for the ten public library systems. This will create the communications backbone among these sites as well as provide limited Internet access. The library systems will be fiscally responsible for establishing connectivity amongst other types of libraries in their communities and to all branch libraries within their region. However, the Provincial Library will be distributing small, one-time grants of approximately $2000 to the ten public library systems to defray some of the costs of expanding connectivity to other types of libraries in their communities. In addition to the above, the library systems are hopeful for a federal infrastructure grant which would also be used to defray one-time costs. The infrastructure grant of $500,000 will be used to match local funds in the implementation of phase 3, to extend the network to rural Saskatchewan and the north. Yukon The costs for connections within the Yukon Government, plus the required hardware is estimated at $80,000. for all public libraries for full Internet access. Specific Public Libraries: Richmond Public Library (British Columbia) The cost of providing 1 public station in house was roughly $3500 plus the line charge of $750 per month for all staff and public Internet access. RPL is currently providing 1 public access station on a Mac with the Mosaic Browser in house. Plans are being discussed to increase the number of public access stations and also to become an Internet provider via dial up. Ottawa Public Library (Ontario) Providing that an Internet node connection for administrative and service use is obtained first, the cost of providing direct patron access is estimated at roughly $3,000 per OPAC station, since existing terminals will have to be replaced with PCs. The associated staffing, training and administrative costs have not yet been determined. Toronto Public Library (Ontario) $90,000 annually, including hardware, telecommunications, and staff administrative costs to provide full Internet access with a user ID, from library, home, or business.

[ Continued in Part 2 ]

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