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

Other Jurisdictions:

InterLINK B.C. InterLINK is a federated public library system comprised of twelve Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley libraries. The BC21 Proposal will connect any InterLINK library to the FreeNet and the Internet. Within this proposal public access workstations with modem and printer will cost $4,332. each. Internet connectivity for each library to access the Internet, including router, modem and software will cost $10,146.


A recent study stated that 20.9% of public libraries in the US have an Internet connection. 6.6% have direct, dedicated line access to the Internet. The cost of maintaining an Internet connection ranges from an annual average of $108 for small public libraries to $14,697 for large public libraries. Maryland Maryland's state library system has undertaken to provide free Internet access to the state's libraries. Known as the "Sailor Project" it will offer access to a gopher set up by the library system. Once connected users will be able to access many of the Internet's other information resources. Start up and first year operating costs were identified at just under $2 million.


6.1 Funding Issues Long distance charges The major obstacle to electronic communication between libraries is the cost of long distance telephone line connection from one library's computer to that of another library. Telecommunication costs, especially long distance rates, are prohibitively high for public libraries. Lines are inequitable and disparate and as long as charges are tied to time and distance rural, remote and northern locations will be severely disadvantaged. All of the provincial and territorial library systems contacted identified this as the major deterrent to development. Some pointed out that if the current long distance rate structure is maintained then it is most unlikely that all public libraries will be connected to the information highway. Hardware costs Hardware costs are generally a local or municipal responsibility. Funding is required for the hardware that will allow public libraries to act as public access points to the Internet and the information highway. A lack of capital funding, particularly for small libraries, places libraries at a particular disadvantage. Ongoing maintenance cost and rapidly changing computer technology is also a concern. Connectivity costs Funding is generally not available for ongoing connectivity costs. Libraries will need T1 connections if they are going to be able to deliver multimedia products. Also of major concern are the costs of retooling and developing interfaces between the variety of incompatible library systems, communication software and telecommunication platforms. Canada-Wide Inter-Library Loan The level of public library development across Canada varies from province to province. If all public libraries are going to part of a national system of information and library services, then obviously the weaker library systems will borrow more heavily from those libraries that are at a higher level of development. This will lead to unfair pressure on those systems. If a national public information system is to be developed the federal government will have to consider offsetting the lending and communication, and distribution costs of net-lending libraries. The lack of funding from the federal government dimishes both the will and the ability of public libraries to share resources on a national level. Interoperability Costs There is a wide range of different operating platforms, library operating systems and communication software in libraries. The need to retool library hardware and software and the need for interface technology and expertise is inhibiting development in this area. The variety of in-house automated library systems (public, school and university) makes electronic resource-sharing difficult since technical complications abound, and the cost of implementing standard protocols such as Z39.50 is extremely high. 6.2 Public Bandwidth There is a need to provide free public access to multi-media capacity broad band width to provide optimal public access to electronic, multi-media information. 6.3 Training The training of public library staff in the use of Internet and information highway technologies is a needed for both library staff and the public. The lack of technical expertise and/or unavailability of technical expertise at the local level, especially in the rural areas, is a major concern. There is currently limited funding available in some jurisdictions and no funding in others for training. Generally there is no coordinated approach and no body with primary responsibility for training and the need is great. Public libraries should work to ensure sufficient public awareness to promote the benefits of these new technologies and to ensure appropriate and effective use. 6.4 Content Issues: Copyright Copyright issues on electronically-available information have yet to be resolved. Copyright law must be updated to reflect digital realities. Settle copyright issues, so it is clear that users can print or download single copies of information for personal non-profit use without requiring payments to authors or publishers Liability Library liability, especially with public access terminals in the library, and accessing what information is on the Internet is a concern. Liability under the Criminal Code for access to illegal material through the library must be clarified (to ensure that the library is not held liable). There are no policy models to work from and no clear direction. Licensing Licensing issues are of concern. Not only the cost of obtaining licenses for providing access to various databases/services on the Internet, but also for CD-ROM products, mounting full text databases on local networks, and for printing from other databases. Providing access to library databases can also effect system licenses. There are serious concerns about the number of CD-ROMs for which networked versions are not available There is a need to obtain low cost provincial software and CD-ROM licensing rights for public libraries. Digitization There is a need for content, particularly Canadian content, on the information highway. Major attention needs to be paid to the development of local, regional and provincial content in digitized form. Public libraries have local resources which are already in the public domain which should be digitized and made available to the public. Collections 6.5 Internet Access Currently public libraries obtain Internet access through local universities, government accounts, FreeNets, and from commercial vendors. Access to the Internet through a Freenet is not sufficient access for a library to use the Internet as a reference and information source. Access to the Internet through commercial vendors and/or through personal contacts of staff through associations or university college sponsorship tends to be fragmentary and disparate. Commercial access does not provide for public access through public libraries because cost becomes a major factor. A coordinated approach to providing Internet access is required. 6.6 Information Policy Many provinces do not have an information policy or coordinated position with regard to the development of the information highway. Several do not have a single agency with responsibility for this or for library development across all sectors. The federal government does not have a policy regarding public access to the information highway, nor does it have a position on public libraries. In the absence of public policies or coordinating bodies dealing with public access to the information highway and the role to be played by public libraries it is very difficult to maximize resources through a coordinated development program. Governments must establish information policies to direct and coordinate the development of public access strategies. 6.7 Government Information Canadian citizens must be effective users of knowledge resources. As the largest publisher in Canada, the federal government can accelerate the learning process among citizens by making its information resources readily available via the Information Highway. Therefore, the federal government should develop and adopt policies to ensure that network access to all Canadian government tax-supported electronic information will be available to all citizens through their public libraries and other appropriate community information centres at no or minimal charge. An operating assumption would be that all such basic government information be accessible for public use, except when issues of privacy or national security are involved. 6.8 Standards Network standards need to be developed to ensure the interoperability of various networks and telecommunication links so access is seamless and broadly available. In a dynamic and changing environment, it is difficult to have universal standards. Rather there are numerous international, national, proprietary and de facto standards that continue to evolve. Nonetheless, it has long been recognized in the library community that sharing resources requires national bibliographic and technical standards for communicating and exchanging information. The National Library should continue to develop and promote the use of appropriate standards in the public library community. 6.9 Security Public libraries will have to establish firewalls to ensure data security once they obtain full Internet connectivity. This will increase the hardware costs for public libraries.


While there are no dedicated networks which link public libraries to the National Library, public libraries do use the Internet and Datapac to access National Library information and services. A variety of services are available using these networks, including: DOBIS Search Service: Over 680 registered organizations are using the National Library's DOBIS database via Datapac or the Internet to locate items for end users, to obtain cataloguing copy, or to verify bibliographic information. In the near future, libraries will be able to access AMICUS, the National Library's new system. Interlibrary Loans / Locations: Over 600 loan/location requests are received by the National Library's Interlibrary Loan Service on a daily basis, chiefly by electronic mail. Both Envoy 100 and Internet e-mail are accepted. Reference & Information Requests: Requests are accepted via electronic mail (Internet or Envoy 100), telephone, fax, and electronic mail. This service is available to supplement the reference resources of public libraries, public library systems, and provincial library services, and to provide more information on NLC programs and services such as the Canadian Book Exchange Centre. In addition to the above, libraries can access the National Library's gopher server via the Internet for information on NLC products and services, and as a 'gateway' to other federal government information sites. The National Library has a number of major initiatives which are either in progress or planned: AMICUS, the National Library's new, state of the art, bibliographic information system is in development and testing. Once this system is available, libraries and individual users will be able to check the National Library's online public access catalogue (OPAC) at no charge. There will be a fee-based version of the complete NLC data base, including access to the National Union Catalogue. Z39.50 /Search and Retrieve: An ongoing initiative relates to promoting and evaluating the implementation and use of Z39.50. NLC World Wide Web (WWW) Homepage, NLC Gopher: The NLC Gopher will continue to be available and is being added to. An NLC WWW server is being developed, and will be made available before long. Other initiatives include enhancements to PEB/ILL, NLC's interlibrary loan system, and the Electronic Publications Pilot Project, which, among other things, will make a number of Canadian electronic periodicals available via the NLC Gopher. 7.1 An Enhanced Role for the National Library. Depository Services Program and Directory: Libraries across the country are used as dissemination centres for government information through the Depository Services Program. It is expected that libraries participating in this program will continue to play an important role in public access to government information, particularly in assisting the public to navigate the electronic information environment. The National Library, in its role as guardian of all government published information, will be an access node to high-demand government publications, both print and online, through its interlending service, its on-site consultation facilities and its online information servers (AMICUS, Gopher, WWW). A comprehensive directory of both print and electronic government information will be needed to ensure access for all Canadians. Given the National Library's collections, expertise, and state-of-the-art AMICUS bibliographic system, NLC is the most logical federal government institution to exercise overall responsibility for the creation and maintenance of this directory. This registry of government information would make use of the AMICUS union catalogue which includes bibliographic descriptions and locations of current and retrospective government publications; uniform resource locators and registration numbers, which will be added to the directory for access to government electronic publications; Infosource, which contains information about the Government of Canada, its organization and its information holdings; National Archives information holdings which can be made accessible through AMICUS, and departmental inventories and catalogues. Registering Canadian Information on the Internet: The National Library can continue to encourage the development of mechanisms which inform the public as to what information is available on the Information Highway. Using the capabilities of AMICUS in support of the National Union Catalogue, the National Library could provide a mechanism for registry of Canadian information located on the Internet. This might be achieved in a variety of ways; one potential approach would be for libraries to catalogue Internet resources using AMICUS, including the universal resource locators (URLs) to permit direct access from AMICUS to the information. The National Library can also continue to provide Internet services such as its Gopher, which points to other federal government and library Internet resources. Standards: The National Library continues to develop and promote the use of national and international standards, including CAN/MARC (Canadian Machine Readable Cataloguing), the ISO Interlibrary Loan Protocol, and the Z39.50 standard, which allow libraries to exchange information, interconnect and share resources. An expanded role in this area is not proposed, but a sustained effort is. Canadian Content: The National Library has a support and enabling role in fostering Canadian content, national collections, and digitization. The National Library, through its close relationships with other federal cultural institutions, and other major libraries, could enter into an expanded range of partnerships to make more of the Canadian cultural heritage available to all Canadians through the Information Highway. These partnerships would contribute a great deal to a healthy, vibrant Canadian Information Highway. It should be noted that an expanded role would be most successful with additional funding. Pilot Projects The National Library should coordinate pilot studies and projects which would support more Canadians having access to information and library services at a lower cost. The National Library should conduct more pilot projects such as the one it is currently engaged in now on the storing and preservation of electronic information.


It is most important that the Government of Canada establish and define a clear federal role to support public libraries in the information society. Public libraries should be mandated to serve as the information safety net for society to prevent the development of information have's and have not's. The following identifies some of the specific roles that the Government of Canada could fulfill. Policy Development The federal government should develop access principles and policies with incentives for provincial governments to provide access. The federal government, including the Information Highway Advisory Council, should take a strong, proactive lead in developing copyright policies for the information age, to help facilitate universal public access to information. Regulation The federal government must create a policy, regulatory, and legislative environment that will foster the development of a public information infrastructure. From the library point of view, regulations must be established that: - reallocate funding and mandates libraries to expand their role as society's information providers into the electronic environment; - require the private sector to expand network connectivity to all offices, schools, libraries and homes, and ensure that it meets current and reasonable future bandwidth demands. Publicly supported educational institutions such as libraries and schools should have access to the Information Highway for a reduced rate, or that adequate bandwidth is allocated to not-for-profit institutions such as libraries. Regulation must also promote end- to-end digital service for basic telecom service and the development of the most effective and affordable high-speed networking to the user. Regulation should be used to lower telecommunications costs by requiring telephone companies and other carriers to fund a portion of the public access costs. Legislation The federal government could consult over, and develop an Electronic Public Libraries Act to guarantee universal, equitable public access to electronic information. Tax Policies Exempt public libraries from having to pay taxes for telecommunications or network development. Tax on library acquisitions (esp. GST) could be reduced or eliminated, including on software, databases and other content made publicly-available on the information highway. Public libraries should receive the same tax consideration as educational institutions. Grant Programs The federal governemnt should consider a series of grant programs to help public libraries become the public access points to the Information Highway. These programs should include: Hardware Grants: The federal government should establish a direct grant program to public libraries for the purchase of hardware to provide public Internet workstations. Equity and Access Grants: Project grant programs targeted for equity groups and public access, and flexible to changing community and economic need, are needed. In addition to targeting rural communities and First Nations, federal grant programs for information highway access can be expanded to include urban areas, where 95% of Canada's population lives. Initial funding targets in urban areas can include areas of high unemployment. The Government should continue the funding for the National Strategy for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, especially to ensure that all Canadians will be able to use the Information Highway without encountering barriers. Rural and Remote Access Grants: Public libraries in rural provinces require federal government infrastructure grants for libraries. An infrastructure grant is essential to generate the matching local revenues to extend the network past the cities that have regional library headquarters and to support the development of a multitype information system. Grants should be made available to remote and northern communities to cover the costs of satellite access. The National Library, through its existing services, plays an equalizing role at the national level, helping to ensure that all parts of the country have access to key library services such interlibrary loans, reference assistance, and book exchange services. In keeping with this equalizing role, consideration should be given to funding the National Library to allow it to administer the grant programs to public libraries in order to assist them in becoming successful on-ramps to the Information Highway. Operational Funding This should be a local responsibility but some seed money for development programs would be helpful. An infusion of federal government operational funding could help offset inter-provincial resource-sharing costs. Training Programs Training for library staff is critical and if done well could facilitate more cooperation between educational institutions and public libraries. The federal government should help to establish a national Internet training program for librarians, including content creation database development skills, and Information Highway access skills, especially in persons training or retraining to enter the workforce. Federal funding could also be made available for the predominantly female library, community archive and community information centre workforce, to help them to upgrade their skills so that they can access globally available electronic information. Federal funding could be further extended to help train the public to access globally available electronic information. The federal government could assist training by providing grants or other funding to the Canadian Library Association, National Library or provincial library associations, but it would be necessary to ensure that the training is offered in small centres and not just in major cities. Procurement The federal government could initiate Canada-wide licensing of shared software and information technology resources for libraries. The federal government could step up its efforts to redeploy surplus upgraded equipment to help libraries provide public access to the Internet. There may be a place for central purchasing to reduce costs of the equipment and standardize the equipment in use initially. Pilot Studies The federal government could help fund information technology implementation, virtual library, information highway awareness programs, and information highway access marketing pilot projects. Federally supported pilot studies at several types and sizes of libraries would be useful in providing information for others working toward Internet access. One pilot project should focus on the unique circumstances and needs of rural, remote and northern communities.


9.1 Canadian Public Library Strategic Plan With leadership from the National Library, library associations, and the Coalition for Public Information, public library representatives must develop a national vision and strategic plan to define a role and implementation plan to establish public libraries as public access points to the information highway. 9.2 Access - A Public Lane Accessibility is a major issue. There needs to be a guaranteed public lane on the information highway that protects the public interest and their right to access information. Public access to the information highway for those who may lack the necessary hardware or expertise should be provided through public libraries and community information centres. Every public library should be connected to the information highway. This connectivity must include full broadband access. The Coalition for Public Information has made the following recommendation in Future-Knowledge: The Report: "The information highway must have a public lane accessible to everyone. A toll-free lane on the information highway should be provided for institutions, such as, schools, libraries, community networks, hospitals, by reserving 20% of the carrying capacity of future broadband networks for public use and civic participation. The recommendation submitted by Stentor that telephone companies should fund community television should be extended to cover the recommended 20% public reserve. The public lane would be governed by the National Access Board". 9.3 Rural and Remote Access An infrastructure infrastructure must be put in place that can handle the traffic, not just along the main avenues but in remote and geographically disparate areas. 9.4 Telecommunications Costs The major obstacle to electronic communication between libraries is the cost of long distance telephone line connection from one library's computer to that of another library. Telecommunication costs, especially long distance rates, are prohibitively high for public libraries, lines are inequitable and disparate and as long As tax supported institutions, libraries should be exempt from long distance charges or at least have reduced rates or funding support to be able to access the information highway. Government services and information can be provided via the Internet only if there is broad public access, at low public cost, with an infrastructure that supports it and a policy and an independent body that organizes and runs it to serve the public good. 9.5 Equipment Funding is needed to ensure libraries and other publicly funded institutions can acquire the equipment, skills and training they need to help users navigate "the Net" and access the information they need. A basic Internet workstation should include: Computer with 486 processor or higher High speed modem (14.4bps) Color monitor Printer One phone line Mosaic or Netscape Direct PPP or SLIP access The estimated cost of the proposed workstation is $5,000. 9.6 Standards Standards is another issue. Network standards need to be developed to ensure the interoperability of various networks and telecommunication links so access is seamless and broadly available. This is a role for a national body. 9.7 Content The federal government should work with provincial and territorial governments to fund pilot projects leading to the development of a "library without walls' or "electronic" Library. New legislation may be required to establish a distributed, electronic library. The electronic library will require partnership agreements between authors, publishers, libraries and governments. 9.8 Copyright Copyright law needs to be reviewed to ensure that it does not create barriers to information, while at the same time affording appropriate protection for creators. Copyright issues must be resolved in such a way that the protection afforded to creators is balanced by the need and legitimate rights of citizens to use information, that is, to permit a flexible use of information by researchers, students, and the general public. Specifically, the Government must move to Phase II of the reform of Canadian copyright law, which deals with users' rights immediately. Reforms to copyright law should also consider the international context of the Information Highway, and the fact that information flows over borders freely. 9.9 Search Tools Governments should provide funding support to librarians and information services to develop tools for collecting, organizing, searching, archiving and preserving electronic information. 9.10 Training Training and the development of the necessary skills and expertise at the local level is another major issues. Many librarians lack the skills needed to use the Internet effectively. Even if libraries can obtain the necessary funding for development, they will need a broad range of skills to maintain service on an ongoing basis. The Government of Canada should provide support for a coordinated training program on the use of the Internet for librarians across Canada. The training program should cover (Stites, p.5): History of the Internet Tools for Communication (email and Listservs) Telnet Finding Aids (Gopher, Veronica, Hytelnet, WAIS, WWW) Finding Files on the Internet (Archie) Retreiving Files form Remote Sites (FTP) Understanding Your Audience's Needs Resources On and About the Internet Internet Training for Library Staff (Train the Trainer) Internet Training for Library Patrons It is recomended that 50 hours of training on the Internet are required to be proficient, and that 200 hours of practice on the Internet are required to achieve a reasonable level of comfort. The Coalition for Public Information could develop a packaged Internet training program for librarians for approximately $20,000. 9.11 Government Information Governments should make government information freely available electronically on the information highway and enable public libraries to provide public access to this electronic database. 9.12 Pilot Projects The newness of the information infrastructure means that we lack models and experience of the new governance structures, collection management tools, access systems, and digitalization processes and issues. The Coalition recommends that federal funding be provided to libraries to develop pilot projects that will define and create a digital library as a model for implementation across Canada. The Government of Canada should fund pilot projects that: demonstrate and evaluate the benefits, costs and issues of Internet use by public libraries, library networks and provincial library organizations. examine the effectiveness of Internet usage by librarians for answering reference questions, and to analyze the resources available on the Internet for timeliness, scope, and ease of use. 9.13 Public Awareness The Government of Canada, through the National Library of Canada, library associations and the Coalition for Public Information, provide support for an awareness campaign on the provision of public Internet access through the public library. 

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