e-mail in libraries

Karl Bridges cfkfb at eiu.edu
Thu May 29 05:11:29 EDT 1997

It seems that we should integrate new technology in our services 
as a library.  Telephone reference service over the Internet? OK.  As 
a reference librarian I don't really care how the question is asked -- 
in person, via e-mail, over the phone, carrier pigeons landing on the 
window sill.   
					However, we shouldn't get into the business of being a service 
provider.  Libraries are providers of information.  We use technology 
to assist in the provision of information to users.  We are not and 
have never been service providers.  We simply don't have the expertise 
or the resources to provide services on this scale.  It's simply not 
cost effective.
      I wonder if what is underlying this thread is the tension on 
academic campuses between library operations and that of information 
technology?  On many campuses information technology or computing 
services have taken responsibility for library operations.  In that 
context you could see some argument being made that the library should 
provide user services (like e-mail, Internet telecom, etc).

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