Electronic Information Resources: Access and Use

M. Shamsul Islam Khan
Head, Dissemination and Information Services Centre
ICDDR.B: Centre for Health and Population Research
Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212


The library is obviously the source of power of knowledge. In higher education and research, the use of library is a matter of concerns to students, teachers, and researchers. The exponential growth of literature often creates problems for them to access appropriate literature and their use. The problem has, however, considerably been resolved with the help of information and communication technology (ICT). The use of information technology for management and handling of information and data has grown significantly even in many least-developed countries, despite their economic constraints.

The use of information technology in libraries has been profoundly affecting all aspects of information acquisition, storage, and transfer. Its magnificent development has dramatically changed the mode of library operations and information services; we have now started to speak of a new type of information source, ‘knowledge base’.

Computer-based communications have not only widened the access to information and helped establish linkages with the professional colleagues and friends elsewhere, it has extensively facilitated message transmission, transfer and exchange of files and text, uploading/downloading, database access, interactive services, provision of bulletin boards and newsletters, job submission and execution, teleconferencing, teleordering, inter-library loans, creating user profiles, consolidation and repackaging of information for specific needs, dissemination of information, and so on.

Hundreds of thousands of monographic materials, journals, learning resources, databases, etc. are now available in electronic formats, and these materials can be accessed from the remote corner of a country, thereby increasing the use of information and literature and the efficiency of information services. Users are now more independent than before; they can access to these electronic formats from their home computers and search databases according to their needs.

Use of information/knowledge and literature: Library patrons need information, use literature and knowledge, and again apply that knowledge to generate new knowledge and information; this happens in a cyclic way (Appendix A). They need to use literature to keep themselves informed, to enhance their knowledge, to meet specific need(s), to educate themselves, to teach and for learning, practical application, research, and dissemination.

Sources of information/knowledge

Information and knowledge can be obtained from own self, friends, peers or teachers, print materials, audiovisuals materials, databases, and the Internet.

Library as an information resources centre

Library identifies, acquires, organizes, preserves, and disseminates information resources either
at the initiatives of the library staff or at the request of library patrons.

User categories in higher education, need of varieties of information resources, and determination of needs

Students, teachers, researchers, information professionals, and employees are the user categories in higher educational or academic institutions. Their needs vary, their information or literature-seeking behaviour also varies, and they need to be cared accordingly. Requirement of an individual needs to be individually addressed in an efficient way. Information resources also need to be accessed by them depending on their requirements—be they print materials and web-based resources. Information professionals, thus, need to initiate appropriate steps in determining their needs for information resources.

Information-seeker as a library patron
Library is used by various categories of people depending, however, on the type of libraries. Libraries exist for library patrons whatever may be their categories. Library users or library patrons are both users and promoters/supporters not because of the interest of library professionals but because of their own interest. Their major interest is that their desired information/materials are made available at a minimum effort in an appropriate format and when they need these.

Interface between information professional and information-seeker and the enquiry process
To identify and determine the needs of library patrons, effective interactions between information professionals and library patrons are essential to better serve the latter’s requirements for information or information resources. Interface involves much more than consultation, particularly while initiating for and/or conducting any bibliographic search. It concerns interactions between the inquirer and searcher, interpretation of the enquiry, selection of appropriate sources and searching techniques, and conducting the search. Thus, by proper interactions, the need can be sharpened to satisfy the information-seekers.

Some problems in relation to identification of needs and supply of literature
Personal experience shows that library patrons are, sometimes, hesitant, have time constraint, are not always open to tell exactly the requirement, do not know where to find their needed materials/information, and do not always get required information or material at a reasonable time.

Internet as an efficient source of information resources and easy access to web-based information resources
Over the last few years, libraries are becoming information resources access centres, while maintaining also the traditional library services. With the advent and applications of ICT, libraries are now becoming dependent on web-based resources available through the Internet. Internet, first developed in the USA in 1969, is the network of networks and is the largest computer network in the world. This global network “currently consists of an estimated 14,000 networks, 100,000 hosts, and 20 million users world-wide…” Thousands of journals and publications are now being made available in the Internet, thereby facilitating access to online journal articles and publications, in many cases free of charge.

Problems in accessing and using web-based information resources
Monitoring and tracking the availability of, and searching for, needed papers and publications are major problems in the web-based information system because the system is invisible. Information users/information professionals must be well-oriented with the Internet, web addresses of those organizations/institutions which put materials in their websites, and searching mechanisms. Library patrons and library professionals can register with the publishers of journals and other materials through the Internet to be alerted electronically on a regular basis.

Major Internet sources of information resources/databases
Some major international sources of information resources and databases are listed as Appendix B.

Concluding remarks

With the use and applications of information and communications technologies in libraries and information resources centres, the information/library professionals are required to respond to the new environment for new roles and new careers in information acquisition, preservation, and transfer. They need to be responsive to the growing need of the time. New kinds of competencies, skills, and experiences are required to respond to the need of the time that extends beyond the traditional library setting. At the same time, persons involved in higher education (and research) programmes are also required to intensively orient themselves with the mechanisms and techniques of accessing and retrieving their desired information and information resources from the web-based information system

Despite the enrichment in skills development, the problem may still be there regarding how to fulfill the needs of information users/library patrons.

Appendix B

Major Internet sources of information resources/databases

AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) (http://www.aginternetwork.org)

BioMed Central (http://www. resource-al location .com/)

BMJ Journals (http://www.bmjjournals.com)

Development Gateway (http://www.developmentgateway.org)

Development Gateway (http://www.developmentgateway.org)

DynaMed (http://www.dynamicmedical.com)

Free Medical Journals (http://www.freemedicaljoumals.com)

HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Health Initiative) (http://www.healthinternetwork.org)

Medical Journals and Books (http://www.gfmer.ch/MedicalJournals/Free_medical.php)

Medline/PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Open Access Medical Journals [2] (http://www.inasp.info/health/links/ejrlsdir.html)

Oxford University Journals Online (http://www3.oup.co.uk)

Popline (http://www.jhuccp.org/popinform/basis.html or http://www.jhuccp.org/popinform/expert.html)

Science Direct (http://www.sciencedirect.com)

Springer Journals (http://www.springerlink.com)

Useful Journals (http://www.ukhen.org.uk/journal.htm)

Higher Education Websites

Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research

Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education

National Association for Women Educators

Council of Higher Education Management Associations

Association for Institutional Research

Technology in Education

American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Higher Education Processes Network

American Association for Higher Education

Educause Institute

Public Higher Education Program

ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges

•    National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

•    Society for College and University Planning

•    American Council on Education

•    Association for Institutional Research

.    Distance Learning Resource Network

•    Distance Education and Training Council

•    Online Distance Education Learning Resource for Adult Students

•    International Conference on Technology and Education

•    Educational Technology World View

•    University of Colorado at Denver (Distance Education)

•    Southern Regional Electronic Campus

•    United States Department of Education

.    Walden University

•    National Academic Advising Association

•    The Alternative Higher Education Network

•    International Association of Universities

•    National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

•    History of 20th Century Education: Selected Issues

•    Historical Renaissance

•    Center for Studies in Higher Education

•    Center for the Study of Education at Penn State University

•    Freshmen Scholars

•    University 101

•    Oregon State University

•    The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University

•    Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction

•    Higher Education Research Meta-lndex

•    Higher Education Processes Network

•    Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System

•    National Adjunct Faculty Guild

•    Catalyst Journal for Community College Educators

•    Educational Testing Service Network

•    National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)

•    US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education

•    The Policy Center

•    American Association of Colleges and Universities

•    Historically Black Colleges and Universities

•    Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities

•    Western Governors University

•    Jones International University

•    Breaking the Social Contract: The Fiscal Crisis in Higher Education

•    Instructional Technology and Higher Education: Rewards, Rights, and responsibilities

•    Religion and Higher Education: A Case Study of Baylor University

•    Toward the Development of School and University Partnerships

•    Florida Association for Institutional Research

•    Vocational Education Resources

•    University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Curriculum Development Testbed

•    Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

•    Ed Excellence—The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

•    Education Policy Analysis Archives

•    First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet

•    Higher Education Assessment. Inter Ed: Information for Better Education

•    The College Quarterly: A Journal of Professional Development for College Educators

•    Philadelphia Online-Higher education

•    Scholarship and Education in Medieval Europe

•    US News College Rankings

•    Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education

•    Leadership Education and Development Program in Business

•    New York State Education Department: The Office of Higher Education

•    Higher Education Partnership

•    The Foundation for Independent Higher Education

•    American Association of University Women

•    American Association of State Colleges and Universities

.    American Association for Higher Education

•    American Association of University Professors

•    Association for the Study of Higher Education

•    Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

•    Chronicle of Higher Education

•    Council of Independent Colleges

•    Education Commission of the States

•    ERIC – Clearinghouse of Higher Education

•    Florida Division of Community Colleges

•    The Institute for Higher Education Policy

•    Journal of Higher Education

•    Kellogg Commission On the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities

.    National Association of Graduate Professional Students

•    National Center for Educational Statistics

•    National Center for Postsecondary Improvement

•    Society for College and University Planning

•    State Statutes on the Internet

.    The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government/Higher Education Program

•    Universities and Community Colleges – Websites

•    Vision 2010

•    Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education

•    Effective Teaching: Cybrary




•    Useful Links

Higher education online

•    University Online

•    Globewide Network Academy, including GNA’s Best of the Web ’94 (Best Campus-Wide
Information Systems); Distance Learning

•    The Chronicle of Higher Education Internet Resources citations

•    Foundation for Independent Higher Education

•    [ERIC] (Educational Resource Information Center)

•    U.S. Department of Education Online Library

•    Infomine

•    Chemistry Information on the Internet

•    Social Sciences Data Collection

•    The University of Wisconsin Center for Demography and Ecology Data Library

•    The UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for Research in Social Science Data Archive

•    World Bank Social Indicators of Development

•    National Archives and Records Administration Center for Electronic Records

•    Survey Documentation and Analysis

•    Graphical Maps and Images

•    Information SuperLibrary

•    Journal of Internet Cataloging

•    Rutgers University’s Report on Electronic Publishing and Tenure, which also incorporates
recommendations concerning teaching and service

•    Electronic theses and dissertations in the humanities

•    Berkeley Digital Library Sunsite

•    How to Write a PhD Thesis

•    Infomine

Accessible resources

.    Internet Resources in HIGHER EDUCATION

•    Webreference

•    Distance Learning Sites of Interest

•    A Guide for Writing Research Papers based on the APA Documentation

•    Referencing: A Basic Guide for Students

•    Guide for Citing Electronic Information

•    Columbia Online Style: MLA-Style Citations of Electronic Sources

•    On Line Atlases, and a Global distance calculator

•    On Line Journals

•    Syllabi and Courses On Line

•    Books and Hypertexts

•    Higher Education Online

•    On Line Dictionaries, Thesauri, and Cyberpedias

•    Class/Individual Student Projects?

•    Teaching and Studying Abroad Info

•    Copyright Questions and Answers by Joe Burns

•    Writers And Their Copyright Holders

•    Infoplease.com

•    InfoSeek Guide

•    Lycos

•    Open Text

•    Search Satellite

•    Search for a personal Homepage

•    WebCATS library catalogues on the World Wide Web

•    Yahoo

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