A paper for the seminar "New Technologies and the Librarian of Tomorrow," part of the series sponsored by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, presented in Brasilia on 19 May, 1997 by:

Michael A. Keller

University Librarian
Director of Academic InformationResources
Publisher, HighWire Press
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6004

Brasilia, the first capital city of South America designed de novo and carrying the hopes of the nation of Brazil for a bright future, is an apt site for a seminar on "New Technologies and the librarian of tomorrow". Like Brasilia, before and after the realization of the dream of your President Kubitschek, the "new technologies" are derided and decried as much as they are regarded as the means through which to build a utopian society. Critics of the "new technologies" as applied in this age of information or age of communication regularly claim that not much of any worth has been made available and that much of value is being forgotten or perverted. "Sound byte" journalism, especially of the broadcast media focuses attention on the seamier, more prurient aspects of the Internet. Yet, in the U.S., many of our national leaders in government, in education, and in commerce and industry, see in the development of the "new technologies" the means for educational reform, the basis for continuing economic growth, and a channel for encouraging free markets and democratic societies.

There has been since the early 1970s increasing use of information technologies (I.T.), first in support of library technical service operations and now pervasively in all aspects of our work. There have been a few well-publicized revisionist writers, among them Nicholson Baker and Sallie Tisdale, in the pages of the New Yorker and Harper's Magazine, who have sought to portray the horrors of retrospective conversion of card catalogs and the encroachment not only of technology, but of the conversion of libraries from quiet havens for reading to busy (and therefore noisy) centers for the acquisition of information, often from digital sources. That such writers as these have taken leave of their usual subjects, sex and the exploitation of women in explicit adolescent fantasies, has apparently not deterred editors or readers of these popular (that is, non-scholarly) magazines.

Today I bring another message, one of another perspective, of more opportunities for librarians to guide and to shape their institutions for the new millennium.

First, let me give you a sense of my context. Stanford has assembled its University Libraries, most but not all of the libraries at Stanford, together with its academic computing organization. I lead this new organization with the awkward name of Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources. This long moniker can be reduced to a more mellifluous acronym, SUL/AIR. This merged organization has existed since 1994, but was proceeded by another more extensive merger in which both administrative and academic computing, the network and telecommunications group, and the university libraries were administered together. In this earlier incarnation, begun in 1990 or thereabouts, the process of the merger began and its power was immediately recognized. By 1994, it became apparent that the extent of desired new administrative systems was so great and the growth as well as influence of information technology (I.T.) on academic functions, teaching, learning, research, was increasing so rapidly that dividing I.T. between two realms with an overlap in I.T. infrastructure commonly owned was necessary. So it has come to pass that I became the University Librarian and Director of Academic Information Resources, which in Stanford parlance means director of academic computing, and co-owner of the network and central computing facility. In this capacity, I report to the Provost, who at Stanford is the chief operating officer, subordinate only to the President. There is also a chief information officer responsible for the administrative information systems, supporting functions such as core accounting, capital asset management, the donor files in the office of development, the tracking of physical plant and maintenance operations. This chief information officer reports to the vice president for finance, who, like me reports to the Provost.

From the earliest days of the merged organization which I lead, there has been the intent to infuse the philosophies, attitudes, and practices of professional librarians with those of the professional information technologists and vice versa. Our organizational structures, methods of reporting and coordination, program developments, and decision making practices have evolved to emphasize the dominance of the merger above either of the two sides of the organization.

The central message I have for you today is that the new technologies and the librarian of tomorrow are not just compatible, but are in fact already inseparable insofar as the practice of librarianship is concerned. Alas, too few information technologists yet recognize the correlative principle, but some do and more will as time passes.

It is of course insufficient for me to simply state the message and not give you evidence to support it. Since I know the Stanford situation best, let me use it, with perhaps a few other instances, to demonstrate the validity of my central message. And also, please forgive me for not presenting my message with a host of quotations from the literature or numerous metaphors or cute word games. The directness of the message, the supporting examples, and the style of my delivery are all essential parts of the methods for achieving and continuing the development of the librarians of tomorrow at Stanford.

Shamelessly, I will use the outline embedded in the proposal made to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by the Fundação Getulio Vargas in the section labeled "New information technologies: opportunities and challenges for the librarian." The topics contained under this rubric are:

1. Information technology developments: [their] impacts in the library environment
2. Service improvement through information technology
3. Transforming library management with the use of I.T.
4. Impact of I.T. in the traditional library culture
5. Managing automated libraries
6. Integrating library services: case studies

There will be a final section drawing upon each of the discussion of each of these topics addressing the characteristics of "librarians of tomorrow."

1. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT: [their] impacts in the library environment

Since the 1960s, I.T. has been used to share cataloging responsibilities among many libraries using the MARC record. The resulting on-line union catalogs then became instruments for research, the prime model of this being the Research Libraries Information Network, or RLIN, which saves a copy of each and every catalog record for each and every copy of the work described by the catalog. While there were attempts in those early years of the 1960s and 1970s to provide support for other library functions than cataloging and searching a union catalog, it was not until the 1980s that examples of integrated library systems which supported selection, ordering, fund management, serials control, cataloging and the on-line public access catalog, and circulation. These first couple of generations were unwieldy technically and operated merely as automated replications of traditional methods, processes, and functions. These early generations of I.T. for libraries did give us some excellent experiences, taught us to be critical users of I.T., and gave our readers much improved access to our collections and thus our institutions greater return on the investments in the collections. The pioneers of this period constructed the MARC record format, created name and subject authorities record structures, sketching the architecture for operating relationships between authority records and catalog records, introduced new cataloging rules (Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition), introduced on-line catalogs with Boolean searching to readers, and trained library staff members to use all of these new instruments. All in all, this pioneer period accomplished an enormous amount. Coincident with the second generation, that if integrated library systems mounted on local main-frame computers, but communicating across institutional boundaries by private networks, came the introduction of personal computers, one of the most pervasive and powerful influences on the use of I.T. in libraries, in education, and in society generally. At some level though, all of the innovations of the first and second generations either served to "speed up the treadmill," or "re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic."

Between the second generation and the present, third, generation of integrated library management systems, three other powerful I.T. innovations developed, that of the Internet, Internet "browsers" (e.g. Mosaic, Netscape, Internet Explorer), and the World Wide Web, the last making extensive use of hypertext and succeeding technologies. These innovations have prompted another stage of software production for library operations, which we in the U.S.A. call library management systems. Such systems are based on client-server technology and depend upon plentifully available desk-top computers, pervasive networks, and superb management of software and hardware systems. We can now see new possibilities and benefits to re-engineering our library operations. We at Stanford are dramatically changing the methods of technical services to use more I.T., rely less upon rote work by humans, and depend more upon work done by publishers and booksellers "upstream" of us. [Please see the background reading 1 & 2] In addition to this re-engineering, we are devising new kinds of catalogs based on hyperlinking and other new information technologies so our readers can find items of interest with greater precision and display the results of searches in ways to the readers' tastes. Once again at Stanford, we are re-engineering the circulation function so that readers will be able to check-out library books without involving a library staff member in the transaction and re-engineering as well the reference function.

First, let me briefly describe the design for re-engineering technical services. [no. 1]

We are working with a few of our most important booksellers to use the EDI [electronic dissemination of information] techniques begun in the European Community to send and receive order information, receive invoice and bibliographic records in digital formats for that the information in any of these transactions can be loaded either with out booksellers or at home at Stanford directly into our automated systems. In this way, we save numerous keystrokes and make possible the automated manipulation of information with minimal intervention by highly trained and highly paid staff. On the Stanford side, once bibliographic information and invoice information is received, it will be stored so that when the item itself is received, a process will be started when a staff member unpacks the package in which the item was shipped and uses a laser wand or reader to "read" a bar-code placed on the book or serial by the vendor. Then, the bibliographic record is separated from the invoice information and sent to the bibliographic database where it immediately is usable by a reader using the OPAC and updates an order record if there was one present. As the bibliographic information is loaded, a software device checks the fullness of the record to determine whether an automated search of the RLIN database, using RLG's Diogenes auto-search function which we helped RLG develop. If the record is incomplete, the auto-search function will continue for a period of time to try to capture a fuller record. Should no full record come into the system in a few months, the record will drop out for a cataloger to upgrade. Periodic quality control sampling will insure the quality of incoming records from vendors or from such bibliographic utilities as RLIN. The invoice information is sent to the acquisitions processing routine where ultimately a check is cut to pay the bookseller. In the meantime, the book is classified immediately and sent to the stacks in any one of our 18 locations, ready to be checked out by a reader. Books needing binding go through the detour to our external binder for that treatment.

This re-engineered method of technical processing involves fewer hands touching every book, every catalog record, and every invoice. This reduces the cost and time devoted to each item. We will use the specifications for record format and content with our booksellers, the quality control sampling methods, and exception reports to keep the quality of bibliographic records high. In addition, we use the BNA authority file maintenance program to keep our headings and cross-references completely up to date. This too is a highly automated process. Our estimate is that we can treat about 50% to 70% of our incoming new books in this fashion. So far, thanks to the start of implementation, we have achieved about 15% savings in staff costs in the technical processing departments. We are developing what we call a high production interface to minimize the number of screens of information which any staff must use to get information into the system. And overall, we are calling this kind of processing "Fast Track Processing." As the re-engineering process is not complete, and in a way will never be complete, we believe that new methods and insights will occur continuously, we expect to realize more productivity gains and thus savings which will allow us to reallocate resources, people and money, to other units of SUL/AIR.

There are more feats of re-engineering of technical services awaiting us. For instance, we are just now tackling the problem of serials control. We believe that a distributed check-in method will prove to be least costly, but we must build the software with our ILS vendor, Sirsi, before we can move forward. Another area we think will be helpful is that of material handling. Presently, books and other items must be moved laboriously from place to place in three or four buildings for processing. We are constructing a new building just for technical processing with a wide-open floor plan and extensive telecommunications grid served by a big shipping dock so that we can move a lot of material very rapidly. A considerable side benefit of this plan is that we get a lot of new space in the center of a busy campus for readers and collections from areas formerly devoted to technical services. The wide-open floor plan will allow us to change our minds and methods over the years as methods and materials change. Another benefit is that there will be fewer trucks delivering material to the center of campus than before.

In order to devise this new method of processing, we had to define the products of our processing system, observe the essential elements of the system (such as MARC records, books, invoices, etc.), then devise our new system based on an operations research approach. In particular, we did not allow "incremental" planning, the sort which results in small, evolutionary changes to the processing system. We set out to radically revise the system using I.T. as one of the key elements. I could clearly see that most, but not all, of the elements of a new scheme were floating around the world in one place or another. I then demanded attention and action of a particular sort, including the involvement of all staff in the process of re-engineering. It is here helpful to mention that one of my immediate subordinates resisted my determination to re-engineer and after a couple of warnings to get with my program, I had to relieve her of her job at Stanford. Her replacement took up the task with intelligence, strength and vigor and the re-engineering has proceeded smoothly.

An aspect of reader services which is vastly improved by the use of client-server technology and web-browsers is that of our new OPAC interface. [no. 2] We call it Socrates II, but eventually suspect that it will have another name. Here is the url:

http://jenson.stanford.edu:9001/prod/owa/su_in [ no. 3]

This was designed and implemented using Oracle web tools, but based on the Sirsi Unicorn library management system. In the design process, we had the valuable participation of the seminar of Human-Computer Interface led by Professor Terry Winograd. And we also tested the design with our staff and our library committees before releasing it in this fashion. May I point out several salient features. First is the simplicity of the design; it needs an advanced browser to work, but it does not involve any superficiality or obvious artifice. Second, we have used terms to label the various boxes which are not jargon terms in librarianship. Ordinary readers can understand what each box might contain. Third, we provide choices to the readers: language of source, location of expected items, format of items, some data parameters, and the opportunity to sort chronologically (old to new as well as new to old), by author, and by title. This last feature can be employed only when fewer than 50 titles result from a search. We are working on expanding this limitation. Let me provide you with a quick example of the interface using the terms "city planning" in the Subject box, which means that the Library of Congress subject headings will be searched and the word Brasilia in the Full Record box. The result is 24 records which we can sort in various ways, but first let me return to the original search screen and ask only for books in Portuguese. The result is now 16 records. If we examine one of the full records, say the fifth one, we can see a full record and then follow links from the subject headings and the corporate name headings to find other, related publications. Please note that after the original input of a few words by the reader, the rest of the search can be performed by the hyperlinking functions. Note also that one can mail the bibliographic records or download them to bibliographic citation software, such as ProCite. Parenthetically, I should mention that retrospective conversion of bibliographic records for all of Stanford's libraries is essentially complete, covering about 7 million volumes and numerous manuscripts and archival collections.

There is also an Expert Search mode which gives more control and description of all the indexes and operators so that an expert searcher can use the interface with greater precision.

It is appropriate at this point to state SUL/AIR's goal of using the web in strategic fashion to provide intellectual and actual access to academic information resources either at Stanford or accessible through SUL/AIR. The next page, that of the SUL/AIR home page is relevant. It is also appropriate at this point to move on to the next topic:


From the SUL/AIR home page [no. 4], one has numerous choices for next steps. Let me illustrate a few. One might go to the Reserves page to see the Reserve Search mode allowing, ultimately, a student to search for the reserved readings in a course [no. 5]. One might equally visit the list of all databases on the Stanford network [no. 6] or available through it; note that there are broad divisions of knowledge as well as an alphabetical list. There is a section with information about SUL/AIR [no. 7] including a staff list, open hours, and much more; this and an OPAC interface are very common attributes of North American library web-sites so I will proceed.

A brief survey of the highlights of the Medieval Studies [no. 9] web-based guide to the information resources available in that discipline is illustrative of what we are trying to do. Our intent is that ultimately every subject [no. 8] at a fairly high level will be represented with such a guide. These are first efforts and this one is a particularly good example. Note that the sections include references to printed resources, to microfilms, to networked resources, to cd-roms, and even to images. We deliberately did NOT assemble a committee to decide upon guidelines or rules for assembling such guides. Rather, we asked each bibliographer to prepare a few. We then asked the bibliographers to look at one another's guides and offer suggestions. Now, we are going to derive a kind of critical theory of such on-line guides to subjects and keep working on more such guides. Please note once again, that we are NOT developing rules or guidelines. We expect from one another a degree of independence in approaching and satisfying professional duties, even while accepting a common I.T. environment in which to deliver the various guides. Take a quick look at the site for Latin American and Iberian Collections [no. 10] for another approach. Of course, this program is one that calls out for collaborative development of such sites. Our curators could work very well across the net to build better, more extensive, and more current guides.

Another section of the SUL/AIR home page refers to academic computing support. I will dwell only on a few examples of these as most are on the computing side of the spectrum of my responsibilities.

The Academic Text Service [no. 11] provides many humanities courses with machine-readable texts useful in instruction as well as research. For a sample of the possibilities here, first scroll down the list of available texts and then leap to the section labeled "Web-based access". You can then search in a few corpora for interesting words and then link to the full-texts resulting from such a search. The process of converting all of our text-bases into sgml (i.e. standard graphic mark-up language) is underway and should be near complete by this time next year. Such texts are available only at Stanford i.p. addresses; I have opened them today to global access to illustrate this talk.

There is a similar service for social scientific data, but it primarily responds to requests from economists and the like by mounting locally held tapes of the U.S. Census, OECD data, and the like. This service as well as the one just mentioned provide extensive consulting services to their clientele.

Thanks to an initiative of Stanford's President, Gerhard Casper, in appointing a campus-wide commission to stimulate and validate the use of I.T. in teaching and learning, a commission upon which I serve, there has been a two year prototype of a new kind of professional [no. 12]. The program title is "Information Resource Specialists" and the individuals employed in the program are called "IRS Agents," a dubious distinction in America as the federal government's tax collecting agency is called the Internal Revenue Service or IRS. This hardy band of adventurers work 80% time physically located in teaching departments, evangelizing and supporting the use of I.T. for teaching, learning, and research. They have developed a number of innovative services for individual faculty and courses, some of which are visible through the web site mentioned in the accompanying list of background sources. For the remaining 20% of their time, they work together sharing experiences, successes and failures, essentially transmitting methods from one discipline or department to others. They also work as part of that 20% as part of the Academic Technology Support Service [no. 13] on the main floor of our principal service unit in academic computing, the Research and Instructional Technology Service [no. 14]. This IRS prototype has been so successful and so well received, that among the group of university officers we are now working to enlarge the program from seven IRS agents to perhaps 35 or 40, covering most of Stanford's departments. Another mark of success in this regard is the recent decision to move Residential Education Computing from the Office of Student Affairs to SUL/AIR [no. 15]. This will give us the means to project our instructional and information technology programs into each dorm and each dorm room as we have clusters in each living unit and are about 80% wired to each "pillow" in each dorm. About 95% of Stanford's students live on campus and about 80% of all Stanford students own their own computer.

A final example, one with stunning implications for and actual experiences in global communication of scholarship via the World Wide Web, is that of HighWire Press, a unit of SUL/AIR begun in 1995 [no. 16]. HighWire's mission statement is:

HighWire's first partnership was with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the publishers of the Journal of Biological Chemistry [no. 17].

There are presently 13 scientific and medical journals co-published in Internet editions by HighWire. We use the term co-published because we work closely with the print publishers, adding navigation and ultimately more information to each publication. There is also a project underway, partially funded by the Mellon Foundation, to create Internet editions of monographs, working with the Stanford University Press; this project is focusing at first upon books in the Stanford Press' distinguished series on Latin America. We are also contemplating a working papers series with various Stanford departments. To demonstrate some of the characteristics of HighWire Press journals, let me show you some aspects of the JBC, Science [no. 18], and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [no. 19].

This brief demonstration of Internet editions co-published by HighWire Press demonstrates the improvement in distribution of such articles, the utility of hyperlinking techniques to extend the reach of readers to cited and related sources, the vast improvement of searching in one and across multiple journals, the high resolution of images, the ability to present easily navigated articles and page-form images of articles, the possibilities for enhanced content beyond the limitation of print. HighWire is about to begin an improved mode of global distribution, providing local relay sites in a few locations in Europe and Asia and then more broadly elsewhere.

HighWire's staff includes information technologists, programmers, analysts, production specialists, librarians, business and fiscal experts, and a few strategic planners. It began with an investment of about $250,000 and now is a self-sustaining enterprise with a budget of about $2.0 million, run on a cost-recovery basis. We believe that we are succeeding in our various missions, but know that we must continue and co-publish numerous other high impact journals to finally realize our goals. As part of our effort to accomplish more, we have begun to migrate the HighWire program overseas. We have an Australian colleague from Griffith University in Brisbane working with us now at Stanford to learn our methods and soon colleagues will arrive from Germany. We anticipate other arrivals from Japan and Mexico. Our fundamental desire is to return to universities and other academic institutions, such as scholarly societies, the control of the literature of scholarship. [no. 20]


Since I began with a resume of the use of I.T. in library management systems and presented some details about the use of I.T. in library operations at Stanford, in this section I will reflect briefly on how I think I.T. has begun to transform the management of libraries.

At the most banal level, the use of spreadsheet and word-processing technology has made it possible for us to reduce the number of secretaries and bookkeepers while increasing our output. For most managers at Stanford this is a mixed blessing, but as we try to run a lean organization with as little management overhead as possible, these basic software tools are quite important. The use of such tools and other ones like them have required us to learn and to assign some new duties to the staff support people remaining. This work of supporting basic software in our library management offices is performed by about 15 "expert partners," all of whom but one perform in this role about 25% of their time.

At a slightly more elevated position is the use of I.T. to communicate. E-mail, internal bulletins, listservs and the like save us time and effort in connecting to our group of about 9 senior staff, 17 middle managers, and an additional group of 11 branch library heads as well as an administrative staff of perhaps 20 people. This small group of people are the key management personnel of an organization of about 500 full-time-equivalent staff. As you might have discerned from our home page, we also post news about SUL/AIR there, announcements of job openings, and notification of significant new information resources. [no. 21]

So pervasive is the use of I.T. and particularly web-based information among the senior staff and the curatorial staff that I have begun to put ISDN lines and provide desk-top computers in the homes of these people. The result of this program has been a measurable increase in productivity, due no doubt to the fact that the people I have chosen and encouraged are basically A-prime personalities, who, when given an opportunity, would leap to the task of continuing their professional work, even at home in the evenings or on the weekends. Furthermore, virtually all of my senior staff are equipped with laptop computers not unlike this one I am using to provide some web-based examples and Power Point slides so that when they are traveling, they are generally never far from e-mail contact, albeit at slower speeds than we prefer.

Perhaps of greater interest are a couple of documents presented to our Provost on the occasion of a strategic planning session intended to inform decisions for the coming years on strategic investments in information technology. Attachment B is a statement of planning assumptions used by SUL/AIR. And Attachment C is a statement of our plans for strategic engagement of I.T.

In the unusual case of SUL/AIR, I believe that the constant interplay of information technology professionals and librarians on programs of mutual interest and on the usual variety of problems or opportunities on a day to day basis has gradually changed the content of our conversations. Previously we might have characterized our different conversations as "ships passing in the night," observing one another's lights, but not really taking notice. Now, we are all on the same ship. I hope that it is not a virtual Titanic! A key aspect of the change has been my willingness and determination to force focus on functional issues and to reject arguments or propositions based on "turf" issues. We reward behaviors which take the broader, longer-term views. I should say that these same characteristics apply to the small party of university officers who run the university. There are only about 24 of us and we all conduct our business according to the same principles.

Another important aspect of I.T. transforming library management is that of entrepreneurial spirit. Thanks to HighWire Press, but as well to a money-making photocopy and network printing operation, relationships with document delivery companies and a coffee shop operator, among some others, we are all alert to possibilities to leverage our activities so that service to Stanford's students and faculty might also serve clients elsewhere, but for a price. The fact of the Internet has made possible notions of providing service to readers elsewhere without materially affecting local readers.


Many librarians in North America have been involved with computers via terminal emulation for almost 30 years. Now, we see the use of desk-top computers with good network connections with the result that librarians and their paraprofessional colleagues can see a much larger, if virtual, information space. They can see as well with the proliferation of nodes on the Internet and the seemingly inexhaustible supply of nonsense and garbage through which is salted a very few gems of information of genuine use and high veracity. Despite the Yahoos and the AltaVistas, the BioMedNets and Lycos, there is increasing need for librarians to perform their key functions (selection, description, interpretation, distribution, and preservation) for web-based and other digital information resources. At a place like Stanford, the progenitor and now constant companion of Silicon Valley, with 85% of its students equipped with their own computers and thousands more placed around the campus in clusters, in libraries, in offices, in labs, and in classrooms, the demand upon librarians and academic computing staff to answer questions, assist in building modules of computer assisted instruction, to assist students in writing multi-media reports, to retrieve and answer reference questions addressed from half-way around the world, the daily life and the constantly used tools of our librarians are vastly different than even a few years ago.

One of the major investments I have had to make was in new desk-top computers. And where formerly we might have used a five-year amortization scheme, we have found it necessary to switch to a three-year scheme. The reason for this is the rapid turnover in I.T. generations. We simply cannot keep up unless we switch out I.T. software and hardware fairly frequently. The bad news is that it costs more. The good news is that comparable investments, year-in, year-out, yield much better functionality each year. Memory is cheaper, operating system chips are faster and better, software works better and with smaller requirements for training.

A frightening incident demonstrates how the attitudes and expectations of our librarians have changed. Last November, a couple of rodents engaged in amorous play short-circuited a major switch in the Stanford power grid, bringing down the entire grid for almost 24 hours. Because we are the host for the BBN West Coast node of the Internet, we brought down a good portion of the western section of the North American Internet as well. Many in my organization were dumb-struck. What were they to do without their computers??? How could work proceed without the network??? Of what use were the library collections without lights??? Why doesn't the boss send us home??? The answer of course is that we could operate without electric lights because we had sunlight and lots of windows. And because our general stack collections are classified, we could assist readers in finding approximately the right shelf for their interests. We did have to purchase a lot of flashlights to seek titles in the stacks and to light lavatories for those needing to use them. We did not get much cataloging done and there was no searching of the OPAC, but there were lots of other tasks awaiting, as though set aside for a powerless day. As a result of this experience, we have installed a few more generators to provide power should more rodents feel like procreating in that particular kind of hot spot.

Another revelation of the impact of I.T. on traditional librarian culture is that of the planning assumptions for our new reading rooms and the new organization of our reference services. First, in renovating a building badly damaged by an earthquake in 1989, we have decided to install power and telecommunications fixtures for every seat in the library. Second, as we have assigned the reference function to what will amount to new spaces, we have decided to provide a single "Information Center" highly dependent upon I.T.-based information resources, yet staffed by our experienced paraprofessionals and graduate students to answer the bottom 75% of all reference questions (from "Where is the microfilm reading room" to "How do you spell ennui? to "What is the source for the quote 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'?"). Questions requiring in depth answers and the kinds of research assistance needed in defining topics then determining search strategies to get information to support the research will be referred to the curatorial staff. These high level professionals, most qualified with a Ph.D. in one of "their" disciplines, will have offices surrounding two large reading rooms in the central library complex, one room for the humanities and area studies and another for social sciences and government documents. The science specialists for the foreseeable future will reside in a series of smaller branch libraries, though there is a chance that we will build a single science library thanks to the predictable dominance of Internet-based scientific communication within the next five to ten years.

The meaning of all of this, including the remarks in the previous section, is that things have changed very much. At institutions like Stanford, much progress has been made by giving librarians and their staff lots of access to networks as well as meaningful involvement in planning for the new millennium. At other places, training programs, confidence-building seminars, and other didactic enterprises have been tried to encourage more creative and thorough use of I.T. The series of talks which has brought me to you here in Brasilia is an example of such an enterprise. However, at the root of the change is the fourth revolution in communication. The first was the invention of writing. The second was the Gutenberg Revolution. The third was that involving electrical transmission and broadcast of intelligible signals by telegraph, telephone, radio, and television. And this one, the fourth, is the Internet revolution. Its impact is very definitely felt on librarians, but as well on all knowledge workers.




I give you all the stories and descriptions I have just provided.

So, what then are the characteristics of librarians of tomorrow:

  1. They remember the fundamental functions librarians perform: selection, description and intellectual access, interpretation, distribution, and preservation.
  2. They remember that they are present to serve the current, local population of readers first, but also perhaps remote readers as well, thanks to the networks.
  3. They remember also that they perform a vital role as custodians of culture, assuring that the records of man's investigations and creative works survive for those not yet born.
  4. Many of them are subject specialists, expert and educated in a discipline as well as prepared to "teach" in structured and unstructured settings.
  5. Many of them are technical specialists, catalogers, circulation librarians, conservationists.
  6. Some of them were either subject specialists or technical specialists or both and then became managers or leaders.
  7. All of them are comfortable with the constant on-rush of I.T. and realize their fundamental functions must be performed regardless of the media or format of the information carrier.
  8. All of them are acutely aware of the need to be as responsive as possible to individuals even while translating a cacophony of individual needs and requests to systems and services intended to serve whole populations, whole communities.
  9. All of them will be ready to work with their colleagues in the next building, the next city or town, the next country or continent by using the communications potential of the networks.
  10. None of them will need a lot of sleep, for there will be more and more for them to do.
  11. Many of them will have strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Thank you for your attention.

Attachment A: Brasilia background documents and urls

Attachment B: SUL/AIR's Strategic Principles for technological Innovation

Attachment C: SUL/AIR's plans and aspirations for academic uses of information technology

Attachment A to Michael A. Keller's "Cybrarians" talk


1. On re-engineering technical services:

2. On implementing a client-server library management system:

3. New Stanford OPAC interface in beta form:

4. SUL/AIR home page:

5. SUL/AIR Reserves web page:

6. SUL/AIR networked databases


8. SUL/AIR's disciplinary web sites:

by broad division of knowledge --

as well as an alphabetical listing--

by type --

including a section pointing to electronic journals --

and a section identifying our subject specialists, our curators and bibliographers, arranged as a reader might want to find them, by their subject specialties --

concluding with a section on getting human assistance from the reference departments --

9. SUL/AIR Medieval Studies guide to information resources:

10. SUL/AIR Latin American & Iberian Collections guide to information resources:

11. SUL/AIR Academic Text Service:


including a sample of web-based access to sgml-coded texts:

12. Information Resource Specialists program

13. Academic Technology Support Service:

14. Research and Instructional Technology Service:

15. Residential Education Computing

16. HighWire Press, the Internet imprint of SUL/AIR:

17. Journal of Biological Chemistry:

18. Science Magazine:

19. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:


20. Abate article in BioScience on HighWire and other Internet publishers

21. SUL/AIR What's New Archive:

Attachment B to Michael A. Keller's "Cybrarians" paper

Stanford University Libraries
Academic Information Resources


7 March 1997

"Take calculated risks; balance risks against expected benefits."

A. Managing (or responding to) demand for technology

  1. Build user self-sufficiency-- at the podium, classroom seats, library tables, office desks, at every desk-top computer
  2. Use off-the-shelf applications wherever possible
  3. Adopt open systems principles, avoid proprietary systems
  4. Adopt cross-platform applications; hew to client-server principles
  5. Stay abreast of technology developments as demanded by faculty needs; adopt shorter refreshment cycles
  6. Install telecommunications & power for every seat as rehabilitation or new construction proceeds; install video and data connections in classrooms, other group study rooms

B. Coordination of initiatives & planning

  1. Stay in touch with CCS colleagues on networking and server issues; use central 7x24 facilities
  2. Maximize affinities with other campus technology providers
  3. Build organizations focusing on readers & users, the clientele
  4. Reward individuals and work groups which effectively share responsibility, development, resources across organizational boundaries
  5. Build & maintain seamless paths through sets of resources & systems (human, information, technological, bureaucratic, facilities)
  6. Ask V.P. for Institutional Planning to convene strategic I.T. discussion & planning group -- Provost, CFO, Heads of CTTL, SUL/AIR, ITSS, CCS, SCPD, CIE, ETVCo, Dean of Graduate School, Chair of C-ACIS, Chair of IAG
  7. Conduct round of site visits for sr. Leadership of campus I.T. service providers
  8. Continue greenhouse & cross-pollination effects of CTTL
  9. Balance desire for consolidation & low management overhead with need for flexible, responsive organizations -- support entrepreneurial behavior
  10. Balance need for tactical support for instruction (RITS, ASD) and classrooms (Registrar) with need for strategic development/delivery of curricula (ASD, CIE, SCPD) -- must do both.

C. Budget & investment decisions

  1. Anticipate industrial evolution (e.g. disintegration of Apple; domination of Microsoft, competition among browsers); adopt industry standards, esp. those adhering to our standards in A (above).
  2. Adopt constant re-engineering as mode of work, to re-allocate to meet demands, to guarantee flexible, responsive organizations
  3. Acquire, integrate, or develop systems which perform automatically & at 80+% satisfaction level; avoid hand-holding & need for constant oversight
  4. Limit exposures -- attend to the missions & services accredited to the overall organization; coordinate, collaborate, communicate with others
  5. Focus resources on facilities and technologies which "work;" make livable, not lavish environments for teaching, learning, research; adapt existing facilities wherever possible; install scaleable infrastructure

D. Policy issues

  1. Teach and reward responsive service ethic: "every encounter is a learning experience -- teach students, coach faculty."
  2. Exploit advantages of merged library/academic computing organization
  3. Maximize affinities with other campus service providers
  4. Encourage low affect behaviors; listening & inquiring are useful skills (see B.1.)
  5. Invest, take risks to keep and make Stanford competitive
  6. Plan & implement service & systems models which scale for growth
  7. Get reality checks frequently -- locally, among prime competitors, at large
  8. Cultivate effective partnerships (measure value for Stanford); de-emphasize others
E. Organizational issues (many incorporated in preceding sections)
  1. Consolidate experiences of service providers on the line to make most effective use of staff, other resources --
  2. Manage using matrix principles inside organizations
  3. Assign individual responsibility; do not confuse ownership
  4. Force and reward collaborative behavior

Attachment C to Michael A. Keller's "Cybrarians" paper

Stanford University Libraries
Academic Information Resources


7 March 1997

1. Use net- and web-based technologies for strategic through tactical views and access of actual information

a. High level web environment for discovery & retrieval for all formats -- in development

b. Development, testing, and adoption of new tools and methods -- a continuous process
(e.g. sideshow.stanford.edu:31074/index.html developed by Hitachi Advanced Research Labs with SUL/AIR involvement)

c. Based on traditional library principles of reliable sources and consistent methods of access

d. All involve participation of faculty and students in design, testing, constant feedback

e. Continue to build collection of digital information, meta-data pointers to print collections; develop and serve image collections; provide data, data manipulation (analysis, simulations, etc.) software, and consulting.

2. Develop new constellations of digital information and information services for Stanford

a. "Knowledge environments"-- disciplinary digital libraries -- content and services -- development based largely on outside funding (see url: lummi.stanford.edu/Media1/KEsunflower...user name = knowledge; password=sunflower ...follow the links)

b. Adopt vendor-supplied library management system, including on-line public access catalog; pre-release version available (see url: sucat.stanford.edu)-- expand to coordinate libraries

c. Expand coverage of subjects and topics in guides to disciplinary literatures (see url: www-sul.stanford.edu/collxn.html)

3. Expand Internet publishing venture, HighWire Press (see url: highwire.stanford.edu for mission and accomplishments to date)

a. science, technology, medicine journals

b. S.U.Press monographs, other monographs and reference works

c. S.U. working paper series

d. S.U. dissertations

e. clone to other locations (Australia, Mexico, Germany involved now, others in the queue)

4. Continue and expand support of instructional use of i.t.

a. modular, tactical through comprehensive, strategic (see RITS and ASD hand-outs;
RITS url: http://www-leland.stanford.edu/dept/SUL/rits/;
ASD url: http://lummi.stanford.edu/Media2/Homepage.html)

b. evolve and grow computer clusters -- demands for more clusters, esp in SEQ--problem of short generations of technology development

c. cope with demand and expectation curves of clientele -- shorter refreshment & amortization cycles

d. expand IRS program in phases (2 - 4 years) -- direct support of faculty use of I.T. in teaching & research

e. respond to CTTL initiatives, CTL programs, programs of schools and depts incl. SCPD, other distance learning

f. Res Ed Computing -- a variant on IRS program; grow to limit (not far off) (url: http://rescomp.stanford.edu/ResComp.html)

g. continue experimental classroom development (1/2-3 yrs) (url for the latest: http://www-leland.stanford.edu/group/ct/flexlab.html