Naomi C. Broering

Medical Center Library
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20007, USA
E-mail: broerinn@gumedlib.georgetown.edu

Keywords: Library Information System, Resource Sharing, Internet, Electronic Mail, E-mail, Document Delivery, Library Management Information System, Digital Images, New Generation Information System, OPAC, Online Public Access Catalog, Databases, Medical Library, Georgetown University, MEDLINE, US Department of Education - College Library Technology and Cooperation Grants Program.

Abstract: In 1992, the Dahlgren Memorial Library at Georgetown University received a Grant to launch a three year Library Information System (LIS) Resource Sharing Project from the US Department of Education. The project enables Georgetown to spearhead a collaborative program with a consortium of 41 libraries to design several dynamic, "next generation" library system modules. The consortium, founded in 1986 to engage in joint LIS development activities, is known as the Friends of LIS (FLIS).

The project goals are to enhance electronic access and improve delivery of information in various print and non-print formats for resource sharing, and through this advanced system, improve medical education, research and patient care. There are four project objectives: (1) Create Internet Access to Share Databases; (2) Accelerate Transmission of Documents to Users; (3) Provide OPAC Access to Digi-tized Images; (4) Generate Outcomes and Evaluations by developing a Library Management Information System (LMIS). The well qualified George-town project staff were joined by a Project Design Advisory Panel comprised of FLIS Board and Task Force members.

The project implications and significance are profound in potentially changing the library service paradigm and shaping delivery of information in the future. Unique project features are use of Internet not only to access other library catalogs, but to have a central menu of FLIS databases with transparent transfer capabilities to whatever data-base a user chooses regardless of geographic location. Automatic online access to document delivery directly from a literature search is provided from miniMEDLINE, Current Contents, Bioethicsline and the OPACs. An innovative milestone under deve-lopment is the search and display of images through the online catalog. Users will navigate easily, unaware of the underlying technical complexities. Another significant milestone is the development of a Library Management Information System (LMIS) to allow the FLIS libraries to organize data efficiently, improve their reports and complete national library association questionnaires such as ARL and AAHSLD. Georgetown’s commitment is demonstrated by its generous contribution to the project from its scarce operational funds and resources. Without the grant this project could not become a reality.

This paper focuses on the project accomplishments of the first year and covers plans for the second and third year.


Today’s practice of medicine is extremely information-intensive. Health science professionals depend heavily on access to varied information resources to make intelligent and informed choices for education, patient care management and research protocols (Davis, 1987).

Libraries and librarians who serve medical clientele face a paradox. Health science disciplines are highly specialized, yet users need a broad, multi-disciplinary approach. Information and know-ledge continue to grow exponentially, but the purchasing power of resource dollars to build collec-tions have decreased. Library collection growth has stabilized, user information demands have escalated. Library measures to maintain self-sufficiency are laudable, but unrealistic goals (Broer-ing, 1986).

Several authors have addressed these contradictions and have concluded that the solution for libraries and users lies in building and strengthening networks and engaging in resource sharing projects. In 1975, de Gennaro suggested that the emphasis for libraries should shift from holdings and size to access and services. At that time, he predicted that computer technology would have its greatest payoff for libraries as a tool to assist librarians in developing and operating networks and other mechanisms for resource sharing (De Gennaro, 1975). Similarly, Kronick (1982) reached the conclusion that libraries can no longer afford self-sufficiency and he suggested that a more attainable goal is "mutual sufficiency" (Kronick, 1982). The growing resource sharing trend of the 1970s and 1980s, which is even more feasible today through high performance computers and networks, is bound to become an essential part of library operations in the 1990s.

At Georgetown University, for example, the Dahlgren Memorial Library has undertaken the task of developing a Knowledge Network that provides access to a family of bibliographic, informa-tion, diagnostic and research databases. The strategy was developed in 1985 as part of a multi-phasic, ten year project supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to plan, develop and imple-ment an Integrated Academic Information Management System (IAIMS). It has further enhanced cooperative endeavors with the medical libraries that use the Georgetown Library Infor-mation System (LIS). Collaborations with these institutions began in the mid-1980’s and have increased rapidly since 1990. Some of the most notable features are the Dahlgren Library’s ability to design functional models for the integrated LIS, to develop educational software that integrates print and non-print materials, and to expand the IAIMS Knowledge Network of health sciences databases. Through the IAIMS network, users at Georgetown are also linked to other university resources including the collections of all campus libraries (law, medical and main campus). The two paths of LIS and IAIMS have served to expand the library’s traditional role in information management and now places it in a position to explore even further (Broering 1988; Broering, 1985).


The Dahlgren Library was awarded a grant from the College Library Technology and Coopera-tion Grants Program of the Department of Education in 1992. Under this program the Dahlgren Library launched a three year Library Information System (LIS) Resource Sharing Project to pro-vide electronic access and delivery of information in varying formats to a consortium of libraries that all use the Georgetown University LIS. The project design include a collaborative network of databases, document delivery, digitized images and an information management system to extend services to LIS user libraries.

The LIS consortium is a users group called Friends of LIS (FLIS). The 40 FLIS libraries (27 member and 13 affiliated) use the same integrated library system and share a common mission, interest and need. FLIS engaged in a planning process for nearly two years to identify current and future library system needs. They placed high priority on economic measures for the 1990’s, and the intent was to join forces by linking to one another’s systems and consolidate the limited resour-ces. As a group the plan was to provide access to more information and databases than they could get as a single library. They recognized the benefit and strengths of collaborating to develop new services previously unavailable to their patrons. Georgetown agreed to serve as project leader and to design and develop special modules that were identified by the FLIS consortium.*

The introduction of new low cost information technologies offers an opportunity to apply powerful new tools to enhance the role of the library in the Information Age. The LIS, developed in 1981 by Georgetown, enabled us to examine technical methods of addressing unmet user needs. Because LIS has been shared with other medical libraries since 1982, and because Georgetown is committed to the concept of resource sharing, the 28 participating libraries have an ideal environment for a successful collaborative project. The aim of the LIS user libraries is to develop a "next genera-tion" system (LIS NET II) that will incorporate additional databases, new formats and networking features needed to meet current and future demands of users.

The GOALS of the project are:

• To improve medical education, research and patient care by expanding the Library Infor-mation System (LIS), an integrated system, used by over 40 medical libraries.

• To enhance access to and delivery of information by providing LIS member libraries and their users with access to the collective resources and information formats at Georgetown and the FLIS libraries.

LIS needs enhancements that will facilitate transparent network access to large databases housed at Georgetown and at member libraries. To accomplish the project LIS also needs capa-bilities for electronically transmitting requests and documents to users, for providing access beyond traditional print collections to non-print materials, for digitizing and indexing images of medical slides to access through the online catalog, and lastly, for evaluating and reporting use of the enhanced system by means of a library management information system.

To accomplish the project there are four OBJECTIVES:

• Create Internet Access to Share Databases.

• Accelerate Transmission of Documents to Users.

• Provide OPAC Access to Digitized Image Collections.

• Generate Outcomes and Evaluations via a Library Management Information System (LMIS).

In this project, Georgetown and the FLIS libraries are using the IAIMS network capabilities to provide access to their systems for resource sharing purposes. The economic benefits are immense, but most exciting to the library community is the resulting image lifting potential for the participating libraries. As LIS libraries provide more automated services, their role within their own institution will be continually strengthened because the collective resources will become indispensable to users. Working cooperatively through on-going collaborations, the libraries will design highly useful LIS modules, offer more services, and make greater accomplishments than they would achieve as a single unit.

In establishing itself as a "library system of the future," the LIS has embraced computers and telecommunications networks by investing heavily today for a potential "pay-off" tomorrow. The strategy is to continue the momentum begun in the 1980’s by engaging in innovative projects that allows the libraries to continually develop new services. This project offers the prospect of enrich-ing and strengthening the role of the LIS libraries, but more importantly, of developing a system univer-sally useful to a broad range of users throughout the country.

This resource sharing project is an outgrowth of a long tradition of cooperation and consortial arrangements among the FLIS institutions. It is a natural extension of services which the libraries have been providing for each other throughout the past two decades. Technically, LIS is an integra-ted system which includes circulation, public catalog, acquisitions, serials management and biblio-graphic databases. Although interlibrary lending and borrowing occur daily through the Regional Medical Library (RML) program, the LIS user libraries intend to exceed these traditional services and offer a variety of high technology services. They intend to share access to databases such as the LIS online catalog, MEDLINE, Current Contents, Bioethicsline, PDQ, drug information systems dia-gnostic systems and other in-house databases.

A few are described below:

The Library Information System (LIS) The online public access catalog includes all the print and non-print holdings of the library. It also includes software, audio visuals and computer. The LIS is based on a MARC record and uses the NLM MESH vocabulary.

The miniMEDLINE SYSTEM™ a self-service bibliographic search system based on the NLM MEDLINE files, was developed for users in 1982. It began with reference cita-tions, but was expanded in 1985 to include abstracts. The library is currently installing full MEDLINE on the miniMEDLINE software. The next logical step, to provide access to full-text is imminent.

The Alerts™/Current Contents® search system comprised of the Institute for Scien-tific Information (ISI)Current Contents tapes was designed in 1986. The database has all five section of Current Contents.

In-House Databases implemented from 1986 to the present include: The Micro-Medex Drug Information System, several drug and toxicity indexes, this includes the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR), Physicians Data Query (PDQ), a cancer treatment protocol system from the National Cancer Institute, RECONSIDER, a diagnostic promp-ting system from the University of California, San Francisco, and a series of Molecular Biology databases including: GENBANK and the Protein Identification Registry Sequence databases of the National Biomedical Research Foundation at Georgetown.

Stedman’s Medical Dictionary was installed in 1992 as an experimental system. This dictionary is used by the Georgetown medical students. With online access the students do not being heir dictionaries to the campus.

Medical Facts File a full-text database of commonly requested information begun in 1989 with a module on instruction to authors for publishing in medical journals.

An "Electronic Textbook" in Human Physiology a Macintosh based educational system that integrates text, images, animation and voice. The modules include the cardiac, renal, and endocrine systems.

A Microanatomy Digital Slide Library of nearly 500 images used by medical students.


Concerted planning was undertaken two years ago to determine the parameters, feasibility and technologies for an expanding LIS that would address next generation user needs. The project builds on Georgetown’s past experience, those of other FLIS members and our findings. We examined various suitable technologies and reviewed the current literature on other library systems, library resource sharing and existing networks (Arms, 1990a-c; Arms et al, 1988; Britten, 1990, Herzog, 1990; Lynch, 1989).

In the May 1991 FLIS meeting, a presentation to the FLIS board and full membership on the Georgetown vision for enhancing LIS. It included a program to develop LIS II which has now become known as LIS NET II. The presentation included an outline of future plans, with handouts covering the ideas of the FLIS tasks forces and the meeting attendees.

After further technical planning, in November 1991, a second presentation was given at the FLIS mid-year meeting. It included additional details on what Georgetown could develop in the future. Because Georgetown does not have the financial resources to design the programming work, it was decided to write the grant proposal to cover part of the development costs; i.e. personnel, equipment and other related costs. The FLIS chair, Trudy Gardner, PhD, Library Director, Rush University, provided invaluable input to this author, and the member libraries agreed to endorse the proposal. The FLIS Board and selected FLIS Task forces are serving as a Project Design Advisory Panel (see Figure 1).

What was envisioned for the LIS II system were capabilities in which the following scenario could become a reality:
Scenario of the Vision: It is after midnight. A patient at an inner city hospital goes into crisis and presents with unusual symptoms. The medical resident on duty acts quickly to handle the patient’s immediate care and then begins to plan for longer term management. The usual channels of information-gathering are not available at this late hour. The medical library is closed; colleagues are not at the hospital. The resident has alternatives choices, however, because his institution has online information resources available at workstations close to patient sites. At the nearest workstation, the resident taps into several online re-sources, in rapid succession, to formulate plans for managing the patient at hand. He uses a drug information system, literature databases, and a file of full-text articles. What he does not know is that none of the databases he uses this evening are located at his institution. He has tapped into a system of "shared resources" created by a consortium of 40 libraries that are geographically dispersed throughout the United States. Access is made possible through the Internet with a communications protocol that guides him invisibly from one geographic area to another, wherever the particular information resource is located. The drug system, initial literature databases (miniMEDLINE 5-year file and Current Contents) , and the full-text article files are located at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The full MEDLINE database is at Rush University in Chicago. The resident is in a University Hos-pital in Lubbock, Texas. Multiple institutions, in a consortial arrangement, are sharing their unique information resources to broaden the knowledge base available to their combined constituents. Shrinking budgets have compelled libraries to develop consortial projects for resource sharing. Technology has now made it possible to share these resources electro-nically.

Figure 1: Project Design Advisory Panel


The development of the LIS Resource Sharing Project is an inevitable step for the decade of the 1990s. The libraries already have three key components in place, unique information resources, institutional capabilities to provide online systems, and institutional internal networks. The task that remains is to link their unique resources across geographical boundaries and provide users with the broadest access possible to the ever increasing body of biomedical knowledge (Hunter, 1984; Koska, 1990; Walker and Thoma, 1990; Yamamoto and Wiebe, 1989).

Georgetown plans to carry out the project by involving ten FLIS Libraries in one or more of the proposed objectives. They will assist in the development and testing of the prototype modules. Later when the system becomes fully developed, plans are to implement it at the remaining FLIS libraries. A three year schedule has been developed for the following phases:

Phase I: Create Internet Access to Shared Databases

Phase II: OPAC Access to Digitized Images

Phase III: Generate Outcomes and Evaluations

Phase I: Create Internet Access to Shared Databases

To develop access capabilities the first step was to convene a meeting of the FLIS Task Forces whose responsibilities include: (1) Gateways/E-Mail; (2) miniMEDLINE and Current Contents databases; (3) Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery; (4) Online Public Access Catalog; and (5) Statistics/Reports. The meeting provided a forum to discuss aspects of implementation, allow active participation of member libraries at all stages, and alert participants to technical problems that could be encountered.

The participating libraries experimenting on Internet access are:

• University of Tennessee at Memphis;

• Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston;

• Rush University in Chicago;

• University of Texas at San Antonio; and

• Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

The choices of databases and the menu to be developed is similar to the existing Knowledge Network menu used at Georgetown. However; the final menu will include only those databases selected by the participating libraries.

- Internet Access: Protocols were developed to establish technical parameters and routing/switching pathways required for Internet Access by participating libraries. The user libraries will enter through Internet to the Georgetown system where the central FLIS menu will display database choices. They will have access to the Knowledge Network and to the FLIS OPACs and other selected databases (Figure 2) Pathways will be established to provide users with access to a

particular library or to a specific database. Specifications will be developed for routing requests and switching from one FLIS site to another (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Internet Access to Shared Databases

- Implement Document Delivery System at FLIS Sites: In the first year, George-town developed a Document Delivery System (DDS) module as a component of the LIS for delivery of photocopied articles and interlibrary loan services. The DDS is linked to Georgetown’s Online Catalog, miniMEDLINE, and Current Contents databases. Currently, users conduct searches and select the document delivery command to request an article or book. All transactions are conducted electronically. In most cases, facsimile transmission is used to transmit articles and book chapters within the Georgetown campus and external destinations. The DDS module is also being imple-mented at two FLIS libraries, in order to test remote delivery. This means three libraries will have the DDS during the project.

• University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

• Southern Illinois University

• Georgetown University

- Provide Links from LIS Databases to a FAX Service: The DDS links from the LIS Online Catalog and the miniMEDLINE databases to a FAX service. Links will also be provided to the Current Contents database for the two participating FLIS libraries. The two FLIS libraries participating in this aspect of the project will be able to request documents from Georgetown or, in turn, provide Georgetown and each other with documents. The transmission mode will be done via the Internet Access. Georgetown will train the library staff to use the DDS.

Phase II. Provide OPAC Access to Digitized Images

Georgetown will test the concept of providing online digitized images at a user workstation, locally, as well as transmitting via the Internet Access. We reviewed the literature on technical aspects of image management and transmission. Technology is available with "windowing" capabilities to provide text and images simultaneously and still retain the integrity of high-quality resolution needed in medical images (Seloff, 1990; Stone and Sylvain, 1990; Keefe, 1990;

Buckland, 1991; Besser, 1990; Lynch, 1991).

Georgetown has digitized a library of 500 microscopic anatomy slides and a portion of the Ciba/Geigy medical illustration slides. Each slide will be cataloged to provide bibliographic control for individual images and easy subject access for users through the LIS Online Catalog. George-town also has other digitized image projects in development, including the "Electronic Textbook in Human Physiology" and the "SuperPATH" educational software. All these projects are Macintosh based. Georgetown and Cornell plan to experiment on indexing and accessing digitized images through their library OPAC.

Even though we are beginning with slides, the Image Workstation is important for libraries because it can be adapted to several types of library materials, i.e., full text, slides, educational items, pictures, archives and medical instruments or museum objects. The procedures for scanning, index-ing, storing and transmitting involve similar technical issues (See Figure 4).

Currently, we are developing search/retrieval software for the digitized images. Search routines will be consistent with the OPAC. In the "Sending" stage, images have to be compressed, stored, and retrieved. In the "Receiving" stage, the images must be decompressed and displayed. FLIS will provide input and project staff at Georgetown will program, test, and modify the software before releasing.

At Georgetown, a microanatomy image slide library is stored on a Macintosh server (See Figure 5). Each fully cataloged image will have a bibliographic record in the Online Catalog which is available on a VAX minicomputer. At a Macintosh Workstation, an item number that is part of the catalog record, will be used to retrieve an image. In the second year, two Macintosh machines will be installed for the project, one at Georgetown and one at Cornell, as OPAC workstations.

Phase III. Generate Outcomes and Evaluations

A major component of this project is the development of a mechanism by which the use of new technology in information access and transfer can be measured in a meaningful, efficient, and con-sistent manner. It is imperative that systems do more than simply collect use statistics. The various components of a complex, integrated system, such as the LIS, must have flexibility to collect and analyze the data continually being generated from multiple databases, sites, and situations. Ques-tions often raised in this time of reduced budgets and rising costs are: Does the rapid access to information really improve patient care? Is the medical student of today better informed to solve clinical problems because of tools such as computers and online databases? Does a new, high-cost technology machine really improve the quality of research output? Libraries that provide informa-tion services are being asked similar questions and hard facts are needed to prove that the library plays an essential role. Georgetown’s solution is to develop a system based on the foundation begun in LIS and add components for data that are tedious to obtain or currently gathered manually. The planning began in year one, and design and development will occur throughout the project period.

- Plans to Design a Library Management Information System (LMIS): The first step is to review how statistics are being gathered for each of the LIS operational modules and determine what aspects of library services are not being covered. Members of the FLIS Task Force for Statistics/Reports are providing valuable input for this aspect. The following outline summarizes some of the key components that will be incorporated into the design of a Library Management Information System: (See Figure 6)

• Reference and User Services • Circulation Services • Document Delivery

Desk Queries Collection Use: High/Low Photocopy

User Education Clientele Served Interlibrary Loan

Patron ID Reserve Materials FAX

Fees Stack Maintenance Full Text

Mediated Searches • Learning Resources • Education Services

Publications Facility Management Instruction Schedules

• Collections Equipment Classes

Catalog Data Collections Curriculum

Acquisitions Schedules Support

Serials Instruction External Education

Bindery • Administration Syllabi

Vendors Facility/Space

Accounts Equipment/Network



The Georgetown project staff and the FLIS Task Force on statistics will design the LMIS procedures. They are waiting for the task force to provide system content. The programmers will write routines and links to interface with commercial Macintosh software to manipulate and analyze the data for report generation. As in the other phase of this project, Georgetown will test the new software before it is shared with the other libraries. Modifications and changes will be made, as needed.

The following three FLIS sites will test the LMIS software:

• Hahnemann University

• University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

• Georgetown University

Throughout the entire three year project period all the FLIS sites participating with George-town will be responsible to monitor system use and collect statistics for each of the major activities in which they are involved. Georgetown has an electronic Bulletin Board as part of LIS and will encourage FLIS sites to transmit their statistical reports and summaries electronically at periodic intervals.

- Evaluate Outcomes Using LMIS: During Phase 3 we will evaluate the first two pro-ject Phases separately. We recognize that the outcomes of the Phase I implementation of Internet Access to FLIS libraries contains aspects that are different than the Phase 2 activity of providing access to digitized images through OPACs.

We will use the LMIS as an opportunity to gather pertinent information on overall library use and services and match this to questions posed to library users and library staff, relating to elec-tronic transmission of biomedical information. As an example, we will gather data on Internet Access and then query users about ease of use, timeliness, and if the databases answer their imme-diate information needs. The LMIS will provide hard data on use volume which we can match to information-seeking patterns. For the users of the digitized images, such as medical students, we will want to see how the combined use of text and images changes their study habits. The questions posed to library directors will focus on the LMIS and the concept of resource sharing, whether the project outcomes make a significant impact on their quality and effectiveness of management reports.


- Project Team: The project is being conducted by a team of six Georgetown participants including three librarians and three computer scientists. In addition, the FLIS Board and Task Force members shown in figure 1 are comprised of knowledgeable leaders with skills and expertise in the fields required for the project.

- Budget and Cost Effectiveness: The $181,000 for the 3 year period covers partial support for the project. Georgetown is contributing $429,876 which is 222% of the total Federal funds requested. No salary support is requested for the project director and the senior project participants who are contributing their time. The grant covers salary support for 3 years totaling $59,689 for 2 project programmers. The remaining funds cover the purchase of equipment workstations for the participating libraries software, networking and other related expenses.

Figure 7: Project Organization


There are several aspects of evaluation appropriate to the project that lend themselves to objec-tive and quantifiable data. First, is the actual use of the new modules, the network, the electronic document delivery, image workstations and the information management system, and the second is the usefulness of the enhanced capabilities. In the third year, to measure these project outcomes we will:

• Monitor system use on Internet access

• Gather and analyze data, on use

• Evaluate Network Access and system performance

• Evaluate the Digitized Images

• Evaluate the Library Management Information System


The proposed project opens new windows of opportunities for FLIS libraries to strengthen joint use of resources, future use of technologies, the role of libraries in the information field and the ability to electronically transfer data on demand from wherever it is located.

• Cost Factors: The FLIS consortium is particularly sensitive to the increased cost of library services, especially collection resources. A stabilized, non growth budget and decreased purchasing power from the devalued US dollar have eroded the collection development programs and forced us to drop a number of key journal titles. If you consider the problem from the libraries’ perspective, the network/resource sharing project is especially attractive in the current environment. Ready access to the databases at Georgetown, and the large collections at many FLIS libraries will help close the information gap at our institutions and provide our library users with expanded resources. Georgetown is not the only library with this problem. The participating libraries share similar thoughts. From their point of view Georgetown offers many services through the network which they do not have; especially attractive is access to the family of health databases. With electronic systems, geographic factors are no longer a barrier. Previously, without a network, these capabilities were non existent.

• Technical Advances: From the technological approach, Georgetown is unable to solely finance the new modules needed to design a suitable resource sharing program. For example, although Georgetown has the databases and a totally electronic document delivery system, it is a quantum leap from the typical services we offer today. New program routines, communications interfaces, image data transfer, and compression protocols and report generators for statistical data gathering will require financial support to undertake. To imagine that a user could enter a request, search for it on the online system, and if not available, push a few keys on a computer to request transmission electronically seems almost unbelievable. Unimaginable also is the capability to look up slide images online. The fact is that the technology can accommodate these delivery systems, but the reality is that until now it has been beyond anything the library could accomplish and it requires funding to attain. Because of fiscal constraints and the moderate size of the FLIS libraries, including Georgetown’s Dahlgren Library, none were able to absorb all of the cost for this endeavor. The grant has enabled us to share equipment, resources and facilities more efficiently than ever imagined.

Once the network access is established between the participating libraries and 2-way commu-nication is readily available, a number of by-products and uses will emerge, such as the ability to transmit and receive messages, conferencing capability, and access to the in-house databases unique to each library.

The interesting phenomenon about libraries is that although the parent institutions are often in competition with each other, the libraries have long traditions of sharing resources. There has been concern in the academic community about the growing competition in America today and the long range effects it might have on universities and libraries. This networking project is one valuable means of fostering and encouraging continuing cooperative library programs.

• Resource sharing: With electronic network capabilities which utilizes state-of-the-art equipment we can solve barriers to accessing disparate databases and computers and provide unique information resources of interest to other libraries. The Georgetown University (TM) Library Information System (LIS), begun locally and expanded into a truly national network, is an example of automation software developed by one library that is being shared by over 40 libraries nationally. The LIS is, even today, already linked electronically via a bulletin board and conferencing system. The LIS is based on similar software and hardware platforms making compatibility manageable. The challenge of this project is to take a leadership role in extending resource sharing to arenas not previously considered and examining the results in the evaluation. The key will be in designing appropriate software, gateway interfaces, integrating unique images and database management systems. This system could demonstrate to others the potential for expansion into local, regional and a national network. The project is consistent with the proposed National Research and Educa-tion Network (NREN), and the High Performance Computer and Communications Act sponsored by Senator Gore and other Congressional leaders to develop an electronic highway for the nation. It will give the FLIS libraries an opportunity to test the concept of electronic resource sharing further among libraries that have a great deal in common.


The Dahlgren Library at Georgetown University, in conjunction with FLIS, initiated the con-cept of the LIS Resource Sharing Project to focus on a need among libraries to improve academic excellence by enhancing library resources. We all face challenging economic issues today and the network will allow us to extend our limited resources and even expand our services by facilitating access to large research collections and provide our patrons with immediate access to new electronic databases and new formats. The collections of the FLIS libraries have much in common, yet there are sufficient differences and academic benefits to be gained by expanded sharing among the institutions. For example, The University of Texas Health Sciences Library at San Antonio, the University of South Carolina, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have academic programs that extend into allied health sciences such as pharmacy, public health, osteopathy, dentistry, and nursing.

A dynamic network/resource sharing project brings an added dimension to the Library’s mission of supporting academic programs. It allows specialized information resources available from external sources to be accessed directly by users at another library . Service barriers to information transfer can be eliminated so that users can search and find materials they need. In addition, the network provides the opportunity to offer new and specialized information services in the future.

The electronic network will provide the means to eliminate some of the barriers to information access and exchange. Users will be able to overcome some of the hurdles they now experience in seeking information from remote libraries. If users are in a rush for information, they often find it necessary to drive to another geographic location to seek the item they need. The network approach we propose through the Internet will eliminate that drudgery. To electronically transmit data or send a facsimile over communication lines rapidly will change the speed with which the library can deliver information and the way university faculty and students can engage in research, education and patient care. It will result in higher services from the library and it will allow users to concentrate on their research, academic and patient activities rather than locating the needed material. We believe this project will greatly enhance the practice of medicine and will improve health care delivery at the patients bedside.

Specialized information databases such as those at Georgetown and FLIS libraries offer an added dimension to the Library’s mission of providing access to information in support of ongoing and new academic programs. Most libraries are able to provide general resources to their clientele, but the specialized, seldom used, or unique information resources present a problem in an era of shrinking resource dollars. Access to the database alone offers great economic and academic strengths to the institutions. The network approach identified in our proposal offers a possible solution to the financial dilemma of adding new databases faced by the institutions. The image and information management system introduces a whole new area of academic library services that can now be made available. Gathering this information (pictures, slides and statistics) has been a tedious manual process that can now be automated.

Major emphasis is placed in this project to broaden the base of knowledge and create an envi-ronment for a consortium of libraries to access and share each other’s unique information resources.


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