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Scholarly communication in an electronic environment: problems and challenges

Law, D. (1999) Scholarly communication in an electronic environment: problems and challenges. Alexandria, 11. pp. 135-142. ISSN 0955-7490

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Thanks to remarkable feats of international cooperation over the last 50 years librarians have produced and maintained a string of standards which collectively have made the identification of almost any published item a straightforward task (UBC), and have changed interlibrary document supply from a peripheral operation to a core activity (UAP). The system runs so smoothly that it is taken for granted and its lessons are not being used to inform discussions on the emergence of exactly the same issues in the electronic environment. The Internet is seen as a great and liberating development, but it is not a neutral one, and it requires very substantial international effort if it is to be made usable for sustained scholarly communication rather than short-term gratification. The preservation and archiving of electronic information has only just begun to surface as a very complex issue. An electronic environment is being created which is inimical to scholarship and which is largely being ignored by commercial and entertainment forces that are irrelevant to the scholarly process. A much more active approach from the library profession is required.