This month, Computers in Libraries takes a look at the technologies behind virtual library services.
For many libraries—maybe even most—having a virtual presence within the community starts first with the library’s public website or the company’s internal portal. Increasingly, it’s the web-enabled OPAC that the public sees first, or it’s the front end of reference databases and journal collections. Both types of service demand user authentication, which, in turn, requires proxies.
We have included a pair of articles in this issue that speak to the technology behind remote and distributed access to such databases. The first is an article about operating via proxy, and the second is an article about how to make sure that the proxy server is actually doing its job and that the user is having a good virtual experience.
Some libraries are going beyond the website to experiment with other ways of interacting virtually in the worlds of their users. We’ve included an article here on the challenge of providing a virtual reference service 24/7 on top of everything else your library is doing. There’s also an article on performing outreach to patrons by beaming out messages to their mobile phones.
I had the privilege of attending the Frankfurt Book Fair this fall, where I interviewed a number of publishers and vendors that are involved in the ebook movement. My schedule at Frankfurt was focused on scholarly publishing and reference works, so for the benefit of reference and acquisition librarians I’ve included my notes on the many options and titles that are suddenly available as ebooks. Talk about virtual libraries …
And for the benefit of those who have built it only to find that no one comes, we’ve also produced an article on ways to make sure that your virtual presence is discovered. And to show our own enthusiasm for things virtual, we’re making that piece available in digital form only from our website.
If you’re going to be at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, please stop by the ITI booth to see sample issues of our publications and displays of our directories and books.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor