Library Electronic Resources

Electronic information access is an ever-increasing and influential presence in the working lives of researchers, students, and librarians. At present, the Library subscribes to over 35 major networked commercial data bases, ranging from general bibliographic files to special indexes and abstracts in subject disciplines as varied as art history, business and economics, medicine, and Slavic studies, and offerings continue to expand. Increasingly, thousands of other information sources are accessible through the Internet, and the Library is also beginning to venture into the truly transformative area of electronic text and multi-media.

At the heart of recent changes are the presence of the Internet, distributed computing, and the ability to network many electronic sources and make them available outside the confines of the Library buildings. Networking is the preferred mode of electronic information delivery for the University and the Library, and has allowed remote access to, among other sources, the on-line public access catalog (OPAC), the OPACS of hundreds of other libraries world-wide, and a greatly varied array of indexes and other commercial databases. Because of the significance of networking to so many key information sources, early on the Library identified a crucial need to provide an organized approach or "gateway" to electronic information. LibInfo, the Library web site, offers such a gateway, and is a model information resource in its own right. Through the LibInfo gateway, the University community may take advantage of both structured and diverse access to the many resources the Library provides.

The Library's commercial electronic resources are roughly divided into three types: bibliographic utilities, indexes and abstracts, and electronic text. The Library provides access to two major bibliographic utilities: WorldCat, provided by OCLC, and the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN), provided by the Research Libraries Group (RLG). These utilities offer bibliographic records for the combined holdings of libraries throughout North America and around the world, and include over 50 million records between them. The Library also provides electronic access to a number of specialized indexes and abstracts, including Anthropological Literature, Medline, Arts and Humanities Search, EconLit, and the Bibliography of the History of Art. The Library acquires electronic sources according to the same rigorous selection criteria used for any other type of library acquisition, and in fact, many of the index sources replace and enhance those long-held in paper.

The next generation of electronic resources include "full-text" and multi-media, or the ability not only to provide multiple pointers to materials in the form of bibliographic citations or index entries, but the actual materials themselves--texts, images, sound, even motion pictures. The Library is increasing its involvement in this area, providing a coveniently-arranged array of full-text sources in the humanities through the Electronic Text Services node on LibInfo. We have collaborated with the ARTFL project on campus to provide a sophisticated and flexible search engine for many of these sources. The Library is a charter subscriber to the Journal Storage Project (JSTOR), which will provide full text and searching of over 100 years of core journals in ecology, economics, history, mathematics, political science, population studies. As members of the Committee on Inter-Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the Library can offer to the University community the "CIC Electronic Journals Collection", "a prototype e-journal management system" collocating access to well over 100 electronic journals. Recently, the Library has been granted access to the Springer-Verlag LINK Electronic Journal Project. The LINK project is a new information service, offering initially full-text access to over 100 journals in economics, medicine and science. Members of the University community with current computing accounts on the campus network may access these sources through LibInfo.

The Library is also initiating projects to scan and load images as well as text. The Electronic Open Shelf project (EOS), available on LibInfo and funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is an experimental effort to scan and load the text and images from selected monographs in Classics and the Ancient Near East. Several of the "Sources By Subject" Web pages created and maintained by the Library's bibliographers also contain links to world-wide image databanks and multi-media sites.

The Reference and Information Services department of Regenstein Library offers an array of classroom instruction to enable library patrons to make the most effective use of networked and other electronic resources. Among the offerings are a basic overview of our new OPAC, a series of subject-related introductions to electronic resources in the Electronic Library Series (including sessions on full-text document retrieval and searching), and a newly-developed Library Research Instruction program (LIBRI), designed to introduce electronic searching methodologies and strategies to undergraduates and beginning researchers. The Library offers regularly-scheduled classes open to the University community at large throughout the academic year in a newly-equipped computer training room (JRL 123) on the first floor of Regenstein Library. Crerar Library also offers an array of instruction in a new Crerar Library training facility. Library staff also welcome inquiries from faculty and instructors concerning specially-scheduled LIBRI sessions to be held in conjunction with particular class offerings. Subject bibliographers also work with faculty members to offer special instruction sessions.

The Library continues to expand and diversify networked electronic holdings. For a complete listing of electronic resources and training and instruction programs, consult the Library web site, LibInfo, at http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/.

For more information, contact:
Katherine Haskins, Head of Reference and Information Services, at 702-8708 or kwh2@midway.uchicago.edu">kwh2@midway.uchicago.edu
Jean Judson, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Reference and Information Services, at 702-4484 or jud3@midway.uchicago.edu">jud3@midway.uchicago.edu
Fritz Whitcomb, Coordinator of Networked Information, Crerar Library, at 702-8552 or rfwhitco@midway.uchicago.edu">rfwhitco@midway.uchicago.edu
Catherine Mardikes, Electronic Text Services and Bibliographer for Classics and Ancient Near East, at 702-2783 or mardikes@midway.uchicago.edu">mardikes@midway.uchicago.edu