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Vol. XI, no. 2

TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition

                  November, 1999
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Message from the University Librarian
by Bob Seal

     Since I became University Librarian in 1994, several of my Windows messages have had to do with the many changes we have seen in libraries in recent years, primarily due to the computer and the Internet. The latest such development, the electronic book, is quite exciting and could have a major impact on libraries and users in the very near future. While still in the developmental and experimental stage, the e-book nevertheless is worth a careful look.

For 25 years libraries have had access to online databases, primarily indexes to periodical articles, first via modem and long distance phone lines, then on CD-ROM disks, and most recently via the World Wide Web. About ten years ago we saw the first full-text online periodical, accessible over the Internet. E-journals as we call them have exploded in the past two years and now the TCU Library subscribes to more than 650 titles, all available to our students and faculty via their computers any time of day or night. And the number of titles continues to grow.

Except for a limited number of classic, "out of copyright" titles such as the works of Shakespeare, the Bible, Alice in Wonderland, and the like, there have been very few online, full-text books. Those that are available have primarily been text-based works with no illustrations. But in May at a professional meeting in Ohio, I heard for the first time of a new bibliographic service called NetLibrary, a program offering full-text, full-image books with hundreds of titles to be viewed online and even checked out!

To make a long story short, the TCU Library recently signed an agreement with 90 other academic libraries in the Southwest to have access to the NetLibrary library of electronic books, several hundred titles in all and growing rapidly. The e-books come from major commercial publishers and several university presses including the TCU Press. Our students and faculty will be able to view the complete text online and check out e-books for 24 hours. The computer version looks exactly like the print version, type face, illustrations, index, table of contents, etc. It is fully searchable by keyword and portions can be printed or downloaded to one's computer.

NetLibrary has been offered at the University of Texas for several months now and already it is heavily used by students and faculty who like the 24-hour convenience and the ability to read books when the library is closed. We hope that it will be popular at TCU as well and look forward to comments by our clientele. No matter the outcome of this experiment, the Mary Couts Burnett Library will continue to seek new electronic services for its patrons. The electronic book from NetLibrary is just the latest change, but certainly not the last.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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