ASSOCIATES (vol. 10, no. 1, July 2003) -

*The Internet Guru*


Kent Slade
Logan Library
Logan, Utah

In March 2003, OCLC released a report "Five-Year Information Format Trends" that provides a very interesting look at how information will be accessed and used during the next five years.

The report was divided into four formats: popular materials, scholarly materials, digitization projects and web resources. In summary: Popular and scholarly materials reports include trends and what kind of changes might occur between traditional and new formats. Digitization projects were reviewed to survey what kinds of projects were currently being undertaken and what kind of future projects might be in store. Web resources were reviewed to see what kind of potential the Web has for providing information as well as the hidden Web.

Popular Materials

The report suggests printed book production will increase, but only slightly. Sales of books in 2001 actually declined, but a 2 percent increase in sales will occur in 2002.

Print-on-demand could be the biggest potential for growth. In fact, Frank Romano of the Rochester Institute of Technology, predicts "that by 2015, 48% of all books will be digitally printed on-demand."

Meanwhile, 450 thousand e-books could be in production by 2007. Yet analysts and vendors both refuse to predict the future of ebook production.

Audiovisual media is expected to also undergo dramatic changes. The increase of DVDs in the library (now estimated at 6% of libraries' collections) could rise to 31% in 2 years. Interestingly, DVDs account for 37% of the rental market, according to Library Journal. Videocassettes will continue to be part of libraries' collections as well.

Scholarly Materials

Like popular materials, book spending in scholarly materials was also down in 2001 and 2002 as were university press sales. The report suggested, as we are now seeing, that a crisis is emerging in university presses. Workforces are being reduced, the number of books being published are down, and course packs will continue to affect book sales.

Rick Anderson, University of Nevada, Reno, believes "research journals will be published almost entirely online" five years from now. If this is true, certainly academic research will be conducted more online than ever before, as will the delivery of information. The report suggests that more e-content will be available for electronic course management materials and that "as many as 56 percent of U.S. college courses could be available" in the next five years.

The British Library forecasts that ePrint archives will begin to overtake scholarly publishing. Rick Anderson suggests that "half of research libraries will stop journal check-in." While no industry-wide forecasts for ePrint archives were available one archive, ArXiv, Cornell University's Physics ePrint archive had 15 million downloads per year, and the archive continues to grow-on average of about 35,000 preprints per year.

Paper theses and dissertations is expected to decline while digital formats will increase. The British Library predicts that "by 2007 at least 50% of all theses and dissertations will be submitted digitally."

While the above format changes occur, one of the most dramatic changes will occur in the production and availability of course materials in electronic format. XanEdu, a ProQuest subsidiary, indicates 5.5 billion pages of copyright materials are available for use in course management materials. The U.S. Campus Computing Project survey suggests that up to 56 percent of college courses in the U.S. could be available in this format by 2007.

Digitization Projects

Not surprisingly, the report indicated that digitization was growing so fast, it was too difficult to quantify or predict. However, they did estimate that there could be well over 100 million pages of information already digitized. This accounts for not only commercial projects (such as the Gale Group and proQuest), but national projects (such as Gallica 2000 and the British Library projects) and state and local projects (such as the Colorado Digitization Project or the Everett Public Library Everett Massacre project).

Web Resources

According to both the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Digital Library Federation, people are turning to the Internet as their first source of reliable information. Libraries are being used less and print materials are now the second choice for students and faculty.

Web site growth is slowing. With 9 million estimated web sites, there might only be a total of 10.4 million in the next five years. While growth of Web Sites slows, documents on the web are expected to grow from 2 billion to 13 billion in the next three years. WorldCat indicates 700 thousand Web resources have been cataloged.

These resources only represent the surface, or visible web. What of the deep, or invisible web? It is estimated that the invisible web could be 50 times larger than the visible web. These resources include library catalogs (about 40,000 Web OPACs), other databases (around 250,000), non-textual pages (more than 300 million), and documents and eJournals (more than 10,000 eJournals).

So what does this mean for libraries? First, we must be prepared to meet an ever-expanding demand for the Internet. Perhaps it is time to re-examine our print collections and re-allocating space to computers and away from traditional formats. But we must not be hasty to get rid of print resources. Second, we must become more familiar with the electronic resources available. This can no longer be just the domain of the electronic resource specialists, but must be something every library staff member who works with the public is familiar with. Third, we have a big chore in getting Web sites cataloged and classified so we will be able to find them and the information they provide. Developing a system that can respond to the changing environment of the web will be yet another challenge. And fourth, as digitization continues, we must be prepared to fund and find additional technologies that enable our patrons to access this information quickly and easily.

To read the complete report from OCLC, go to

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