From the Director...
Libraries Promote Technologies Across Nebraska
Scott Sidwell, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, is quoted as saying, "The simple fact is that unless a conscious and deliberate effort is undertaken to put telecommunications technologies in courthouses, businesses, schools, and homes in rural Nebraska, residents will lose out on opportunities for education, employment, business development, government services, and health care." Let's add libraries and library services to that list, too. Sidwell's quote is included in a new brochure distributed by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service. The brochure publicizes the Technologies Across Nebraska initiative that is attempting to bring together and pool the knowledge and resources of organizations and individuals sharing an interest in acquiring and employing the use of technology for a broad spectrum of purposes.
Technologies Across Nebraska offers the potential for connecting many information technology interests, even though it's difficult to determine who doesn't have an interest in this subject. The goal of this initiative is, "To provide a sustained source of information, training, and educational opportunities to enable Nebraska communities, citizens, and businesses to make informed decisions regarding information technology." Much can be gained through this collaborative approach. Library representatives can and should be directly involved in community, regional, and state telecommunications initiatives.
Sidwell's statement makes reference to rural Nebraska, and that is a critical point. Providing broadband telecommunications services in rural areas is expensive, but it must be accomplished to allow all areas of Nebraska the chance to grow and prosper. Being competitive and having the ability to participate in the information economy requires having broadband services available. While digital switches and fiber optic lines are in place throughout Nebraska, the local loop (the connection between the local telephone company or other service provider and the home or business) is still lacking for many.
Across Nebraska, there are many good examples of communities addressing their technology needs. Such efforts offer examples for other communities. There are also good examples of library representatives contributing to community information technology efforts. These libraries are represented in community technology planning committees, promote library technology needs, inform the community of library resources, create collaborative partnerships, and keep current library technology plans within the scope of overall community technology planning.
Those interested in joining the Technologies Across Nebraska Partnership or those interested in contributing information about a community information technology initiative can contact the Partnership, 402-472-3967, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see their Web site at technologiesacrossnebraska.unl.edu.
- Rod Wagner
Cooperative Reference Pioneers
The Library of Congress and OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) are collaborating to provide quality, authoritative reference service by professional reference librarians twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS) is a pioneering new service that will provide professional reference service - anywhere, anytime - through an international, digital network of libraries and related institutions. Librarians will assist their customers by connecting to the CDRS to send questions that are best answered by the expert staff and collections of CDRS institutions from around the world. A large searchable archive of previous questions and answers will also be available to CDRS users.
More than eighty institutions are currently participating in the project, including the Nebraska Library Commission, Yale University, Cleveland Public Library, the National Gallery of Art, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Membership in the CDRS is open to libraries, including public, academic, special, research, government, and corporate; cultural institutions, such as archives, art galleries, museums, and historical societies; and "Ask-a" services providing information based on professional information specialists such as scientists and librarians. For more information on how your library can become a founding member in this exciting project, see www.oclc.org/services/reference/cdrs.shtm or www.loc.gov/cdrs.