The Development of National Online Networking in the Republic of China - the Role of the National Central Library

By Chien Lin, Sharon | Information Technology and Libraries, June 1996 | Go to article overview

The Development of National Online Networking in the Republic of China - the Role of the National Central Library


Chien Lin, Sharon, Information Technology and Libraries


The development of the national integrated online information network in the Republic of China is described. First a brief history of library and information automation in Taiwan and the coordination efforts of the central government toward the establishment of such a network is presented. A more detailed description of the creation of the Chinese MARC format/database and the process of automation under the leadership of National Central Library (NCL) follows. The establishment of NBINet, TANet and their electronic linkage is discussed, along with the present status of STICNET. The nationwide efforts at all levels to link the major networks, including those of public libraries, are also reported. It is expected that an all-encompassing, integrated national information network will be realized in the 1 990s. Thus a full-scale information exchange and resource-sharing network among all libraries in Taiwan and abroad will soon be a reality.

Taiwan was under Japanese occupation for fifty years until 1945. At the time it was returned to the Republic of China (ROC), there were only about 100 libraries. Between 1945 and 1951, the government launched a system to restore the war-stricken libraries. Since then, library services in Taiwan have improved rapidly. According to a December 1989 survey, the number of libraries had increased to 3,579. They include the National Central Library (NCL) and its provincial branch library, 475 public libraries, 118 academic libraries, 2,485 school libraries, and 499 special libraries and information centers.[1] Statistics show that about 90 percent of the libraries belong to the educational system and are under the direct or indirect supervision of the Ministry of Education (MOE) at the national level or of various levels of government educational agencies. The NCL had been under the jurisdiction of the MOE until the beginning of this decade, when it was placed directly under the Executive Yuan, the central government of ROC. (See appendix A for a selective list of acronyms used in this article.)

* Three Stages of Automation Development

Early Isolated Activities

Computer utilization in Taiwan began in 1960. For the first ten years, it was limited to processing administrative information and office management in government units, or to supporting instruction and research in the academic field. Library and information services did not take advantage of computers until the early 1970s. Between 1970 and 1980, the development of library services abroad, especially the success of the Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) tapes of the Library of Congress (LC) and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) bibliographic database, had a great effect in Taiwan. Meanwhile, computer technology in Taiwan had also advanced significantly. This favorable environment encouraged Chinese library professionals to experiment with single-function systems to process Western-language materials.

The first attempt was carried out in 1972 at National Tsing Hua University, when the physics library experimented in processing its catalog on an IBM 1130. The design was rather primitive. What was considered to be the first major computerized library project was the compilation of the third edition of the Union List of Scientific Serials in Libraries of the Republic of China in 1974 [2] Created by the Science and Technology Information Center (STIC) of National Science Council (NSC), the List included holdings for more than 6,000 Western-language scientific and technological journals in university and college libraries in Taiwan. In the same year, Chungshan Institute of Science (CIS) imported LC MARC tapes, which were used for Western-language cataloging through online searching. CIS also created a bibliographic database on its CYBER 815 using LC MARC data. Printed catalog cards, accession lists, and new book announcements for Western-language books and technical reports were also produced from the application software CIS designed.

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