Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Electronic One-Stop Shopping: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Electronic One-Stop Shopping: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Article excerpt

One-stop shopping has been the operational theme for electronic information services offered by the San Diego State University Library since 1994. During this time, through partnering, the library's electronic information systems have evolved significantly. The evolution of these systems has had profound effects on library operations and services. This article explores not just the good, but the bad and the ugly of the library's one-stop shopping approach to the delivery of electronic information.

"One-stop" is defined as "being or relating to a business that provides a complete range of goods or services of a particular kind."(1) A logical extension of "one-stop" is "one-stop shopping." For better and for worse, one-stop shopping has become a key business concept. Today's convenience and super stores are evidence of the public's demand for and private sector's commitment to providing complete ranges of increasingly different kinds of goods and services.

The concept of one-stop shopping has also been applied to noncommercial enterprises. As at San Diego State University (SDSU), explicit usage of this concept in libraries is usually related to automated services:

* a multipurpose, online information service ... a menu-driven information system that would enable ... one-stop shopping to request library services, but also to gain easy access to information;(2)

* one-stop shopping has become a library motto as more and libraries ... seek to make it easy and convenient for their clientele to access their products ... [using] online technologies to let more people use their services;(3)

* the Electronic Resources Team at the University of Rochester River Campus pursued the concept of one-stop shopping as a component of their new integrated library system Voyager ... Faced with a growing variety of electronic resources with no single guide to their existence and access, the team dealt with a number of issues to create a unified group of Web pages providing information and, where possible, desktop access;(4) and

* a comprehensive Web database designed to provide a one-stop shopping center for librarians to locate Internet resources related to their profession.(5)

With more than thirty thousand students, SDSU has the largest student enrollment of the twenty-three California State University (CSU) campuses. Each CSU campus has one library. The library's Information Systems and Support (InfoSys) Division staff is responsible for library computing and an increasing number of related academic computing services (i.e., the student computing help desk, a student computing lab, electronic classrooms).

Whereas there were once separate library systems and workstations or terminals for CD-ROM-, telnet-, and Web-based information services, more than three dozen of these commercial services are now accessible on the same or similar workstations with a graphical Web interface. This method of delivery reflects the library's one-stop shopping approach to electronic information services.

The graphical Web interface, courtesy of Netscape, is represented in the library by four versions of the in-house Library Information and Online Network (LION) system, one for each of the three reference divisions (General Reference, Science, and Government Publications and Maps), and one for the media center (figure 1). In addition, General Reference and Science provide access to Libweb, which also serves as the library's remote access system (figure 2). The major differences between LION and Libweb are:


* LION provides access to CD-ROM information services, Libweb does not; and

* Libweb provides full Web access, LION does not, except in government publications and maps where full Web access is needed for government publications reference.

LION workstations are all Windows PCs. Libweb workstations are either Windows PCs or Macintoshes. …

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