Magazine article Online

Intranets: Another Frontier for Information Professionals

Magazine article Online

Intranets: Another Frontier for Information Professionals

Article excerpt

Intranets are "the next big thing" for librarians and information centers. Both vendors and information professionals have recognized that intranets are the wave of the future and offer a chance to reinvent themselves. Intranets have become ubiquitous in product descriptions, articles, and conference presentations, and the term pops up often even in casual conversations. Opportunities abound for information professionals to enhance their roles and become key players by getting involved in intranet projects--or for vendors to tap new markets by offering products for intranets.

For information professionals, intranets are just the latest information frontier. Consider online searching in the 1970s and the rise of the Internet in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Information professionals were at the forefront of both, leading the way, setting the pace--pioneering. Online and the Internet were practically the sole province of librarians, information professionals, and a few techies, researchers, and academics until Al Gore touted the information superhighway and the world discovered the World Wide Web and email.

From Web Sites to Intranets

As Internet pioneers, librarians were often the first in their organizations to put up Web sites or pages for clients, for the public, or as working reference tools for their own use. We realized early that some semblance of order was required to make the Internet useful, and many libraries created meta-lists of resources geared to their clientele. John December's December List made his reputation, and John Makulowich's Awesome List was a useful tool that highlighted the best of the thousands of Internet resources in the days before search engines. Then Yahoo! hired a librarian to create and maintain its hierarchy, and the launch of Alta Vista in the fall of 1995 changed forever the way people use the Web.

Steven L. Telleen from the Giga Group coined the term "intranet" in 1994 while he was at Amdahl Corporation--using it to define a Web server running internally within an organization instead of connected to the Internet. Browsers and HTML made sharing information within the organization using a Web server--an intranet--cheap, easy, and familar.

Enter Content Managers, or Librarians By Another Name

Internal Web servers proliferated and were quickly populated with all kinds of internal documents. The next step, bringing in external information via the intranet, was easy and logical, and creating and maintaining intranets rapidly became a full-time challenge in many organizations. Now, the quick-and-easy Web server solution to sharing information demands a serious commitment to organizing and maintaining the content, as well as the hardware and software. …

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