The Management of Knowledge: Libraries Can Transform Communities

By Brown, Greg | American Libraries, March 1995 | Go to article overview

The Management of Knowledge: Libraries Can Transform Communities


Brown, Greg, American Libraries


With 150,000 new users joining the Internet every month, my local public radio station has started giving periodic traffic reports about data flow on the popular network!

The Wall Street Journal reported in 1992 that there were three million users of online services in North America; by 1997 there will be 19.5 million! Sales of multimedia personal computers in 1992 totaled 470,000 units - for 1994 roughly 3.6 million.

In private homes, businesses, and schools, people are trying new ways to obtain, process, and use information. That raises new challenges for libraries. The speed with which information is created, its primacy as a valuable resource for business and government, and the expansion of human knowledge are increasing the demand for libraries.

Librarians, in turn, are challenged to make operations more efficient and better equipped. At the same time, they face diminishing resources.

Historian David McCullough pointed out recently that not one public library closed during the Great Depression, but, today, dozens of libraries across the nation are shutting their doors for good. McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of President Harry S. Truman, argues that a nation that spends $59.4 billion on lawn care annually - more than double what it spends on public libraries - can certainly do better. He is right. We can do better.

Libraries face difficult challenges. But they also can glimpse the possibility of providing everyone with access to any information they need. The networking facilities at Ameritech help tap the full power of library automation by linking far-flung information collections, making each library an information hub at the center of a worldwide network.

Everywhere you look, you see articles about the information superhighway and how large communications companies are trying to find the best route to the fast lane. For the most part, the spotlight is on entertainment.

The information superhighway, however, will do much more than plug couch potatoes into electronic pinball games, or serve up endless movies on demand. At Ameritech, we're exploring a variety of applications that go far beyond entertainment services. Our aim is to understand what consumers and business-people really want and need.

Our corporate strategy focuses on applications that will enhance quality of life, improve education, and promote economic development. We believe this approach raises our company purpose to a higher plane, where employees can see their efforts as a vital part of society's fabric for the future.

Services to libraries

Libraries, of course, play essential roles in advancing all three of these objectives. Consequently, Ameritech has taken a leading role in providing information, networking and automation services to libraries. The company places great value on library automation and has acquired two leading automation firms - Dynix and NOTIS, which were consolidated as Ameritech Library Services.

Ameritech Library Services offers four library automation systems. For school libraries, Ameritech provides Dynix Scholar software that places a public school' s library/media facility at the center of the instructional program. For public academic, and special libraries, the host-based solution is Dynix software. In 1991, Dynix introduced Marquis, the first client/server automated library system. The Marquis software has since been renamed "Horizon." The NOTIS LMS system is actively supported for academic frame systems. Dynix subsidiaries, such as RetroLink Associates, offer specialized auxiliary services to libraries world-wide.

The comprehensive range of library services offered by Ameritech demonstrates our commitment to this industry. We also have developed a detailed corporate strategy to bring you the advanced information and communications technology you need to meet the growing demands of your patrons.

We meet often with educators, librarians business and government leaders, health-care professionals consumers, and others to identify key issues that can be addressed with communications technology. …

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