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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2000

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Conference Reports

Communication and Information Models for the New Millennium: Scientists and Librarians Face the Future
STS 2000 Program
ALA Annual Conference, July 10, 2000

Jill Newby
Chair, STS 2000 Conference Program Planning Committee
Stewart Library
Weber State University
Ogden, Utah
jnewby@weber.edu

The annual STS program was held Monday, July 10 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown for an audience of more than 175 attendees. The program featured four speakers who exemplified how scholarly communication channels are changing and reflect librarians' roles in this evolving new communication system. As one of the speakers, Roy Tennant stated: "Librarians can be the grease for the wheels (faculty) for making changes in scholarly communication." As an example of how librarians can play a direct role in the publishing process, Robert Pisciotta described the technical process that staff at the Dykes Library at the University of Kansas Medical Center used to develop Photochemistry and Photobiology Online. For details of Robert Pisciotta's presentation see: {http://www.aspjournal.com/ala/pandp_files/v3_document.htm}.

Julia Blixrud, from SPARC outlined how SPARC has focused on supporting new STM journals that provide alternatives to established, expensive commercial counterparts, and also e-journals that are on the cutting edge of new electronic formats that are wholly online with no print equivalent. SPARC is also partnering with several new e-journal ventures including BioOne, MIT's Cognet, the California Digital Library and Columbia's Earthscape.

R. Michael Barnett, a physics educator and researcher from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was invited to provide the scientist's perspective. Dr. Barnett described the old model of scientific communication in high energy physics as the "journal." He elaborated on the new model with an array of resources, including the electronic preprint archive, the SPIRES database of bibliographic information at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Library (directed by Pat Kreitz, 2000 STS Chair), physics journals, and reviews and summaries of relevant data and research. Dr. Barnett's Particle Data Group coordinates collection of reviews and summaries pertinent to their work. Dr. Barnett said that physicists need a unified source for information -- universal access to a rich array of information in text and graphics, integrated and cross-linked.

Roy Tennant, just beginning his position with eScholarship, a University of California program through the California Digital Library, offered some predictions for the future: digital forms of "publication" will diversify and gain importance; librarians will continue to do what we have always done with regard to information, but the methods and services of this role will change. Some examples are collaborating with faculty to build new communication systems, designing interfaces for web publishing, creating means for infrastructure management and maintenance, capturing metadata, archiving and preserving e-content, "filtering" information by producing bibliographies of quality information sources, and providing current awareness services. Roy Tennant echoed Michael Barnett's vision of scholarly communication in the future by stating that an important role for librarians is to provide information aggregation: to knit together information across a wide variety of sources in transparent fashion. To prepare for the future, librarians need to "stay flexible and watch for opportunities," which requires continual learning.

After the speaker presentations and questions/comments from the audience, everyone was invited to the adjacent ballroom for poster session presentations that demonstrated how librarians are meeting the challenges of the changing world of scientific information. For a list of poster session participants and abstracts, see: {http://www.ala.org/acrl/aboutacrl/directoryofleadership/sections/sts/stswebsite/conferences/posters2000}

The STS reception was also held in conjunction with the poster session. The STS Council agreed to try a different venue for the annual STS reception this year in order to reduce costly expenses for hosting a reception. The large group of attendees enjoyed mingling and carrying on the conversation from the program and poster session presentations.

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