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The Commission believes that the country's library and information services are not yet organized to meet the needs of the nation as a whole. Different libraries and information services are, indeed, performing important services for their respective clienteles, but, as a group, they are developing haphazardly. The Commission believes the time has come for the nation to change direction by henceforth treating recorded information and knowledge as a national resource and making the benefits of library and information services available for all the people. Such action would prove a great intellectual catalyst for the country and place the United States in a stronger position to cope with its own economic and social problems. If we continue traditional practices much longer, the Commission fears that, within the span of only a few years, America will be faced with information chaos that will work against the country's best interests.
Deficiencies in current resources and services demand careful planning for the systematic development of material and human resources, the continuing education of professional and paraprofessional personnel, an adequate financial base for libraries and other information-handling units, the cost-effective application of new technologies, and the development of a spirit of cooperation without which no nationwide plan for improved services can succeed.
A major transformation of the library and information structure in this country is required. The new structure must be based on a new philosophy of service and a new Federal and state investment policy. Success will depend on sound planning by each and every library and information center, on dedication to a common sense of direction and purpose, on a commitment to national cooperative action, and on new Federal policies which treat information as a national resource.
Such a program implies an unprecedented investment in libraries and information centers by Federal, state, and local governments. Merely continuing the past practice of giving small grants to the states for individual libraries or for uncoordinated systems development will not do the job. The Commission believes that the Federal Government must bear a permanent responsibility for preserving and maintaining the knowledge resources of the nation and for making a specific commitment to their interdependent development.
The proposed National Program implies changes in jurisdictional arrangements, in forms of bibliographic processing, in patterns of service, and in funding practices. These changes will come about gradually, and it will take considerable time to achieve substantial results. Strong resources must, therefore, continue to be built at the local, state, and regional levels with Federal assistance while the new basis for a nationwide network is being prepared.
We on the Commission believe that the profession is prepared and is ready to advance traditional librarianship, to apply computer and communication technology, and to work together in creating the strongest possible information services for the country.
America must not forget her dream of individual freedom and of an open approach to learning and knowledge. The Commission firmly believes that recorded knowledge is a national resource and its nationwide access a national responsibility. It urges the American people, through Federal, state, and local governments, and public and private institutions to support a nationwide program of library and information service as a high-priority national goal.
References and Notes
(1) Swank, R. C., “Interlibrary Cooperation, Interlibrary
Communications, and Information Networks—Explanation and Definition,” in Proceedings of the Conference on Interlibrary Communications and Information Networks (edited by J. Becker), Chicago, American Library Associa
tion, 1971, p. 20. (2) American Library Directory, 28th Edition, New York,
R.R. Bowker Company, 1972. (3) United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:
“To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and dis
coveries.” (4) Libraries in the United States: public libraries—8,366*;
academic libraries—3,000 (est.)*; Federal libraries2,313*; special libraries (other than Federal)—12,000**; school libraries—65,000 (est.)*; Total—90,679. Figures having an * were supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics, USOE; those having
were supplied by the Special Libraries Association. (5) Frase, R. W., Library Funding and Public Support, Chi
cago, American Library Association, 1973. (6) Alternatives for Financing the Public Library, A Study
Prepared for the National Commission on Libraries and
ment Studies and Systems, Inc. 1974. (7) American Association of School Libraries, ALA and As
sociation for Educational Communications and Technology, Media Programs: District and School, Chicago, ALA,
and Washington, D.C., AECT, 1975. (8) Resources and Bibliographic Support for a Nationwide Li
brary Program, A Study Prepared for the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, Rockville,
Maryland, Westat, Inc., 1974. (9) Shera, J. H., The Foundation of Education for Librarian
ship, New York, Wiley-Becker and Hayes, 1972, p. 498. (10) Conclusions and Recommendations, Conference on Na
tional Bibliographic Control. Sponsored by the Council on Library Resources and the National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1974.
The language of modern library and information science is derived from several disciplines. This Glossary defines the principal technical terms used by the Commission in preparing this document.
Bibliographic Control The uniform identification of items of recorded information in various media and the availability of a mechanism for gaining subsequent access to such information.
Consortium A formal association of libraries and other organizations, having the same or interrelated service or processing objectives. Constituency A particular user group with specialized requirements for library and information service.
The physical equipment in a data processing or other machine system (as contrasted with software). Information Includes facts and other recorded knowledge found in books, periodicals, newspapers, reports, audiovisual formats, magnetic tapes, data banks (bases), and other recording media. (The word “information,” in this document is used interchangeably with the word “knowledge.") Information Center A library or other facility that emphasizes the analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information.
Information Industry Certain organizations in the for-profit part of the private sector which process, store, or disseminate information under contractual or sales arrangements. Examples of components of the information industry include: abstracting and indexing services; data base producers; reprint houses; comniercial information retrieval services, etc. Information Scientist A specialist in systems analysis, computers, communications, micrographics, and other technology based means for processing information.
Information Technology Refers to the application of computers, telecommunications, micrographics, audiovisuals, and other equipment, techniques, and materials for making information available to people. Interface The area or mechanism of contact and interaction between any two systems, subsystems, or organizations. An interface may be technical (e.g., electronic) or administrative. Interlibrary Cooperation Informal agreements between and among libraries to participate in a specific process or service for mutual benefit. Librarian A specialist in the organization, management, and utilization of recorded information.
Library An institution where diverse information is stored, systematically organized, and where services are provided to facilitate its use. It may contain books, films, magazines, maps, manu