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Internet Resources and E-Libraries as the Main Subjects of a New Library Specialty at the Universities of Culture in Russia

In response to the tangible effect of information technologies on library and information departments of universities, a department of information technologies and e-libraries was established in 2000 at Moscow State University of Culture and Arts. The department has started to prepare students with the major in computer technologies in library information systems. Head of the department is Yakov L. Shraiberg, Dr. Sci. (Engineering), Professor.

Studies take place mostly on the premises of a major Russian national library, the Russian National Library for Science and Technology. This is one of the specific features of the project. Other ones are a new system of subjects, a new educational system, and, naturally, adequately skilled staff.

At the suggestion of the department head, the university invited the leading specialists in the theory and practice of modern information technologies. They represent the largest library and information systems of the federal level. Among them are directors of Russian information institutes, centers, and libraries and the leading specialists of governmental bodies that define the state policy in informatization of culture, science, and education. Eight staff members of the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology including the library’s director and first deputy director have been invited to teach at the newly established department.

Students start learning their specialty with Computer Technologies in Libraries. This 34-hr orientational and navigational course is given by the department head. It includes the history of computers in libraries; computer applications in libraries; current tendencies in the development of information products; automated library information systems; access to external databases and information products; CD-ROMs in libraries; CD-ROM networking; computers in bibliography; desk-top publishing; security systems; computers in stock-taking, and some other subjects.

The new course starts with the subjects that reflect the new educational system. There is no need to explain why this system uses modern equipment like local and telecommunication computer systems and visual representation systems. In addition to them, it envisages a special sequence of subjects with alternating theoretical and practical courses. For example, after the course Computer Technologies in Libraries, which gives a general idea of e-libraries, students visit the e-publications hall of the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology. At the same time, they are aware that a detail study of this subject is scheduled for the special E-Libraries course. The same technology has been accepted for the rest of the special subjects. Generally, the department teaches 12 subjects, both general-type and special, the latter giving detail information on specific parts of the main subjects.

Such educational system with the use of new information technologies has no analogues in Russian educational practice.

Internet/Intranet Technologies is a basic course for library information education because of the obligatory use of Internet technologies in libraries and information centers. The objective of this course is to give students a solid theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice in Internet/Intranet technologies and their application in libraries and information centers.

It gives special attention to the study of specific features and aspects of the application of these technologies in libraries including the use in these technologies in cooperate and interlibrary projects and construction of distributed library information systems.

This course coves general issues of networking technologies; proper Internet/Intranet technologies; WWW technologies, and design of Internet/Intranet library systems.

Two handbooks, “Introduction to Internet” in nine parts (Ed. by Ya. Shraiberg), and “Internet Resources and Services for Libraries” by Ya. Shraiberg, M. Goncharov, and O. Shlykova, have been written specially for this course.

The Electronic Libraries course gives students a system of theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for working with e-resources, organizing this work in libraries, universities, or information centers, building individual e-resources, and accessing remote resources. The course explains the main notions used in e-libraries, examines the structure of e-libraries, and characterizes the challenges of building e-resources, their storage, and access to their resources.

The handbook for this course is “E-Libraries”. It was written by A. Zemskov and Ya. Shraiberg in 2001 and was presented at the international conference LIBCOM-2001. The handbook of the type has been written for the first time in the practice of Russian universities and fills in the major gap in modern educational library and information theory and practice.

Today, we can affirm that the new educational system eases the solutions to the so-called eternal problems like selection of subjects for diploma and course papers and their subsequent preparation.

Having a major in computer technologies in library information systems students study in a largest national library where the latest information technologies are implemented; where new technologies are being developed and get implemented the moment they are tested. Such an opportunity allows us to attract students to the R&D which are under way in the library. There is no need to persuade the public of the advantages of such work.


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