Turkish government libraries can use Internet since 1993. Together with an increasing growth in the membership of the network, arose problems. However, most of these problems were the extensions of the already existing difficulties confronted by the government libraries.
With the aid of the results of an institutional library survey and of more detailed observations upon a sample of 7 government libraries, the major administrative, economic and technical problems wer e identified and discussed. Conclusions made possible to forward some workable proposals.
Thus the government libraries are able to considerably influence the quality of work done by the government. Consequently, problems concerning the services of the government libraries might, in turn, create serious problems of information adequacy on the side of governmental institutions.
In the following sections, a short account of Internet use in Turkish government libraries will be given. On viewing the problems to be encountered special emphasis will be attributed to economic and administrative issues, since the considerations of purely technical character will be the subject matter of another paper to be presented .
To be inclined to handle a technical device, and to be able to undertake the necessary investments and arrangements for its efficient use are two different issues. Nevertheless, following the inevita ble growth of the network locally and also towards Istanbul and Izmir, the library memberships of Internet had increased at an accelerated rate.
Soon arose problems of electronic highway and network enviroment essentially due to disproportions between the communications infrastructure and the pressing demand for Internet use. Failling financial support, lack of a legal personality being in charge of Inter net matters, lack of reliable forecasts and planning measures for medium and long run developments had made the related problems graver.
First of all it should be pointed out that there are a number of so called "government libraries" which are actually nothing but warehouses of books or archive material of certain government institut ions. Evidently these cannot provide government library services in the above defined sense, nor the reasons behind their establishment were in accordance with the expectations from a usual governme nt library. Discarding such examples out of the framework of examination, what remain as government libraries are mostly situated in Ankara. On the other hand, a survey comprising 25 institutional li braries in Ankara was recently conducted by the Department of Informatics of the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council
Since the final report of the survey was not available by the time of investigations for the present paper, only a direct gilance to the questionnaire material could be casted. It was observed that 10 of 25 institutional libraries had Internet connections, and 4 of them will also be integrated within a few months. Out of the mentioned 10, only the director of a single library complained about n on use, and frequent use were registered by the remaining 3. Interesting might furthermore be the observation, that 6 of user libraries were benefiting from Internet as an information center or libra ry, whereas only two provided databases open to Internet. As for government libraries, e mail seems to be the most common form of Internet use. Moreover, data bases (like those of the United Nations) , the library catalogues (like those of the Library of Congress), certain archives of importance or historical fame, files of technical reports, addresses, statistical data, sound and image retrieval were also recurrently asked.
On the other hand, the Directorate supplies the following sources of knowledge ready for dissemination through Internet. Of the Council: Comprehensive information including organisation, legal status , activities, research groups, scholarships, news bulletins, and moreover the above mentioned databases and the library catalogue; and of Turkey: Directory of Information Centers.
Library of the Central Bank provides interlibrary loan, index, awareness and CD ROM search services in addition to the customary library activities. However, the direct access to Internet over the li brary had not been realized yet, since the recent public expenditure cuts had resulted in the retardation of the related investments.
It shouldn't be hard to imagine the variety of benefits that the Institute's library could gain by the use of Internet. At present the library is connected to Internet as a mode over a leased line. T he Internet users receive thereby statistical summary reports. However, 1995 seems to bring substantial developments in the Internet use of the library. Firstly, access to the comprehensive disaggreg ate data sets provided by the Institute will be possible through Gopher or WWW. Library catalogue will also be available. Secondly, the newly established local area network will enable the different Departments of the Institute to be in exchange contact with the library computers over the backbone. With the aid of the same backbone the library will also interact through Internet.
The library was integrated to the AX 780 computer network system of the Organization in 1987. Since 1994 the Internet could be reached over TURPAK in the position of an end user of the Middle East Te chnical University facilities. By full membership, which will probably be the case during the coming months, the library will furnish certain databases, including the library collection after 1980, t he periodical catalogue, plan and implementation data of economic variables at adequate sectoral aggregation levels.
The Internet use was realized by means of a node connected to the Middle East Technical University over a lease line. In case of a membership, library catalogue will primarily be subjected under disp osal.
With 16 terminal points the Center disposes of the HX/3000 922 RX system. The library catalogue was completely transferred to computerized media. On the other hand, current information on foreign tra de satistics, product codes, foreign exchange rates and the like can at request be promptly transmitted from the Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade over a special terminal. Internet use will be availa ble unti the end of the year, through which the library collection will be propagated to a wider range of interested people.
Computerized library services will be enhanced by means of having access to Internet up till the end of the year. Over Internet use it will be possible to retrieve the library catalogue, special stat istics database on woman, and certain subsets of the above mentioned database in various forms, like women news.
When observing the problems of Internet use at the micro level of each library, we mostly detect nothing but the reflections of the main problems of government libraries upon our present concern. The below treatment will therefore comprise a greater area of interest, namely that of considering the adequacy and effectiveness of government library services in a more general context.
In addition and perhaps as anatural extension of the missing status the government library administrators cannot usually partake in the high level decision mechanisms. Indirect evidence to this matte r is collected by the mentioned survey of institutional libraries. Only 4 of the 25 libraries were situated directly under the highest level hierarchical positions (like the office of the president), and 2 of them were under the highest administrative officer (like that of the general secretary). The rest of the government libraries were administrative component units being placed under medium l evel positions (as that of the department head). Thus the chief librarian might not in an abundance of cases take an active part in the determination of procurement and investment plans, and could th is be fortunately the case, he would probably struggle with the upper bureaucracy for the fulfillment of policy decisions in due time and at the desired extent. Especially in an era of permanent tech nological change in the information production and propagation where the Internet might be regarded as a recent example of such an advance these handicaps might in turn create serious drawbacks in th e quality and coverage of services provided by government libraries.
On the other hand, it should be pointed out that a relative freedom to spend out of specific though insufficient funds might sometimes create miracles through ingenious ways of allocating the sum a t the free disposal. However, the mentioned survey of institutional libraries shows that only 4 out of 25 of them were authorized to use independent budgets.
Moreover, it should not be forgotten that government budgets of stabilization periods are prepared to reflect more or less an "investment shy" character especially for the projects with indeterminate rates of return in the short run. Up to a certain extent, it seems that the Turkish government libraries had also suffered from such budgeting attitudes and practices.
Among other budgetary problems, an important one in this context might furthermore be the unforeseen inflationist pressures upon the relative prices and hence the total costs, which enlarged the inad equacies of the predetermined yearly budgets in Turkey. Under these circumstances, usual interventions of the Ministry of Finance e.g. in controlling the partial release of funds (according to short run changes in monetary indicators) had also augmented the effects of budgetary restrictions.
Here, a word of warning might be suitable! When a new investment will be made for a library in addition to the existing capital stock its proper construction or installation might necessitate certain changes in the previously maintained physical conditions. If the limited resources don't permit to make the thereby induced new expenditures, clever minds become inclined to consider some improvised solutions as satisfactory . Such attempts arising from emergencies are not seldom, though the underlying bright ideas prove themselves to cause serious inefficiencies. Leaving examples of technical sort aside, and just thinking of the example that the Internet facilities are kept in some other unit of the institution and will yet be shared with the library,the reduction of the library service e fficiency due to this simple misarrangement can even be more than one might imagine.
Throughout the time, as a result of the hasty race to keep up with the highly innovative computer revolution, a stock of obsolete or out of date machinery and equipment was collected in government in stitutions. Especially at times of restrictive investment policies, government libraries might obtain generous grants of old generation hardware equipment usually with the capacities and specificat ions of which a library cannot for example produce its planned databases. On the other hand, under the mentioned budgetary and organisational limitations, only a small number of government libraries seem to be liable and capable of planning their future technological developments, and thereby specifying what they should actually acquire in detail.
Similarly and under the existing conditions explained so far, the government libraries also confront with a multitude of problems of discrepancy between the available softwares and the actual softwar e needs, due to various reasons like limited assortment or lack of expert decisions. As a result, half way mechanizations, inefficient use of personnel, discovery of strange service conceptions, dupl icated efforts and highly increasing costs were also observed by the government libraries from time to time.
Regarding the Internet, the persons who will be in charge of its utilisation should at minimum be aware of basics in librarianship and information science, and master English and computer appilcations at some satisfactory level. Will these people be trained proper ly, one might envisage how much more should the trainers be educated.
The personnel bottlenecks of Turkish government libraries might not be very serious, but rather have a lasting character. By some government libraries, better recruitment and placement strategies and sensible reorganisations might partially help. However, to get rid of qualitative and quantitave insufficiencies in library employment, additional and demand oriented growth of appropriate human r esources is required, and this is definitely a long term solution.
Moreover it can easily be identified that the share and exchange of information and mere cooperation of government libraries are far from being satisfactory, which in turn cause a common duplication of efforts and low service effectiveness Internet use might be the cure of such deficiencies.
On the other hand, Internet use might encourage the government libraries in developing own information retrieval and even information management systems. Internet membership will also enable or at le ast motivate the creation of national databases and the completion of daring projects of the past.
Internet membership of Turkish government libraries might also convert the international demand for specific and serious information about Turkey from potential to actual, and hence will close an imp ortant shortage.
The possibilities of access to the Turkish government library collections, (which comprise countless unique documents) will deeply enlighten the world about a relatively unknown country. An abundance of information supply (from Ottoman archive material to the documentation of cultural heritage) will also enable to clarify the controversial questions in the minds of people of other countries.
Therefore, it becomes to be an urgent matter to develop a national policy of Internet. The policy should specify the role of Internet use in the realm of the long run national information strategie s and set the principles and targets about its development under the light of the global experience, and furthermore by means of a planned government support. The technological considerations attache d to the realization of the mentioned policy will therefore take the warning signals of the steadily growing excess demand for Internet into account, and hence put priorities for the construction of backbones, local area networks and other infrastructural investments, under the principal aim of widening and improving the network. In achieving this, care should of course be payed to use the limi ted resources in the best possible manner, and not to cause inefficient utilisations in the future. Details of such issues is the concern of another paper.
Considering all the propounded aspects together, it seems that a national agency, being solely authorized for Internet, might have more chances to solve the arising or expected problems. Thus the fou ndation of such an institution might be proposed. It will mainly be responsible for the developmental matters concerning Internet ranging from public relations to legal aspects and for all sorts of p roblems to be dealt with in relation to Internet use. Planning and control of investment efforts might also be under the mutual competence of the proposed institution and an authorized expert agency for countrywide network technologies (like the Turkish Postal Administration).
Government libraries require an organized and regulated coordination and collaboration among themselves for evident reasons that can easily be inferred from the illustrative discussions stated abov e. The proposed agency for Internet affairs might also contribute to the satisfaction of the mentioned requirement. It could e. g. be charged with adequate responsibility in order to coordinate the government libraries which use Internet. Such a coordination might also include an educational cooperation component with the intention of developing Internet user skills which will, on the other han d, serve to cover an important need of government libraries.
2. For details, see e.g. San, pp 25 29. 3. Mentioned is the paper of Cakir on Internet use in TUBITAK.
4. It should perhaps be pointed out that in counting items, reasons, influencing factors, parts of a whole etc. the purpose is not to be exhaustive, but just to illustrate by examples.
5. According to Onalan, p.3
6. Cabezas, p 11.
7. Next year a more illuminating survey will be conducted.
8. For detailed information about the network, consult T.C. Merkez Bankasi, passim.
9. See, T.C. Devlet Bakanligi, p.83
10. For such problems, see e.g. Bauwens, Clement, Hattery (July 94), Kalin and Tennant., Sawyer, Williams, and some other references to be selected from the bibliography according to pu rpose.
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