The author presents a description of the establishment and installation of the Information and Library Service computer network of the ministry of Finance and places it in a context of library standards, the existing information system, the information infrastructure and connections with other databases and networks in Slovenia. She also speaks about the use of the local network which enables access to information and library services provided by the global network.
Key words: information system, information infrastructure, local network, global network
After the independence of Slovenia, numerous changes overflew the whole country on several levels and spheres of activity. They as well influenced the organization of the government administration and its bodies, due to which new and different objectives had to be set up. Faced with changing and expanding trends of the administration that had been traditionally awkward and bureaucratic has enabled the Ministry of Finance to advance new solutions based on high technology. The ability to recognize and respond to the needs of the ministry was a great challenge.
First of all, it was recognized that one of the most important tasks within the Ministry of Finance is to provide effective, qualitative and cost-effective sources of information of both domestic and foreign origin. For that reason it was decided that further development of the Information - Library Service should be supported by the establishment of a virtual library.
Offices of the Ministry of Finance are located in several different buildings. By means of collecting and distributing information through the local computer network, the ministry, however, effectively centralizes operations between the head office and its other units. On the other hand, the same system enables decentralization of highly specialized units of the ministry.
The use of e-mail has become very popular, especially for sending information of a general type. By means of e-mail it is possible to get daily abstracts of articles released by the Slovenian Press Agency, education information, library news. Internet advice, business information, foreign exchange rates, etc. Through the network the Ministry of Finance has access to other parts of the government administration. By means of ARNES, however, it has access to the Internet.
All users have personal computers. The Information - Library Service has three computers, all of which are connected to the local and the global computer network. Recently, it has been assigned access to the Internet which, however, is not a general practice in the ministry. Access to the Internet is normally assigned on an individual basis.
Most printers available are network printers, which means that printers attached to the print server can be used by any user connected to the network. The Information - Library Service has one printer attached to the local as well as to the global network, which allows printing of data from either network.
Among recent major development in this field is the integration of information processing into the electronic information environment. Further development of this area will require new solutions, especially in the field of (IT) Information Technology. Information professionals will have to collaborate closely with IT experts, set up new strategies, improve their knowledge of IT and obtain further education.
As far as establishment and development of a virtual library is concerned, information technology solutions are the most important foundation on which this service is building up its function. This refers mostly to electronic storage and secure data management , network communication technology, electronic media, etc. In addition, electronic systems may bring numerous benefits regarding professional, operational and strategic opportunities, time limitations and target transmission of information.
The establishment of the Information - Library Service was a real challenge. The main task of the project was to bring the existing library into line with current library science standards.
The installment of the network and the choice of program packages was subject to limited financial resources. The global computer network, as a matter of fact, may provide expensive as well as more publicly accessible, cheaper sources of information. Our main interest was to find an optimal solution; to buy the best program packages possible at the lowest cost. It is important to say that the concern for secure data management, as most data are strictly confidential, was considered very carefully and set in the first place.
The network operational system which is installed on a special data server enables access to the following services: INFOLIT, IUS - Software, The ISSA Handbook database.
Infolit has been designed to operate within local computer networks for users working in the Windows environment. The original database is installed on the network server, which enables access by all potential users. At the same time the system ensures sufficient control over unauthorized access to the data. The users of Infolit can be divided into two main groups:
The first group have access to all functions of the program. The second group is allowed to review specialized literature, publications and other library documentation and search for information. The users of Infolit also have access to the contents of the literature. The database being installed on the network server enables users to access the program from their workstations.
In order to protect personal data the users of Infolit do not have access to the names of the borrowers. They can only have information on whether the desired literature is available and at the users’ disposal.
For the Law Collection there are two main program packages, IUS- system and IUS - Register. The first one refers to the Slovenian legislation and other legal documents (laws and regulations, court cases, taxes) The second comprises the register of laws and regulation in force, including the dates of the issue and the dates of later changes and modifications.
In the IUS-Register the users normally search for information related to when and in which media the particular legal document or regulation was issued. In addition, the program enables viewing of any desired text. By providing both functions, searching and reviewing, the program has proved to be very useful.
Both programs enable copying and downloading of word text into a file on the user’s workstation.
The database operates in the Windows environment. The original version is updated twice a year upon a publication which provides current changes and modifications.
The ISSA Handbook database enables users to search quickly and easily for specific data of information on an individual country and to compare the same kind of data between two or more different countries. The system also enables searching by keywords.
Cobiss/Opac is a network application, constructed in accordance with up-to-date principles of the development of the network type application (client/server principle). Its software is composed of two logical program components (clients and server). Client is a user interface which “translates” the actions of the user into formalized questions, thus transmitting it to the second program (server), which may be installed on the same or on another computer. The server responds to questions issued by the client. Whereas the client may be installed on any VAX or PC computer, the server can only be installed on computers that already have the Cobiss system databases installed.
Cobiss/Opac enables the user to transfer data from the Cobiss system to other systems (e.g. Infolit) for the automation of library activities on the local level (PC), to view local databases and catalogues of institutions included in the Cobiss system, and to view the union COBIB database (Cooperative Bibliographic Database) in the function of various catalogues (e.g. catalogue of library materials of all institutions included in the Cobiss system, catalogue of foreign serials of the Republic of Slovenia, catalogues of individual universities, etc.)
The Information - Library Service of the Ministry of Finance is an associated member of the Cobiss cooperative online bibliographic system.
Generally speaking Internet is a global library. However, it is well known that it enables several different services. The Information - Library Service of the Ministry of Finance provides the use of its basic services, such as e-mail and access to distant computers and networks. So far, e-mail has been a significant factor in all areas of the Internet.
Users of Internet may search for various data, exchange information and communicate with other users of Internet primarily by means of search engines such as Excite, Magellan,Point, Inktoml, Alta Vista, InfoSeek, Lycos, Open Text Index, Webcrawler, Yahoo, etc.
The system enables users to survey the daily clippings, to search for articles published within a given period of time by using different data selection services (sundry entered data, words appearing in abstracts, or keywords), to search for radio and television broadcasts recorded and entered in the form of magnetogrammes, to survey international clippings, and finally to survey and search for contributions prepared by the Slovenian press agency STA.
Infoklip is an application, constructed on a client/server principle and developed for the Windows environment. It was introduced in 1995, at the beginning only for certain individual Ministries, offices and Government services that already had the facilities for connecting to the server at the Government Public Relations and Media Office through their network servers and the State administration communication system. At present, the clippings are available in this way to the majority of Ministries and Government offices and services.
So far, the system has brought numerous benefits in enabling both the Government Public Relations and Media Office and other users to perform numerous highly important tasks, better and faster. An additional quality of the system is its flexibility, since it can be adapted to new customer requirements with no major difficulties. In other words, the system is open, upgradable, and expendable.
However, there are also some disadvantages that have to be mentioned. There is a possibility of viruses entering from the Internet and other communication devices which may bring about serious problems in the organization and performance of the virtual library.
Furthermore, there is a great problem arising for people working alone in an electronic environment with a computer being the only partner for most of the day. In comparison to people working with the public, in social places, persons working with computers are exposed to social alienation and disaffection.