Electronic and print forms of scientific material offer distinct advantages and present different challenges for libraries. The key advantages of online distribution are search, context (linking and navigation), variable presentation and analysis. Elsevier's technology strategy focuses on these opportunities, and how best to drive greater librarian and end-user value through the use of these technologies.
In this issue we hear from Pat Thibodeau, President of the Medical Library Association, who describes how medical libraries are responding to the availability of these new technologies. The Purdue University Libraries team provides insight on their work with internal and external partners to create an integrated eLearning environment. And Steve Schafer shares his experiences in distance education at Athabasca University. An interview with two technologists, Peter Brantley at CDL and Chris Shillum at Elsevier, looks at the Shibboleth initiative and advantages this could bring for remote access and management of rights while protecting privacy.
Throughout the issue, librarians from Brazil to Korea give their perspectives on how best to reach users and ensure the best use of available online resources. Navigation and ease of use are key aspects, of course, and our user-centered design team provides hints on how to improve website accessibility in the Ask UCD column.
New technologies surrounding content transformation and handling allow electronic content to be presented in variable chunk size, on variable devices, and directly into point of use. Students and professionals are ready to exploit some of this alternate presentation of content, in the context of courses, on PDAs and in more readable formats. The articles on eLearning, FIRST Consult, e-ditions, POCKET Consult and Live Ink are all examples of Elsevier’s investment in this direction.
Tools for analyzing large bodies of scientific content are finally coming of age and out of the research laboratory, and this is perhaps the heaviest research investment of Elsevier. We conclude with a look at Elsevier’s Innovation Lab, a project that provides us with an opportunity to share some of this research and work with librarians to assess the value of new technologies, some of which will find their way into future product development.
It is our hope that this issue illustrates some of the challenges of new technology, and ways libraries and Elsevier can work together to meet them.
Chief Technology Officer and Head, Advanced Technology Group,
Elsevier, Boston, MA, USA