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Teaching online information systems: perspectives on the British experience.

Johnson, Ian M.


Ian M. Johnson


The original aim of this paper was to review the development of education and training for online searching in Britain during the last ten years. The literature is fairly comprehensive in its coverage of the evolution of online searching, and of new developments such as OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues), CD-ROM systems, expert systems, and image storage systems. It would have been possible to write a book on these topics but that task has already been completed by the authors of no less than three books which have appeared in Britain.1,2,3 The different approaches which have been taken to aspects of education and training, including the development of simulations and the place of online searching in the curriculum have also been thoroughly considered. After completing an initial review of this extensive literature, it became apparent that it would probably be most useful to draw attention to a number of issues which do not appear to have been widely discussed. Certain aspects of the British experience could be of particular significance for future development in those countries where online searching is not yet as widely practiced. These relate particularly to the impact of assistance and encouragement for experimental research; the impact of end-users' appreciation of the potential of online information services; and the implications of teaching online systems (and other forms of library automation) for curriculum development, student recruitment, funding, and the position of the Schools of Librarianship within their parent institution. These issues are not fully discussed in the existing literature, but have a long-term significance far greater than the solution of the technical problems associated with online searching. The paper therefore attempts to highlight some of those issues, drawing upon the literature and the author's observations of developments in Britain in the last ten years.


JOHNSON, I.M. 1991. Teaching online information systems: perspectives on the British experience. IFLA journal [online], 17(3), pages 241-247. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 31, 1991
Online Publication Date Aug 31, 1991
Publication Date Oct 31, 1991
Deposit Date Oct 30, 2008
Publicly Available Date Oct 30, 2008
Journal IFLA journal
Print ISSN 0340-0352
Electronic ISSN 1745-2651
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 3
Pages 241-247
Keywords Training; Education; Online searching
Public URL


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