Librarians go high tech
Conference offers internet training

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 02/98) - Technology is something to be embraced by librarians and patrons alike because once they get the hang of it, their lives will become a whole lot easier.

That's Suliang Feng's philosophy. He's the territorial librarian who helped bring together 20 other librarians from across the entire NWT at a conference sponsored by NWT Library Services, in Fort Providence last week.

"It's wonderful. This is actually the first time we were able to bring all the local librarians from across the whole territory together," he said. "Next year, we'll have Nunavut and we already decided that the two territories will share one system."

SSI Micro's Craig Broddy gave the librarians a basic introduction to retrieving information from the Internet. Feng said a significant portion of his staff didn't have adequate knowledge of the Internet.

"Most of the people are not online in remote communities," he explained, adding the Internet will soon be made available in many of those areas.

"The public library has a bigger role to play in remote communities. People always think they are isolated, they don't have enough resources for information. But, the Internet is going to bring everyone together and physical distances are going to disappear... that's why I have to bring my staff up to speed, so that they can perform the job."

Feng has been providing background on the DRA/MultiLIS system, which offers online acquisition catalogues and is available for public access. A full text data base will combine more than 470 periodicals, he said, of the program's capability. DRA/MultiLIS will make sharing resources much more feasible within the territory and around the country, he added.

"This is a very powerful tool," Feng said, "not just for librarians, but for all the residents in the territory."

Broddy said the participants were quick to pick up on the "new wave of library services."

"I think the people have an opportunity to see how the library services are going to be changing in the next little while," he said.