Development of Library Networking
There has not been an agreed set of definitions as to what the term 'network' means in the information sense. The Oxford English Dictionary states that a network is "an interconnected chain or system of things", On the other hand the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), U.S.A. defines network as two or more libraries and/or other organisations engaged in a common pattern of information exchange, through communications, for some functional purpose. A network usually consists of a formal agreement whereby materials, information and services provided by a variety of types of libraries and/or other organisations are made available to all potential users. Libraries may be in different jurisdictions but agree to serve one another on the same basis as each serves its own constituents. Computers and telecommunications may be among the tools used for facilitating communications among them".
Yet another definition has been furnished by UNISIST II, Working Document which defined "Information Network' as "a set of interrelated information systems associated with institutional arrangements, in order to jointly implement information handling operation, with a view to pooling their resources and to offer better services to uses. They generally facie identical or Compatible procedures" (UNISIST II).
In the light of the definitions cited above Library and Information Networking is the area with a direct impact on information services, their efficiency and effectiveness. Definitions of Library Networks usually emphasis different levels of cooperation among libraries or other participating organisations in the network. According to Library of Congress (LC) the functions existing in library network are bibliographic utility and services centres. The main distinction between these functions is based on the product orientation of the bibliographic utility and the distributor orientation of the service centre. Service centres mainly function as access points to provide products and services obtained directly or derived from the bibliographic utilities. In addition to accessing the bibliographic utilities the service centres may also provide to the input data to the storage and retrieval facilities of bibliographic utilities.
It must be mentioned here that the broader world of information systems has grown over the last decade from a centralised model of terminal-based networks time-sharing a large computer, towards a decentralised view small autonomous cooperative systems linked in a complex open network on to a peer-to-peer basis. In library information networks also, a similar type of development has taken place owing to the technological advances providing nevpoami6litiee.