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IUCr 1994 Report - International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI)

The principal ICSTI activity during 1994 was the 1994 General Assembly, held in the Garden House Hotel, Cambridge, 7-11 July. The highlights of the Meeting were the presentations in the Technical Session on Friday 8 July on

(i) The RightPages System and Other Developments in STN Publishing;

(ii) The Development of an Electronic Library for a New University;

(iii) Impact of Project TULIP;

(iv) World Wide Web: a Global Scientific Enabler.

The programme was structured to provide the viewpoints of a publisher, two librarians from different environments and an expert user on document delivery services, all based on practical experience. The publisher was naturally concerned with the difficulties of dealing with a multiplicity of protocols, of the wide range of expertise among potential users and with the difficulty of identifying a viable market. The librarians, while cautiously optimistic about the performance of systems within the limited domains that they described, identified technological and organizational problems requiring resolution if those ideas were to be extended to a larger clientele. The expert user described exciting applications of electronic publishing but it was not obvious how these could be extended to commercial or semi-commercial operations.

Other sessions on The Coming User Environment, Responding to the Challenge and Assessment and Integration were more philosophical and somewhat less informative.

ICSTI is also engaged in projects to provide information to benefit its members, the most notable being the Network Utilization Survey Project, in which the IUCr is participating. The previous IUCr Representative on ICSTI often commented that the IUCr was better equipped to contribute to ICSTI than was ICSTI to the IUCr. With increased emphasis being given by ICSTI to document delivery, in which the Class A members, including the IUCr, are vitally concerned, that is less true than it was. I remain very much in favour of improved communication, and eventual amalgamation of ICSTI and CODATA. I regret to report that, if anything, the situation has become even more complicated by the Publishing Service of the International Council of Scientific Unions now setting out to study Electronic Publishing in the Scientific Domain. There are too many bodies undertaking the same tasks. What is less clear is how to persuade some of those that are redundant to withdraw. I favour a concerted approach to ICSTI and CODATA, asking both to pursue amalgamation actively. I recommend pointing out to ICSU that Electronic Publishing in the Scientific Domain is already being studied by other international bodies.

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Updated 13th February 1997

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