Web Magazine for Information Professionals

NewsAgent for Librarians

Mark Kerr, research assistant on the NewsAgent for Libraries Project, describes a project to build a news and current awareness service for the LIS community.

Information overload has created a need for information delivered to the desktop at a time, in a format and covering topics chosen by the user, not the provider.

NewsAgent for Libraries started on April 1st 1996, and runs for two years. Located within the Electronic Journals strand of the eLib programme, the project will develop a personalised news and current awareness service for the LIS community. The main partners involved in the project are:

Newsagent Logo A report on filtering systems and agent technology is in preparation, and the views and needs of potential users are being sought through a series of focus groups run by DILS-UWA.

Users will select from a variety of options: mode of delivery - email, web page or via a Z39.50 client; frequency of delivery - weekly, daily, or on publication of each item ('real time' newsfeed); subject matter - using keyword profiles, selection of sources, type of material (eg 'only refereed articles', or 'excluding book reviews'). The range of customised news services and current awarenes services already available on the Web - Infoseek Personal , NewsPage Direct, InSite, to name but a few - demonstrates both the demand and the potential for this type of service.

The NewsAgent service will contain material from a range of sources, including refereed and other papers, reviews and editorial material from leading UK LIS journals such as Program, VINE and JoLIS. As well as the main partners, the project consortium includes several leading LIS organisations - LA, ASLIB, IIS, British Library, Bowker-Saur - who will contribute a range of news, publications and briefing materials. Information from other sources identified during the project may also be included. With this range and depth of content, the LIS professional will have access to an information source second to none for scope, immediacy and relevance.

As well as identifying appropriate sources and developing technical solutions for handling them, the project will be addressing publishing and managerial issues concerning content, including quality control, copyright management, user registration, access and billing policies and strategies for handling negotiations with content providers.

Publishers wishing to offer editorial content should contact the project as soon as possible, indicating the kind of materials which may be available, and contact information for us to follow up.

Further details about NewsAgent are available from the LITC website, or direct from LITC.