2000

McLean, Evadne. “Library Support for Distance Learners – Lessons From the UK Experience.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 19 (Spring 2000): 15-23.
In order to enhance service at the University of the West Indies, the author visited 14 universities and discussed library services with 55 librarians at a distance learning workshop in the United Kingdom. An analysis of the discussion reveals a division among librarians on whether or not libraries should dedicate specific resources for distance learning students. Issues related to this question include the development of student research skills, the availability of material in course packs, financial considerations, the image of the library, and equitable service. The author discusses a number of features of library service for distance learners in the United Kingdom, including organization, access to collections, reference and instruction services, and cost. Several strategies for supporting distance services are highlighted, including liaison with distance learning instructors and administrators, publicizing services, setting appropriate standards, and surveying users. Drawbacks of distance library service identified include copyright clearance, equity issues between distance and traditional students, the absence of national standards, and the lack of reciprocity with other libraries. J. Brandt.

1999

Cole, Louise. “The SCONUL Award 1998: Providing Services to Distance Learners: A Look at Practice in UK Higher Education Libraries and Consideration of the Needs of Undergraduate Distance Learners.” SCONUL Newsletter, no. 17 (Summer 1999): 39-43.
The author summarizes the results of a three-part examination of distance library services in the United Kingdom. Library services for distance learners vary greatly among different institutions of higher education, from no service offered to significantly developed programs. In reviewing current library services, four main areas are outlined: electronic access, document delivery, literature services, and postal loans. An overview of a survey of distance students discusses their information technology skills, use of local libraries, and willingness to pay for services. The third part of the study highlights the need for collaboration with other public and university libraries. The importance of being proactive is stressed. J. Brandt.

Gibson, Andrew, Robert Newton, and David Dixon. “Supporting Open and Distance Learners: Practice and Policy Across Further and Higher Education Libraries.” Library Review 48, no. 5 (1999): 219-231.
Library services for open and distance learners at further and higher education libraries in Scotland are reviewed. Key developments in distance library services are outlined by literature review of three areas: access to resources; access to skills and services; and policy development and guidelines. A survey of all Scottish and select English academic libraries included open and closed questions on the provision of services for distance learners. Results from various areas are highlighted, including circulation policies, document delivery and searching services, remote access to electronic resources, user training, and finances. Interviews were also conducted with library personnel from four Scottish universities. The topics of comments summarized include communication with distance education staff, services available for distance students, access to guidance materials, access to support and help, and partnerships with other universities. The authors analyze information from the literature, survey and interviews to highlight key factors in the successful development of library services for distance education. J. Brandt.

1998

Cowan, Barbara. “Vigorous Engagement: Distance Learners, Learner Support and Libraries.” In Networked Lifelong Learning: Innovative Approaches to Education & Training Through the Internet: Proceedings of the 1998 International Conference held at the University of Sheffield, edited by Sheena Banks, Celia Graebner, and David McConnell. Sheffield: University of Sheffield, 1998, 2.1-2.9.
The results and implications of two University of Sheffield surveys dealing with library service for distance and online learners are presented. One survey addressed the provision of core reading materials for online courses, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of providing recommended readings electronically or via mail study packs. The second survey attempted to get a current snapshot of library support for distance learners in Britain. Among the issues discussed are document delivery, reference assistance, remote access, user education, computing skills training, reciprocal library arrangements, and future directions in library support for distance learners. J. Markgraf.