The National Reference Library of Science and Invention


THE leading article in Nature of July 1, on the National Reference Library and other issues, calls for comment in regard to the problems of scientific information. Miss Webb is certainly to be supported in her aim of recruiting graduate staff who will assist readers in exploiting the resources of the new Library. The National Lending Library, which will not be in such direct contact with its users, is in a much more difficult position to assist in information retrieval (so long as it remains primarily a library). It is not to be expected, however, that such national libraries should undertake large tasks of information retrieval for readers, and hence they are not the correct authorities to handle research on the problems of the collation and dissemination of scientific information. Furthermore, although the needs of users must, of course, be studied and so far as possible met, the organization of such libraries is best left in the hands of scientifically trained librarians, and should not be considered a matter for dictation by any body of users who are only too often unable to specify their questions clearly and are mostly unacquainted with the intricacies of such problems as classification and information techniques. In some respects, however, this position may be changing, since an increasing proportion of the users of the Patent Office Library comprises information officers.

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FARRADANE, J. The National Reference Library of Science and Invention. Nature 191, 734 (1961).

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