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How Optical Products Have Been Used in the U.S. and Western Europe



This paper provides a brief comparative summary of the results of U.S. and European studies on the use of CD-ROM and other optical products in all types of libraries and information centers. In 1987 and 1988, questionnaires were distributed to academic, public, and special libraries in the United States and to libraries in 18 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It was found that CD-ROMs were being used mainly in larger academic libraries, with larger staff and collections, although the number of public and special library users was on the rise. In the United States, 58.6% of academic, 56.5% of public, and 29.9% of special libraries said they owned optical disk products; in Europe, 9.5% of libraries surveyed claimed ownership of optical disk products. In both cases, CD-ROMs accounted for 99.5% of optical products used, and they were being used mainly by library staff rather than by the end users. In both 1987 and 1988, the studies found that the high-use CD-ROM titles in the U.S. academic libraries were quite consistent; they remained: ERIC, Infortrac, Psyclit, Books in Print, and ABI/Inform. Results of the surveys also indicated that there was a lack of knowledge about and awareness of the availability, applications, and use of CD-ROMs and optical products in general. (8 references) (SD)


Chen, C.c. & Raitt, D.I. How Optical Products Have Been Used in the U.S. and Western Europe. Retrieved October 14, 2019 from .

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