On the future of public libraries


Drawing the image of the future has two functions: on the one hand it prepares the institutions for the tasks they have to perform and structural changes to be carried out; on the other hand, it is a chance for outlining optimal conceptions. Though circumstances are constantly changing around us, there are factors by the analysis of which the librarianship of the future may be sketched. The future of libraries is determined by social, economic, political and technological factors. Besides, trends in the library and information world (such as standardised operation, the value for money approach, availability of information instead of documents, etc.) should also be taken into account. The author presents optimistic and pessimistic approaches as well through foreign examples to the view of the future of public libraries.Librarians’ image of the future – from the sociologist’s perspective. Lacking self-esteem at present?

NAGY Attila

The image of the future of librarians is characterised by pessimism, and the lack of self-knowledge and self-esteem. The possible future image of librarians consists of carrying on present conditions, the projection of their knowledge or the lack of knowledge. Since the library is an important institution of the middle-class, the lack of self esteem among librarians originates from the semi-developed state of the Hungarian middle-class. Librarians will be important to such an extent as the decisions regarding the Hungarian secondary and higher education system, and the strengthening of middle class will be made. The most significant “demand” comes to libraries from education (especially from higher education). The level of education is in turn depending on the effectiveness of library services. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement examined the reading abilities of 9-14-year-olds in 32 countries. On the bases of some objective factors (e.g. GDP, mean age, number of percapita library items, income of teachers, costs used for education, etc.) results were anticipated. Hungarian children read considerably more than could be expected on the bases of objective factors. It turned out that reading abilities are in very strong correlation with the number of library items, and that of the grades of compulsory education. Aware of this correlation, librarians may be prouder of themselves. In order to be able to sketch an image of the future it should be considered that the strengthening of the cultural, educational sector, thus the increase of library use will be indispensable to catching up with Europe.

Space requirements of the development of university libraries

URBÁN László

Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Education, an expert team analysed the premises of the libraries of the 18 most significant Hungarian universities. The aim was to determine the level and priorities of necessary developments. The correlation between the given number of students and the area of the building was considered as a basis. However, modifying factors were also taken into account (such as historic collections, extra-university functions, settlement types, etc.). Sketches were drawn and drafts were made on the basis of the survey for determining new building sites, and for the planning of costs.

Higher education in Hungary and World Bank funding

ALLISON, Christine

Experts of the World Bank lay great emphasis on supporting the higher education system of East and Central Europe. The developments aim at the modernisation of the structure of education, the curriculum and to increase the number of students further. In 1990 the Hungarian government prepared the Hungarian Human Resources program for the World Bank in which they asked support for the development of the Hungarian higher education system. The Development of the Hungarian Higher Education System project was also supported by the Japanese government. Since the support is a loan, it is important to use it for the development of fields which will be profitable within a foreseeable period of time, and will make the return of the loans possible. Central funding will decrease in this field due to the present economic state of Hungary, but circumstances may be improved by tuition fees, and other novel constructions of payment.

THEL (Textbook and Higher Education Libraries) Program – Hungary – Libraries sub project. Summary report

NEAL, James G.

The THEL program, a developmental project financed by the World Bank, aims primarily at the reshaping and development of the Hungarian higher education system. This involves the integration of institutions, increased cooperation, the increase of the number of students, the renewal of curricula and textbooks, the development of a new model of administration and financing. The THEL Program focuses to 4 areas: a) acquisition and collection development; b) library automation, database development; c) library administration; d) further education of the staff. The report describes the background of the program, summarises the aims, and the schedule of the development of strategic fields, and financial plans are attached as well.

Collection development in Hungarian academic libraries. (Possibilities of a Conspectus-type collection assessment)


A survey of international collection survey methods and a proposal concerning the adaptation of one of them to Hungarian circumstances was a part of the library sub project of the THEL program. The most appropriate one was the Conspectus method, developed by the Research Libraries Group, that was widespread in the USA and Canada, and was also used excessively in Europe. It is the advantage of this method that it shows the strengths and weaknesses of the collections, supports collection development and interlending. The evaluation uses worksheets. Its elements are the following: subject, collection level, language. The Hungarian collection assessment aims at surveying the collection level of academic libraries, revealing the problems of acquisition and the fields neglected, the detection of overlap, and the enhancement of the national cooperation in acquisition and collection development. Experts prepared a schedule as well for carrying out the survey in Hungary.

Information brokerage in the Press Databank of the Hungarian News Agency


The Hungarian News Agency (HNA) was founded as the 6th news agency of the world. Nowadays its rich, full-text database is also contributing to its fame. The news database, containing pieces of news issued by the HNA since 1988, is a factual, textual subsystem on information in foreign or domestic policy, economy, sport, culture, etc. prepared in the news agency or coming from other sources. The HNA has dealt with documentation since the 50s, first on group, then on department, later on editorial level. The traditional documentation consisted of a UDC-based card catalogue system. Since the full-text database of news was created, the traditional catalogue has become superfluous. The Press Database of the HNA is available to anyone, however, services must be paid for. Information brokerage belongs to these services, too. This involves information services on the phone, in the first instance, and the satisfaction of external and internal information needs. Services are provided by the staff of the database. If internal data are not available for answering a request, external services are used on the basis of a profile list. There are many subscribers to their SDI service. The “anticipated events” subsystem is a new service, just like the provision of graphic data online.