Services in libraries based on the Internet : a study of the "international network of public libraries" of the Bertelsmann Foundation

Services based on the Internet have become indispensable to the pursuit of public library missions, in which there has been a recognition of rapid development. A working group of the international network of public libraries of the Bertelsmann Foundation has devoted itself to a study that gives an insight into the state of the art. It appears that, in most cases, these services either renew or complete existing services; they do not call into question either the missions of the public libraries or the libraries' fundamental function of selection, organisation and mediation. The examples cited offer a broad outline of the possibilities explored by the public libraries; they reflect also a great diversity of options and procedures. In this regard it is necessary to be aware that their development should not constitute an end in itself. Online services are likely to call upon important human, material and financial resources. That is to say, it is necessary in this case, as for every other service, to determine choices and priorities with regard to the direction of public policies and of previously defined strategic aims.