3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Apr 15, 1994 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on April 15, 1994. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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Date:         Fri, 15 Apr 1994 15:34:42 CDT

FYI France: President's Report, Conseil Sup. des Bibl.(pt.1of2)

from:   Jack Kessler

There are few better means of keeping up with French library events,
and now with networked information news, than by regularly reading the
_Rapport du Pre'sident_ of the Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques
(full citation appears below). This annual report is short,
comprehensive, and elegantly written by Michel Melot, former
Conservateur of the Bibliothe`que Nationale's Cabinet des Estampes,
then first Head Librarian of the Centre Pompidou's Bibliothe`que
Publique d'Information, and now President of the CSB and a leading
French library figure. In his "Rapport", Melot provides, every January,
a full statement of the French library events of the preceding year.
His indications of remaining issues provide the best hint of the
problems likely to be undertaken by the French library community during
the current year.

The table of contents and translations of three sections of the most
recent report -- the Introduction and sections entitled "The
Development of Electronic Networks" and "The Weakness of Music
Libraries" -- follow:


(from the Rapport du Pre'sident 1993, published last month, by the
Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, written by Michel Melot,
translated by jk:)


The libraries of France confront some difficulties, along the road to
their recovery. The old quantitative targets have not yet been
attained, and now they must be corrected in the face of changes in the
economy and in library techniques.

Library staffs have grown, but library education has yet to find either
its basic foundation or some commonly - accepted goals: it still needs
to be stabilized. In addition to these recruitment and development
difficulties, which one hopes are temporary, there are other weaknesses
throughout the library world, primarily at the base and the summit of
the discipline: research in information science remains inadequate, so
that France remains on the outside of important international debates,
while at entry - level the most numerous of the profession's personnel
still await recognition of their increasing importance and

The push for public literacy goes on, taking on new directions and
nourishing new reflections, even though the working budgets of local
governments leave much to be desired: full measure can't be taken of
their work simply by counting up quantities of acquisitions and opening
hours. In his reception for the Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques,
only days after his taking office, the new Minister of Culture and
French Language approved of the priority which is being given to
literacy, but he asked how this task might be reconciled with limited
means, and whether it would be possible to define a library formula
which would not discourage the least - rich or less - decided local
authorities, and still might provide the spark for literacy, while
working together with other cultural institutions.

We must not slow down our budget efforts, particularly the increases
achieved in the number of library positions, as France is behind the
other countries of Northern Europe, even with the recession which is
hitting them, and also because it is more necessary than ever to plan a
better arrangement of resources, a better organization of tasks, a
better connection of libraries among themselves (to this end anything
which can be done for cooperation among libraries will be an investment
in the economy and efficiency of their future), and perhaps new methods
of governing and functioning and assisting one another.

In university libraries, where the emphasis is placed on increases in
acquisitions and opening hours, library jobs are sacrificed for library
building projects which rise very slowly from the earth. Library
architecture better designed for controlling costs of surveillance and
public service, the development of dial - in services, the improvement
of control and consultation tools, and coherent general plans, are the
order of the day if we wish to give the students, instructors and
researchers access to their work tools, according to their levels of
need and the demands of their disciplines.

The Bibliothe`que de France, finally, has taken the necessary step of
merging with the Bibiothe`que Nationale. Thus reassured, the
Bibliothe`que Nationale de France finds itself at a new beginning, and
now may deploy its services without neglecting either its national role
or its international role, at a moment when it is not easy to foresee
which services must be rendered at home and which might be developed
for international application.

Book borrowing, in the past, has opposed many of the other interests in
the book: this difficulty has been, and is still, the occasion for our
taking measures too often founded upon our weaknesses and our ignorance
of the other point of view, and for compromising principles in the face
of the realities of our missions. To avoid this common problem, the use
of electronic documents, which has become the necessary route for both
book - making and the transmission of texts, affords an opportunity for
isolating some of the more ancient professionals for the benefit of a
new generation of librarians.

Libraries -- public, school, university, national, or specialized --
have their place in all of today's grand debates, whether they are
concerned with maintaining social cohesion, or with fighting
inequalities, or providing continuing education, promoting development,
inventing Europe or "reinventing" the French nation. To participate
actively in these debates, librarians need to be well - situated, in
their own services and in their missions, able to unite and at the
same time maintain their individual views. The views expressed by the
Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques have as their goal the support
of such participation.

The difficulties which are to be encountered should not be concealed,
but they should not be allowed to turn us from our goals: French
libraries without doubt have much to learn, but they also have much to
teach. They must not underestimate, if they are to progress further,
either that which they must achieve, or that which they already have

Table of Contents

I.      The Role of the State with regard to Public Libraries
II.     Book Borrowing in Libraries
III.    Librarian Education
IV.     The Bibliothe`que Nationale de France
V.      University Libraries
VI.     The Handling of "Grey Literature"
VII.    European Programs of French Libraries
VIII.   School Libraries and Literacy
IX.     Children's Libraries
X.      Other Questions Considered by the Conseil Supe'rieur des

[From the final section, "X. Other Questions Considered by the Conseil
Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques":]

The Development of Electronic Networks

The generalization of communications by the electronic networks, in the
world of research, permits access to principal sources of knowledge,
the direct exchange of information, and the global and immediate
diffusion of research results, and is in the process of transforming
the trades of publishing, of distribution, and of documentation.

The initial reports emphasized the new idea that the researcher, in
direct contact with documentary resources, and mastering particular
tool of composition and its circuit of distribution, might be capable
today of leaving behind all librarians, publishers, and booksellers.
The reality, more complex, shows that each of these actors remains
indispensable and reappears in her same place, although she must modify
her practices and acquire new skills.

The great publishing houses are preoccupied actively with all of this,
in alliance with the principal distributors of specialized periodicals,
and with the American bibliographic networks. Thus the publisher
Springer and the University of California have combined with a Bell
company for the electronic distribution of periodicals on campuses,
featuring personalized subject access; OCLC, _Chemical Abstracts_,
Cornell University, and Bellcore, have inaugurated the diffusion of
current and illustrated periodical collections; OCLC, _Current Clinical
Trials_ and the American Association for the Advancement of Science
provide fulltext searching from illustrated summaries, using hypertext,
and with gateways to other databases; the English network JANET is
experimenting with a service offering the on - screen consultation of
periodicals through a system showing first their covers and tables of
contents; the publisher Elsevier, already pursuing its Adonis editions
-- offerings of medical periodicals on compact disks -- offer 42 of
their 1,100 titles via electronic access, and is launching with
Pergamon the CODAS service, of electronic document delivery in
Materials Sciences, etc.. Subscription services (Ebsco, Blackwell,
Swets, Faxon) are evolving toward new notice and bibliographic
services, and electronic distribution of articles and texts.

In the library world, the document delivery establishments, the British
Library (BLDSC) and the CNRS (INIST) above all, are among the first to
try to adapt to these new possibilities. But the rest of the librarians
and publishers also must find their places in this new territory. The
risk exists today, for the librarians, of finding that the users will
ignore them, preferring to try their own research skills, the skills of
specialists in their areas, and those of engineers able to open paths
for them into electronic documentation.  Free access to fulltext brings
to librarians the same hope and the same potential embarrassments
which, a short time ago, were provided by free access to the
bookstacks, obliging them to change their manner of dealing with the
public, to modify their tools, and to present their work as mediators
entirely differently.

The recent declarations of the American Vice - President Albert Gore on
the de - regulation of telecommunications in the United States, and the
significant government financing devoted -- as much by the government
as by universities and private corporations -- to perfecting and
securing general access to and acceptance of the networks, can only
increase a movement which already is growing explosively.

(Next: the French librarians' e-conference, BIBLIO-FR, conclusion of
the Conseil's views on library and information networking, and "The
Weakness of Music Libraries".)


FYI France: President's Report, Conseil Sup. des Bibl.(pt.2of2)

from:   Jack Kessler

(In Part 1, Michel Melot, President of the Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques, summarized French library and information networking
events of the past year and pointed out several of the issues which
will be worked on this year. His discussion of the specific networking
issue was begun. Here he describes the formation of the French
librarians' e-conference BIBLIO-FR, he mentions several of the problems
caused for libraries by networking, and he concludes with a discussion
of the current problems of French music libraries.)

(from the Rapport du Pre'sident 1993, published last month, by the
Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, written by Michel Melot,
translated by jk:)

A group of librarians, unhappy over the absence of French libraries on
the most heavily used international networks, met at the Conseil
Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques on June 28 to launch an electronic forum
for French libraries, today known as "BIBLIO-FR"
(biblio-fr@univ-Rennes1.fr), which has had a rapid success,
particularly among French - speaking librarians of North America: of
today's 400 subscribers, 176 are American and 56 are Canadian.

This initiative was pursued under the auspices of the Conseil
Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, as it favored cooperation among
libraries and the opening of French libraries to the outside world, two
objectives which are among the Conseil's primary goals. On the one hand
France and the French world should have their place on these networks,
and the fact that the Ministry of Culture and of French Language was
the first to place its own databases on the largest network, the
"Internet", supports this policy. The objective is realistic, as was
demonstrated by the network "Brise" of the St. Etienne libraries,
and the perspectives opened by the experiences and projects of the
universities at Caen, Grenoble and Montpellier.

On the other hand, the possibilities respond to one of the questions
posed on the occasion of the construction of the Bibliothe`que de
France. One recently has seen American and Russian schools connected
inexpensively thanks to the daily usage of electronic networks, and Mr.
Gore has announced his project ("I give you this challenge: that in the
year 2000 you will see connected all our classrooms, all our libraries,
our hospitals and our clinics...)("Albert Gore annonce une relance de
la course a` la communication interactive", _le Monde_, 14 janvier
1994) in terms which recall those used by Mr. Mitterrand in 1988. But
the use of networking will not arise from Mr. Gore for French users,
and if the implementation by university libraries of the network
Renater, which allows high - speed connections, is under way, that of
public libraries remains tied to connections to "regional connects",
financed by local government, the Ministries, or large research

>From this perspective, France does have some advantages. At the
research level, the INRIA (Institut National de la Recherche en
Informatique et en Automatique) plays a central role and contributes
its expertise. At the users' level, we already have at our disposal the
Minitel, a commonly - accepted tool permitting us -- even though
perhaps at a low service level -- to offer, to each home, services
which some think elsewhere might be reserved only for a specialized
elite.  The relationship between the global possibilities of access to
knowledge offered by the electronic networks, and the access to all
which they permit, in France with the Minitel, is not yet established.
Thus the libraries -- there are more and more of them -- which offer
their catalogs on the Minitel often are disappointed at their rates of
consultation, and ask themselves how they might improve the service to
become better known at first, but also how to become more attractive,
better presented, and truly interactive.

If dial - in access to library catalogs still is small, the general
function of communication still is under - estimated, and certain
services enjoy an unanticipated success, like e - mail which, foreseen
merely as a device for speeding up the return of overdue books, has a
tendency to transform itself into an ongoing dialog between reader and
librarian: for asking questions, suggesting acquisitions, and
participating, in a certain way, in the life of the library. Another
advantage of library catalog consultations on the Minitel is to
distribute the readers better among the different libraries of a city,
and get them to visit several sites, permitting the equalization of
acquisitions and activities of a group of libraries. These experiences
at times reveal the lack of relations among the libraries and the other
communications services of the city, encouraging the library to better
integrate itself into the municipal system.

An effort of education and information for librarians remains to be
undertaken, if they are to take into account all the ramifications that
this evolution implies, an effort with which the Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques will associate itself to the full extent of its mission
and its means.

The Weakness of Music Libraries

Several members of the Conseil Supe'rieur have been concerned for the
weakness in France of the music sections of public libraries,
particularly in matters concerning music loan, which is very developed
in the Anglo - Saxon countries.

The increasing success of music teaching has been the object of reports
which, with reason, are congratulatory. ("Un secteur culturel en
de'veloppement: les e'coles de musique", in _De'veloppement Culturel_,
n.101, Nov.1993. See also: Fre'de'rique Patureau, _Les Pratiques
Culturelles des Jeunes_, Paris : La Documentation franc,aise, 1992.)
Elsewhere, librarians know -- by the constant increase of music
borrowing -- that music is one of the strong points in readers'
interests, particularly the young readers and adolescents whom one
wants to retain. If the music interests of the young appear to be on
the rise everywhere, one can only deplore the poverty of the music
offering of public libraries in full music scores which permit the
actual performance of works.

It must be said, first, that in the music field there must be an
improvement in relations between libraries and publishers, that is to
say frankly that there must be some accounting for the lost revenues
produced by the photocopying which loans to the home make so easy. The
prejudice caused by photocopying is more severe, in the music area than
in others, because of the comparatively higher investment involved in
the production of sheet music and because of their small editions. This
problem is generally resolved in music conservatories by the payment of
a fee by students. Its solution in libraries is a precondition of any
further development.

Having made an initial assessment of the situation, a committee of our
Conseil, chaired by Vice - President Franck Laloe:, concluded that the
loaning of music scores in France remains largely an affair of the
music conservatories, a situation which excludes the public other than
conservatory students and teachers. An inquiry made by the music
section of the Association des Bibliothe'caires Franc,ais, addressed to
336 music teaching establishments, received 161 responses, among which
114 establishments said that they possess music collections. However
only 67 said that they had a library. Inversely, the public libraries
in France offering music scores are the exception. In both cases there
is a problem of training qualified personnel.

Several visits to the best - known collections convinced us that the
missions of the conservatories in the matter of loans cannot be taken
on by public libraries, even though, here and there, some cooperation
might be possible.  The vocation of conservatories clearly is
pedagogic, and they must respond in the first instance, like any school
library, to the needs of their students and their teachers. The absence
of offerings in the public libraries therefore can only continue to
create confusions and makeshift solutions.

The municipal libraries with music collections of any importance are
very few in number: at Paris, the Discothe`que des Halles, but also the
Picpus Library, in the provinces several cities in the east, an area
with a strong musical tradition, like Mulhouse and Belfort, and a
project in the Bordeaux Library, and others. This rarity of collections
involves problems: the public is not near, one must come a long way to
borrow scores, and music libraries function as special libraries
without having either the means or the training to do so.

Lacking examples and practice, the basic questions of music
librarianship rarely are made known to the profession or the
government: help in creating collections comes from the Centre National
du Livre without public libraries' taking advantage of their access to
the help of the Direction de la Musique; bibliographic tools are
lacking, particularly for the non - classical music which interests the
users of public libraries, outside the education arena; the librarians
themselves are apt to avoid a costly activity which risks developing at
the expense of others; finally, the specialized training, as has been
analyzed elsewhere, is badly lacking, in both initial and continuing

The development of music sectors poses difficult problems to the
managers of public libraries, beginning with the definition itself of
what it is to be a music library, with the idea of a me'diathe`que
which integrates the different media:  sound documents and scores,
which do not always address the same publics, do not necessarily
combine well.  The extension of score collections also requires a
thought and a policy: if it is clear that a municipal library ought to
offer different publication methods -- pocket scores and instrumental
music scores -- the same cannot be said for both separate parts and
orchestra scores which are too difficult to manage. To what point
should the librarian, supposing that one has the means, proceed?

Without doubt, the development of these services also reflects the
fragility of publishing and of bookselling in France in this area.
Foreign examples -- particularly of Germany and Great Britain, where
these services are active and up to date, to the great profit of
amateur musicians -- must be studied. This is why the Conseil
Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques placed this question on its agenda and
organized meetings assembling French experts. This study must be
pursued in 1994 by visits to establishments and the consultation of the
Direction de la Musique, of the commercial organizations of music
publishers, and of the international association of music libraries. A
more detailed study will be presented for the consideration of the
Conseil and published in our next report.

Bibliographic Note:  _Rapport du Pre'sident (Michel Melot) Pour
L'Anne'e 1993_ (Paris : Association du Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques, 1994). ISSN 1157-360. 128 pages. Available from:
Association du Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, Palais Garnier, 8
rue Scribe, 75009 Paris.


FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter,
      |           published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal,
      |           experiment, in the creation of large - scale
      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
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        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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