Libraries in European Regions - Access to Telematics and Other Resources
LIBERATOR established exemplary Regional Information Services (RIS) in diverse European regions of Alentejo (Portugal), Vlaams-Brabant (Belgium), Aquitaine (France) and the North of England based on regional web sites and networked public library services. RIS web portals link and co-ordinate local web sites pertaining to the needs of participating regions and provide excellent opportunities for local businesses and organisations to present themselves to new markets. RIS further public participation in the information society through an increased awareness of telematics and improved access to information. They provide structured gateways, to the mass of information on the Web and improved information retrieval tools for mediators. LIBERATOR introduced many library staff to the Internet for the first time. The acquisition of new skills for all citizens improves competitiveness in the job market and offers new opportunities for personal development. The development of the following RIS has had considerable impact within the regions: -North of England RIS at http://thenortheast.com -Sir Alentejo at http://adamastor.isegi.unl.pt/sir/ -RIS Vlaams-Brabant at http://www.ris.vl-brabant.be -RIS Aquitain at http://www.liberator-aquitaine.org Compared to commercial information services, public library led RIS offer added value: -They include quality information from the public, private and voluntary sectors. Information from voluntary organisations is often ignored by commercial information services. -Public libraries have a tradition of developing services for people with special needs. -They provide mediated and unmediated information services. -RIS Web sites can also provide access to community information of the type traditionally held by libraries. In setting up RIS, public libraries have developed partnerships that demonstrate to local communities how libraries are introducing new services to meet the needs of citizens as we enter the information age.