By Cy Dillon
Ginger Young, current president of the Virginia Special Libraries Association, recently asked me, "Where else can you network with librarians from NASA Langely, Colonial Williamsburg, the Roanoke Times, Mezzullo & McCandlish, the Federal Reserve Bank, the College of William and Mary, and Philip Morris?" She had me there.
Living in a state rich with special libraries, we often take their diversity and bounty for granted. While Virginia Libraries frequently features special libraries and their librarians, we are particularly fortunate that this issue contains five articles about special libraries and their work, along with a discussion of copyright law by a distinguished law librarian and a piece on a new prize for writing about the history of libraries in the Commonwealth.
Ginger went on to say that "Our libraries add a touch of the corporate and the museum world to the public, school and academic libraries, which are the backbone of VLA. We have varying work places and clientele, but networking gives us valuable support for serving our parent companies." Certainly our association is enriched by its scores of members from special libraries, and the level of interconnection and multi-type cooperation found among Virginia's libraries should be a model for other types of institutions. We have longstanding success in multi-type buying consortia, multi-type interlibrary loan agreements, and, through VLA's legislative efforts, multi-type advocacy programs. We can expect even more in the future
If you are thinking about working in a special library, Ginger advises that "The future looks promising for a career in special libraries; information is highly valued in the business world. Special Librarians tend to work with specialized types of information, and personal expertise is welcomed." Let me add that VLA appreciates the participation and support of all the professionals and paraprofessionals who make Virginia's special libraries work.
Speaking of work, all of us associated with Virginia Libraries want to thank Gail McMillian and the rest of the staff at the Virginia Tech Library's Scholarly Communication Project for the job they have done in making our journal part of their electronic publishing effort. Led by our own Associate Editor Nan Seamans, they have produced a handsome and remarkably useful version of the magazine. Issues since the title change are archived in the pdf format, providing exact images of the pages. Issues beginning with the first quarter of 1999 will be available in both the pdf and HTML versions. HTML allows for live links to internet sites and e-mail addresses, and it has the advantages of quick downloading and easy cutting and pasting for quotations. That means articles featuring web sites will support direct browsing, and that it will be quite simple to send a colleague—or an entire list—a book review or article.
The SCP staff has also allowed our webmaster Steve Helm to link directly to their attractive and authoritative site for the VLA site's version of Virginia Libraries. Take a look for yourself by going to the VLA page, selecting "publications," and clicking on the Virginia Libraries link. Beyond the value of the archive itself, we are delighted with the additional status our authors will have by being part of the SCP. It is also pleasing to think of being able to post links to articles in listservs and on web sites, or even of being able to access and download images from past issues. Our copyright policy allows, even encourages just that sort of use.
We believe this web presence, along with the quality hard copy and the H. W. Wilson commercial version of our journal, help us fulfill our purpose. Virginia Libraries is intended to promote communication among members of the library community and to make it easy to share good ideas, pass along vital information, and address important issues we face in our work. The SCP version takes us to an entirely new level of ease of access and use.
Finally, I want to make a belated expression of appreciation for the efforts of Jane Schillie in helping put together the first quarter issue on library instruction. She not only wrote a fine article, but she also helped identify and recruit new authors. A space crunch in the column area and my own carelessness in writing caused an oversight that has to be corrected. The quality of the articles in Virginia Libraries is often the result of networking by recognized leaders such as Jane, and I would not want to be responsible for producing the journal without support of this caliber.