National Library is fulfilling online orders
There’s no need to search long for articles or books at the library, since we can now access the catalogue online
Editions can be requested online and delivered to your e-mail address within just a few days (or even hours), thanks to the National Library’s e-delivery system. Staff trialled the service over a decade ago but saw little interest, although one village resident did give them a surprise with his request. It wasn’t until the National Library began offering online access with e-payment that the service truly began to ‘take off’. Now, not only Belarusian readers but those from Poland, Germany, France, Austria, Israel, the USA, Canada and various CIS states have been making requests, paying conveniently in their own currency.
The Head of the Inter-Library Subscription and Document Delivery Department at the National Library, Olga Skalaban, tells us, “We can send e-copies of periodic articles and book pages — including those which are rare. In addition, we can provide fragments of photographs, as well as audio and video materials. The library keeps documents in 70 languages, and around 10,000 Belarusian thesis papers. We also buy e-bases from around the world, such as are not available online. If a customer is unsure where to find a particular article, we can search on their behalf. We do have some rules, such as only providing e-copies of up to 10 pages. We look at each case individually, following the law ‘On Copyright and Related Rights’.”
Ms. Skalaban continues, “Staff involved in the e-delivery service don’t know their virtual clients personally but, as seen from the themes of requests, most are students, researchers, local history investigators and scientists. Placing an order, users often indicate that the matter is urgent: even that they have ‘exams tomorrow’. Some orders are received from people living close to the National Library but 30 percent of all requests are from foreigners. Not long ago, customers from Buratia addressed us, wanting to collect information on Harbin’s Russian Law Department from the 1920s. Luckily, they discovered Vestnik Manchurii magazine at the Belarusian library — including its first issue (1926).”
Olga notes that the Yakub Kolas Central Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences will be next to offer the online service, followed by other libraries. She asserts that the impression that any information can be found online is not yet the case, as many documents are yet to be digitised. However, the current materials available are adequate for schoolchildren and first year university students. She admits, “Those needing more detailed information, to prepare a serious scientific project, should address libraries. Writing your diploma paper purely from online sources isn’t sufficient.”
By Nadezhda Dekola