UK higher and further education is in the process of building a body of high quality electronic content which will be available through an open, interoperable web-based environment. The Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER) is a partnership between higher education authorities, universities, colleges and & commercial information vendors (publishers and aggregators) to deliver an extensive menu of electronic resources for learning and research to 6M students and staff in the sector.
This ground breaking project has had to tackle many of the issues on the current information agenda. These include the negotiating for and licensing of content for this vast audience, the provision of portals and 'fusion services' through which this material can be accessed and integrated, and the support of users distributed through 800 institutions, including virtual training materials and helpdesks. What open standards do we insist that commercial products and systems fulfil? What has been the reaction of users to this content and access architecture? The answer is not necessarily what had been planned or hoped. Some of the painful lessons of the project will be analysed. These are important both for those managing and delivering electronic services and to information vendors.
Allan Foster is Director of Information Services (and University Librarian) at Keele University. He was previously at Manchester Business School (1988-94), Lancashire Polytechnic, Sheffield City Polytechnic and the British Institute of Management.
His main areas of interest include strategic information planning, the use of networked information, electronic database provision, business information and information/knowledge management. He is a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars and professional meetings nationally and internationally, and he has written many books, reports and journal articles on these subjects.
He has been a consultant to a number of companies and public sector organisations in the UK, mainland Europe, Asia and South America, and has been an external examiner at four UK universities. He has a degree in social sciences, is an Associate of the Library Association and a Fellow of the Institute of Information Scientists.
He has been a member of, and chaired, various professional committees, advisory boards and user groups in recent years. Most recently he was a member of JISC's Committee for Electronic Information and Chair of its Content Working Group. He is joint chair of the
Publishers & Librarians Solutions Group (PALS, a partnership between the Publishers Association, the Association of Learned Society Publishers & JISC) and chair of the DNER Discovery Tools Working Group.