Applications of Computer Supported Cooperative Work for Libraries.

Dave M. Nichols
Department of Computer Science - University of Waikato
Hamilton, New Zealand

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Library systems have traditionally been developed to support the work of individual users. Interfaces to existing databases do not support the oncept of a group of users working together towards a common goal. However, in many areas of the information economy, collaboration is increasingly acknowledged as a crucial element for effective work. In computer science the topic of information systems that support groups is known as Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). This paper takes the concepts and frameworks of CSCW and applies them to the world of libraries and information science. In doing so, new opportunities and functionalities for library systems are revealed.
A common CSCW framework is to structure collaborative activities by whether they occur in the same time and in the same place. In libraries, activities can be further arranged into three groups depending on the participants: staff-staff, user-staff and user-user interactions. Examples of computer use in these broad categories will illustrate how traditional scenarios of library use can be changed by considering groups of users rather than single users.