Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fax for Library Services. Do you remember when fax services were going to be the next big thing in library public services? Neither do I but many thought so at one point. I think fax service is nice if you can offer it but there is not a lot of demand. Kind of like chat reference in that respect...Here is an article from 1991 on the topic.

From the site:

Although the proverb "Better late than never" may be applicable to many situations, it rarely applies to library users' information needs. Most users prefer timely access to information regardless of its location. In response to this, libraries of all types are meeting users' information needs by installing facsimile (or "telefacsimile," or "fax") machines to speed interlibrary loan requests and document delivery service. And the number of libraries offering fax services is rapidly increasing: the 1991 edition of the DIRECTORY OF TELEFACSIMILE SITES IN LIBRARIES IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA lists 3,924 sites, up 63% over the previous year's edition and almost 800% over the 1986 edition. Boss (1990) reports that at least 1,000 new facsimile machines were installed in libraries in 1989-- double the number installed in 1988.


Facsimile machines combine a scanner and a modem to send and receive printed or graphic information across telephone lines. The sending facsimile machine scans a document and converts it to a digital copy consisting of a series of black and white dots (or half-tones, in the case of a more sophisticated machine). This digital information is then converted to analog signals that can be transmitted over telephone lines. The receiving facsimile machine re-converts these analog signals to digital information and prints a copy of the document on plain or thermal paper.

A more recent development in facsimile technology is the FAX BOARD which, coupled with a computer and the appropriate software, allows the computer to transmit information to other fax machines or computers with fax boards. However, fax boards are limited to sending electronic information, which may be a disadvantage for use in library applications. To enable a computer with a fax board to send printed information, one must purchase and install a scanner to convert print information to electronic form.

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