For the Fifth Congress, program sessions have been organized into 44 concurrent and
three theme sessions. This will be the first time that special session have been devoted
specifically to papers which highlight the theme (and sub-themes) of the congress; 139
papers will be presented at the concurrent sessions offered by speakers from 36 countries,
more than twice the number of papers which were delivered in 1953.
A general analysis of the papers presented at the five congresses reveals some
interesting changes of emphasis which have taken place over the past 30 years. Automation
and the various aspects of information storage, retrieval and use - facilitated by
computers - has assumed a larger and larger role as increasing numbers of libraries have
come to use machines to speed, improve, or otherwise facilitate the provision of services.
The need to urge small libraries not to ignore improved technology because they think that
it will not be possible for them to either acquire the means to use it or to develop the
skills necessary has not disappeared since Dr. Ogata's exhortation in 1963. The spread of
technology has accelerated as the potential for the availability of computers in smaller
libraries has improved. The technological rate of change over the past twenty years has
been exponential in nature as the generations of improved equipment appear in shorter and
shorter time periods.
Of major importance is the recent emergence of networks as a vital component of the
medical library scene. Networking takes many forms, from local arrangements among
libraries within a small geographic area, to regional, national and international networks
of great complexity. Networking does not necessarily imply connection electronically, but
can be achieved through telephone, postal or other means (e.g., a group of libraries
linked for the exchange of materials by a delivery truck route). The importance of the
topic was demonstrated at the Fourth Congress where a great variety of systems and
arrangements were described. Seven papers will be presented in Tokyo on national and
regional networking from such diverse countries as Thailand, Uganda, Mexico, Pakistan,
Brazil and the USSR. From these papers, it is clear that networking is a major concern of
both developed and developing nations. Because of the difficulties and costs of conducting
business on an international basis, it is important that regional meetings take place and
regional networks develop.
--excerpted from The International Congresses on
Medical Librarianship Thirty Years of Evolutionary Change by Irwin Pizer.