'Enabling Seamless Access' argues the case for a National Information Strategy, pinpointing high quality information as the key to educational development, to economic competitiveness and to greater popular involvement in local and national governance.
But SLIC warns of the danger of information networks developing randomly and unevenly or being taken over by largely commercial interests and says it is imperative that the development of a national strategy is a priority for the Parliament.
It says a task force should look at how a national information strategy can best be developed, managed and implemented to secure Scotland's position as a leading international centre in the democratic use of advanced information and communications technology.
'Information is about learning, it is about the way we do business, it is about government, it is about changing the shape of our cities and rural areas, it has possibilities for better health - and if we pass up the opportunity to develop a cohesive policy for information management we will let down the whole country.'
Mrs McKenna continued: 'Library and information services have a pivotal role in the development of a national strategy with their background in developing - and continuing to develop - electronic networks and in giving the widest possible access to print and electronic resources.'
SLIC has identified a series of targets which a National Information Strategy could achieve, including:
putting the interests of Scotland citizens at the forefront of all new developments in Information and Communications Technology programmes providing fast, convenient and seamless access to information for the public
assisting the integration of government initiatives in learning, social inclusion, economic competitiveness, governance, health and urban and rural regeneration
providing an integrated networked environment which will stimulate the development of Scotland's knowledge economy
co-ordination of existing and future public, private and voluntary sector ICT networks
ensuring that the public as the necessary skills to fully participate in the information society
ensuring that all geographic communities and communities of interest are equitably served by ICT developments
using the strength of a strategic network to support greater inward investment into ICT based jobs and industries
using the strength of the strategic network to encourage greater participation in Scotland's political processes avoiding duplication of resources and infrastructure.
Enabling Seamless Access - Making the case for a National Information Strategy for Scotland, was launched today (Monday March 29, 1999) by Scottish Library and Information Council Chair, Rosemary McKenna, MP. Copies of the report are available from SLIC.
Scottish Library and Information Council
Scottish Centre for Information and Library Services
1 John Street
Hamilton ML3 7EU
Tel 01698 458888
Fax 01698 458899