One rarely considered effect of the Web is the falling demand for reference librarians. Rather than watch idly while the increasing availability of online materials takes their customer base, and therefore funding, librarians have formed a consortium of international libraries to build a super reference service.
Called the Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS), the system will link academic, public and government libraries. Approximately 60 libraries are participating in a test, each answering questions that are most germane to the individual library's strength, and a Website should be up by June. Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Duke Divinity, the National Gallery of Art, the National Library of Canada and the National Library of Australia will be part of the system. Ultimately, the consortium is supposed to function in 20 languages.