1. Introduction: The information sources which are in electronic format and which are communicate via the electronic media are called electronic documents and in brief e-documents. The electronic media is a computer based media for storage and dissemination of information.
2. Characteristic of E-Document
i) The information are exists in a digital format or computer processable format.
ii) Informatin are published by releasing them to a central database or in the form of CD Rom, DVD Rom, etc.
iii) E-document can embed text, static picture, sound, animation, motion picture and various tactile modes of communication.
iv) Processing, presentation, storage, display, communication is carried out through the use of digital technology.
v) E-documents are distributed by CD Rom, DVD Rom or communication link.
vi) Helps in easy document delivery. Users may established their own accounts, change services, pay through credit cards or by some other pre-arranged method and have requested material delivered directly to them by Fax, Email, etc.
3. Advantages of E-Documents
i) Structured Approach: E-document provides accesses to much richer content in a more structured manner i.e. we can easily move from a particular content to a chapter from the index to the original text, etc.
ii) Reference: In case of e-document the endnotes are available by a clickable link from the note of main text. The reference sources provides online link to the original document so a seamlessly integration can be achieved.
iii) Information Retrieval: The user is able to use any search term belonging to the word or phrase of the entire publication. Some online e-document also provides internal search engines.
iv) Updated Information: Latest information can be accumulated in e-document very effectively so a new edition / version can be brought with a little extra cost.
v) Multiple Accesses: The same e-document can be used at the same time by a number of users.
vi) On demand publishing: The individual subscribers can be provided with only that document which match their profile and can be changed accordingly.
vii) Space: E-document requires very little physical space to keep them. So when a library had no space for extension digitization is the only solution.
viii) Preservation and Conservation: An exact copy of the original can be made any number of times without any degradation in quality.
ix) Cost: E-document is cost effective when we consider its maintenance, additional copy, etc.
x) Speed: In case of e-document time lag between the origin of a document and its use by end user will be greatly decreased. Also the time lag in submission of a reference question in library, referring the user to a particular document, its consultation in the computer screen, editing, composing, printing and forwarding will be greatly reduced.
xi) No physical boundary: The user of e-document need not to go to the library physically. People from all over the world could gain accesses to the same information as long as the internet connection is available.
xii) Round the clock availability: E-document can be accessed at any time, 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year.
xiii) Manageability: E-document can easily be managed by adding bookmark and personal notes to the site or by downloading it to private files or database for copying and editing.
4. Disadvantages of E-document: The computer viruses, lack of standardization for digitized information, quick degrading properties of digitized material, different display standard of digital product and its associated problem, health hazard nature of the radiation from monitor, etc some of the problem associated with e-document. Some other disadvantages of e-documents are
i) Copyright: E-document will violate copyright laws as the thought content of one author can be freely transfer by other without his acknowledgement.
ii) Bandwidth: E-document will need high bandwidth for transfer of multimedia resources but the unused bandwidth is decreasing day by day due to its over utilization.
iii) Speed of Access: As more and more computers are connected to the internet its speed of access reasonably decreasing, if new technology will not evolve to solve the problem then in near future internet will be full of error messages.
iv) Incompatible Hardware and Software: Due to the absence of common standard regarding hardware and software the display of e-document creates another problem.
v) Initial cost is height: The infrastructure required to access the e-document is generally high i.e. cost of hardware, software, lease line connection, internet LAN, etc.
vi) Preservation: The technology used by a particular e-document publisher becomes out of date very soon due to the rapid technological development. So the data may become inaccessible.
vii) Environment: An E- document cannot be read without the computer system or special equipment needed to access the document. So a user cannot take out an E- document with him to read it at convenient time and place. Again, many people find reading printed material to be easier than reading material on computer screen. So E- document cannot reduce the environment of a traditional book.
According to Crawford and Gorman (1995), paper and printed still work best for sustained reading while electronic distribution of information is better for communicating data and small packet of information.
viii) Simultaneous Access: Over the world could gain access to the same information as long as the Internet connection is available.
ix) Round the clock availability: E- document can be accessed at any time, 24 hours a day and 365 days in a year.
x) Manageability: E- document can be easily managed by adding book mark and personal notes to the site or by downloading it to private files or database for copying and editing.