Canada's York University Encourages Free Community Downloading of Its Online Circulation System, with Good Results

Article excerpt

Canada's York University encourages free community downloading of its online circulation system, with good results

YORKLINE IS YORK UNIVERSITY'S VERSION of the "Community Access Module' (CAM) of Geac's online circulation system. CAM was first developed by Gene Damon at the University of Waterloo to provide information about the library's holdings to users beyond the confines of the library.

Since January 1984, YORKLINE has made it possible for anyone with a terminal or a personal computer with modem and communications software to dial into the Geac circulation system database for information about the collections in York's five libraries on two campuses.

YORKLINE is a menu-driven system that provides access by author, title, subject, and call number. Brief browsable records may be expanded to a fuller form. The full display shows the call number and up to three lines each of authors, titles, imprints, and subject headings, followed by a grid indicating the number of copies at each location, the number currently available, and the location of reserve copies. A note showing locations and holdings for serials is a local modification.

York's present configuration of one 1200-baud and two 300-baud telephone lines will be expanded according to demand. The time limit on a terminal session, now set at 30 minutes, can also be manipulated to accommodate demand. YORKLINE normally operates 24 hours a day, but on Saturday night the bibliographic indexes are rebuilt. The facility is used at all hours of the day and night, weekends and holidays, providing access when the online system is down and the libraries are closed. There is no charge for the service.

Imaginative users

YORKLINE's users find novel ways to exploit the facility. More and more of them dial in from microcomputers equipped with modems and communication software, rather than from "dumb' terminals. These users take advantage of disk storage and the general-purpose nature of microcomputers to download bibliographic data for later manipulation off-line by word processing or database management software.

Instructors use YORKLINE to produce reading lists. Faculty and students use it to produce bibliographies. One downloader exulted: "I'll never have to write down another call number!' A professor used his lap computer to produce a list of books on his subject to take along on a one-year appointment in China. …