Anders, Vicki - Automated Information Retrieval in Libraries: A Management Handbook

Article excerpt

Anders, Vicki. Automated Information Retrieval in Libraries: A Management Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992. 248 pp.

Some information professionals feel that setting up an automated information retrieval service is both frightening and difficult: How would such a service be financed? How could it be managed? How do we select qualified staff? Should we have online services or just CD-ROMs? Should we still order paper indices? If you identify with these professionals, you will be happy to hear about Vicki Anders' new book, Automated Information Retrieval in Libraries. Here is an overview for the newcomer of how an automated information retrieval service can be managed.

As Anders expresses in the preface, the "book attempts to illuminate the total picture of an integrated automated information retrieval service by showing how online, ondisc, and locally loaded databases work together to serve search analysts, librarians, and end-users." The subtitle, however, gives a better indication of how the book can help you: "A Management Handbook." Anders explores what a manager should consider in operating the service.

She begins by exploring the various options available to the library manager (i.e., print, online, or ondisk). She gives a background of the online and on disk options, which help the library managers make more informed decisions about automation.

When a choice exists between a computer index and a paper index, students typically choose the computer, even if it is in use already--students don't want to use the cumbersome paper index. Studies show that students view the computer as an "all-knowing" source. When the computer displays, No Entries Found, the student thinks that nothing can be found and gives up searching altogether.

One of the problems that online services are having in libraries is a low patron response. Some are not getting the business required to make the investment in computers and staff worthwhile. Anders explains that much of this problem can be solved by promoting the service. She views the increase in advertising of the automated services as good: "libraries realize that service is enhanced simply by explaining what is available to the public." It may be necessary "to identify the competition" so the service can be promoted. When an information broker is in the community, libraries can "emphasize the advantage of having the automated information retrieval service in the same building as the materials. …