Guest Editorial: Talking about Public Access-PACS-L's First Decade

By Crawford, Walt | Information Technology and Libraries, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Guest Editorial: Talking about Public Access-PACS-L's First Decade


Crawford, Walt, Information Technology and Libraries


Sharing ideas, information, perspectives, and views: a human need and one core aspect of librarianship. Computers have helped people to share perspectives for years, going back long before the World Wide Web. One key tool has been e-mail list processing software, usually called "list servers." Perhaps the largest e-mail list in the library field, and one of the oldest and most significant, is the Public-Access Computer Systems Forum, usually called PACS-L. PACS-L began more than a decade ago. While it disappeared ten years after it began, it came back to life in March 2000 with a new team of moderators and a refreshed spirit.

PACS-L Begins

Thursday, June 29, 1989, 2:21 p.m. Central Daylight Time: "Welcome to the Public-Access Computer Systems Forum, a computer conference dedicated to discussions of all systems that libraries make available to patrons." That's how Charles Bailey, Jr. of the University of Houston kicked off the PACS-L e-mail list. During the next ten years, more than eighteen thousand messages reached an audience that grew to more than ten thousand people.

The message continued: "What can this conference be used for? You can share information about services you offer, products you use, projects you are engaged in, and things that you have read. You can survey conference participants about things that interest you. You can float ideas and see what people think. And, of course, you can stand on a soapbox and tell us your point of view."

There was no Web in 1989, and even the Internet was unknown to most of us. PACS-L used Listserv mail processing software and nearly all that mail went out over BITNET, the Because It's Time Network that linked academic institutions through e-mail. When most of us thought about public-access computer systems in libraries, we meant online catalogs and circulation systems, CD-ROM databases, and maybe a few online services such as Dialog and BRS/Search.

"In 1989," according to Bailey, "the few library automation lists that existed were narrowly focused on specific vendor systems (e.g., NOTIS-L). My primary job responsibilities were in the emerging area of public services automation. Mailing lists seemed to me to be a very powerful tool; however, there wasn't a list for public services automation. I felt that there was the need for a list that would encourage discussions on a broad range of topics in this increasingly important area. With the support of Robin Downes [then director of the University of Houston Libraries], I established PACS-L."

Bailey went on to found PACS Review and served as its editor through 1996. Beginning in September 1990, he prepared and maintained Library-Oriented Computer Conferences, later Library-Oriented Lists and Electronic Serials. In October 1996 he began publishing the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, a regularly updated electronic publication.

PACS-L's Early Months

Word of PACS-L spread through various library channels; people began to subscribe and post immediately. The first message from outside the United States arrived July 3, when Richard Gartner (Oxford Polytechnic) noted, "We at Oxford Polytechnic, UK, are only just starting our CD-ROM service.... Has anyone already set up a working networked CD-ROM service? If so I would be very grateful for anything you could tell me about it." People discussed CD-ROM databases for years, sharing their experiences and pondering the vagaries of CD-ROM performance and search interfaces. Later that month, Tom Wilson (University of Houston) noted the hunger of H. W. Wilson CD-ROM databases for RAM and offered ways to satisfy them. People solved problems by relying on the experiences of others: that's been a major benefit of PACS-L and other such lists throughout their history. Other topics begun in late 1989 included online catalog design (an "evergreen" topic for PACS-L), the virtues of abandoning printed indexes when CD-ROM versions were available, which record elements should be displayed in an online catalog, and the academic library of the future. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Guest Editorial: Talking about Public Access-PACS-L's First Decade
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.