Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Library Automation Software: A Step Back, a Look Forward

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Library Automation Software: A Step Back, a Look Forward

Article excerpt

In previous years, the Trends in Technology article on Media Management Systems has focused on particular software products, their vendors, and their saturation as measured by market share and other factors. This year, in the spirit of T.H.E. Journal's 20th Anniversary, we propose a step back from the particulars and instead take a holistic look at the future of library automation. Not surprisingly, that future is closer than one may think.

The Vision

Karen, a community college student, is researching a topic for a paper in her Women's Studies class. Yet instead of driving to her campus' library, she turns on her personal computer and dials into the college's library via her modem. After logging onto the system, she enters the on-line patron access catalog and begins with several keyword searches: working women OR working mothers, employer AND child care.

After a few seconds the system lists 23 citations. Karen prints these out, then checks to see where the items are located. She is most interested in three books located at other libraries: one at a university 20 miles south of her, one at another community college in the area and the last at the state's library over 100 miles away. She sees that four other books at her community college's library are currently checked out.

Not to worry. Karen sends a loan request to the two distant libraries--they will have the books sent to her community college's library in four to five days. One of the four currently checked out is also necessary to her research, so Karen files a request to reserve the book when it is returned. She also notices that the college has two videotapes on her topic; she writes down the call numbers for those as well.

Global Information

The concept of a global information stream that can be accessed by anyone at virtually any location may seem grandiose, however it is an actuality. A program has been developed at Sonoma State College in Rohnert Park, Calif., that gives any VAX VMS user with access to the Internet the ability to search literally hundreds of library catalogs in 36 states and around the world. It is public domain and an invaluable resource for educators and students.

Making information resources available to all often begins with a state whose vision of information access embraces the public at large and students at every level. Ohio, for example, initiated a project to do just that--OhioLINK. It's goal is to give users in the state's colleges and universities, municipalities and private research organizations access to both printed and electronic materials located in 15 public and two private universities, plus the State of Ohio Library.

OhioLINK is based on the existing Ohio Academic Resource Network, a high-speed telecommunications link that joins users with the Ohio Supercomputer Center in Columbus and the Internet. This TCP/IP-based network supports DECnet, Digital Equipment Corp.'s protocol. Digital's DECsystem 5500 RISC/ULTRIX computer, in turn, is the common platform for OhioLINK, with Innovative Interface, Inc.'s software providing public access to materials, circulation, serials and acquisitions applications.

Currently six campuses are running the library automation package and are online. Later the state may install hundreds of library workstations to support online searching for images and text. This $23 million investment will give patrons at library terminals and personal computers the tools to connect to all of OhioLINK's libraries, which will appear to them as a single resource. In addition, those logged onto any of Internet's globally located academic and research networks can search OhioLINK's resources.

It is projected that by 1994, 20 million volumes will be available to 2,500 concurrent users.

Ohio isn't alone in it's global perspective. Texas Christian University's (TCU) library relies on a DEC VAX 6300 Series mainframe and Data Research Associates, Inc. …

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