Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Washington Library Network's Computerized Bibliographic System

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Washington Library Network's Computerized Bibliographic System

Article excerpt

The Washington Library Network is developing a computer-assisted bibliographic system to speed and expand library operations throughout the state. Features include MARC format with all content designators, subject and name authority files, sorting by LC rules, and stringent quality control. Future modules will add acquisition/accounting and circulation support. Online capabilities are currently under development.

This paper describes the present batch-mode cataloging support subsystem, its history, operation, impacts, problems, and costs. Present developmental efforts toward online integrated acquisitions and cataloging support are indicated.


The Washington Library Network (WLN) is developing a computer system to speed and expand library operations. The WLN emphasizes the sharing of resources among all types of libraries and the economies of a centralized computer-communications system to provide assistance for libraries' internal functions, boosting the power of libraries to respond to today's rapidly increasing information demands within ever-tighter funding patterns. Such a system would incorporate at least the following qualities:

* Adaptability to various computer configurations and library requirements;

* Ability to access and update current data in an online mode;

* Assistance to most library functions: order and receipt, cataloging and processing of materials, accounting, circulation, reference searching;

* Ability to handle all kinds of bibliographic records;

* Careful quality control for accuracy and completeness of data;

* Ability to intake and output MARC II formatted records, for standardized communication with other libraries' computer systems; and

* Capacity to serve multiple libraries in a network configuration.

This computer-communications system is designed with the potential to be broadened to a multistate network, to be interfaced with or be emulated by other libraries' or states' computer systems, and subsequently to become an integral part of national and international information networks.

A basic assumption is that the totality of library information in any area or state or region or in the entire nation is a people's resource which, as with the educational system, should be sustained and made available equally to all in the public interest. All citizens, regardless of domicile location or economic or physical problems, should expect convenient access to library resources and information services for their self-enrichment, economic well-being, and entertainment. With the help of new technologies, the ability of libraries to provide their constituents with wanted resources can be improved. The Washington Library Network is the outgrowth of statewide planning to realize this overriding concern.


Library development in Washington encompasses a long history of intrastate and interstate cooperation. An early expression of the latter is the establishment of the Pacific Northwest Bibliographic Center (PNBC) in 1940 to serve Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia (later adding Alaska); PNBC was reorganized in 1970 to improve the interlibrary loan flow throughout the region. Based on a long-range library development plan initiated by the Washington Library Association in the 1930s, fifteen district library systems now coordinate public library services to over 60 percent of the state's population. (Only 4 percent of the population lack public library service at present, with 36 percent served by municipal and club libraries.) Active cooperation continues to expand with such endeavors as community college consortia, area programs involving various types of libraries, liberalized interlibrary loan procedures, and multidistrict patron cards. Various intrastate serials listings have been published: e.g., a statewide serials title list, a serials holdings list at the University of Washington, and a union list of serials holdings for the libraries in the Spokane area. …

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