Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Linked Systems and the Online Catalog: The Role of the OSI

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Linked Systems and the Online Catalog: The Role of the OSI

Article excerpt

Linked Systems and the Online Catalog: The Role of the OSI

The online patron access catalog has finally come of age. In hundreds of libraries throughout North American patrons can access the majority of the library's holdings from any one of several terminals using either a menu-driven or command mode. The online patron access catalog is a dramatic improvement over the card or COM (computer-output-microform) catalog because it provides:

* More access points to holdings. Catalogs arranged in the traditional

sequence--whether in the form of cards or microform--provide only

a limited number of access points to the catalog record. A book by

Martin Ross with the title Data Transfer in Analog and Digital

Telecommunications Systems could be found in a card catalog only under

the last name of the author, the first word in the title, and the subject

headings "Communications" and "Data transmission." A search

under "analog," "digital," "telecommunications," or "systems"

would not retrieve anything. In a machine-readable database mounted

on a system with keyword searching capabilities, it would be possible

to search for an identify the book using all of the access points in card

or COM catalog, plus the four additional keywords in the title--all of

the terms in common usage today, but not used as subject headings in

library card or COM catalogs.

* More relevant search results. In a system with Boolean search

capabilities it would be possible to execute very specific searches, thus

reducing the number of irrelevant records retrieved. The following

example illustrates the precision of Boolean searching:

data transfer

OR data transmission

AND digital OR analog

NOT data storage

ONLY monographs

ONLY English language

ONLY published 1978 OR later.

The impact of such capabilities on staff and users can be gauged

readily by checking a few items in a card or COM catalog. A mine of

information is hidden in the middle of titles and subject entries. Having

direct access to this data would enable a library to make better and

more extensive use of the materials in its collection and to meet users'

needs more efficiently and promptly.

* Remote access. An automated system can be accessed from anywhere

inside or outside library buildings.

* Availability information. An automated system that includes

circulation as well as online patron access catalog software can provide not

only holdings information, but also availability information. The

system shows what is out on loan and when it is due to be returned. A

patron is usually more concerned with what is available, than with

what is held by a library.

* Greater exploitation of materials through improved inventory

control. The automation of circulation in addition to the patron access

provides enhanced inventory control through rapid follow up of

overdues, sophisticated fine-tracking capabilities, and ready identification

and blocking of delinquent patrons. Automated systems offer

streamlined reserves (holds) procedures, enabling library users to obtain

materials of interest to them more rapidly. Such a system also can be

used to undertake electronic shelf inventories of library holdings, a

task often neglected in libraries with manual systems because it is

labor-intensive.

* Improved collection development. An automated circulation control

system also has the ability to readily output detailed usage statistics. …

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