Magazine article Online

Wow!-30 Years of ONLINE Magazine

Magazine article Online

Wow!-30 Years of ONLINE Magazine

Article excerpt

I often feel I've led a charmed life. When Marydee Ojala informed me that this issue is the "official" 30th anniversary issue of ONLINE magazine, I could not help but reflect on my own experience with the magazine and the industry it covers. I've been very fortunate to have worked within the content profession in terms of both the work itself and the people.

I remember seeing ONLINE for the first time, noting both its in-depth online industry coverage and its somewhat diminutive odd size--it started out at 7 x 10 inches. At that time, I was working as a reference librarian at San Jose State University (SJSU) and ONLINE was the new kid on the block--we considered the periodicals that provided extensive listings of potential library acquisitions and selection tools, rather than something covering online technology, to be our core reading material.

In fact, online searching had not yet been introduced at the SJSU Library. The California State University and Colleges were doing a phased introduction of online searching on their numerous campuses.


In the late 1970s, reference librarians (when they weren't working at the reference desk) did collection development and, often, bibliographic instruction (BI). BI was a major activity for some of us (and still is for many), although it is more often called information literacy today. During library school, I worked on a variety of BI projects, including a thesis that compared a traditional 90-minute classroom lecture to an audio-visual (AV) module covering the same material. Somewhat surprisingly, the AV module, which took 9 minutes for a student to complete, provided approximately the same increase in scores when the experimental groups were pre- and post-tested.

This AV module was produced in 35mm slides and cassette tapes. Students viewed it on a quaint device called a Caramate, a rear screen rotary carousel slide projector with a built-in cassette player. Advanced models could go beyond the audible beep to advance the slide by enabling the user to insert inaudible signals to synchronize the audio and visual displays. Little did I know that this relationship between bibliographic instruction and analog audio-visual tools would lead to a career in the emerging digital online industry.

In 1978, a small Los Altos, Calif., firm, Information Access Co. (IAC), introduced the original "computer output to microfilm" (COM) version of the Magazine Index. My thesis advisor worked with the early IAC team and asked if I could produce a slide-tape introduction on the Magazine Index. Being young and eager (plus excited about getting paid), I said yes. We squeezed script writing, production meetings, and activities into my academic library schedule. The finished product served as an approval tool and virtual sales visit. Interested libraries could request the presentation and receive a carousel of slides and a cassette tape. This allowed the library to review the content and features of the Magazine Index. As many readers recall, this microfilm index, viewed on a specialized microfilm reader, was a big success. Students lined up for them and the printed periodical indexes sat unused.

Before IAC sent the first presentation to any library, it hosted a party with a guest list that read like a Who's Who of Library Science in the Bay Area. Luminaries from University of California--Berkeley, Stanford, the San Jose State University Library School, and many other local library leaders attended. This was the premier showing of the Magazine Index presentation. Instead of the Caramate, we used two projectors and a dissolve unit, choosing to go high-tech with this esteemed group. At the end of the presentation, and to considerable applause, I was introduced to the group. It was all very exciting and gratifying.

Several weeks later, while working at the reference desk, I received a phone call from Fran Spigai, then director of marketing at Dialog. …

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