Magazine article American Libraries

ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibits: Most Technologically Significant Ever

Magazine article American Libraries

ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibits: Most Technologically Significant Ever

Article excerpt

ALa's Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia delivered impressive technology from a number of vendors whose online public access catalogs (OPACs) now feature graphical user interfaces GUIs) and public access to the Internet/World Wide Web (WWW).

This means that some automated library systems now provide access to both analog, or print-form, library materials searched through the OPAC, as well as to remote digital resources available on the global Internet, through easy-to-use GUIs.

In addition, the move to client/server architecture, one form of which features PC-based clients with GUIs, Z39.50 client capabilities, Internet search tools, and Web browsers, is now a stampede. Vendors whose systems don't feature these capabilities will have to play catchup by this summer's ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The way it is now

It's the end of the road for dumb terminals and character (typewriter-style) interfaces. You've got to have public access through graphical--hat is icon-based--point-and-click user interfaces to the Internet. Any library system that doesn't offer these features will be conspicuously lacking at Annual Conference.

Easy-to-use GUIs for public access to the Internet have come true, including "Web browsers" (such as Mosaic and Netscape graphical interfaces) for access to the Web--the hyperlinked subset of computers on the Internet that can be queried through keyword searches of various Web indexes such as Lycos and WebCrawler and then seamlessly connected to with a simple "click." Every library automation vendor without it at Philadelphia will have to show it in Chicago just to appear competitive.

Public access to the Internet/WWW is now a basic requirement of automated library systems, which must support easy-to-use searches of the library's OPAC, as well as of the global Internet/WWW.

What's driving public access to the Internet? Already available in IBM's OS/2 WARP operating system for PCs, and to be included in Microsoft's Windows '95 when it's released later this year, are "one-button" connections to the Web, so that consumers who purchase PCs in retail outlets will have a graphical user interface (Web browser) as part of the operating system on their home and office computers. …

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