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Grumman's Not Your Typical Library

Magazine article Information Today

Grumman's Not Your Typical Library

Article excerpt

Grumman's Not Your Typical Library

Upon entering the visitor's center at Grumman Corporationhs headquarters in Bethpage, Long Island, each visitor is met by an armed security guard who searches their briefcase. Immediately, one realizes this is not your typical corporate headquarters. Within these walls, rest many of the United States' deepest darkest defense secrets.

Grumman, which employs over 25,000 persons worldwide, manufactures many of American's leading fighter planes such as the F-14 Tomcat, the A-6 Intruder, and E-2C Hawkeye.

In order to provide its engineers with the latest information, Grumman's Technical Information Center (The Library) conducts over 12,000 online searches each year.

Many of these searches are done on classified Department of Defense databases. In fact, Grumman was the first defense contractor to access the DROLS (The Defense Research Development Test & Evaluation Online System) databank which has over 120 access points in the classified mode. DROLS is produced by the Defense Technical Information Center.

Due to the top secret nature of much of their work, all Grumman library employees must obtain government security clearances. On any given day, library personnel will come across classified materials. In fact, library material is often arranged according to its security classification rather than the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress System.

The Grumman library has been using computerized systems for information retrieval since the mid 60's. Yes, the mid 60's. Grumman has been online before the term existed.

"We had access to NASA's computerized tapes. The librarian would keypunch his/her questions in at the central computer facility. The next morning the answer arrived from the tapes," recalls Harold Smith, Grumman's Chief Librarian. "In fact, this system was the precessor to online systems."

Shortly thereafter, the NASA/RECON system was introduced. "Lockheed designed this system's software which later appeared in Dialog," Smith added. "Thus, NASA/RECON is the granddaddy of all online systems."

In the 1970's Grumman added Dialog, Orbit, and BRS as they were introduced into the marketplace. Other databanks accessed include Aerospace On-line, Commerce Business Daily, DRI, Budget Track, Dow Jones News/Retrieval, DROLS, Hazzard Line, Infoline, Lexis, NASA/RECON, National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC), Nexis, The U.S. Naval Institute Military Database, and Vu/Text.

In addition to the main library, Grumman has five satellite units on Long Island, each containing specialized collections. Two of the units are staffed by professional librarians. The main library employs 14 persons, five of whom are professional librarians.

The library fields queries from Grumman offices, subsidiaries, and plants located throughout the United States. Since Grumman employees are stationed wherever its products are, for maintenance purposes, questions can come from throughout the world. "It's a lot of fun. One never knowns where the next query could be coming from: Egypt, Guam, Florida, Texas, or the office next door," says Mary Westerling, the assistant chief librarian.

In recent years, the focus of online searching has been moving toward business queries. "Years ago, 90 percent of all our questions were engineering related; today's usage is split 50-50 between engineering and business," states Smith.

The usage shift is a reflection of Grumann's changing corporate strategy. No longer is Grumman's primary focus on building entire aircraft systems. Its objectives are to increase its aircraft design, modification, and subcontracting business as it moves into "managing complex system integration processes through joint ventures with other contractors."

Since the lifeblood of a defense manufacturer depends on procuring government contracts, much online usage is devoted to this end. …

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