Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Microcomputers and School Libraries in the United Kingdom: Part II

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Microcomputers and School Libraries in the United Kingdom: Part II

Article excerpt

There is little information available concerning the adoption of these three models by British schools; hence a research project was undertaken during 1988 by a postgraduate student in the Department of Library and Information Studies at Loughborough University.

This project involved acquiring information through questionnaires, interviews, and written responses from local education authorities and library services. In aH, seven local authorities were covered, these being Bedfordshire, Croydon, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Kent, and Somerset.

Bedfordshire The introduction of information technology IT) into school libraries began with the county's Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) pilot schools and the IT across the curriculum (ITAC) project schools in the Luton area. Further, 1988 saw the launch of a five-year IT curriculum-centered plan, in which school librarians are involved.

The County Library service is evaluating the DOLPHIN, BOOKSHELF, and ELROND computerized systems, and the SIMS (school management) project in the county is being considered, as this contains pupil data that the library could use.

There is a co-ordinated and well-established policy of information technology in school libraries. Micros are used in some schools for database information retrieval, principally using QUEST, SIR, and MASTERFILE. A variety of word processing programs are being used also, and COMMUNITEL is being used by some schools for preparing viewdata. The research found that the issuing and cataloging of books was considered by many school librarians to be a desirable future development.

The use of computers at Luton VIth Form College and Queensbury Upper School is representative of other school libraries in Bedfordshire according to a survey undertaken by the County Library Service in September 1987.

Luton VIth Form College has a BBC B and BBC Master in use within the school library. Databases were initially compiled using the SIR program for the topics of women's rights and theatre studies, and subsequently a database for English literature open study work has been compiled. All staff and students have unrestricted access to these databases. One BBC Master, four BBC Bs, and one hard disk machine are in use at Queensbury Upper School Library in Dunstable. Among other functions these provide access to school-created databases on air pollution for third-year chemistry students, third-year fiction reviews, and indexes to History Today, World Health Magazine, and National Geographical Magazine.

Croydon Since 1984, this authority has been involved in the IBM PC in Schools Program to explore the potential of business micros within schools for administration and in the classroom. The pilot schemes at one school initially investigated computerizing the library and media resource catalog using the INMAGIC and HEADSET software. The project was successful and a new menu-driven front-end package (ELROND) was developed.

Six schools were selected to catalog their libraries using ELROND and HEADSET on Nimbus rather than IBM PC machines. One of the participants is Lanfranc Secondary School, where the aim is to provide a computerized catalog for all media resource items held throughout the school. This catalog will then be available on network round the school, in conjunction with the subject databases already available on network. The principle objectives are to incorporate the catalog with the curriculum and to improve accessibility of information to pupils and staff.

Eventually it is hoped to connect Croydon schools with the library service catalog (when computerized) via the Croydon TV Cable network linking all homes, schools, and borough departments.

Devon A joint committee of administrators from Education and Library Services is investigating computerized catalog systems. This is in response to the request for recommendations and guidelines by several schools. …

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