The University of Akron is a heavily wired campus, having recently passed the 100-mile mark in installed fiber optic cable. In computing terms, it is also a diverse campus. At least three types of e-mail systems are well established; computing platforms are extremely varied, extending from terminal-based mainframe systems through microcomputer-based desktop systems and on to high-powered computational and graphics workstations. The library has a decade of local systems experience, and has recently installed its second generation online system as part of its move into the OhioLINK project—a project linking library catalogs and services of all public higher education institutions in the state of Ohio. In the midst of this information-rich campus, there was until recently a large unmet need for a campus-wide information service (CWIS). As the computer center addressed this need and set a goal of installing a CWIS, its network operations office first asked what the goals of such a project would be.
With any automation project, the first thing to do is to define the project goals. In setting up a campus-wide information service, one must first ask the question: What do we want such a service to do? The first answer sounds simple: We want it to provide certain types of information campus-wide, and indeed worldwide, on a minimal budget, with no increases in staffing, across multiple computer platforms. We want it to be easy to use and easy to maintain. We