Nov. 24, 1993
Vol. 13, No. 7

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    Faculty task force to update library system

    The University Library is taking a first step into the information age of the 21st century.

    With the long-range goal of creating an electronic library, Provost Edward Laumann has charged the Faculty Task Force on Library Migration with determining the best system to transfer or "migrate" the library's present on-line catalog from an out-of-date mainframe to a modern workstation-based system that can be accessed in a sophisticated way from personal computers and workstations. This is known as client-server architecture.

    "This project will make the library catalogs, which are essential to many research activities, more broadly available and easier to use," said Gene Mazenko, Associate Provost and chairman of the task force. "The first step -- evaluating and choosing a new system -- moves us closer to a more advanced electronic library."

    The current on-line system, which is more than 15 years old, has been described by faculty and researchers as frustrating at best and archaic at worst, Mazenko said. The present system is not designed for complex client-server interaction. It does not allow the user to search for a variety of interrelated topics and will not offer suggestions if an entry is misspelled or misinterpreted. Browsing through the listing is also a problem, and old holdings (about four million entries) are not yet in the catalog. A new system will solve these problems, meet larger departmental needs and increase the number of holdings available through the on-line network.

    The long-range goal is to develop a library fully integrated into a University-wide electronic network, which will allow University faculty, students and staff complete access to the on-line materials through personal computers.

    The Faculty Task Force on Library Migration is an interdisciplinary committee that is working closely with a group from the library. In addition to Mazenko, the members of the task force are Priscilla Caplan, Assistant Director of Library Systems; Eugene DeSombre, Professor in the Ben May Institute; Neil Harris, the Preston and Sterling Morton Professor in History; Karen Landahl, Associate Professor in Linguistics; Michael O'Donnell, Professor in Computer Science; William Pollak, Associate Professor in SSA; and George Yates, Director of the Social Sciences & Public Policy Computing Center.

    The task force will report its recommendations to the Provost before the start of the spring quarter. Comments and suggestions for the committee should be directed to Gene Mazenko or to Fred Stafford, Director of Special Projects. The Office of Special Projects is on the third floor of the University Bookstore, 970 E. 58th St.