THE IMPACT OF COMPUTERS ON THE IU LIBRARIES: A PROGRESS REPORT
by Gary Wiggins
Head, Chemistry Library
Much of the planning for future computing applications in
the IU Libraries system is directed toward allowing information
which is accessible in or through the library to be fully
transportable to the user's workstation. Information found in
traditional printed library materials (as well as data from on-
site and remote databases) should in the future be as easy to
take with you in computer-readable form as a photocopy is today.
It is with electronic formats of information that the
Libraries will have the greatest and most far-reaching impact on
research at IU over the next decade. All library service points
should have user workstations which provide the capability to
access remote or on-site databases and download data in a form
which allows the researcher to easily incorporate the information
into a research or teaching project. The minimum configuration
of equipment includes a dedicated microcomputer,
telecommunications device, software, optical scanner with optical
character recognition capabilities, a printer, and other hardware
as needed. Such library user workstations will soon be needed in
numbers roughly equivalent to the number of photocopy machines
currently in the libraries.
A. The Libraries Automation Project.
Within two years the fruits of the massive Libraries
automation project, based on the Northwestern University software
NOTIS, will begin to be seen. The automation project is a multi-
million dollar endeavor to provide five computer-based components
which are not currently available in the libraries system. These
are an online public access catalog, a serials control system, a
circulation control system, a book acquisitions system, and a
non-public catalog (including authority files). The contract has
recently been signed for the NOTIS system, and the initial $1.12
million to initiate the project has been received from a special
appropriation administered by the Indiana Higher Education
Commission. The system is being implemented on the Information
Services' IBM computer.
The ultimate goal of the library automation projects in
Indiana is to link all academic libraries and to provide better
access to the materials to all citizens of the state. Since
1976, the IU Libraries system has cataloged books through an
online bibliographic utility called OCLC. IU also uses the OCLC
interlibrary loan subsystem to identify libraries throughout the
nation from which to borrow materials. It is through OCLC that
we share cataloging records with other libraries, thus saving
enormous numbers of man-hours to catalog materials. The OCLC
archival tapes for IU also provide the database of records,
including holdings of journals, which will be loaded into the
NOTIS system. Thus, successful implementation of NOTIS is
dependent to a large extent on the continued use of OCLC.
Libraries and departments should be equipped to take maximum
advantage of the NOTIS system. Information Services and BACS
have established a bridge which will permit users to dial in
through remote terminals or microcomputers using BACS accounts.
For library use direct linkages will be provided through the
twisted pair telephone jacks to be installed next summer.
B. Databases Offered Through BACS/Other Database Searching.
Plans are underway to lease large bibliographic and other
types of databases and mount them for searching on the BACS
computer system. The Libraries are responsible for selecting and
funding the databases; BACS is to select and fund the database
search software. While these databases will be accessible to
anyone through the campus Ethernet network, they will also be
available through public-use microcomputers in the Libraries. It
is possible that the software which has been leased for the
Libraries automation project (the NOTIS software) will be used
for this service. BACS will support at least one PC database
search software package such as AskSam for local manipulation of
There are other avenues to database searching which are
being explored. These include the use of front-end software
systems like STN Express and Grateful Med. Such front-end
software eliminates the need for the user to learn the
complicated logon sequences and command-driven search languages
of the database vendors.
C. CD-ROM Databases
There are many databases in the Libraries in CD-ROM format.
These include databases corresponding to Books in Print,
Dissertation Abstracts, Index Medicus, Psychological Abstracts,
etc. CD-ROM databases generally come with their own search
software. As presently configured, they require a dedicated
microcomputer and CD-ROM player. All of the CD-ROM databases
have hefty price tags, but they can be very cost effective in
information retrieval. It is possible to provide networked
access from multiple sites to CD-ROM files. Products are
beginning to appear which serve this purpose. One is them is the
CD Net/CD Server product line from Meridian Data. CD Server is
available in an Ethernet model and will handle from one to seven
CD ROM drives.
D. Document Delivery Services
The Libraries are moving toward a broad definition of
document delivery which encompasses the use of appropriate
technology to deliver information in any format from the location
in which it is held to the user. All science libraries on campus
plus several units at the Main Library now are equipped with
telefacsimile machines. As more users purchase FAX boards for
their PCs, the options for document delivery increase
dramatically. Information can be scanned into a PC at the
library and transmitted into the user's PC via the FAX board.
The Libraries should have high quality flatbed graphics scanners
with software which allows them to serve as optical character
recognition (OCR) systems. Printing a scanned image requires a
laser printer. (A dot matrix printer, even at 150 dots per inch,
is too sparse to give a good finished product.) To work with
graphics in this manner really demands a larger 286 or 386
computer; smaller machines are just too slow.
Scanned images can easily be imported into presentation
programs like Show Partner or the IBM PC Storyboard. As the
OS/2's Presentation Manager penetrates the market, the
incorporation of scanned images into word processing documents
and database records will become more routine. For the immediate
future, the desktop scanner offers an attractive alternative.
E. Toward Broader Uses of the Materials Budget.
Scholars must now ask themselves how often they should
realistically expect the books, journals, or other printed
materials needed for their research or teaching to be physically
housed within the IU Libraries system. It is clear that
comprehensive collections can no longer be built at IU.
Therefore, clear guidelines need to be formulated for the level
of research materials which will be provided within the IU
Libraries system collections. Then, it is essential that no
differentiation be made among departments or disciplines for
access to materials not locally owned. The primary avenue to
such materials for some time to come will be document delivery of
printed books, copies of journal articles, and other printed
materials obtained from sources outside the IU libraries system.
Increasingly, however, this will involve the use of electronic
sources of information. To cover the cost of these options over
the next decade, the Libraries materials budgets must reserve
significant funds for other forms of information delivery. This
would cover most of the costs of traditional interlibrary loan,
the use of commercial document suppliers, and electronic forms of
The Libraries must see that scholars have the resources with
which to continue to do high-quality research and teaching at
Indiana University. By utilizing the capabilities of the
computer, we can be sure to make the most effective use of the
funds available to support the Libraries' contribution to the
research and teaching efforts of the faculty. In that manner,
the computer promises to solidify the long-standing partnership
between faculty and librarians.