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 Hello LM_netters,

Find below a short piee I wrote for the community when we automated in one
of the schools I've worked.  We got a good response since it addressed what
the automation will do for kids and gave a concrete example.


                 The Computerized Card Catalog:
                         A New Tool for Students

     Remember thumbing through a card catalog for 10 minutes before you
realized you were in the wrong drawer?  Did you have a difficult time
telling a "subject" card from a "title" card?  Have you ever found the
perfect sounding book, only to find it wasn't on the shelf?  Have you ever
forgotten just how many books you had checked out?
     Frustrations like these have been plaguing library patrons ever since
Melville Dewey began the modern library nearly one hundred years ago.  But
now, thanks to the computer and some sophisticated software written just
for libraries, many of the problems associated with looking for information
will not keep library users from the information they need.
     This winter, the St. Peter students will begin using Winnebago
software and MS-DOS based computers to locate and checkout materials.  What
does this mean to the average student?  Let's follow Julie as she looks for
information about butterflies for a science project.
     As Julie enters the media center, she sees two computer terminals
where the old card catalog once stood.  A prompt on the colorful computer
screen asks her to type in the key word in her search.  Never a wonderful
speller, she types in B-U-T-E-R-F-L-Y.  A side bar appears on the screen
giving Julie a list of subjects the program guesses she might mean.
BUTTERFLY is among them.
     She pushes a button and the computer begins its search.  It looks for
the term BUTTERFLY in all the "fields" of all the records of all the
materials in the library.  In other words, if "butterfly" is mentioned in
the subject, author, title or notes, that book, filmstrip or videotape will
presented in a list to Julie.   So even if the title of a book might be
Winged Wonders of the Insect World and the subject heading is
"lepidoptera", Julie would still find the record.
     If the computer suggests too many or too few titles, Julie can widen
her search or use Boolean logic to limit her topic.  At the push of a
button, she can receive a print out of the materials in which she is
interested.  Julie heads to the stacks with her list.
     At the shelves, Julie notices that a book which by its title and
annotation looked valuable to her is not there, but gets the books and
videotapes she wants, and heads to the circulation desk to check her books
     She encounters another computer.  This one has a barcode reader
attached.  A library clerk passes a light pen over a barcode in a looseleaf
folder which tells the program "Julie Jones" is about to checkout some
materials.  Each individual item is then wanded, and returned to her.
Julie remembers she has a novel in her locker, and asks the clerk when it
is due, and quickly finds out.  Had she had overdue materials, the computer
would have alerted the clerk so Julie could be reminded of them.  Julie
also asks about the book missing from the shelf.  "Yes, it is out, but is
due in 3 days," the clerk tells her.  Julie heads back to class having
spent less time looking for, but getting more information with the help of
library automation.
      The Winnebago system also performs a variety of clerical tasks for
the library staff.  It compiles overdue lists, performs inventory, and
creates circulation statistics which can be used to help collection
development.  Without numerous catalog cards to type and file, new
materials added to the media center's collection show up in the catalog the
same day they are placed on the shelves.  With these time consuming tasks
done by the computer, the media specialist and clerks are free to spend
more time helping students and staff members.
      The media center's catalog can also be accessed from any computer
through-out the school which is on a Novell network.  Without leaving the
office, a classroom teacher could create and print a bibliography of
science fiction books, or another teacher could see what materials the
media center has about the Civil War.  Eventually the records in the St.
Peter's collection will be combined with the records of other schools in
the area to form a union catalog.  That way Julie will not only find what
our media center has, but what she could interlibrary loan from neighboring
schools, universities or public libraries.
     So while many of us might have sentimental qualms about loosing the
old card catalog and date stamp, St. Peter students using the computerized
media center are getting some early practice with informational skills
they'll be using for the rest of their lives (or until something better is
                                                     Doug Johnson

Doug Johnson, District Media Supervisor | There is always an easy solution
Mankato Public Schools, ISD77,          | to every problem - neat, plausible,
Box 8741, Mankato MN 56001-8741         | and wrong.
507-387-7698,                           |               H.L. Menken

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