Library Acquires New Online System
Right on schedule, the Weinberg Memorial Library went online with the Data Research Associate's library automation system on Aug. 12. It was achieved through careful planning, accomplished timetables, and exceptional support from the Library staff and University Computing and Data Services staff. The new DRA catalog has all the search features familiar from Geac, our former system, plus many more. From the initial screen, patrons will still be able to search our online book catalog by author, title, or subject. The main difference will be how the search is actually executed. Rather than choosing the type of search on one screen, and entering it on the next as Geac did, the DRA search is executed from the very first screen. Patrons type A= for an author search, or T= for a title search, and then type the search string in on the same line.
In addition, there are keyword search capabilities that are much more sophisticated than those found on Geac; one can, for example, search on previously unsearchable fields such as publication date and language. Boolean operators can combine multiple keywords for a highly refined search. DRA can also provide the user with a pull-down menu version of the Catalog. This "Information Gateway" catalog will make searching much easier for novice users. Highlighted choices walk the users through a series of windows that help them narrow their searches for the best results. Help is available online at all levels of searching. For the first time, users will be able to print citations from the search terminals to help them locate their hooks throughout the library. Another new feature is the authority control system. This will supply the searcher with "see" and "see also" references that will aid the patron in choosing the correct subject heading or form of an author's name. A search on Samuel Clemens, for example, will instruct the user to "SEE Twain, Mark, 1835-1910." Rather than having to retype the corrected search string, the user can simply type in the line number on which this "see" reference appears, and the search will execute automatically. A search for information on the aged will not only find results, but also suggest the user type in line numbers that will automatically execute searches for aging, centenarians, old age, or social work with the aged. The authority control system should be available by October). The field in which DRA has clearly taken the initiative is in networking. DRANET, DRA's dedicated, high-speed, telecommunications network, will allow the patron to automatically connect to the catalogs of many DRA libraries across the United States and around the world. The Z39.50 protocol will allow our patrons to search all these other library catalogs using exactly the same command language. Eventually, users will be able to search non-DRA libraries that utilize the Z39.50 protocol. Our DRA online system will also allow access to bibliographic databases other than library catalogs. ABI-Inform a business journals citation database, and Periodicals Abstracts, a general journal and magazine citation database, will be searchable through the DRANET (see accompanying article). As with Geac, patrons will be able to dial into the system with a modem. Instructions are available at the library, or by calling 911-6135.
Eric Snyder and Kevin Norris