I was introduced to computers in libraries at the University of Kentucky, where I led one project to integrate the library book ordering system with the university accounts payable system and another to analyze library usage statistics to see who was using which library materials.
In 1976 I took a job with the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) as a Library Systems Analyst to write the functional specifications for a book ordering system. Then in 1978, I moved to Boston to work for Computer Library Systems, Inc. (CLSI), another library automation leader known for the application of mini-computers to book circulation systems. My first assignment was to write an article for the in-house newsletter on the whys and wherefores of disk accessing indexing systems. This required researching the topic in the M. I. T. library and interviewing Bela Hatvany, the president of the company. It was on this trip that I discovered an article in the 1971 issue of Innovation magazine that would foreshadow my future career development. I have lost the wonderful drawing, but here's the quote:
- To the lab scientist, a development is something to be improved upon — constantly.
- To the product engineer, the feasibility model isn't feasible at all.
- To the system designer, new technology is a damned inconvenient fit.
- To the manufacturing engineer, the problem is reproducibility.
- To the customer, the product should be in a very neat package.
- To the maintenance engineer, the product is something to be kept alive in an unfriendly environment.
- To the salesman, the technology can seem too formidable to be explained to the customer.
I wrote a second newsletter article on how automation could improve library services over the long term through such innovations as an electronic card catalog, a "shop window" for electronic information, and increasing the efficiency of internal operations.
"Mechanisms for Providing Access to Data in Online Systems for Library Processing," CLSI Newsletter, Fall-Winter, 1977.
"Road map for the Future,"CLSI Newsletter, Fall-Winter, 1978.