3.1009 Telnetting other libraries, cont. (401)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 6 Feb 90 19:42:32 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1009. Tuesday, 6 Feb 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 05 Feb 90 23:43:36 CST (47 lines)
From: "Bill Ball" <C476721@UMCVMB>
Subject: online catalogs

(2) Date: 06 Feb 90 01:08:56 EST (87 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Why Telnet libraries? Why not?

(3) Date: Tue, 06 Feb 90 00:50:24 EDT (60 lines)
From: "Matthew B. Gilmore" <GY945C@GWUVM>
Subject: telnet to other catalogs

(4) Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 00:45:00 EST (32 lines)
From: Peter Roosen-Runge <CS100006@YUSol>
Subject: Why I telnet to other libraries

(5) Date: Tue, 06 Feb 90 11:48:11 CST (20 lines)
Subject: Reasons to TELNET to Other Libraries

(6) Date: Tue 06 Feb 90 10:28:11 (28 lines)
From: dusknox@skipspc.idbsu.edu (Skip_Knox)

(7) Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 12:42:30 EST (31 lines)
From: "A. Ralph Papakhian" <PAPAKHI@IUBVM>
Subject: Re: 3.1008 why telnet to other libraries? (136)

(8) Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 17:15:00 EST (48 lines)
From: Ivy Anderson <ANDERSON@binah.cc.brandeis.edu>
Subject: RE: 3.1008 why telnet to other libraries? (136)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 90 23:43:36 CST
From: "Bill Ball" <C476721@UMCVMB>
Subject: online catalogs

Thanks to the several people who responded to my request, Some with a
copy of the INTERNET LIBRARY file--i have included the first several
lines of this file at the end of this note.

In response to Marian Sperberg-McQueen: the reason to ask about access
to catalogs at other universities is to see what is out there. I had no
idea how useful Bitnet would be in my work until I got onto some lists
and established some contacts. Similarly, until I try out the various
catalogs I don't know how useful they will be. May be a lot. Maybe not
so much. I'm willing to risk wasting my time to find out.

Concerning electronic catalogs in general: I share your frustration at
times. Ours doesn't cover the entire collection and crashes pretty much
on the hour. Moreover its capabilities seem at times pathetic--it won't
alphabetize more than 30 titles (c'mon my watch can do that) and it
won't allow the Boolean NOT in searches. But, on the other hand, I can
log on to it at 2 a.m. from my home, put together a bibliography, save
it on disk for future annotation, and know what the circulation status
of each book currently is. Too bad they won't take orders via the computer
and then deliver :-) Seriously, electronic catalogs are clearly superior
in concept and utility. Their implementation may be a bit lacking

Bill Ball
Dept. Pol. Sci.
U. Mo. - Columbia


November 8, 1989

Send corrections and additions to Art St. George: STGEORGE@UNMB

Section 1: Catalogs & Databases accessible without charge

[Please note: Dr. Art St. George supplies the most recent version of his
Internet list to Humanist on a regular basis; the latest will be coming
shortly. --W.M.]
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------86----
Date: 06 Feb 90 01:08:56 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Why Telnet libraries? Why not?

From: Jim O'Donnell (Penn, Classics)

Michael Sperberg-McQueen says so many things I agree with, and then
almost answers his own question at the end, that I fear I will seem to
be flippant in responding: Why not Telnet libraries? For me, it's one
more resource. Sometimes finding a book [this all started when
MCCARTHY@CUA couldn't get his ILL people to find something, and I found
it in two places in five minutes on TELNET], sometimes it's improving a
reference [e.g., I have a note that such-and-such was published in 1961
and now I see a footnote that says 1964: if one or two library
catalogues say unequivocally 1961, I feel better: yes, autopsy is always
better, but sometimes of course the ref. is from something I ILL'ed two
years ago and forgot the Xerox the title page], sometimes it's vulgar
curiosity [that Michigan has the Wilson Disc humanities periodical index
hooked to their computer terminal lets me play with that without going
to the library, so I can look up all my friends and see what they've
published lately], but sometimes it's what I would call high-class
curiosity, and it's of that I want most to speak.

When you find yourself in the card catalogue of a decent library, you are
normaly encumbered. Briefcase, notepad, pile of books from the stacks,
perhaps hat and coat. (I should say that at PENN, our own computer
system is good from about 1968, which means that a troglodyte like
myself still needs the card catalogue a lot. I have access, by the way,
to the PENN computer catalogue from home, and now regularly enter the
library with a fistful of printouts, already sorted by floor and
catalogue number: I can also download information to my disk at home
directly.) So perhaps you are looking at something in the B's, when a
stray and vagrant thought passes through your mind of a connection, for
which you would have to schlepp all the way to the S's. Well, perhaps
by the time you finish what you're doing in the B's, it slips your mind;
or you're tired and cranky and don't feel like schlepping back there; or
in a hurry. So you don't follow it up.

Not so from home: the most vagrant thought leads you flitting through the
alphabet in seconds. Dry hole? No problem: no pain, no loss, and you
can look another way. I take that, small as it sounds, to be a major
gain in the opportunity for serendipity. I have found myself, with one
or another of the libraries I can call, browsing for an hour, wandering
up one side of the library and down the other, without ever leaving my
desk. Oh, I can't look at the books, but I never could look at the
books at midnight from my desk at home before anyway.

My education is being enhanced.

Now, there are other palpable advantages as well. If from home, I'm
trying to find whether something exists at all, or what its title or
author might be, the Penn catalogue that only goes back to 1968 is a
hindrance on older stuff. I cited Michigan and Berkeley in an earlier
posting because they're relatively easy to use (esp. Michigan) and they
seem to have a lot more older stuff on line.

RLIN is even better in some ways (though moderately hostile): I don't
have OCLC, but I know someone whose institution lets him have that. I'd
LIKE to have NUC pre-'56 on-line, but that's for the sweet by-and-by.
But in the meantime, Michigan, for example, let's me search not by
author/title/subject (where subjects are rigidly controlled by
librarian's subject categories, and we all know how tricky a business
they are), but by keyword: a keyword search generally draws three or
four times as many items as a subject search -- lots of dross to sort
out sometimes, but also some nuggets you would otherwise miss. I think
every user will find different kind of nuggets for different purposes,
and that's as it should be.

Clearly, all this is an intermediate stage. One thing that our people
at PENN tell me may happen is that we will be able to place the actual
ILL orders from our terminals, and their ILL office will become a
postage-and-handling station, with reference librarians helping you with
the really difficult track-downs. Further, I assume that libraries will
put more and more information on-line this way: I'd like to have access
to a good encyclopedia this way (anybody know anybody on TELNET who's
put even a mediocre encyclopedia on line this way? when you're trawling
the card catalogue and find somebody interesting you've never heard of,
it would be handy to have an encyclopedia article within finger's
reach). I'd like to have a kind of Borges-ian Library of All Libraries
that would always tell me immediately where anything was in a vast chain
of facilities.

In the meantime, we've got 1990. Not a bad sort of place to hang out,
when you come to think about it, not yet reaching its full potential,
but with more resources than we once had. Yes, it drives you nuts
sometimes trying to track things down; and other times it's as much fun
as Flight Simulator, and more useful. Lege feliciter!
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------74----
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 90 00:50:24 EDT
From: "Matthew B. Gilmore" <GY945C@GWUVM>
Subject: telnet to other catalogs


It is a shame that UIC hasn't done a good job automating its catalog. I
think that is part of the problem--not having finished the job and
junked the card catalog. It is difficult and frustrating to try to find
things with so many different systems. Sounds like a botched job. Also
ILL is undersupported, which again complicates the user's life.

Does UIC have point-of-use guides for all these systems? And classes

I sympathize with the tangibility factor--a card is there and doesn't go
down. But card catalogs are really hard to use _well_. They are
tricky--there are filing rules, there are Library of Congress Subject
headings to know, there is name order to remember, and access points are
far fewer. Anybody can use it, but the tangibility factor works against
its *proper* use. If you don't find it *it isn't there*. (At least for
most users.) With an online catalog, the user realizes he/she is
dipping into a black box and might not find everything. That awareness
is helpful--particularly if it means the user searches more creatively
and diligently, or *asks for help*.

Librarians are there to help. I start to loose patience/sympathy with
those who won't ask questions or who aren't willing to learn. Yes,
librarians are trying to foster self-help--teaching the user to
fish--but that is part of education. Systems should be easy to use, so
that the process is simpler.

As for telnet access to other catalogs, there are several reasons for
such access.
a. Subject searching.
Until OCLC brings up its new system, and it is available
for the end-user (patron), telneting to other catalogs
may be the only subject access to resources outside your
own institution.
Some systems have good subject access, others not.

****It is worth noting that numbers of telnet accessible sytems all
run on similar/the same software system--NOTIS--and use
the same search commands.

b. Currency. Other institutions may have greater financial resources
and may be able to buy more and have the most recent books--
the University of California, for example, is usually
pretty up to date.

c. Serendipity. Who knows what someone else might have found
and added to their collection?

d. Verification. Partial cites are often useless in OCLC but more
flexible systems may help find the elusive information.

(If you had not guessed, I am a librarian, but also an researcher.
Maybe we really need to user inculcate patience and curiousity, while
fixing the systems we've been lumbered with/have lumbered ourselves
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------39----
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 00:45:00 EST
From: Peter Roosen-Runge <CS100006@YUSol>
Subject: Why I telnet to other libraries

My own university library has fairly reasonable software (NOTIS) to
access its online catalogue, but the library is "new" and underfunded.
So I find I get a better picture of areas of interest if I browse in
larger libraries especially since they tend to get new books more
rapidly and more comprehensively. I could use FELIX at the University
of Toronto but I find the software maddening. Even Melvyl (University
of California) for all its warts is better. FELIX is, so far as I know,
not available through telnet; at any rate, I dial it directly. Melvyl
is readily and quite reliably available through telnet.

So far my most productive uses of Melvyl has been filling in partial
references (e. g., only author and date, or part of a title), exploring
obscurities (e. g. "The Tired Businessman's Adventure Library") and
collecting book titles for a course reading list into a file, which can
then be edited and passed to the Library as a set of purchase requests.
(I find they are pretty good about ordering if the request is tied to a
course. As a result, my reading lists are quite imaginative not to say

To sum up: if your own university or college library is small and uneven
in scope, the catalog of a very large one can itself be a valuable
resource. And even a small online catalog is far more valuable for
exploration and collecting references than a card catalog or microfiche
-- for the obvious reasons that you can interleave catalog searching
with writing and research at your workstation without having to leave
your office or your house, and you can capture the bibliographic data as
a file.
............... Peter Roosen-Runge
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 90 11:48:11 CST
Subject: Reasons to TELNET to Other Libraries

I'm a frequent user of TELNET for the purpose of using the catalogues of
"foreign" libraries. At LSU, the library removes books from the online
catalogue when they are lost or stolen, which means that the titles do
not appear in a subject search, which means that a true, complete subject
search can only be carried out using a less zealous (or perhaps less
efficient) online catalogue. Another common occurence at LSU is the
presumptive demise of a book. A book that gets mis-shelved is presumed
lost (once report as missing), then removed from the catalogue after a
waiting period (I don't know how long it remains in the catalogue under
the "lost" heading). Many times, such legally dead books tumble off the
shelves, get put back in the right place by good samaritans, and return
to a half- or zombie life, available but not living in the catalogue.
On several occasions I have looked up a book in a foreign library via
TELNET, then found that book on the shelves of my library under the same
call number, even when listed as missing in or deleted from our
catalogue. So there are a couple of reasons to use TELNET.
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------37----
Date: Tue 06 Feb 90 10:28:11
From: dusknox@skipspc.idbsu.edu (Skip_Knox)

I would like to echo Marian Sperberg-McQueen's sentiments about on-line
catalogs and about the uses of telnet to get to other libraries.

I work at the data center at my university, but my Ph.D. is in history.
When the university went onto Internet, one of the first things our
systems programmer did was to drag me over to his terminal and log on to
the library system at Brigham Young University. He was tickled by the
technology, as was I, but he also thought I would be very excited by the
prospect of being able to browse the holdings of BYU. He was a tad
disappointed, I think, when my reaction was, why in the world would I
want to do that?

Similarly, when I got my first list of Internet nodes, I was
disappointed to see endless lists of libraries. So what? I share
Sperberg-McQueen's recollection of dissertation research -- check my
library for the book, then go to Interlibrary Loan (bless them one and

With Internet, what had been a simple task involving paper and pencil and
a minute or two, is turned into an arcane text adventure with dubious
payoff. Yet and still, everyone seems so very excited. So I, too,
wonder, am I missing something here?

(7) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 12:42:30 EST
From: "A. Ralph Papakhian" <PAPAKHI@IUBVM>
Subject: Re: 3.1008 why telnet to other libraries? (136)

Providing telnet access to other library catalogs is simply another
reference resource. At least for a century (probably more) research
libraries have been purchasing book catalogs of other libraries. More
often than not, these catalogs were placed in reference sections. More
than likely, no two of these catalogs were arranged in the same way or
used the same type face, or even used the same system of bibliographic
description. They are not easy to use and they are frequently in
non-English languages. But they have been useful reference resources
for a variety of purposes. I really so no difference between purchasing
the book catalog of, say, the Azalia E. Hackley Collection at the
Detroit Public Library and putting it our reference section or providing
telnet access to the vast Univ. of Calif. online catalog. I shouldn't
say "no" difference. To use the book catalog, our clientele have to
come to the library and find it on the shelf and use it in the library
(since it is a reference book that doesn't circulate). To use the
telnet access, many of our clientele can accomplish that from machines
in their offices or homes or from terminal/pc clusters located around
the campus. I just don't understand why there is a question about
providing such reference resources. Am I missing something?

Most sincerely, #####
@@@@ ### @@@@ MUSIC
@@ ### @@
A. Ralph Papakhian, Music Library @@ ### @@ LIBRARY
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405 @@ ### @@
(812) 855-2970 ###
(8) --------------------------------------------------------------55----
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 90 17:15:00 EST
From: Ivy Anderson <ANDERSON@binah.cc.brandeis.edu>
Subject: RE: 3.1008 why telnet to other libraries? (136)

In response to Marian Sperberg-McQueen's message about the confusing
plethora of library catalogs and databases with which she is apparently
required to cope at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I'd like to
pipe up ever so humbly for the faceless number of "librarians" you wish
would understand your plight.

We do.

I think the interlibrary loan situation you describe is rather unique;
most libraries, certainly this is true at Brandeis, don't make you do
the work of locating your own lending institution. That's their (our)
job, and it's a lot more efficient if the library does it; staff can be
trained in efficient search techniques, in knowing what institution is
likely to lend what sort of material, etc.

The attendant complaint about a variety of search interfaces is also one
with which we librarians are concerned. There are at least two NISO
(National Information Standards Organization) standards designed to deal
with this problem: (1) Common Command Language for Information
Retrieval, which when implemented would require a conforming library
retrieval system to support a uniform set of search commands regardless
of (i.e. in addition to) the system's native command mode; and (2)
Z39.50, whose English name I disremember, which defines a standard way
for independent systems to interoperate so that one can query any number
of remote systems transparently from a single local system.

That's the good news: the bad news is that none of this is implemented
yet, at least not anywhere that I know of. There are a number of
development efforts and pilot projects in place however. Carnegie
Mellon in particular is working on one such project. And additional
strategies are being explored at some libraries, e.g. using HyperCard as
a front-end to a variety of disparate databases.

All of which is to say, we do understand the problem, and spend a great
deal of our professional time (collectively speaking) trying to come up
with solutions. That may be little comfort in the bibliographic haze
you are confronted with today, but perhaps tomorrow...

As for your larger question "why telnet to other libraries?", I leave
that to your colleagues to answer. I too am interested in the responses.

Ivy Anderson
Brandeis University Libraries