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Circulation to be automated

To the Editor:

I am responding to correct several misperceptions in Simson Garfinkel's Sept. 3 column on the Libraries' automated system ["Libraries' catalog needs automation"].

The MIT Library system is automating its circulation system and building the database for an on-line catalog. While the process of automating has been time-consuming, the first library will go live with circulation this fall and other libraries will be brought up sequentially throughout the academic year. When the first library comes up, public access to the database will be possible from terminals at reference desks in all libraries. Access to the Libraries' database and other library services will ultimately be available through the Athena network (as was previously reported in this newspaper) and through dial-in ports.

The automated system will allow us to monitor the borrowing patterns of the MIT community: that is, what groups can borrow what types of materials. What material an individual patron has out at a particular moment is information available only to authorized staff and is not retained once that material is returned. The MIT Privacy Committee has reviewed and approved the Libraries' information handling system.

The computer that will support the Libraries' database and circulation system is being intensively used by staff as we format and load many years' worth of data and test and modify the programs that manipulate the data. We in the Libraries are spending a considerable amount of time on our automation efforts. We consider that spending time on careful work at this juncture will allow us to avoid many of the mistakes made by libraries earlier to automate and will pay off in quality service to the MIT community.

Shirley K. Baker->

Associate Director->

for Public Services->