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Library System Will Be Replaced by July

By Matt Mucklo

By July 1994, MIT's libraries will have switched the current library operating system to a new and more powerful one.

Greg Anderson, associate director for library systems and planning, sees the switch-over as a "real change in the technology base of libraries," a move towards a more open and friendly environment for students.

The new Horizon software, which emphasizes a graphical user interface, should help make the learning curve a little less steep, Anderson said.

The current Barton catalog system is difficult to use, according to many students. It is very confusing for a first-time user, said Anna D. Lukasiak '96. She said she had to take a mini-course in order to become familiar with it.

System works directly with Athena

Not only will the new system provide greater capabilities than the current one, now nine years old, but it will also work directly with Athena because it is UNIX based.

Furthermore, through development and use of emerging communications standards in the future, students will be able to use the same interface to browse and search other library catalogs on the Internet.

Marnie L. Harker '96 said that the current system is "generally pretty easy to use." However, "I've always had trouble trying to use the system from Athena," so it is good that the new system will work more directly with Athena, she said.

Binkl M. Zidaric '95 said that he is pleased with the current library system and has used a modem to dialup Athena for information about books at Harvard libraries. Still, "if they could implement a better search process, that would be great," he said.

Since last fall, MIT Libraries and Information Systems have worked jointly to select the system most amenable to the needs of the libraries and students.

The selection process began with eight original vendors under consideration; by this summer, the list had been narrowed down to three; and through a series of on-campus interviews and demonstrations, they unanimously decided upon the Horizon system produced by NOTIS Systems Inc. of Evanston, Ill., Anderson said.