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MIT Libraries's Barton Replacement on Hold

By Stream S. Wang

Since this summer's sudden announcement that the new automation system originally planned for the libraries was being discontinued, administrators have been investigating other companies' systems.

The news that the original system NOTIS Horizon was being discontinued shocked library and Information Systems administrators, said Greg Anderson, associate director for library systems.

MIT Libraries and Information Systems are jointly directing the search for a new system. They want a system that would improve the accessibility and efficiency of the current CD-Barton library network. In looking for a replacement for NOTIS Horizon, administrators have contacted various computer operational companies over the summer. Also, Anderson has attended a national conference with vendors in the past.

The libraries office and IS have been considering several systems including Advance, which is the new GEAC computer system, SIRSI, and Ameritech Library System. The adoption of a new library system will be reached within this month, Anderson said.

The committee had hoped to have the new system be fully operational by July 1994. However, since one year has lost because of the cancellation of NOTIS, the time frame has been pushed to late spring 1995.

Even though time was lost in the process, the administrators are optimistic about the possible future of the library computer system. "The library has made significant progresses over the past few years. We have solid base and are well prepared for the new system," Anderson said.

"Although students may be inconvenienced at times this year as we undergo the migration to the new system, we believe the benefits of the new system will be a great step forward for the libraries and for MIT," Anderson continued.

The library had originally planned to move to Project Horizon for its next library system, and had worked as a test site for the project, Anderson said. On June 20 Ameritech, the midwest regional Bell operating company that owned Horizon, decided to create a new product by combining its original systems NOTIS and Dynix.

There was no prior indication of this decision, and Project HORIZON was stopped because of this unexpected cancellation, Anderson said. At that point, the libraries were not yet ready to accept a new system.

Ameritech's new product is not suitable for MIT's libraries because it is not fully developed and its database is not large enough for academic libraries, Anderson said.

Libraries currently use Barton

Currently the campus libraries deliver library information to the MIT community in several ways. Students can use CD-Barton, the CD-ROM version of the catalog, located in the libraries' reading rooms to access the MIT catalog.

The MIT Libraries' network is currently under Barton, which is a GEAC 8000 integrated library system. Users can access the system via telnet to library.mit.edu and via the "Libraries' " menu on the Athena Computing Environment DASH (accessible under the Special menu). On those occasions when the network version of the catalog is unavailable, the CD-ROM version in the libraries would remain operational and available for use.

Accessibility to students

The candidate systems are more accessible to students.

For example, the possible new computer system Advance is a host-based system which will migrate to a client-server model. The client for public access catalog has just been released, and clients for the rest of the library systems are under development.

It will offer connections to other network accessible catalogs in addition to a machine-to-machine information retrieval protocol, which permits the user to use his own interface to search other systems. The new system will also be able to provide greater network connectivity to students via Resnet.

"I believe that the new system will enable the libraries to satisfy a student's information needs quickly, efficiently, and with greater power than the current system. We will be able to process more materials and make them available to the MIT community using greater processing functionality in the new system," Anderson said.