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Libraries Purchase New GEAC System

By Jennifer Lane
Staff Reporter

The MIT library computer system will be replaced next summer by a new system designed by GEAC computers of Newtonville, Mass., according to Greg Anderson, associate director for systems and planning. The cost of the Advance Systemwill likely be less than $500,000, he said.

The complete client system will be fully functioning by the summer of 1996, Anderson said.

The GEAC system was chosen by Information Systems and the Libraries last month after NOTIS Systems Inc. discontinued production of the groups' first-choice system, Anderson said.

The new system will allow the Libraries to automate processes that were completed manually before, Anderson said. "The Libraries will be able to automate their serials management process, which will provide current and accurate information on journal holdings," he said.

MIT has entered into a co-development agreement with GEAC, Anderson said. According to the agreement, MIT will provide input into the system design and development in the following areas: architecture, network integration, security, administration, public access, Internet resources, World Wide Web availability, technical workstations, visual images, and archives, he said.

"We believe that this collaboration with a leader in the library automation industry will benefit all concerned," Anderson said.

The system will enable students to search for information at MIT libraries and remote locations using the Internet, Anderson said. "The new system will enable students to search, store, and manipulate library information in a personalized manner," he said.

"Our hope is that the system will be user-friendly for everyone," Anderson said. To achieve this goal, the Libraries reference staff sent comments and suggestions to GEAC, he said.

The current system is based on computer designs from the 1970s, Anderson said. A new system is necessary because the current system is vulnerable to failures, underpowered for modern information requirements, and unable to be networked easily, he said.

The conversion to the new system must be conducted carefully since the information is of critical importance to the Institute, Anderson said.

The GEAC system will fit in well with the computing environment at MIT because it is built on industry standards such as Unix and TCP/IP, Anderson said.

The library database contains about 670,000 cataloging records that should be easy to convert since they follow a national pattern, Anderson said. Records such as library patron data, acquisition data, and fund accounting data will be more difficult to convert, Anderson said

This project is a component of the Distributed Library Initiative sponsored by the Libraries and IS, Anderson said. "This program involves many projects which are focused on providing electronic information to the MIT community," Anderson said.