A Brief History of Library Automation

1491 Words Oct 16th, 1996 6 Pages
An automated library is one where a computer system is used to

manage one or several of the library's key functions such as

acquisitions, serials control, cataloging, circulation and the public

access catalog. When exploring the history of library automation, it

is possible to return to past centuries when visionaries well before

the computer age created devices to assist with their book lending

systems. Even as far back as 1588, the invention of the French 'Book

Wheel' allowed scholars to rotate between books by stepping on a pedal

that turned a book table. Another interesting example was the 'Book

Indicator', developed by Albert Cotgreave in 1863. It housed miniature

books to represent books in the library's collection. The
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ARPANET, a network established by the Defense Advanced Research

Projects Agency in 1969 brought into existence the use of e-mail,

telnet and ftp. By 1980, a sub-net of ARPANET made MELVYL, the

University of Californiaís on-line public access catalog, available on

a national level. ARPANET, would become the prototype for other

networks such as CSNET, BITNET, and EDUCOM. These networks have almost

disappeared with the evolution of ARPANET to NSFNET which has become

the present day Internet.

During the 1970's the inventions of the integrated computer chip

and storage devices caused the use of minicomputers and microcomputers

to grow substantially. The use of commercial systems for searching

reference databases (such as DIALOG) began. BALLOTS (Bibliographical

Automation of Large Library Operations) in the late 1970's was one of

the first and later became the foundation for RLIN (the Research

Libraries Information Network). BALLOTS was designed to integrate

closely with the technical processing functions of the library and

contained four main files: (1)MARC records from LOC; (2) an in-process

file containing information on items in the processing stage; (3) a

catalog data file containing an on-line record for each item; and (4)

a reference file. Further, it contained a wide search retrieval

capability with the ability to search on truncated words, keywords,

and LC