Brief History of Library Automation: 1930-1996

1718 Words Sep 27th, 1999 7 Pages
Brief History of Library Automation: 1930-1996

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
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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 subject headings, for