CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

A Feasibility Study of An Automated Public Access Catalog For The Great Neck Library

Date of Award

1990

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Science

Department

Center for Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Paul Catano

Committee Member

Thomas MacFarland

Abstract

The Great Neck Library is a public library that serves a population of 42,428 in western Nassau County, on Long Island in New York State. Its combined holdings of over 500,000 items are housed in a main building and three branches.

A feasibility study was conducted to determine if the problem of inadequate access to information about the holdings of the Great Neck Library by its users can be solved by implementing an automated public access catalog. The card catalogs available to the library's users did not adequately serve these users' needs. There was no union catalog of all the library's holdings and branch users did not have access to information about materials housed at the main library and the other two branches. Since maintenance of the card catalogs was costly and labor-intensive, information in the existing card catalogs was not current.

The researcher investigated two alternative types of automated systems: CL-CAT, an online public access catalog that integrated with the library's CLSI circulation system and a CD-ROM system. Requirements for an automated system were defined and the options for converting the present bibliographic records to machine-readable form were examined. The methods to be used to add new titles to the database after it was created were also investigated.

Automation plans of the Nassau Library system were explored so that their impact on the Great Neck Library's automation plans could be determined. Vendors of the two systems were asked to provide detailed information about their systems and visits were made to sites that had these systems in operation.

After the technical, economic and operational feasibility of the two systems investigated were compared, the researcher recommended the implementation of CLSI's online public access catalog, CL-CAT. Although CD-ROM catalogs appeared at first to be less expensive to implement, online catalogs provide status information that CD-ROM catalogs do not. In addition, online catalog users are able to receive more up-to-date information on the library's holdings than they can by using a CD-ROM. Moreover, online catalogs can be accessed remotely by users.

A strategic plan was developed to enable the Great Neck Library to proceed with its automation plans. Recommendations dealing with the preparation of the database for conversion to MARC records and future maintenance of the database were included in the plan. Acquisition of hardware software and peripherals necessary to implement the online catalog was discussed, as well as procedures to be followed in preparing staff and the public for use of such a catalog. The results of this study were presented to the Great Neck Library's Director and Board of Trustees. This information is to be used in reaching a decision on the implementation of an online public access catalog.

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