CCE Theses and Dissertations

Implementing an Online Access Catalog In a High School Library Media Center

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science


Center for Computer-Based Learning


Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Thomas W. MacFarland


A Library Media Center (LMC) in a private high school in Broward County, Florida set its goal to improve access to its collection and to handle circulation procedures more efficiently. The existing method of access was through the card catalog, but it was contingent on discrete manual records. The problem was how to convert the card catalog to machine readable records that would meet two prerequisites. First, the bibliographic records must meet library standards to allow for future resource sharing, and second, the records must be installed on a microcomputer.

After a search of professional literature by the library director of the LMC, who conducted this study, it was found that an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) could be the solution to its goal. However, other school librarians who had installed similar systems, were experiencing difficulties updating their OPAC's. Many of the systems offered automated circulation procedures, but did not improve on the search functions of the card catalog.

In this study the author described how the LMC staff planned and implemented an OPAC system to improve access to library resources. The Winnebago "CIRC/CAT" system included two modules, online catalog and automated circulation, and ran on an IBM PS2 Model 50 computer.

When the OPAC project was implemented, the tasks were divided into four phases, 1) preliminaries 2) preparation of the collection, 3) retrospective conversion of materials, and 4) patron conversion. In the first phase the LMC director configured the "Winnebago CIRC/CAT" program to meet local parameters. Preparation of the collection was a three-fold process, weeding, verifying and bar coding, that was conducted by the library assistant and volunteers. During the third phase, retrospective conversion, 7,248 manual records (shelf-list cards) were converted to standard machine readable records (MARC) by the LMC director and a volunteer. The MARC records were downloaded from BiblioFile (a laser disc based system) and entered into the OPAC system. In the last phase, the LMC clerk entered the patron data. The OPAC project took four months to complete.

As a result of the computerized catalog, students were able to access the collection more efficiently. Using the keyword option, they were able to find more citations. The OPAC did not save time with checking out materials, but reports and statistics based on circulation could be generated in less time than the manual method.

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