Technology and Libraries – A new column
Technology and Libraries is a new feature on The Marquee that allows librarians to discuss their thoughts on how technology intertwines with a libraries functions – good or bad. Susan Robishaw, the chair of our technology committee, is our first poster.
My Historical Perspective
Assistant Director Health Sciences Libraries
Geisenger Health System
We just moved into a new library a few months ago. It’s in a brand new, technologically sophisticated building. We had been in the old, “temporary” library for 25 years; the move gave us a much welcomed opportunity to integrate the patchwork of technology and machines that accumulated over the years.
The new library has 17 public access pcs, 7 staff pcs, including an Ariel workstation with a color scanner, and a wireless laptop. Our classroom is equipped with 1 instructor and 7 student pcs. Physicians can use the classroom pcs, but not the public ones, to access our EMR system. The meeting room has a computer-compatible plasma screen tv. Both rooms are equipped with “Wall-Talkers,” a gridded whiteboard cut to our specifications, and attached to the walls. The library has Geisinger wireless, public wireless and 10 stations for public cabled Internet access. Our state-of the-art multifunctional photocopiers serve as the default printers for the pcs as well as black & white scanners and fax machines.
When I came here 20 years ago this fall, the library had a photocopier, an OCLC terminal, and a TI Silent 700 terminal with an acoustic coupler. To receive or send a fax, we had to go the system administration headquarters, a ¼ of a mile away. This was quite a contrast to the corporate library where I worked in Texas before coming to Geisinger. There I had 2 IBM pcs, a fax, and access to company wide email on a DEC mainframe. (I also had the opportunity to participate in a beta test of the first Macs, though, ultimately, the company decided to follow the IBM path.)
As the reference librarian at Geisenger, I received the first library pc. It had a modem so I could use it to access NLM, BRS and DIALOG. Over the years we added newer pcs, one at a time. We kept the older ones, too, eventually, building a collection of 10 pcs all different brands and/or models. I was the pc person. I did the troubleshooting and even installed modems and additional memory cards.
Today, we have 4 IT people assigned to the library to manage our pcs and software, a help desk which is staffed 24 hours per day and a contract for hardware support. In 1993, we participated in a National Science Foundation grant to bring the Internet to Geisinger. In 1995, we introduced our locally hosted networked version of Ovid (then CD+), piggy-backing on the T1 and T3 lines that connected our hospitals and far-flung clinics in order to implement our EMR. In 1996, the library was one of the first departments to have a site on our company intranet.
In the last 12 years, we have increased our electronic collection, moved from a card catalog to an online one and transitioned to completely electronic document delivery to our customers. We really pound RefWorks/RefShare for individual and collaborative projects.
Yet I feel like I’m falling behind, technologically-speaking. We don’t have a blog or a wiki and we aren’t using Web 2.0. Should we be?
We still have the TI Silent 700, though.
Would you like to write an entry for Technology and Libraries?