UM library computer hookup leaves Schaefer skeptical

September 27, 1990|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

The state university system is getting a new computer system that will link 13 state college libraries for the first time, but Gov. William Donald Schaefer doesn't seem happy about it.

Schaefer had only questions and skepticism yesterday when the new system was explained to him at a meeting of the Maryland Board of Public Works. His chief concern seemed to be that, even with a new computer system, each of the 13 colleges would continue to order its own books without cooperating with other campuses.

"I hear about 13-college cooperation but I don't see it," Schaefer said. "All this is so much talk."

"I think there's some important books like, 'Buck Rogers in the 21st Century,' that won't be duplicated," Schaefer added sarcastically.

Schaefer then issued what sounded like a vague threat to the state college system to cut costs, telling a university representative, "I'll have one more shot during the budget discussions."

The board, which Schaefer chairs, nonetheless approved a $7.6 million contract with CARL Systems Inc. of Denver. The new system, to be operational in the fall of 1991, is to include the catalogs of all 13 campuses and is to computerize some library functions such as ordering. Anyone with a computer and a telephone modem is to be able to call into the system to find out what books, magazines and other materials the libraries have.

An hour after the meeting, Schaefer's press office issued a news release about the project.

"This is an outstanding example of the benefits of creating the University of Maryland System in July 1988," the release quoted Schaefer as saying. "It will also promote cooperation and resource sharing and, at the same time, provide easy access to the system's library resources to all citizens across the state."

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