New computerized system to alter way library is used

January 22, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County Public Library is installing a $1.2 million computerized circulation system that will just about make patrons the librarians.

The new catalog terminals that will be put in place this summer will allow users to look up a book in any public library in the state, put it on reserve and check what books they've taken out.

Patrons will also be able to log on to SAILOR, the state's on-line public information network and gateway to Internet.

And those with computers and modems can tap into the catalog terminals and look for books without going to the library.

The new system will also allow the public catalogs to be updated daily so patrons will know if a book, compact disc or other material is available. The current CD-ROM catalog terminals are not linked and are only updated every four to six months.

Library officials say the system will revolutionize the way patrons use the library.

"It's going to be like getting out of a Model A Ford and stepping into a rocket ship," said Library Administrator Ronald S. Kozlowski. "It's really going to be a quantum leap for the public."

Mr. Kozlowski said funding for half the project has been provided in the current county budget. The library expects the rest of the money to come from the 1995-1996 budget, which is to be approved by the County Council in June.

Last week the library trustees chose low bidder Data Research Associates of St. Louis to install the new system, said John McGarty, the library system's chief of automated and technical services.

The company will replace all the county's 150 catalog terminals with "patron information stations," personal computers with color monitors.

There will be no interruption in service during the installation process. The old terminals will be used up to the day the new ones go on-line, Mr. McGarty said.

The system will allow Anne Arundel branch libraries to join Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties with on-line public catalog capabilities, he said.

Patrons won't be the only ones to benefit from the new system.

The upgrade will make the county's 15 libraries operate more efficiently, improve check-out and return functions and make it easier for the staff to renew loan periods, library officials said.

Though the system is more sophisticated than the old one, Mr. McGarty says patrons will be able to use it.

"It doesn't need any formal training at all," he said.

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