Brief History of Library Automation: 1930-1996


An automated library is one where a computer system is used to manage
one or several of the library\'s key functions such as acquisitions, serials
control, cataloging, circulation and the public access catalog. When exploring
the history of library automation, it is possible to return to past centuries
when visionaries well before the computer age created devices to assist with
their book lending systems. Even as far back as 1588, the invention of the
French "Book Wheel" allowed scholars to rotate between books by stepping on a
pedal that turned a book table. Another interesting example was the "Book
Indicator", developed by Albert Cotgreave in 1863. It housed miniature books to
represent books in the library\'s collection. The miniature books were part of a
design that made it possible to determine if a book was in, out or overdue.
These and many more examples of early ingenuity in library systems exist,
however, this paper will focus on the more recent computer automation beginning
in the early twentieth century.

The Beginnings of Library Automation: 1930-1960
It could be said that library automation development began in the 1930\'s
when punch card equipment was implemented for use in library circulation and
acquisitions. During the 30\'s and early 40\'s progress on computer systems was
slow which is not surprising, given the Depression and World War II. In 1945,
Vannevar Bush envisioned an automated system that would store information,
including books, personal records and articles. Bush(1945) wrote about a
hypothetical "memex" system which he described as a mechanical library that
would allow a user to view stored information from several different access
points and look at several items simultaneously. His ideas are well known as the
basis for hypertext and mputers for their operations. The first appeared at MIT,
in 1957, with the development of COMIT, managing linguistic computations,
natural language and the ability to search for a particular string of
information. Librarians then moved beyond a vision or idea for the use of
computers, given the technology, they were able make great advances in the use
of computers for library systems. This lead to an explosion of library
automation in the 60\'s and 70\'s.

Library Automation Officially is Underway: 1960-1980
The advancement of technology lead to increases in the use of computers
in libraries. In 1961, a significant invention by both Robert Noyce of Intel and
Jack Kirby of Texas Instruments, working independently, was the integrated
circuit. All the components of an electronic circuit were placed onto a single
"chip" of silicon. This invention of the integrated circuit and newly developed
disk and tape storage devices gave computers the speed, storage and ability
needed for on-line interactive processing and telecommunications. The new
potential for computer use guided one librarian to develop a new indexing
technique. HP. Luhn, in 1961, used a computer to produce the "keyword in
context" or KWIC index for articles appearing in Chemical Abstracts. Although
keyword indexing was not new, it was found to be very suitable for the computer
as it was inexpensive and it presented multiple access points. Through the use
of Luhn\'s keyword indexing, it was found that librarians had the ability to put
controlled language index terms on the computer.
By the mid-60\'s, computers were being used for the production of machine
readable catalog records by the Library of Congress. Between 1965 and 1968, LOC
began the MARC I project, followed quickly by MARC II. MARC was designed as way
of "tagging" bibliographic records using 3-digit numbers to identify fields. For
example, a tag might indicate "ISBN," while another tag indicates "publication
date," and yet another indicates "Library of Congress subject headings" and so
on. In 1974, the MARC II format became the basis of a standard incorporated by
NISO (National Information Standards Organization). This was a significant
development because the standards created meant that a bibliographic record
could be read and transferred by the computer between different library systems.
ARPANET, a network established by the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency in 1969 brought into existence the use of e-mail, telnet and ftp.
By 1980, a sub-net of ARPANET made MELVYL, the University of Californiaís on-
line public access catalog, available on a national level. ARPANET, would become
the prototype for other networks such as CSNET, BITNET, and EDUCOM. These
networks have almost disappeared with the evolution of ARPANET to NSFNET which
has become the present day Internet.
During the 1970\'s the inventions of the integrated computer chip and
storage devices caused the use of minicomputers and microcomputers to grow
substantially. The use of commercial systems for searching reference databases
(such as DIALOG) began. BALLOTS (Bibliographical Automation of Large Library
Operations) in