Hopkins in Cyberspace While there are few aspects of university life that have not been affected by the dawning of the age of computers, perhaps nowhere has the potential of microprocessors been more fully realized--to both the delight and distress of patrons--than within the university library system. Computers put tremendous research power at the fingertips of any person standing before one of the library system's terminals. They also require users to master a set of commands and a sense of how they work, knowledge that, for some, has proved elusive and distressingly complex. For librarians everywhere, this complexity is one of the biggest challenges of the computer age. "Our goal is to see that people get the information they need," said Todd Kelley, coordinator of electronic information and library instruction at the Eisenhower Library. "Unfortunately, with so many different computer systems out there it's been difficult to come up with standardized commands, which would make using these systems simpler. That's why you find that libraries are very involved in promoting standardization issues across the industry." Kelley points to Janus, the library's electronic cataloging system, as an example of the two faces of the new computer technology. "On the one hand, this system is very powerful," he said. "It can search through tremendous amounts of information--such as the library's entire catalog--and locate books by author, title, subject, keywords and so on." Yet Kelley admits the current system is not particularly user friendly. "For years we've been advocating patrons use the keyword search feature to expand their research power, and recently we have begun to see evidence that people are using this feature more and more," he said. "But most still don't understand the limiting capability, which enables you to search within parameters such as titles, subjects, authors, publishers and so forth. This capability is extremely useful for focusing research and saving time." With computers, much research can be conducted remotely, without even having to visit the library. The Janus catalog system, for instance, is accessible through JHUniverse by selecting #8--JHU Libraries, then #1--Milton S. Eisenhower: Homewood, then #2--Janus (the MSEL's online catalog). Connecting to the library's catalog and to related services is relatively easy; using the system effectively has proved, for many people, to be the hard part. That is why the Eisenhower Library offers free classes to all library users on the use of its electronic information retrieval systems. "People find it difficult to believe they need instruction in library research, but then they are amazed at how useful it is when they do it," said Virginia Massey-Burzio, head of resource services at the Eisenhower Library. "I recommend these classes to anyone who intends to use the library and is not familiar with our online catalog and how to most effectively use it." The Eisenhower Library will be offering free hands-on classes focusing on the Janus online catalog system on Oct. 1, 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. Enrollment is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information call 516-8336.
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