Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 3, 1994

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

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