HOLLIS Administrative Advisory Committee
Meeting 54
December 21, 1992

1. Report from the HAAC Task Force on a Gateway to Information Resources and Library Systems (GIRLS)
2. Report from the HAAC Task Force on a Facility to Enter Through the Catalog in HOLLIS End-User Requests for Retrieval from Storage (FETCHERRS)


Bob Buckwalter, Marianne Burke, Priscilla Caplan, John Collins, Michael Fitzgerald, Dale Flecker, Rodney Goins, Lynne Schmelz-Keil (chair), Carrie Kent, Ted Pappadopoulos, Mark Van Baalen, Judy Warnement, Robin Wendler (recording), Charles Willard


Melanie Goldman, Charles Husbands, Curtis Kendrick, Barbara Mitchell, Sue Parker, Jon Rothman, Ed Tallent, Julie Wetherill

Future Meetings: In the OIS Conference Room:

               February 22, 3:00-5:00
          March 17, 10:00-12:00    
          April 13, 3:00-5:00
          May 18, 3:00-5:00   
          June 15, 3:00-5:00

1. Report from the HAAC Task Force on a Gateway to Information Resources and Library Systems (GIRLS)

The GIRLS Task Force was charged with developing a plan for a sophisticated menuing facility in front of HOLLIS, offering hierarchical, multi-layered menus and the capability of presenting help screens and friendly responses to errors. The gateway, now being called the bridge, would provide access to selected network-available resources. Carrie Kent explained that the group tried to create an environment with as few dead-ends and barriers as possible, balancing the needs of users against the needs for structure, security, and openness to future developments. The group investigated existing "gateways," and many of its recommendations are in response to the feel of those systems. The group proposed a tiered structure where the first screen offers access to instructions in using the Bridge, an alphabetical LIST of available resources, direct access to such basic Harvard services such as HOLLIS and VINE, and a FINDER (a searchable guide to available resources). A user could "launch" to a desired resource from either the LIST or the FINDER.

Priscilla Caplan asked whether forcing the user to go up a level from FINDER to select a resource would be unacceptable. Carrie felt this would be a major mistake, that turning FINDER into a cul-de-sac would reduce users' willingness to enter it, and that they would therefore be less likely to encounter newly available resources. The need to launch from the FINDER may eliminate some easy or obvious technologies, such as gopher, from consideration.

There was a discussion of complex issues related to the principles of organization and structure of the bridge, such as what distinction was being made between first and second level resources, whether fixed reference points should be established in this dynamic environment, and whether the initial screen should present topics such as library, gopher, etc. instead of a mix of tools and individual resources. Cilla reminded the committee that this generation of the bridge is not being designed for the ages, but as a bridge in more than one sense -- as a transitional application.

Ted Pappadopoulos wondered at what point resources should be moved from the old, terminal-based access used by the majority of users now, to the newer network-based access which serves a small community now but which can be expected to serve many more in the future. Mark Van Baalen suggested that a rigid structure could be used both for dumb terminal use and as a basis upon which a smarter navigational tools can be built. Cilla suggested designing a publicly-accessible client which would offer one interface for terminals and another for PCs. In this way we can support both environments and still encourage the transition to smarter machines.

Ted asked whether the bridge screens should be identified as sponsored by the Library, or with some indication of the nature of the information available here? The group will consider this.

The proposed second-level screens will need to be multi-page in some cases, such as LIST. Cilla noted that entries in VINE would dominate the LIST, and change frequently. Dale wondered if it was desirable to give equal weight to a small document and a major database. Carrie asserted that it was, because one could never anticipate what would be important to a given user. Jon Rothman disagreed, suggesting that VINE itself be included in the LIST, with a subject-rich abstract in FINDER, but that each document in VINE not be listed on the LIST. The task group will review what should be included on the LIST.

Dale suggested that a line be added to the first screen for users to enter a database name if they know it, so that going to the LIST will not always be necessary.

The issue of most concern to the task force was opening/not opening access to the Internet. Their recommendation was that only selected resources be available from the Bridge. The largest question is whether or not the libraries are able to provide necessary support, and the consensus was that the libraries are not yet equipped to provide such support. John Collins argued that librarians cannot learn unless they have access. Carrie stated that most librarians have access now, and should be learning; however, that does not mean that the libraries are ready, in terms of knowledge, hardware, and staff, to troubleshoot open Internet access. Julie Wetherill added that the group expected the community to gain experience with the first iteration of the bridge and the use of scripted services, but did not intend to preclude access to other resources in the future.

In response to a question from Cilla, Carrie offered to review the importance of the help facility with the task force.

HAAC accepted the report in principle and charged the task force to continue working with OIS technical personnel on implementation options.

2. Report from the HAAC Task Force on a Facility to Enter Through the Catalog in HOLLIS End-User Requests for Retrieval from Storage (FETCHERRS)

Charles Husbands presented the FETCHERRS report for the chair, Dorothy Solbrig. The group was charged with designing a facility which would permit library patrons to request retrieval of items at HD directly through HOLLIS, without the mediation of library staff. In addition, it can be seen as the first step toward allowing other patron-initiated requests though HOLLIS. For an item to be eligible to be requested, it must have a linked item record. The group proposed a change to the HOLLIS circulation status screen to indicate which items may be requested. In order for the requestability of serial volumes to display, an additional change must be made, so that all barcoded pieces of a serial display, instead of only those currently charged. When a patron issues a GET command, he will be asked by the system for their patron ID. If HOLLIS agrees that he is authorized, a request confirmation screen will display to the user, HOLLIS notifies HD and the owning library. HD will return the item to the owning library for use.

John Collins asked why the item would be returned only to the owning library. Dale explained that there is a standing ULC policy that the first general document delivery from HD would be to the owning library. This report proposes a manageable first implementation, and is designed to be expandable. However, there are many questions, both technical and political, to be answered before wider document delivery can be implemented. Carrie recommended that the "Checked out" message be rethought to provide more direction now that recall from HD will be available. Mark Van Baalen asked several questions from the user's perspective, such as how to proceed when a book is listed as at HD. It was agreed that help screens and messages should be considered in light of this new function. Cilla requested that the group check Common Command Language for applicable commands. She also verified with group members that the information that a piece is non-circulating is considered very important.

Charles Husbands explained that a subgroup would continue to meet to resolve outstanding issues, including what reports libraries would receive. HAAC members expressed concern about the opportunity for malicious misuse presented by the request function. The owning library is charged for each return from HD, in addition to the hidden costs of staff time and productivity. The task group recommended that a library be notified if more than 20 items are requested by a single user.

Dale suggested that the code recommended in the item record for "gettability" be divorced from HD coding (p. 4 of report).

HAAC commended the task force on its report and planned to continue discussion at the next HAAC meeting on February 2nd.

3. Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the September 30th meeting were approved.


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