HOLLIS Administrative Advisory Committee
Meeting 63
January 26, 1994

1. User Comment Facility in HOLLIS
2. Project List


Marianne Burke, Bob Buckwalter, John Collins, Michael Fitzgerald, Dale Flecker, Rodney Goins, Carrie Kent, Lynne Schmelz (chair), Jon Rothman, Dorothy Solbrig, Mark Van Baalen, Judy Warnement, Robin Wendler (recording), Charles Willard

Absent: Ted Pappadopoulos

Future Meetings:

          February 16, 1994 -- 10:30-12:30 a.m.   OIS Conference Room 
          March 16, 1994 -- 10-12 a.m.  OIS Conference Room 
          April 27, 1994 -- 10-12 a.m.  OIS Conference Room                          May 18, 1994 -- 10-12 a.m.    OIS Conference Room 
          June 15, 1994 -- 10-12 a.m.   Countway Library 

1. User Comment Facility in HOLLIS

The establishment of a sort of "online suggestion box" had been proposed by HAAC several years ago, but was stalled by the lack of a library willing to oversee distribution of and response to any queries received. Last year the topic arose again, and HCL agreed to take responsibility to routing queries to appropriate units. HAAC gave the new facility a high priority, and two papers on the technical and organizational specifications for a HOLLIS User Comment Facility were written for HAAC's consideration. HAAC discussed the two papers together.

Jon Rothman chaired a small group of volunteers from HCL and OIS which designed the technical workings of the function in HOLLIS. Jon explained that the group worked with three assumptions: the facility would be in HOLLIS, it would allow users to communicate with the libraries via e-mail, and it would look similar to the STORE / SEND feature currently available. The group discussed what categories of questions or problems users would be likely to report, and designed input forms to meet those needs. The use of different input screens for each type of request allows them to be routed to different destinations. There are four main categories outlined in the report:

Carrie Kent presented a paper on the organizational plan for the implementation of the user comment facility. The stumbling block for any HOLLIS user comment facility has always been organizational rather than technical: Harvard's decentralized structure ensures that no one unit is ideally equipped to respond to all queries, and that the routing of user comments for fast and accurate responses is neither easy nor straightforward. Carrie's paper recommends that the College Library take responsibility for the referral of comments and questions and that participating HUL libraries agree to review the comments regularly, answer them accurately or forward them as necessary in a timely fashion. According to the proposal, Carrie would visit with library directors and public service staff to discuss the nature of the commitment.

HAAC agreed that this was new territory for the libraries, and that as we gain experience with the volume, nature, and source of comments the service will undoubtedly change. HAAC also spent some time discussing the reporting back of answers. While having questions and answers available from within HOLLIS is appealing, HOLLIS is not well suited to retrieving and displaying this kind of information. The VINE is another alternative for posting frequently asked questions (and answers), but the group agreed that we should wait until we have some experience before tackling this issue.

Dorothy Solbrig expressed concern about the reliance on function keys in the user comment design. She noted that network and dial users may not have correctly mapped function keys, and in the absence of a command line, would be unable to exit the comment facility or to request help. It was agreed that one-letter codes be defined, corresponding to the function key commands, which could be input on a command line. Users could use either function keys or command codes to use the comment facility.

Rodney Goins asked whether a user could page backwards through a multipage comment. When Jon said this would not be possible, HAAC decided that comments should be limited to two screens. Mark Van Baalen noted that users may not know what a HOLLIS record number is, and therefore when one is requested on a user comment screen, the phrase should be explained.

Michael Fitzgerald felt that there was not enough space on the purchase request screen for all the information necessary. After consideration of several options, HAAC recommended that the information be spread onto two screens, one containing the requestor's name and e-mail address and the spaces for author, title and imprint data. Series, source of citation, and other information would be moved to the second screen. Bob Buckwalter wondered whether Carrie's group had considered purchase referrals in grey areas of collecting, Carrie agreed that this needed to be worked out and suggested that Collection Development staff meet and discuss the issues. Michael suggested that users be informed of the new facility through a coordinated publicity campaign, including posters and other materials. HAAC agreed that publicity should be planned, how and where to be determined later.

The group considered a variety of names for the facility, choosing "Comments and Questions" as the most representative. The command will be COMM.

Jon noted that Carrie's recommendation that messages from users indicate where they came could only be partially fulfilled. With network-attached devices, it may not be possible to specify the originating library. Carrie asked for whatever information could be provided.

Mark Van Baalen offered to send Carrie a copy of FAS' written policy regarding abusive communication over the network.

HAAC unanimously and enthusiastically approved the proposal. Revised screens for the comment facility should be passed by SSHUSH.

2. Project List

Jon began the review of the list of current and pending OIS projects.

The Business Resumption Project is basically complete. The only remaining piece is getting dedicated terminals onto the network. Rod asked how quickly non-College units were moving to the MPG, and Jon noted that while much interest has been expressed, he could not comment on the pace of actual moves.

The Bridge beta test has been moved to February 14, with production phase I scheduled for mid-March. Given the use of Gopher for the Bridge, the question of whether to allow access to resources beyond those specifically supported has resurfaced. Once someone has gophered to a remote resource, he may well encounter a route from that resource to the "rest of the world." Initially, HAAC choose to limit the Bridge to supported resources only for two main reasons: limited staff resources and limited terminal resources. The current proposal does not suggest a "rest of the world" option on the Bridge itself, only an acceptance that Bridge users may be able to get to the rest of the world from the environments in which supported resources reside. HAAC acknowledges this.

Jon was asked whether a queue list was available for libraries wishing to switch over to the OCLC TLP link once that is operational. He will investigate.

Discussion of the project list will continue at the next HAAC meeting.


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