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Library Networks Project

The early focus of the Reference Round Table on improving networking among all types of libraries in Texas was the outgrowth of a key breakfast meeting of sixteen Texas librarians with Edward Strable (Executive Secretary of the ALA Reference Services Division) and Walter C. Allen (Dayton Ohio Public Library and Chairman of the ALA RSD Division Affiliates Committee) at 7:30 a.m. on 17 March 1967 in the Executive Room of the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth. Helen K. Halloran (RRT Chair), at the request of Mr. Strabel and Mr. Allen, arranged the meeting to discuss a series of questionsALA developed by Mr. Strabel and Mr. Allen to assist the new round table and ALA chapter with organization and planning for the future. At the conclusion of the breakfast meeting, the Texas librarians considered and adopted a proposal drafted by Richard Waters (Dallas Public Library) to appoint coordinators for reference/information resources and cooperative ventures from each of the ten Major Resource Center areas. These coordinators were to sample all types of libraries in their respective areas to determine needs, problems, etc. which required attention and to identify and publicize cooperative ventures then in effect within each geographic area. From this information, semi-formal proposals were to be made to the chair of the TLA Executive Board for a state-wide meeting or institute, potentially supported in part by federal funding, prior to the 1968 TLA Annual Conference in San Antonio. The proposal for RRT in cooperation with the Texas State Library to undertake a survey of reference services in Texas and to follow it up with a spring workshop was introduced and passed during the RRT annual business meeting.

Subcommittees subsequently were appointed, questionnaires were prepared, and the program for a preconference institute was planned under the direction of Richard Perrine (Rice University) and Sara Aull (University of Houston). The Texas State Library Field Services Division directed by Marie Shultz arranged financial support from the Texas State Library for the preconference and Lee Brawner (Assistant State Librarian) served as chairman. The day-long Preconference Institute on Reference Services in Texas Libraries was held on Wednesday, 3 April 1968, in room 25 of the San Antonio Convention Center. Phoebe F. Hayes (Director, Bibliographic Center for Research, Denver, Colorado) acted as resource person for the 233 participants. Included in the presentations was the result of Richard Perrine’s “Survey of Reference Services in Texas Libraries” questionnaire identifying 54 different networks, cooperative ventures and union lists in Texas, many of which were relatively unknown throughout the state. Five papers describing various current projects and problems faced by Texas reference librarians also were presented.

At the RRT business meeting, Friday, 5 April 1968, a proposalALA to have the proceedings of the preconference published either in the summer 1998 issue of Texas Library Journal or by the round table itself was approved. Also approved was a proposal to have the MRC area coordinators identify, define and analyze all networks in their areas, including lists, catalogs and cooperative ventures already identified through the survey presented at the 1968 preconference. The proposal also called for another state-wide meeting or institute to be held before the 1969 TLA Annual Conference in Houston.

Subsequently, the Texas Library Journal turned down the request to publish the 1968 preconference proceedings. Instead, arrangements were made with Phil Wilson Publishers in Houston to produce the proceedings. In March 1969, 150 copies were provided by the publisher to be sold for $1.50. This became the first publication for RRT.

Richard L. Waters (Chair of the RSD Division Affilates Committee and Chief of Branch Services at the Dallas Public Library) and Maryann Duggan (Dallas Public Library) jointly planned the 1969 institute. Included in the plans for the preconference were surveying in more detail the 54 projects identified the previous year (Richard Waters) and developing a pilot model network (Maryann Duggan and a Statewide Network Study Group). Dr. Richard Nance (Professor of Information Science at the Institute of Technology, Southern Methodist University) contributed significantly to the model developed. The institute was given five objectives: (1) to summarize national, state and local developments in cooperative reference and information service since the 1968 institute; (2) to explore new thinking and approaches to the examination and use of cooperative reference service and library networks; (3) to apply network concepts to local library situations; (4) to develop an ideal, statewide inter-library reference network; and (5) to identify future developments needed in cooperative reference inter-library networks in Texas. Resource materials produced for the participants included a preliminary report by Richard L. Waters “A Survey of Cooperative Ventures Serving Texas Libraries”; “Proposed Basic Elements of ‘Ideal’ Statewide Inter-Library Networks” by Maryann Duggan; “Glossary of Terms Related to Library Cooperations and Inter-Library Networks” by Maryann Duggan, Richard Nance, Jim Stephens, and others; “A Network Problem” by Richard Nance; and transcripts of LSCA Title III and the Networks for Knowledge part of the Higher Education Amendments of 1968. Once again, the Texas State Library jointly sponsored the event.

The 282 registrants for the Cooperative Inter-Library Reference and Information Networks preconference institute held 26 March 1969 included 120 public librarians, 113 college and university librarians, 30 special librarians, 12 school librarians and students, trustees, friends and sales representatives. To foster involvement, all participants were grouped at tables representing 24 nodes in a statewide network and presented with real-life library situations to be considered by specific nodes. A group of “Official Listeners” were provided to focus attention on pertinent topics by raising questions before and after presentations, interpreting the importance of ideas, and helping to define problems needing attention. The eight speakers for the institute were Richard Perrine (Rice University and President of RSD), who reviewed current literature on library networks and networking; Dr. Edward G. Holley (Director, University of Houston Libraries, and a consultant to the U.S. Office of Education Knowledge Network Task Force), who spoke on the Title VIII Networks for Knowledge section of the Higher Education Act of 1965; Richard Waters, who presented the results of the survey of existing networks and cooperative ventures serving Texas libraries; Marie Shultz (Texas State Library), who reported the preliminary findings of an evaluative study of the Texas public library network; Richard O’Keefe (Project Director), who reported on the Houston LSCA Title III Special Project linking the university network R.I.C.E. with the Houston Public Library network; Maryann Duggan, who presented the conceptual design of an ideal inter-library network being developed from a Title III LSCA Special Project “Dallas Pilot Model of Inter-Library Cooperation”; Francine Morris (University of Texas at Arlington), who spoke on interlibrary loan problems; and Dr. Richard Nance, who presented his analytical-mathematical model of library networks. Maryann Duggan presented a statement of the 14 basic elements of an ideal network. Participants at each “node” table then were asked to consider how to network their node within the concept of an ideal statewide network. The participants considered which network to join, the type of services or resources expected from the network and expected to be offered to the network, the selectivity criteria to use, the legal authority allowing a node to join a network, the extent of formal agreements, the communication channel to use, the cost, the geographic and type of libraries configuration for the network, the switching mechanism to be used (local, statewide or MRC), interfacing with other networks, the criteria for evaluation of network performance, the relative emphasis on patron or material mobility, the specialization of each node, and node/network conflict in goals.

At the RRT meeting 26 March 1969, the RRT Publications Committee presented a resolution to have the proceedings of the institute published either in the summer 1969 issue of Texas Library Journal or as a separate RRT publication. Complete detailed proceedings were never published, but an overview of the 1969 institute appeared in the summer issue of Texas Library Journal. The paper presented by Margaret Morris was published in the fall 1969 issue of RQ. Richard Nance's paper was published in Journal of the American Society for Information Science in 1970.

At the same meeting, the Steering Committee chaired by Richard Perrine presented two resolutions. One called for the formation of a permanent statewide network study group composed of representatives from each major resource center, the Title III Advisory Council, the Library Development Committee, the Texas Education Association, the Texas State Library, the Texas College and University System Coordinating Board, and each existing network in the state. The second resolution requested that ways and means be sought to continue the analysis and design of netrworks with specific implementation steps and cost figures to be presented at the next RRT meeting in April 1970. Both proposals were approved by the RRT membership.

The first meeting of the Network Study Group held in Arlington 14 November 1969 was attended by twenty-three representatives. An additional network organized in February 1970 subsequently was invited to join the group, increasing the membership to twenty-four.

Some of the concepts developed at the 1969 RRT institute were considered sufficiently important to be included in the TLA Library Development Committee's Work Program for 1969-70 adopted by TLA Council at the March 1969 conference. In section 1 about cooperating fully with the Texas State Library in implementing the Texas Library System Act, priority (d) was "The encouragement and support of research to identify the parameters of reference network performance and to develop operational reference network procedures among different types of libraries".

A third preconference institute relating to networks was held 8 April 1970 in Amarillo. "Reference Networks: Serendipity and Service" aimed to identify available local network capabilities and to examine how networks and information channels among areas could best be utilized. Participants were divided into the ten Major Resource Center areas with representatives from every type of library operating within the area. They were presented with an overview of what they could and should be doing with reference service, a review of common problems they all faced, and a workshop on how to improve network use. The guest speaker, Dr. Margaret K. Coggin (RSD Chair and Dean of the Graduate School of Librarianship at the University of Denver), spoke on "New Dimensions in Reference Service". She outlined the variables affecting the range and quality of reference services, including changes in the interests and requirements of library users, continuing education for library personnel to deal with expanding and interdisciplinary knowledge areas and new disciplines, the effective use of technology and networks by librarians, and increasing staff and collection maintenance costs. Maryann Duggan reviewed the characteristics of networks and described how the various networks operating in Texas related to the characteristics.

The first part of the afternoon workshop focused on barriers to network and library cooperation. Orin F. Nolting's pamphlet "Mobilizing Total Library Resources for Effective Service" (published for the American Library Association) presented five general categories of barriers: psychological, traditional/historical, physical/geographical, legal/administrative, and those due to lack of information and experience. One librarian at each MRC table was given a phrase representing a barrier and the other librarians at the table were given ten minutes to convince the "barrier" that the argument was indefensible, unprofessional and ridiculous. Participants then were directed to examine the usefulness of networks around them. They examined how to increase use of local networks, problems encountered in using those networks, and suggestions for more efficient use of the networks. Eighteen informal recommendations formulated by the participants included publishing a directory of networks, providing state-wide long-range planning for network development, promulgating operational guidelines and performance standards for networks, training both librarians and the public in network use, developing a state interlibrary loan code, providing union lists of regional holdings, establishing a clearinghouse for information on networks, and continual re-evaluation and examination of network structures and policies.

As a result of the continued focus of RRT on networking in Texas, the TLA Library Development Committee included two items in the "TLA Program of Work for 1970/71" relating to the issue. Item 8 addressed continuing to seek a means of identifying and coordinating developing library and information networks and item 9 addressed encouraging and supporting research to determine the optimum identification of Texas library resources for the effective operation of reference and communication networks.

Another outgrowth of the 1970 workshop was the formation of an RRT Network Directory Committee chaired by Janet Gohmert and including Katherine Ard, Ron Norman and Dr. Mary Boyvey. As a result of the groundwork for such a directory already laid in prior pre-conferences and the work of the committee, the Texas State Library matched funds with TCU for an Editorial Committee to compile and publish the directory. Dr. Paul M. Parham chaired the Editorial Committee, which also included Col. Stanley G. Rife and Robert A. Olsen, Jr. The final 64-page A Directory of Information Networks in Texas was published by the Interuniversity Council of the North Texas Area in March 1971.

Also related to the networking focus of RRT was the contribution of several RRT members to the planning of an RSD pre-conference workshop on computer-based reference services held in Dallas at the Statler-Hilton Hotel prior to the ALA Annual Conference in June 1971.

Created on Jun 18, 2011 | Last updated August 08, 2013