Questionnaire responses from former NOTIS customers

 

Note 1:  If you are a former NOTIS staff member or customer who is reading this and has not yet filled out a questionnaire or participated in some other way, it's not too late!  You can email your response to me (jerryspecht71@gmail.com ) or request a questionnaire to fill out.

Note 2:  The views and opinions expressed in these questionnaire responses are those of the respondees only and are not intended to represent those of Northwestern University or the website proprietor.  Complete disclaimer .

*= Photo below

Contents

Alan Manifold* (Purdue University). 1

Catherine Tierney* (Stanford University). 3

Cathy Sicard (LOUIS Consortium). 5

Chris Meyer    (University of Minnesota). 6

David Bennett  (Robert Morris College – Pittsburgh). 9

Debbie Morrow*  (Grand Valley State University). 9

Gary Bertchume  (Columbia University). 13

Gene Damon  (Virginia Community College System). 13

Mark Ludwig  (State University of New York at Buffalo). 15

Mary Monson*  (University of Iowa). 16

Nancy Colyar  (LSU). 17

Pat Riva  (McGill University). 18

Phyllis Valentine (University of Michigan). 20

Roberta Kirby  (South Alabama – plus, NOTIS Systems, Inc.). 21

Ronnie Goldberg (Binghamton University – SUNY). 22

Scott Muir*  (University of Alabama). 22

Sue Julich  (University of Iowa). 24

The Florida/FCLA Story. 25

The University of South Alabama Story. 25

The Harvard Story. 25

 

Alan Manifold* (Purdue University)

 

1. What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

 

Alan Manifold

Purdue University

 

2. When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

 

Purdue "installed" in 1988 and it went into production in 1989.

I worked on it throughout the entire period of its operation at Purdue, from 1988-1999.

 

3. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?

 

Job title: until 1989, Systems Analyst; from 1989 on, Systems Implementation Manager My job description included taking care of NOTIS and a few other small systems we had created ourselves. I was responsible for the data migration into NOTIS from our old (home-grown) system, PLUS. Then, I spent most of my time keeping NOTIS running and doing upgrades. We frequently did early releases (did they call them beta tests?) so we ended up installing each release 2-3 times. We did an average of 4 releases per year. One reason the upgrades took so long (~ 3 months each) was that we did considerable customisation at first. As the years went on and NOTIS improved, we could take them out one by one. So, in addition to doing upgrades, I did the customisation. We had someone else who helped, but I did more than 90% of it all.

 

4. What was good about NOTIS? What was ... not-so-good?

 

NOTIS had lots of features (although we wouldn't think that now).

Because we had the source code, we were able to fix things that were broken, or at least find out how they were working. We were also able to advance the system such as by adding a capability for multiple OPACs. As we were heading towards production, I had to basically rewrite two programs almost down to the bones: LD003 and LBC30. LD003 worked okay, but didn't provide the capabilities we needed to produce useful smart barcodes. By the time I was done with it, it was a work of art and did exactly what we needed. Then I tackled LBC30, which was some sort of loader, I think. I don't remember what it did, but I remember carrying around a 4 cm thick printout for months until I had rewritten it to work properly.

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times? (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

I remember that during the time we had NOTIS, I slept with a phone right by my bed, as I got called most weeks by the operations staff because some of our nightly jobs, such as backups, had failed or the system failed to come back up.

 

I remember the NOTIS-L listserv being really fun. I was just looking back at some of the messages from that period and we had a lot of fun trading jibes and tips and warnings, etc.

 

I remember that NUGM was always the highlight of my year. In later years, I was a bit of a star, with my part in the Bum Steer Roasts. But I remember even the earlier ones as being lots of fun.

 

6. Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

I had good relations with a number of the NOTIS staff. I did one beta test where I dealt with Stacy Kowalczyk on an almost daily basis and really came to admire her. Because of his role in packaging, I talked often to Rich Zawislak. Our sales rep, Bill Easton, was a special friend of mine at conferences, particularly NUGM. Carole Norris was the main liaison for some years with Team NOTIS, so I saw lots of her and respected her very much. And of course, Jane Burke was totally an icon at the company. I saw her lots of times each year. We were not the closest of friends, but I really loved the way she ran the company (from a customer's perspective). There were many, many more: Ben Schapiro, Ken Victorson, Jerry Specht, Randy Menakes, and countless others. I felt that I was part of the NOTIS family and all of the staff were my brothers and sisters. Really!

 

7. Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?

 

Serving on Team NOTIS, I had a special relationship with some of the other members: Paul Asay, Tim Prettyman, Leigh Williams. I served later on the group that helped create the NOTIS Libraries Council, and the people selected, as well as the other members, were good folks. Again, there are so many that I can't begin to name them all. The folks I sang with were good friends, too: Babs Baughman, Caroline Coco, Nancy Nuckles Colyar, Tim Prettyman, Beth Nicol.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS? What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

We officially shut down NOTIS in 1999, but our Voyager system went live in 1998.

 

9. Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

I'm sure there is, but I've got too many to narrow it down.

 

 

10. If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

 

Purdue had a home-grown system called PLUS, Purdue Libraries Unified System. We had only written cataloguing and OPAC modules before we had to switch to NOTIS. It was a pretty innovative system for its time. It was written in C to run on a Unix platform and may have been the first library catalogue to be available on the Internet (or ARPANet, as it was back then). Purdue was very early to adopt Unix and to have all its servers connected up to the network.

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library? Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before?

 

We were certainly able to do lots more. We started just with cataloguing and OPAC, though. It took us a while to prepare for Circulation, because we hadn't barcoded our collection. So, while we were waiting on that process to be completed, we implemented Acquisitions. It was a bit rocky, but we survived. Implementing circulation was a pretty big success. I brought my bicycle in to work so I could ride to all of our 15 libraries every day as they were coming up, one after another.

 

12. At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since. Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?   Some possibilities: …

 

I think the IBM factor was big. But once NOTIS was successful at a number of libraries, it was easier for a new ARL (or other academic library) to decide that NOTIS was the right system. In Indiana, each institution was doing its own thing automation-wise. Hank Hector, who had been involved in the creation of FCLA in Florida, became Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education or something like that in Indiana, and he unilaterally mandated that all of the State schools move to NOTIS. We didn't like it, but we did it. It was really a good move for us, I'd say. It was a solid system that we could implement quickly and it did what we needed it to do.

 

13. Certainly (in view of subsequent history: the success of the NOTIS-Horizon-like Voyager system and the relative failure of the Ameritech Horizon system) it would seem that Ameritech's "divesting" itself of the "NOTIS Horizon" system being developed in Evanston was a mistake. Why do you think it happened?

 

Well, I don't know, of course. But my suspicion was always that Ameritech had gotten Dynix first (or been influenced by it) and Paul what's-his-name was made President. He didn't know anything about academic libraries when he took over at Ameritech, but he was comfortable with what Dynix was doing. Marquis was a poor system, but to someone who didn't know any better, it sounded like the same thing as Horizon, and was further along and more Dynix-y. So, they dumped the real Horizon instead of dumping Marquis.

 

14.  A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues. Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role? [If they are retired but might be contacted, we would very much appreciate your giving us their names/email addresses, so we can do so.] Or are you aware of directors/staff of other libraries who played such a role?

 

We did not really add to the NOTIS functionality for other customers, although we did for ourselves, and that may have influenced NOTIS Systems, Inc. I developed a multi-OPAC facility for our multiple campuses. When I called Support once to ask something about it, they put me on the phone to Verne Coppi. I had never met him, but he immediately started yelling at me for doing this. But support for multiple OPACs came in a release shortly after that. Other than that, I contributed a number of bug fixes, but nothing particular on the functionality side. I don't think NSI even accepted my version of LBC30, which was really far superior to the original.

 

15. How about NOTIS giving customers the source code?

 

I feel that it was exactly the right thing to do. I'm certain that it was a factor in a number of libraries being willing to lay down their own in-house development and moving to a vendor system. If these big sites weren't able to see what they had, to add the odd bell or whistle, and to fix bugs, it would have been a hard sell for us, at least. We had to take on a used IBM mainframe with an operating system we'd never run, and it was not easy. But the eventual system did so much and we had sufficient control over it that it was a good fit. Without the source code, it would not have been palatable.

 

<end Alan Manifold>

 

 

Catherine Tierney* (Stanford University)

 

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?   

Catherine Tierney (and Janet McCarthy),  Stanford University Libraries

 

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

Late 1988.

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

I was ILS Manager (Integrated Library System).  My department was Library Systems; I was liaison between the library departments and the programmers in Library Systems.

 

4.     What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

When we started, virtually all the modules we needed had been in production by others – we were not at cutting edge.  We were able to move from RLIN Cat & Acq all at once. System use was extremely efficient – so much available on one screen to get the work done.   Our transition  to NOTIS was a dive into the deep end – it was all there to use so that we could completely change how we looked at our work.  Everyone had her/his own PC (286s!, then 386s) which was a new paradigm for efficient production.  Total change in mentality to not do piecework.  Crucial were GTO, BOVL/AOVL.  We laughed at the name BOVL/AOVL – struck as possible name for birth control pill for some reason.

(From Janet McCarthy):  I have distinct memories of running out of disk space when running some index programs on the weekends. I worked with [Stanford programmers] trying to get the best efficiency out of a utility called Syncsort.  We were always pushing the mainframe to the limit. And, yes, there was nothing like big iron for speed in those days.   I do think the tech seminars at NUGM were especially useful.  

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)   I felt like an outsider, maybe because we came to the game later than most other universities.  We did some development work which we passed on to NOTIS, but not as much as FLCA , Harvard, and Michigan.  Our first Users Group meeting was at Northwestern, after which it went to Palmer House.

 

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?  

I hope you have his name – first name was Dale, our rep at one point who was very engaged with what we were doing.  Mary Alice Ball was a good friend to Stanford as well.  Our programmers were Janet McCarthy, who was the lead and ran the system, and Ray Deutsch, a terrific Assembler programmer.  Janet remembers Ned Taaffe.

 

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?  

One NUGM I was running a program on something, and one of the speakers didn’t show up, so I had to wing it based on my own experience.  The speaker had screwed up on Daylight Savings Time being over.   I made lots of good work friends there – nearly everyone was REAL smart, and I always learned from them.  Dianne Hillman, Ed Weismann, Chris Meyer, Bob Wolven among others.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?  

We went to Sirsi Unicorn in 1995.  Kept our NOTIS db running for one year just in case we needed data especially for old Special Collections records.  Going to client/server was what we needed to do so we could develop entirely new workflows for or reengineered technical processing.  Sirsi was the right answer at the time.  However, client/server was a hard adjustment:  much less efficient keyboarding so we had tons of ergonomic problems with production staff; reindexing took days, not hours; response times in general were not nearly as good.  Staff really missed NOTIS.  

 

9Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering? 

At the beginning, we learned so much from other sites – who are the Badgers, University of Minnesota?  They gave us the code for printing orders.  I remember the Badger Icon.   Minnesota, Michigan in particular were always helpful.  Overall, the community was totally generous with each other.

 

 

          10.  If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace? 

Stanford originally developed BALLOTS in the late 60s, then went to its next iteration in RLIN.  We used its Acquisitions and Cataloging subsystems.   We had a manual cardex and circulation was manual as well.

Stanford did not use the NOTIS OPAC; before NOTIS ILS we had developed Socrates public interface on top of the RLIN records which was rich in features and had a very early and rapid uptake.  We there was no reason to leave that; we transmitted adds, updates, deletes overnight.  We eventually replaced mainframe Socrates at some point after we went to Sirsi ILS.  Some of Socrates’ valued features could not be part of Sirsi structure.  Certainly, though, client/server architecture made it possible to provide many more features.

 

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before?  

The big thing for us was to finally go to online circulation, one of the last big libraries to do so.  We did that in 1991 or so.  Another big thing is that we finally got Payments under piece-by-piece fiscal control.  This was huge step forward for us to be able to run reports on particulars of which titles we purchased on which accounts.  Going to NOTIS brought us into the Big Time in terms of being fiscally responsible.

 

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?  Some possibilities:

 

a.     NOTIS had functions other ILS’es lacked.  (I can't think of any, but maybe you can?) 

Well, huge for us is that it was designed for real research libraries, not just broad library market.  It was cognizant of  purchasing odd pieces from across the world, of our scale of orders, the complex needs of our researchers, and the hundred or so staff who had their hands in it every day.   

b.     Though other systems had the same module, the NOTIS version was better.... Were certain modules (Circulation? Acquisitions/Serials? Cataloging/Authorities? OPAC?  the BRS keyword/Boolean? GTO?  MDAS?) especially strong?       MDAS rings a bell but I can’t tell you what it was!   But GTO and BOVL were huge for us.  Our staff sat at their own stations and were able to do the complete bibliographic work from within one system – huge!  Not having to schedule your hour on the OCLC terminal – all at your own desk!

     e.    NOTIS Support was unusually good.  [Hey ... I had to include that one!] 

          Well, it WAS.  They hired librarians who had worked in large sites and understood the complexity and SCALE of our problems.

f.    Most NOTIS MVS installations ran on a shared (IBM) campus computer.  Except for DOBIS/LIBIS -- not really a factor in the US market -- no other library systems ran on IBM mainframes.  As IBM's dominance of campus administrative computing increased, so did NOTIS' dominance of academic library computing.

      When Northwestern was developing what would become NOTIS, Stanford was developing BALLOTS on the IBM mainframe, too.  That eventually became RLIN, rather than a commercial ILS.

h.   What do you think is the relative importance of these different factors?

      Biggest for us was that the system reasonably addressed our large scale and complex business.

 

14.   A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues.   Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role?  [If they are retired but might be contacted, we would very much appreciate your giving us their names/email addresses, so we can do so.]  Or are you aware of directors/staff of other libraries who played such a role?

That was in fact my role, to work with all Stanford parties on priorities for development and improvement.  The actual process of membership voting was flawed, but fundamentally, NOTIS Inc did a reasonable job understanding what was most important for us and for system development as a whole.

15.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code? 

 

We were very happy to have access to the source code to understand how things worked (when they weren’t).  We were religious about not touching the source code; however, I have a vague recollection that on occasion we had to make minor adjustment – but I may be misremembering.  I just remember (in my role) when testing new versions having to test a few little local features to be sure they still worked..

 

 

<end Catherine Tierney>

 

Cathy Sicard (LOUIS Consortium)

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?  

 

Cathy Sicard, LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

Louisiana State University, a LOUIS member, acquired NOTIS in 1984. Few academic libraries in Louisiana had made progress towards automation. In 1992, LOUIS was awarded a grant to automate other Louisiana academic libraries NOTIS under the LSU contract:

Phase I - 1993:

1.      Louisiana Tech University

2.      Nicholls State University

3.      University of Louisiana at Monroe

4.      Southeastern Louisiana University (already on NOTIS; moved to LOUIS license)

5.      University of New Orleans

 

Phase II - 1994:

6.      Delgado Community College

7.      Louisiana State University at Alexandria

8.      Louisiana State University in Shreveport

9.      McNeese State University

10.  Northwestern State University of Louisiana

 

Phase III – 1995-96:

11.  Louisiana State University at Eunice

12.  Louisiana State University Law Center

13.  LSU Center for Energy Studies

14.  Nunez Community College

15.  Southern University at New Orleans

16.  Southern University at Shreveport

17.  Southern University Baton Rouge

18.  Southern University Law Center

 

Phase IV - 1999-2000

19.  Baton Rouge Community College

20.  Bossier Parish Community College

21.  Grambling University

22.  Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)

23.  Our Lady of the Lake College

24.  River Parishes Community College

25.  South Louisiana Community College

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

 

I was an Applications Analyst with the LOUIS central staff. I was part of a central staff of 10 supporting the ILS. My role included:

 

·        implementing new modules for member libraries

·        upgrading to new versions of NOTIS

·        implementing automated patron loads

·        maintaining nightly batch job schedules

·        managing disk space, purges, and backups

·        producing monthly database, OPAC and batch job statistics

·        creating and maintaining batch reports (QuikReports, LMS reports, SAS reports)

·        supporting the backend of NOTIS

·        writing conversion scripts for the migration from other ILS systems to NOTIS

·        writing custom scripts to produce reports to meet the needs of member libraries

·        served as project lead for the migration of Louisiana academic libraries from NOTIS to SirsiDynix Unicorn in 2001

 

4.     What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

·        Provided an online catalog for users in place of the card catalog

·        Provided the first integrated staff interface for cataloging, serials, authority control, circulation, acquisitions, and reports

·        Provided access to electronic resources being purchased in the early days

·        Fostered an excellent user community for sharing and collaboration

·        Hosted excellent user group meetings

·        Excellent customer support

·        Excellent documentation

Not so good:

o   LMS 6.1 – the version which introduced the new circulation module

o   Ran on dumb terminals, which was fine for the times, but the software eventually became obsolete

 

5.     Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

·        User group meetings at the Palmer House were always great

·        The NOTIS staff skit was always fun

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

·        LOUIS migrated to the SirsiDynix Symphony system from Jul 2001 – Aug 2002.

 

11.             What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

 

·        Provided an online catalog for users in place of the card catalog

·        Provided the first integrated staff interface for cataloging, serials, authority control, circulation, acquisitions, and reports

·        Provided access to electronic resources being purchased in the early days

 

<end Cathy Sicard>

 

Chris Meyer    (University of Minnesota)

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?   

Christina Perkins Meyer

University of Minnesota Libraries

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

I believe we installed the NOTIS software in 1987.  I was involved with it from  the beginning to the end. 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

My job title was Head, Database Management Division, Central Technical Services.  I managed the conversion of records from RLIN, OCLC, and three other vendors that formed our Day 1 NOTIS database of approximately 1.8 million records, the creation of a matching authority file, and the project of barcoding our collection of approximately 5 million items.  In conjunction with the University’s Office of Information Technology, the Database Management Division was responsible for ongoing support of NOTIS throughout its lifetime.

4.     What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

There were many good things about NOTIS:

a)     It was our first local system, which allowed us to significantly streamline tech services and circulation processes and provide much better service to library users.  Specifically, for the first time, we could:

·        Provide a complete local catalog, updated in real time and eventually accessible to all users in their homes and offices, to replace the 6000+ drawer public union catalog and its increasingly clumsy COM supplement.

·        Order and track materials online, and access up to the minute fund accounting information.

·        Circulate materials online, provide users with courtesy notices of items coming due (which they really liked), and provide online renewals.

b)    It improved significantly over time.  The most important of those improvements, in my view, was keyword indexing, which provided users with an entirely new and extremely powerful way of accessing library collections. 

c)     Being NOTIS customers made us part of a large group of similar libraries with lots of talented staff.  We traded ideas, helped each other solve problems, and pushed for enhancements together.  The RLG/NOTIS Users Group was particularly useful to us.  

On the other hand, there were problems with NOTIS.  The biggest problem, in my view, was the slow pace of enhancements.  Though customers spent many hours prioritizing relatively minor enhancements, they were slow to come and sometimes didn’t come at all.  Major enhancements also took an inordinately long time, again if they came at all.  It’s my impression that NOTIS’ architecture was the key reason it was difficult to change, though others may have more to say on this score.  Eventually, of course, both the hardware platform on which it ran and its software architecture became more and more outdated.

5.     Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

Ah, the glory days of NOTIS.  NUGM was always a lot of fun.  I remember a stuffed aardvark in a Palmer House elevator, a costume party when NUGM fell on Halloween, and being encouraged to apply for three jobs in the course of one reception.  But mostly it was great being with so many professional friends who were trying to accomplish the same sorts of things.

In looking back, it’s obvious that many things have changed a lot for the better.  For instance, the specs I wrote for converting records to NOTIS were the last ones I wrote on an ordinary typewriter.  What a pain—especially given the number of revisions they went through!  And while we were working on the conversion, we had to schlep tapes back and forth.  Peter Ward and I figured out that the fastest way to ship them was airport to airport, so he made a lot of trips to DTW, and I made a lot of trips to MSP.  On the day I made the trip to pick up the final version of the records, we had a heat wave and a section of the freeway I was on collapsed.  I was stuck in my car without air-conditioning for hours while my colleagues wondered what had happened to me (no cell phones then either).

6.     Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

Jane Burke:  Of course, it’s pretty much impossible to talk about NOTIS without talking about Jane.  Attitudes differ, but one must admit she’s had a remarkable career.  I’d like to point out that contrary to popular opinion, she does have a sense of humor and has been known to apologize.  When we were in the midst of contract negotiations for NOTIS, my boss, Mary Frances Collins, had to step out to attend another meeting.  When she returned, she asked “Where are we?”  Jane responded “in agony.”  At a NUGM meeting, Jane put me at the wrong institution in her introduction of speakers at one session.  She wrote and sent a letter of apology the same day, which I still have.

Randy Menakes:  Randy installed NOTIS for us, and quickly became a fast friend.  In addition to providing excellent support, he always had a funny story—usually with Randy himself as the butt of the joke.  There was the time he locked himself out of his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning and stood there in his underwear wondering what to do.  Or the time he helped a friend buy a house, then asked her to take care of his dogs, since his travel schedule didn’t permit him to give them enough attention.  A friend who heard this story said, “Oh, so you’ve just bought the world’s most expensive doghouse.”  Anyone who knows Randy will have more tales to tell. 

Jerry Specht:  Jerry is the hands down winner of  the award for the most solid tech support person I worked with over my 22 years managing LMSes.  His in depth system knowledge, excellent troubleshooting skills, and habit of careful documentation just can’t be beaten.  Though he often did more than one might reasonably expect, on one occasion he really went above and beyond the call of duty.  I told him I wanted to send a small thank you, and asked if he’d prefer chocolate, wine, flowers, or something else.  His response was “Well, my son is looking and colleges, and tuition is awfully high …”  We sent chocolate.

Of course, there were some less than stellar support staff too, though they were rare.  I will always remember the conversion staffer (who shall remain nameless) who claimed that Fed Ex had added the same invalid value to every 040 in a file of records.

7.     Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?

 

8.     When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

We went up on Aleph in the summer of 2002.

 

9.  Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

10.             If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

        None

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before?

See my answer to #4 above.

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?  Some possibilities:

I’ve made some minor specific comments below.  But I think that the key reason (aside from good marketing) that NOTIS was so successful is that ARL libraries, for all their protestations of uniqueness, are pretty much herd animals.  The more of them that were running NOTIS, the more likely others were to join up.  A more positive way of putting this is that the success leads to success.  When you know that similar institutions are doing well with a particular product, you believe that your institution can too.  And the value of a like-minded collective just can’t be overestimated—for sharing ideas, resolving problems, and pushing for change.  I know it was of enormous benefit to us. 

 a.      NOTIS had functions other ILS’es lacked.  (I can't think of any, but maybe you can?) 

I can’t think of any either.

b.      Though other systems had the same module, the NOTIS version was better.... Were certain modules (Circulation? Acquisitions/Serials? Cataloging/Authorities? OPAC?  the BRS keyword/Boolean? GTO?  MDAS?) especially strong?

I suspect that every available system stood out in one way or another, but I can’t really say what NOTIS’ greatest comparative strength was.     

c.       It's clear that NOTIS programs outperformed those of other library systems.  (Someone who worked for a competitor has told me that in 1989 their sites were complaining that, while it took them more than a week to regenerate a particular index, the NOTIS programs were doing the same in 4 hours.)  How much of this was due to the superiority of the IBM systems software/hardware the programs were running on and how much to the fact that the application programs themselves were written so efficiently?   

d.      NOTIS marketers were very effective at identifying the institutions which would most benefit from NOTIS and concentrating their marketing efforts on those institutions.

I believe this did in fact happen.  Also, the marketers were very effective in general terms.

           e.   NOTIS Support was unusually good.  [Hey ... I had to include that one!]

Well, yes, support was very good.  But, sorry Jerry, I don’t have the sense that it was a major selling point.

f.    Most NOTIS MVS installations ran on a shared (IBM) campus computer.  Except for DOBIS/LIBIS -- not really a factor in the US market -- no other library systems ran on IBM mainframes.  As IBM's dominance of campus administrative computing increased, so did NOTIS' dominance of academic library computing.

The fact that NOTIS ran on IBM hardware undoubtedly was a selling point.

                              g.   Other factors in NOTIS' success?

h.   What do you think is the relative importance of these different factors?

<snip> 

14.  A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues.   Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role?  [If they are retired but might be contacted, we would very much appreciate your giving us their names/email addresses, so we can do so.]  Or are you aware of directors/staff of other libraries who played such a role?

I think Minnesota’s key contribution to NOTIS enhancement was our insistence on the immediate development of GTO (Generalized Transfer and Overlay).  This allowed us copy records from RLIN and OCLC into NOTIS or overlay existing records in NOTIS with RLIN or OCLC records in real time.  This process was far more efficient than batch loading, though we did plenty of that too.  Initially, NOTIS contracted with an outside developer for GTO, apparently for a very significant sum.  When he came to install the beta code, he blamed everything that went wrong on the PC hardware, and had us running all over buying new and additional parts.  I can still see all of the PC innards strewn on a table.  Before long, it became clear that it was his software that was at fault.  NOTIS scrapped everything he did and did their own development, which served us very well indeed.

 15.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code?

It’s interesting to hear from you that giving customers the source code caused few of the support problems it might have caused and indeed had some benefits I might not have thought of.  But I’d like to comment on another aspect of this.

Probably the key reason that the source code was given to customers is that it was an absolute contractual requirement.  I know that upper management in a number of libraries viewed having the source code as an insurance policy.  They reasoned (rightly, I think,) that if worse came to worst, the staff at NOTIS libraries could support NOTIS for the collective.  I doubt that they knew the code was heavily commented, but that fact and the fact that libraries did make productive use of the access reinforces their belief.

I think it’s important to remember that with the purchase of NOTIS, most libraries were ceding more control of day to day operations to an outside party than they’d ever done before.  Of course, those same libraries are now far more dependent on vendors (often multiple vendors) for an even larger portion of library services.  Still, I know that access to the source code was a contractual requirement when we moved to Aleph some 15 years later, though in that case the code was escrowed, rather than provided to the customer.

<end Chris Meyer>

 

David Bennett  (Robert Morris College – Pittsburgh)

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

   

David Bennett, Robert Morris University (then Robert Morris College)

 

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

1990 

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do? 

Systems Librarian  

 

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

The best thing was the academic focus. 

 

5.     Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

Particularly loved the Bum Steer Roasts.

 

6.     Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

Jerry Specht’s visit to Robert Morris.  He was very knowledgeable and professional, and he worked quickly to get everything right before he left.

 

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

It was always great to see my friend from UNC Library School, Nancy Nuckles Colyar.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

Migrated to Endeavor Voyager, not sure of the exact date.

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

This was our first online system.  It was an incredible boost to our library to have the same automated system as the larger research libraries.

<end David Bennett>

 

Debbie Morrow*  (Grand Valley State University)

 

Here you have it: my trip down NOTIS Memory Lane.  Nobody will probably be as interested as my own satisfaction in wallowing in nostalgia for a few hours!  Although I will be curious to see what others mention that I haven’t recalled, or have recalled differently.

 

I’ve attached a few items, per your suggestions:

·        DMorrow_012a.png – a photo from ~2005, related to a Voyager user group event; I don’t have much pre-digital-photos stuff.

·        NOTIS2.bmp – a scan of the NOTIS logo off of a mailing envelope; I wanted a visual for a 2003 talk about my own NOTIS-to-Voyager journey, and this was all I could find at the time!

·        History of NOTIS-72_93oct.docx (converted from WordPerfect-DOS) – the intro that I did for a session at the 1993 NUGM featuring Jim Aagaard and Velma Veneziano recalling their work in dreaming up and beginning to build the earliest versions of NOTIS. I don’t know if there’s any audio/video of that session anywhere; but I recall both these terrific people had great stories and interesting history to share.

 

I tackled all of the items that I felt I could really say anything about; some questions just didn’t apply to my particular experience. Again, I’ll be interested to see what others have to say. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more from you about when and where you have all of this gathered – it really is a nice opportunity to reflect on times and experiences in our collective past. Thanks for including me (and being patient)!

 

1.  What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?  

 

Debbie Morrow

·         Michigan Technological University, Houghton MI, Jan. 1984-Sept.1991

·         Grand Valley State University, Allendale MI, Sept.1991-present 

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

 

·         Michigan Tech - when I first arrived at Tech a "retrocon" project was already underway to get the library's holdings into OCLC and to generate a database of MARC records for loading an ILS in the future. Shortly after I was hired, we began exploring automated systems and converting from all manual/paper operations to an online integrated library management system. Initially the review of systems on the market was done in conjunction with the Upper Peninsula Region of Library Co-operation (UPRLC), but ultimately Tech contracted with NOTIS independent of any consortial or cooperative efforts.  I'm hazy on precise dates, but I think we had contracted with NOTIS and were active with cataloging by sometime in 1987 (I recall actually visiting with the people doing our data conversion when several of us attended the ACRL Fourth National Conference in Baltimore in April 1986). By the time I moved on to a new job, we'd converted cataloging and OPAC (called "FOCUS"), serials management, and circulation from manual to online. We converted all of our authority records to online records, but never saw the interactivity between authority records and the bibliographic database that we'd dreamed of. In my time there, we never really did anything with acquisitions.

 

·         Grand Valley - GVSU's library had already implemented NOTIS when I arrived in fall of 1991 to fill a vacancy as Automation Librarian. During the mid- and late 1980s some 10 or 11 of the public universities in Michigan had all gone with NOTIS, in part on an assumption that our systems would all be able to readily interact with one another and facilitate sharing and mutual student/faculty support in a way we'd not been able to do prior to the promise of computers and "the Internet." At GVSU in 1991 retrocon had been done, a retrocon of Gov Docs was underway, and cataloging and the OPAC ("BEACON") were live. Starting right away, we began to move circulation onto NOTIS. My memories have grown dim … I think we never did do anything with serials control or acquisitions until we moved from NOTIS to Endeavor Voyager in 1998.

 

3.  What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

 

·         Michigan Tech -  in 1983 as I was finishing my MLS I applied for a position as Cataloger, and was hired on the strength of having worked in Catalog Management at Northwestern University Library for two years before going to UIU-C GSLIS and concentrating my studies in Technical Services and automation. I was tapped early on to lead in our progress toward automating, and "Systems Librarian" was added to my title (with a modest increase in salary). During my 7-1/2 year tenure at Tech, I lead all automation-related activities: keeping up with upgrades, planning conversions and training staff, mediating issues requiring contact with NOTIS Customer Support, communicating with systems support staff at Tech (who were not Library staff -- NOTIS was situated on the academic research IBM mainframe), engaging with counterparts around the state, and representing Tech at annual NUGMs. I supervised one hourly staff member who got very good at managing copy cataloging with minimal input from me, and even took on some rudimentary original cataloging at times. In the late 1980s at some point I moved from Cataloger and Systems Librarian to Circulation and Systems Librarian, as we began to move to online circulation. Again, very able staff took care of most of the business of circulation, while I focused on system support issues.

 

·   Grand Valley - my move to Grand Valley in 1991 was largely motivated by a need for my husband to be in a more job-rich environment than Houghton, Michigan. He'd completed Masters and Doctoral degrees during our years at Tech, but in a poor economy was having no luck at all getting interviews for college teaching positions. The opportunity at GVSU looked like a good match for me in many ways, and I jumped at it: as Automation Librarian I was again responsible as point-person in the library for all things automation-related. The NOTIS system resided on the university administration's IBM mainframe, and one of the Information Technology programmers was assigned as my IT liaison (25% of his assigned workload); but from IT's perspective, I and the library were responsible for managing the interactions with our vendor, knowing the specifics of the system we were using, and working within the constraints of the system and our own collective skill set -- no customization or special projects were going to be taken on by IT. Thus a certain portion of my job consisted of repeatedly apologizing to my library staff colleagues for things the tool they were expected to work with could not be made to do, with or without assistance beyond my own skills. Nonetheless, the system worked, users found materials and borrowed them, loans and fines were tracked, journal issues were checked in, upgrades were coordinated, new functionalities were explored, evaluated, and implemented … and one day Jane Burke paid a visit with a young sales associate to tell us about her new company, Endeavor, and the "Voyager" system they were working on. By 1997 we knew that mainframes were giving way to other system architectures, and that Ameritech did not provide the vendor vision, support, and relationship we'd enjoyed prior to NOTIS being sold/bought up. My assignment at that point was to help us choose and migrate to our next system.

 

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

Good things about NOTIS

§  Staff who really understood about academic libraries, many of whom started out as practicing librarians themselves (among the trainers, at least).

§  NUGM -- an annual opportunity to meet other customers in person, and to share information about how to work with the system.

§  NOTIS-L -- a constant community of supportive NOTIS staff and customer colleagues

§  A system that stuck to some important standards -- full MARC records, solid IBM hardware and OS options (VSE, MVS)

§  Annual "enhancement ballots" -- soliciting input from the customers!

 

"not-so-good?" things about NOTIS

§  I didn't know it yet, but through the '90s we were just waiting for the PC and client/server revolutions:  put the power of computing in the hands of librarians, and the urge to tweak, fix, extent, improve is irresistible -- but NOTIS wasn't capable of customization at the level of most of us who didn't come out of any kind of computing background.

§  There were moments when NOTIS (the company) suggested, offered, promised system enhancements that many customers felt would be huge advances, but those enhancements never seemed to arrive. I'm thinking on-demand report generating, for one.

§  Annual "enhancement ballots" -- I'm not sure the customer input often turned into action items and improvements that were really satisfying to the collective customer base. I don't entirely fault NOTIS for this; in the years since, I've seen plenty of other vendors and their customers and products confront the same problems of hearing/being heard while addressing a fast-moving technological environment and trying to attract additional sales at the same time as keeping the current base happy. Not easy!

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

·         At Michigan Tech as we implemented NOTIS in the mid-80s, I was introduced to "email" and "Bitnet." I was swept away by communicating in this new medium -- crossing time and distance without having to rely on phone calls! And listservs, even better! -- a never-ending conversation with people from everywhere! NOTIS-L was my lifeline for years, connecting me to people who could answer my questions and empathize with my frustrations because they were doing the same work I was, unlike anyone among my own colleagues in the library. 

·         NOTIS-L:  Signature-Block Wars! A few people (with too much time on their hands?) discovered that they could use the ASCII character set on their green-and-black (or perhaps orange-and-black) CRT displays to create very elaborate signature block images. Some folks in lesser-known or out-of-the-way locales made graphics of their state or country (New Zealand comes to mind), showing where their institution was located, for the benefit of the rest of us.  It really was a great sociological insight for me, seeing how people seemed to feel an irresistible urge to personalize a new communications medium possessing some real limitations in terms of expressing affect, personality, etc. I might still have a manila folder somewhere of printouts I made of the increasingly creative efforts that showed up over a period of several years.

·         NOTIS-L:  "… What's a longneck?" -- the Great Iron City Beer vs. Lone Star Beer Debate, culminating in a taste-off at NUGM one year! Somehow I just remember finding it really funny (ok, I was still under 30) when some poor innocent chimed in on the listserv phase of the debate, because they didn't know what a longneck was, and would someone kindly explain. This debate and other exchanges of equally dubious import endeared this collection of smart, interesting, funny, clever people to me forever -- both as individuals and as a type. I am, proudly, a geek at heart, and count many very geeky people among my friends over the years.

 

 

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

·           Velma Veneziano & Jim Aagaard

·         Jim Meyer - NUL Copy Cataloging, and later NOTIS Sales for a while?

·         "Big Ben"  - Ben Burroughs, who moved from NUL Acquisitions to NOTIS

·         "Little Ben" and the duo of "Ben & Ken" --Ben Schapiro, our first account manager and trainer for the Michigan Tech implementation; and Ken Victorson, Ben's frequent sidekick on training visits to our site.

·         Jane Burke - yeah. Jane. An amazing person! One of those wizards who meets you once, and remembers your face and name forever afterward! Vision, energy, intelligence, charisma, and a no-nonsense businessperson.

 

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

 

·         Alan Manifold - we were in adjacent years at the same college. I was astounded and delighted to run into Alan again at one of my early NUGMs -- I love how things diverge and connect again in life. Alan and I intersected through many years of NUGMs and VUGMs and EndUsers, finally serving overlapping terms on the Endeavor EndUser Executive Board in the earlier 2000s.

·         "Rustbelt Bill" Divens - to me, mostly a signature on frequent NOTIS-L posts, a knowledgeable and very funny person who was always ready to share information and help with technical questions.

·         MichNUGM - users of NOTIS in Michigan for a time formed a pretty vigorous user group community. I, Helen Healy (Western Michigan University), and Charlene Wecker (Wayne State University and DALNET) were the organizing force behind at least 3-4 annual Michigan NUGM gatherings, often drawing 40-50 participants. Some Michigan NOTIS-site colleagues from those days who I actually can remember by name:

§  Helen Healy - WMU

§  Phyllis Valentine - UM

§  Louise Bugg, Charlene Wecker - WSU, DALNET

§  Kathy Olivier - NMU, UPRLC

§  Darren Meahl - MSU

Many more names that are lost to me now… Others that come to mind more readily turn out to be from Michigan and Ontario sites that became Voyager customers about the time we did at Grand Valley (late '90s), and were frequent contacts for me in the same way that I had learned to depend upon the user group community as a NOTIS customer.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

·         Michigan Tech - After leaving Tech in 1991, I eventually lost touch with events there. I think they moved to Voyager at some point, but that migration happened well after I was gone.

·         Grand Valley - We had vendor demos and did an RFP during 1997-1998, and went with Endeavor Voyager. During the early spring of 1998 we copied out our NOTIS bibliographic database, and in May-June we migrated cataloging, OPAC, and circulation onto Voyager. The summer of 1998 is when I very quickly learned the rudiments of UNIX and HTML, wrapped my head around "the Web", and realized we were going to need to find a way to get a PC on *every* staff member's desk.

 

9.  Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

·         IBM 3163 and 3164 terminals, and especially The Telex Terminal for pulling in OCLC records: what a kludge, but what did I know? It seemed like magic, sending a record from one system to the other, and it worked!

·         NUGMs on campus at Northwestern in Evanston IL: I loved being back on campus at Northwestern for the couple of early NUGMs I attended before it was moved into Chicago.

·         NUGMs at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago: the Palmer House, how cool is that?!

·         Miller's Pub: you don't have to walk far to get back into the Palmer House for tomorrow morning's sessions.

·         NOTISes: I always looked forward to getting my newsletters, back when something in print was how it was done.

               

… 

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was? 

 

·         My observation would be that NOTIS was envisioned and developed from the outset by Velma Veneziano and Jim Aagaard as being founded at its core on full, well-formed MARC records, rather than any kind of collection of truncated item records or odd indexes. Having the capability to build all the functionality of the ILS in relation to the bibliographic data that fully describes the materials a library would purchase, organize, and lend gave the system a level of sophistication and capability relevant to the needs and expectations of institutions of higher education and academic research. It also had Northwestern University's name behind it. And in time it had Jane -- Jane Burke is without doubt one of the great entrepreneurs in the library world, and she brought energy and drive to marketing NOTIS' potential at just the right moment when the universities and colleges were all beginning to plot just how and when they were going to embrace automated management of library functions.

 

My acquaintance with 'NOTIS' began in September 1980 when I dropped out of the graduate program in Northwestern's Anthropology Department, and went to work fulltime as a paraprofessional in the Catalog Management section at NUL. I learned how to tag information on catalog cards and then key new MARC records into the database; I saw how the tagging allowed the new online catalog (LUIS) to differentiate between Author, Title, and Subject searches and how that related to the structure of the old card catalog; I learned about authority control, and the potential of building MARC authority records online that could one day interact with the bib database and provide 'See' and 'See also' references for OPAC users. After two years I realized that what I was doing as the job of an hourly employee could become a profession and a career, if I got an MLS (a degree option I'd been entirely unaware of before then). In my MLS program I got a little exposure to other systems, to "systems" as a concept, and to the theory underlying cataloging as it had been practiced for most of a century. By the time I went looking for my first professional position in 1983, I was entirely focused on working in academic libraries in some capacity closely associated with ILSs; and there was little doubt in my mind that the NOTIS-IBM-academic-library combo had much to recommend it.

  

13. Certainly (in view of subsequent history:  the success of the NOTIS-Horizon-like Voyager system and the relative failure of the Ameritech Horizon system) it would seem that Ameritech's "divesting" itself of the "NOTIS Horizon" system being developed in Evanston was a mistake.   Why do you think it happened?    

 

·         Jane. What I said above (in 12.), and Jane Burke. Jane was known by her customers and respected, even loved by them (remember the part about how she remembers faces and names of people she's met even just once?). She was perceived to have been dealt a very poor hand in the Ameritech buy-up of NOTIS and Dynix and their subsequent merger. I believe that once she gathered a team who shared her vision of what a client/server/web-interfacing system could be, if built from the ground up on sound principles, plenty of prospective customers were willing to trust their past history with her over the promises of big, faceless Ameritech. One of Jane's very strong capabilities has been getting start-up enterprises off the ground. She instilled drive, determination, and enthusiasm in her staff, and trust, hope, and high expectations in her prospective customers. You could almost feel the shift when Endeavor passed beyond being a hot young start-up, and Voyager was a reality with some warts and flaws like any other big system; but that was a chance a lot of customers were evidently willing to risk over anything out of Ameritech.

 

<end Debbie Morrow>

 

 

Gary Bertchume  (Columbia University)

 

When we selected NOTIS after the demise of BiblioTechniques it was pretty much a given that NOTIS was the only viable option for a library of our size and complexity. It had a proven track record, was scalable and was under very active development. It's stability made it possible for us to automate for the first time all of our library functions and provide an OPAC for our library users. Having source allowed to do some modest improvements but more importantly allowed us to understand the system and adjust our support and extensions to greatly enhance our installation and services. Its greatest strength in my view was that it provided a stable foundation for automating the workflows of a entire library organization, especially for a first time effort. Unfortunately all of technical infrastructure that made this possible did not support the newer service demands that began to emerge in the 90's. As time went on the lack of interoperability became a recurring theme and we found ourselves building more and more "shadow" systems to support basic service needs. I have to say we hung on to the bitter end but everyone was ready to move on when the institutional support for change came about.

 

<end Gary Betchume>

 

Gene Damon  (Virginia Community College System)

 

1. What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

 

 Gene Damon -- Virginia Community College System

 

 2. When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

 

 NOTIS was installed at VCCS in 1994.   I came here in 1996.

 

 3. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?

 

 Dir. Library Automation & Learning Resources.  Provided technical support, training and general support.

 

 4. What was good about NOTIS? What was ... not-so-good?

 

 It worked. Strong technical support modules, and good circulation module. For the times, it was one of the best ILSes around, but it  didn't evolve with the times -- maybe it couldn't have, but the owners [Ameritech] never really tried that hard.

 

 5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times? (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

 6. Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

 Ben S. was an excellent trainer and we had some interesting times travelling around the State doing that training. (Interesting experience when we managed to find a person who had known Ben's uncle

 back before WWII. )

 

It was interesting to run into Linda Z when I became a NOTIS customer -- Linda had been my customer support person in the late 70's when I was at Waterloo. Subsequently, she worked for me when I joined Geac in 82. That is an ongoing experience in the library system business, that is, you keep running into the same folks working for different vendors -- it has been a small universe.

 

 7. Any special memories of other NOTIS /customers/?

 

The LOUIS folks were my favorites -- fun to know and good resource when thinking through a problem or approach to a service.

 

 8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS? What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

 Mid 2003 when we installed ExLibris' Aleph.

 

 

10. If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

 

 There was some automation at the VCCS before NOTIS, but in general it was the first ILS for most of the colleges.

 

 11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library? Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before?

 

 The impact was what every library saw with the implementation of its first ILS, greatly improved service to our users.

 

 12. At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS. I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since. Why was NOTIS as successful as it was? Some possibilities: …

 

Short answer to these questions. It was a solid system but so were some of the other ILSs. The real value for most libraries was IBM -- the old expression, "you can't make a mistake going with IBM," and the  fact that academic IT was dominated by IBM types made it very difficult to a large institution to do anything other than pick NOTIS.

 

NOTIS had the same problem that a lot of the ILS vendors of that era had: They could not evolve their system in response to the changing technology. I once heard a quote that I think fit this market -- "you need to be the new guy on the block all the time." If you were not re-inventing your system regularly you quickly became "road kill." That was expensive and too often the ILS vendor did not have the resources to do that.

 

 

More from Gene …

I have been all over. Was at Waterloo [Canada], working with Geac, when we built their circ system. Met Chris [Brown-Syed, author of Parents of Invention] when I went to work for Geac -- dir of advanced development. Went to Northeastern from there, then to CARL as customer service VP, then head of their development. When CARL got bought by Knight Ridder I figured if I wanted to work for a bureaucracy, I might as well work for a state system :)

 

Chris and I had some long email conversations about those early days in the business. When we, at Waterloo, were working on our specifications, I remember visiting Jim and Velma (around 1974-75 time period) and picking their brains for some of the ideas about how to do this thing called library automation.

 

We issued an RFP in 1975 for a circ system to meet some quite detailed specs. When we finished looking at the landscape, we didn't find anything that seemed to do what we wanted to do, so we contracted with Geac to do a custom build. (Someday I should tell you a funny story about one of the vendors at that time who thought they were going to get into this business and failed completely. It was obvious that they would when you looked at the details of what they were doing -- which we did on a visit to their headquarters.)

 

I don't know if anyone expected the Geac effort would be anything more than a one-shot, but it turned out to be quite successful.

 

It is a small world we lib folks work in. At least one of the folks that worked with you at NOTIS, Linda [(Scott) Zaleski] was my customer rep when I was at Waterloo, then worked for me at Geac.

 

Don't remember just when CLSI started. They were one of the folks who responded to our RFP in 1976 time frame. It was just Circ and very limited. For example, the system only held the barcode for the items and the patrons at that point. Overnight, they would load from tape the detail for the transactions that had taken place during the day.

 

Northwestern and Chicago were, I would guess, the pioneers of what would become the ILS. I don't think Chicago was ever really successful, but as Chris quotes me, they developed some very sound ideas and took the time to put them on paper. I stole ideas from them wholesale. For example, the idea of having a printer attached to the checkout terminal to print receipts in real time was one of theirs. Geac had to develop a printer from scratch to meet that spec. If I remember right, they found a company that took what was basically the guts of a calculator printer, added some electronics and put it in a package and away we went.

 

We had the totally useless idea (CLSI's response at that time) of wanting to have a brief record for each item and all the patron information live on the server so that the transactions would be completed in real time and you could do a title, call number, or author look up to see if the item existed and was available. Very unreasonable of us wasn't it :) I mean, think of all the disc space you would need, why it might require more than 300 MB -- actually it took three 300 MB drives to make it all work.

 

Then we became totally radical and built an interface to that database and allowed people on campus to use terminals in their offices to search the database and, if they were faculty or grad students, to request the item be delivered to their office. Crude, but by the standards of the late 70's, not bad.

 

Enough history -- good luck with your project.

 

<end Gene Damon>

 

Mark Ludwig  (State University of New York at Buffalo)

 

1. What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

 

Mark Ludwig,  State University of New York at Buffalo

 

2. When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

 

I started working with NOTIS in May, 1989. Someone had partially installed NOTIS before I arrived,

so we installed whatever release was current at the time in test and production CICS regions. I loaded data from several sources and NOTIS went live in the Summer of 1990.

 

3. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?

 

In NYS job titles, I was a ‘lead programmer analyst’ and was later promoted to a

‘Supervising programmer analyst’. I did everything from installations, coding and de-bugging,

loading data, SAS programming, project management and systems analysis. The University was new to IBM having recently converted administrative systems from UNIVAC. I had 10 years of MVS experience, TSO, SAS, JCL, CICS, and a little assembler. So I even did some systems programming.

We had a Library Assistant Director, Steve Roberts, who was officially directing “Library automation” and he did a great job of handling politics and getting funding.

 

4. What was good about NOTIS? What was ... not-so-good?

 

NOTIS was fast and efficient. We achieved sub-second response time and it provided search service for our users for the first time. At that time, our library collection and catalog were considered large.  Mainframe computing wasn’t cheap but we had users that were impressed and appreciated our services.

At the same time we had to deal with a lot of bugs. Users could crash the system by entering records too large, for example. CICS was never easy at macro or command level. Librarian expectations were high and technical services librarians, and their director were appropriately demanding. NOTIS release upgrades were traumatic and exhausting.

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times? (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

The user group meetings were great.

 

6. Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

7. Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS? What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

We went to Aleph in 2005. I installed the first SUNY Aleph for SUNY Fredonia in 2000 which inspired me to drag my feet on the production Buffalo Aleph installation as long as possible. Aleph matured by 2005 and UB had the most positive Ex Libris experience in SUNY because we waited the longest to go to production. Andy Perry consulted on the 2005 Aleph install and we employed Jenn Murray, a younger programmer/analyst to configure tables and run Aleph.

 

9. Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

We were a big MDAS user. I carried hundreds of tapes to the computing center and had loaders running day and night during the 90s. NOTIS could handle the indexing, and to this day other systems have trouble re-indexing. With NOTIS and MDAS, every MARC field was keyword indexed. We still won’t try that with Aleph.

We stretched NOTIS capability as far as possible. We built a local MDAS database for the MCEER Disaster database. We used CROSSPLEX middleware to put the OPAC online in HTML from 1998-2005.

One librarian acknowledged how fast NOTIS was compared to any other web library system. We still had sub-second response time, even in HTML because to CICS, HTML was just another terminal type.

 

10. If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

 

NOTIS replaced a GEAC circulation system. I think it had 16 terminals. Handmade in Toronto.

Staff access only.

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library? Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before?

 

NOTIS supported hundreds of con-current users. We had 300,000- 500,000 transactions per day with sub-second response time. It was the first Public Catalog, the first free bibliographic database search, the first dial-up OPAC, the first internet OPAC. It enabled dumpstering the card catalog.

Many card-filers got better jobs. Mostly, it brought about a fleeting golden age for the Library. We brought in search and that saved students and faculty a great deal of time. Google later robbed us of that.

 

<snip>

 

There  is some truth to all of the above. Timing was everything.

Technology waves come and go and NOTIS rode the prime times of the mainframe, as did those of us working on IBM systems. They were big systems in their day and there was big money available. 2 Gbyte disks cost $500k at the time of the first Gulf war. So systems like NOTIS were multimillion dollar deals. Universities were running projects everywhere in the country. The Internet boom did great damage to local library systems and even the libraries themselves, as it eventually justified massive cuts. Now the money goes to renting content provider services. We are beginning to feel the problem with renting content, now that we do not have the funding to keep renting and everything goes away.

 

<end Mark Ludwig>

 

Mary Monson*  (University of Iowa)     

 

1.  What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?  

Mary Monson, University of Iowa Libraries 

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

We went into production in the summer of 1987.

 

3.  What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?   

My job title at the time was Database Manager.  I was very involved in the data conversion process (our MARC records were in RLIN) and the implementation process.   I worked extensively with authority processing (we used UTLAS, and I still have a t-shirt to prove it!) and authority record/database cleanup. 

 

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

We thought it was not-so-good that we couldn't customize the software, but when we migrated to Aleph where everything was customizable, we realized that there were downsides to that too.

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

Early (small) user group meetings on campus in Evanston.  At one we all gathered in a modest sized auditorium on campus and went around the room introducing ourselves.  The later user group meetings at the Palmer House were fun too.

 

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

Iowa switched to the ALEPH 500 system (installed in 1999; full implementation in 2000?)

 

9.  Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

10.  If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

No local automated system; NOTIS was our first one.  We were RLIN users.

<end Mary Monson>

 

Nancy Colyar  (LSU)

 

1.  What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?  

 

At the time I was Nancy Pope from 1988-1994, Nancy Nuckles 1994-1997, then Nancy Colyar.

Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries.

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

 

Maybe 1986. I know Circ went live in August 1987. I started with it in May 1989 when Beth Warner left to go work for NOTIS.

 

3.  What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do? 

 

First, systems librarian/ administrator for NOTIS, then manager over the sys admin for NOTIS, among many other things.

 

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

NOTIS was the first automated, integrated library system I ever used, so keep that in mind. It was a leap ahead of card catalogs, especially once we added keyword searching. Having the LOUIS consortium as of 1992 or 1993 where we could search each of those other catalogs around the state was fabulous. Even before I was selected to be in systems, I was in Reference and was allowed access to change the Help screens and Intro screens. I used the manual for the “Tables” for years, even after we moved away from those tables, and even after moving to another system, since I understood the structure in them.

 

Not so good –

As with any vendor, getting to the right person in support who understood the problem and could help was difficult. Abends were always mysterious and hard to figure out. I hated the ones when we unexpectedly ran out of space and couldn’t add any more records till after a re-org.

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

Yes! BSR! The dances at NUGMs and learning the electric slide. The music to the slide shows at NUGM, especially the year that John Coleman used Mary Chapin Carpenter music. Jane Burke’s Updates were not to be missed – kind of like the Apple announcements these days. I enjoyed being Mardi Gras Queen at a parade at a NUGM reception. I remember a gathering in Paul Sybrowsky’s suite in the hotel one year.

 

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

Ben Schapiro is the best! And Linda Kowalski always had a great smile, and I love her Canadian accent. Randy Menakes. Ken Victorsen. Beth Warner. Helen Gbala. Cindy with the purple hair. Sarah. You, Jerry, were always behind too many others and we didn’t get to know you well. You were a secret weapon and they hid you well.

 

I was offered a position with NOTIS at one time (1990?) but turned it down due to location.

 

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

 

Lots! I still see the ones who haven’t retired. Kayla Willey (BYU), Marshall Breeding (Vanderbilt), Scott Muir (Alabama), Mary Alice Ball. I think Beth Nicol, Beth Helsel, and Phyllis Valentine have retired. Alan Manifold (Purdue?) is in Australia now so I don’t see him.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

2000, Sirsi Dynix Unicorn.

 

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

 

Keyword, once we hired Tom ??? as a consultant to help us install it.

 

 

14.  A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues.   Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role?

 

I enjoyed participating in a focus group one year (1990?), and finally getting to be on the Users Council in the last year.

 

<end Nancy Colyar>

 

Pat Riva  (McGill University)

 

1.  What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

Pat Riva,  McGill University

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it?

McGill installed in 1986. I joined the staff in summer of 1987, it was my first job as a new librarian.

 

3.  What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?

My first position was a short replacement contract, where I was involved in the final stages of the conversion of the bibliographic database, transferring it from Utlas. Prior to NOTIS McGill used Utlas as a cataloguing utility, a COM catalogue, while local processes were still all manual.

Then I was Circulation Implementation Coordinator. I implemented the Circ/Reserves module in 9 of McGill's libraries, which included starting the barcoding process for the collections.

I also worked on the implementation of Serials check-in, loading of the authority file, updating tag charts.

After that I moved to Cataloguing, where I remained responsible for tag charts, security for technical services staff, record loading and exporting, error reports and many other things that are strictly speaking systems functions.

 

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

NOTIS was on the whole a very efficient system. Compared to systems I have used since, one could do more with less steps and less effort in NOTIS, because screens and workflows fit actual library work and practice. Circulation loans was an excellent example of that, a simple screen which captured the essential information on the transaction (user barcode, item barcodes) just by scanning them, much less fiddly than other systems I've seen.

GTO, which was a bit of a miracle really, by providing real-time record by record transfer allowed for an integrated acquisitions/cataloguing flow, and is still lacking in a surprising number of recent systems.

 

Not so good:

Some functionality came late, such as authority global change. The lack of bibliographic/authority links (which had some advantages in robustness) meant a certain amount of extra maintenance to be done manually to control the appearance of references in public display, something that is automatic in most systems. As one of the 4 early Canadian libraries, McGill ran into some lack of internationalization, such as for acquisitions financial transactions. 

 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

NUGM was my first professional conference, and the Chicago Palmer House with its overdecorated lobby, a perfect destination. Too bad that the weather in October in Chicago is so often rainy and windy.

One year I received a Customer Recognition Award at NUGM for working on updating the tag charts. I also gave my first conference talks at NUGM, including one on how to update the tag charts, with Gary Strawn sitting in the audience.

I developed contacts at those conferences with people I still see at conferences.

 

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

McGill always had a special place for Randy Menakes, who did our installation. Even though I wasn't yet on staff when McGill installed, so only met Randy much later, when I arrived at McGill Randy was always spoken of warmly and with a certain reverence.

John Bodfish did a lot of work with us too, including on GTO. And of course, Jerry who helped us through all sorts of things (and continued to do so with Aleph much later, but that is another story).

 

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?

NOTIS-L was very important in creating a community of users, at a time when generally only systems staff had email accounts and we were on mainframes. We really got to know other sites through the list and there was a great willingness to help each other.

People were willing to help each other, even if they had to admit to their own mistakes to do it. One day a message on NOTIS-L came through from Cornell. They carefully explained a VHLD deletion/orphan item records bug that was caused by batch loading CHLD deletes. And we were about to start using a batch upload/overlay exactly like theirs! I remember running into Ron Johnston's office (McGill's system analyst) knowing that he would also have immediately read the incoming list mail. We looked at each other, amazed. And so we re-thought that process and were saved from hours of debugging. I was always grateful to Cornell for that act of good citizenship.

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

McGill moved to Aleph from ExLibris in 2001. May 1, 2001 was Aleph Day 1.

NOTIS/McGill shut down for the last time in early April 2001, I input the last original bibliographic record in NOTIS just minutes before the last "Transaction ... due to system quiesce" message. 

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn't been able to before?

NOTIS was McGill's first system and staff learned about computers and what a system can be mainly from using it. I think it led to fairly high staff expectations, which made the choice of a second system difficult in some ways.

As I was a new librarian and started working as NOTIS/McGill was implemented, I didn't have a clear idea at the time of how the system was changing the libraries. In hind-sight, I think the OPAC, as an online union catalogue for a library system with 24 branches (at that time, much fewer now) had a huge impact. The branches could access all the library system's resources without going through the main library for the first time. Use of NOTIS and changes to academic libraries in general were inter-twined. For instance, end-user empowerment features like seeing items checked out, fines, placing holds, the new look of labelled displays for bibliographic records.

I can't speak for the management or financial factors that led to library directors choosing NOTIS instead of the competition, but it is clear that in terms of useability, staff did benefit. Of course, as with any system that isn't turnkey, the site needs intelligent systems staff that can configure things properly and efficiently for the local situation. McGill was lucky to have recruited the systems team it had, at a time where few library people knew what it meant to be "in systems". We took pleasure in getting it right and making the system work FOR staff instead of making staff work for the system.

 

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?  Some possibilities:

 

a.     NOTIS had functions other ILSes lacked.  (I can't think of any, but maybe you can?)

NOTIS had functions in the mid-80s that some current ILS' STILL don't have. I presently work with a system that has nothing to equal GTO, that must store CHLD info in the bibliographic record because there are neither copy holdings nor volume holdings records, where you cannot do a simple NEXT on a search results list to move from record to record, where you cannot actually implement all of MARC 21 because you overrun the capacity of the tag chart .... Sure all systems can claim to have the modules, but it is the smaller features that make a real difference in efficiency.

Also, NOTIS was built for large libraries, so a largish library like McGill had ample capacity and wasn't always hitting some arbitrary size limit. And it is definitely true that NOTIS programs were efficient, when a later system I worked with was proud of *weeks* as an estimate for regenerating an index NOTIS could do in a few hours, I thought I was mishearing, or that it was a translation mix-up!

<end Pat Riva>

 

Phyllis Valentine (University of Michigan)

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?

 

Phyllis Valentine, University of Michigan   

 

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

 

1988?  1987

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?

 

At the beginning:

Senior Associate Librarian.  I wrote load specifications for our OCLC and RLIN catalog records; these specifications were followed by programmers.  I also wrote extraction specifications (from central U files)  and load specifications for patron (student, faculty, staff, hospital) data.

 

Later, in the early 1990s:

I wrote load specifications to convert vendor files to MDAS files; (Wilson, MathSci, PsycInfo, etc.)  I also wrote specifications to link  the Wilson records to CDs of the actual articles and print them.    

 

4.     What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

Conception and design for an academic library.  Good.

Close connection to a specific university.  Not so good.

 

5.     Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

Certainly the Bum Steer Roast, but on a more frequent basis, the close and cordial correspondence with the NOTIS programmers and librarians.

 

6.     Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

How could I not say ‘Jerry Specht’?  But basically each person sticks in my mind in some way…even if I cannot remember all the names. 

 

7.     Any special memories of other NOTIS customers?

 

I have special memories of those who were more like us in terms of library activities and sense of humor. 

 

8.     When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

2004?  Aleph

 

9.     Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

The longstanding collaboration between customers and between customers and staff, experienced frequently and reinforced by user group meetings at ALA and at NUGM, led to longstanding relationships that continued after we migrated to other systems.

 

 

10.                         If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

 

We were using GEAC for circulation only, implemented as a stop gap when our previous Singer system died.  Patrons and staff learned to use it as a rudimentary catalog via the call number search primarily.  We loaded our RLIN and OCLC tapes and barcoded our collection, so there was a record of circulation.

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

 

We were able to have a real online catalog, as well as do many of our staff processing.

 

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?  Some possibilities:

 

a.         NOTIS had functions other ILS’es lacked.  (I can't think of any, but maybe you can?)

 

I think it was the design and the focus on academic libraries.

 

b.         Though other systems had the same module, the NOTIS version was better.... Were certain modules (Circulation? Acquisitions/Serials? Cataloging/Authorities? OPAC?  the BRS keyword/Boolean? GTO?  MDAS?) especially strong? 

 

The ability to customize to our location and needs, not have to bend to the vendor’s ideas.   

 

c.          It's clear that NOTIS programs outperformed those of other library systems.  (Someone who worked for a competitor has told me that in 1989 their sites were complaining that, while it took them more than a week to regenerate a particular index, the NOTIS programs were doing the same in 4 hours.)  How much of this was due to the superiority of the IBM systems software/hardware the programs were running on and how much to the fact that the application programs themselves were written so efficiently? 

 

     I defer to Tim Prettyman.  

d.     NOTIS marketers were very effective at identifying the institutions which would most benefit from NOTIS and concentrating their marketing efforts on those institutions.

e.    NOTIS Support was unusually good.  [Hey ... I had to include that one!]  

 

I think that this was a factor.  Definitely helped.

<snip>

 

15.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code? 

This was instrumental in our use of the system.  Our administration was firmly on the side of ‘fix this immediately’ or ‘we need the system to do x, y, and z’ and we had the tools and the programming staff to do this.  The ability of our staff to communicate directly with NOTIS programming staff after analysis and/or a fix or a new feature was critical to our success.

 

<end Phyllis Valentine>

 

Roberta Kirby  (South Alabama – plus, NOTIS Systems, Inc.) 

   (These are Roberta’s responses to the Staff questionnaire) 

 

1. I joined NUL/NOTIS in Sept., 1984. Before that, I was working at the Univ. of South Alabama implementing NOTIS. We were, I think, the second library to buy NOTIS but the first to get it up and running--mostly because of our much smaller size than the Univ. of Florida.

 

2. I was interviewed to be a marketing rep but hired to be in Customer Support to work with Peggy Steele, who was newly pregnant!  Later I became a systems analyst and project team leader. I was involved in Acq redesign and Circ redesign as well as several other project (GTO).

 

3. Loved the staff and most of the customers (!). Sort of enjoyed living in Chicago and traveling around the country. Never did much care for all the corporate stuff, especially as we got bigger.

 

4. I remember one NUGM with barbeque and a band--I was one of the singers, along with Alan McKee and I think John Barron on banjo?

 

5. I really enjoyed working with all our customers. I cannot remember which library, but one of the librarians actually was a childhood friend of my father's, in Bowdon, Georgia. Small world! After I left, when I attended NUGM/VUGM, it would always be like a family reunion.

 

6. I have fond memories of all the staff, especially the early ones. I kept up with some of them after I left through NUGM and VUGM. I even sold my beloved piano to Randy M. when I moved to Nashville. Wonder if he still has it?

 

7. I "retired" from NOTIS in 1989 to go back to school at Seabury-Western and then on to Vanderbilt. I worked at Vandy part-time while in grad school doing Volumes Holdings Record input and then on the Beta test of the Serials module redesign. Then I got a job as Systems Librarian at Eastern Kentucky University in 1992. While there, I was involved in bringing Voyager to KY as the state-wide system. I also was Systems Librarian and Assistant Director of Technical Services as Kentucky State University and responsible for implementing Voyager, from 1998-2004.  I really retired in 2004 to become a writer. It started with one novel which quickly became a series. Four are published and I am now writing on the fifth, the last in the series. And I have a whole NEW series of stories ready to go. For more info, see my website at RobertaKirby.com.

 

8.  [In regard to Ameritech “divestment” of NOTIS Horizon …]  Don't know much about this episode of our history. But I knew there was a lot of "flux" just from the VUGM meetings I attended.

 

9. One Jane Burke story: we had moved, for the umpteenth time, in the library to make space for growing staff, and Jane gave up her office to someone else. So all she had for an office was a little teeny tiny work surface in a cubicle near me. So Jane!!

 

10. NOTIS was just a better system, inside and out (code and interfaces). As well, we had a great staff and were very customer oriented. And we continued to develop and evolve.

 

11. [In regard to letting customers have the source code …]  Yes, yes, yes to letting the library systems people and library staff be involved in trouble shooting and development. After all, that's how this all started.

 

<end Roberta Kirby>

 

 

Ronnie Goldberg (Binghamton University – SUNY)

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?   

Ronnie Goldberg,  Binghamton University (SUNY)

 

2.  When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

NOTIS software was installed Spring 1988 and the implementation process began immediately.

3.  What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

 Andy Perry was the Systems Librarian who oversaw the Implementation Project.  I was a member of the Implementation Committee and Frank Mols and Maureen Zajkowski also contributed. My title is Assistant Director for Access Services and I was responsible for the Circulation module (tables, etc.)

4. What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 NOTIS was more robust than our previous system – faster searching.  We implemented the Acquisitions and Serials modules and At first, the tables had to be updated by campus IT.  A later upgrade provided a staff interface to the tables which made the process more efficient.  In the circulation module, borrowers were able to have more than a single barcode/borrower status.  This worked well for maintaining records for graduate students who were also TA’s. 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 I have fond memories of the NUGM meetings in general.  I found them useful and a great opportunity to get together with other NOTIS customers.

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

The Binghamton University Libraries stopped using NOTIS on Jan. 1, 2002, and began using Ex Libris Aleph v.14.  All of our NOTIS data was converted to Aleph.

9.  Are there additional things other customers would be interested in knowing/remembering?

10.  If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

We had the GEAC system from 1984 – 1989 and used the circulation, cataloging and OPAC modules.

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

 NOTIS was a definite improvement.  We were able to implement more workstations and extend the hours of availability. 

<end Ronnie Goldberg>

 

Scott Muir*  (University of Alabama)

 

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?   

 

Scott P. Muir, The University of Alabama – located in Tuscaloosa

 

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

 

We installed in either 1988 or 1989.  (I attended the last NUGM in Evanston (1988), and we had not gone live at that time.)  I was working with this project from day one.   I think we went live on 4.6.1, but am not certain.

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    

 

Systems Officer, I led the project to select an IBM mainframe based system, and the conversion to NOTIS.  I was responsible for the implementation

 

4.     What was good about NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

NOTIS was a very robust system and the access to the source code allowed us to make necessary changes.  The Serials check in system was weak. VTLS had introduced a very robust, full featured system serials control in 1987.

 

When we first went live with NOTIS there were a number of tables, and one could combine elements of those tables to create action.  When NOTIS switched to the new system where each piece had to be coded separately it created a tremendous amount of new work.  I developed repetitive stress injury as a result.

 

5.     Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  (Bum Steer Roast recollections?)

 

I have so many good memories. I led several NUGM committees, LIB1, the MDAS, etc.

I got to meet Jane’s husband, Michael

 

One thing I remember is that we had systems programmer who worked with the IBM 3090.  Her name was Jeannie Roehl. She was German.  Her approach to work was you do it fast, you do it right the first time, you do it well.  When the NOTIS staff came to work on our installation they were amazed that she has set everything up correctly and they did not have to make any changes.  They normally spent 4 or more extra hours beyond the work they did with us.

 

 

We had to put special steel boxes around our IBM terminal because they interfered with the security gates, counters

 

6.     Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

 

I think the big thought here is we were like a family. We really cared about one another.  We might bitch and snipe, but we still liked each other.

I am still in touch with a few people and see them at conferences.

I am on Facebook with several.

I have totally lost touch with one friend, Mary Burgett.

 

John Kolman presentation with Power Point using every possible sound effect, bell whistle, special effect, etc.

 

 

7.     Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

 

Too many to list, but Darren Meahl’s laugh, Michigan State University

 

 

8. When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

 

I left Alabama in 1997, they were still using NOTIS. They went to Voyager at some point after that.

 

 

        10.  If your library already had automated systems at the time you moved to NOTIS, what were they; what system(s) did NOTIS replace?

 

We were using VTLS, but not all modules.  The big issue was the computer on which it was running was seriously undersized resulting in very slow response time.  It ran on a HP computer and we were the only HP application on our campus  We were under pressure to move to an IBM based product.  Our leaving VTLS in no way reflected any dissatisfaction with that product or service.  We considered an IBM based version of VTLS which they offered, or actually did develop.  We also looked at DOBIS/Leuven

 

11. What was the impact of NOTIS on your library?   Were there things you were able to do with NOTIS that you hadn’t been able to before? 

 

Because we were right-sized on an IBM 3090, we had very fast response time.  Over time we implemented more modules.  We started with Cataloging, OPAC, and Circulation which is what we had up in VTLS.  As part of the implementation of Serials, and Acquisitions, the staff of our technical services departments proposed a significant reorganization plan for the department that was implemented.  Note that it was the staff who led that process.

 

 

12.  At NOTIS' peak, 50% of all ARL libraries were using it as their ILS.  I believe this degree of dominance of the research library market has not been seen before or since.  Why was NOTIS as successful as it was?  Some possibilities: …

 

 

In addition to the factors you listed here, It think the spirt of collaboration and cooperation helped.  We all talked to one another and shared responses, ideas, etc.  We were all in it together, for the good and the bad.

 

 

13. Certainly (in view of subsequent history:  the success of the NOTIS-Horizon-like Voyager system and the relative failure of the Ameritech Horizon system) it would seem that Ameritech's "divesting" itself of the "NOTIS Horizon" system being developed in Evanston was a mistake.   Why do you think it happened?    

 

The big issue here was the Jane Burke was a very strong leader.  So was Paul Sybrowsky.  Jane would not have been a good second in command.  This was a business decision to terminate her and the product.  Paul Sybrowsky worked with some consultant who helped him make this decision.  Unfortunately Paul and the other Ameritech brass completely underestimated people’s loyalty and support for Jane.  It is notable that none of the initial Horizon customers bought the Ameritech product, they all pulled out.  A year later Voyager premiered and if I am correct, Endeavor got every one of those customers.  To coin an old expression, Jane ate their lunch.

 

You should also note that the people who were using Marquis, which later was rebranded to Horizon, were extremely unhappy with the name change.

 

I have an epixtech shirt; that was a disastrous name change,

 

14.  A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues.   Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role?  [If they are retired but might be contacted, we would very much appreciate your giving us their names/email addresses, so we can do so.]  Or are you aware of directors/staff of other libraries who played such a role?

 

Harry Samuels (from Alabama) played a strong role from the tech.  Harry works at Northwestern University, but not in the Libraries

 

A number of  people have probably retired

Rusty Barnett (was it) was killed in a plane crash he was piloting

 

 

15.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code…

 

We made extensive use of a circulation add on.  We had adopted that in our former systems VTLS.  Beth Nicol at Auburn had written something for NOTIS and Harry Samuels, at Alabama, modified it.  Essentially it would get into the circulation records and pull out all fines and bills above a certain threshold.  It would mark those bills and fines paid in NOTIS.  The fines, bills were then sent to the Bursars office for collection.  The Library got out of the money collection business.  The Bursars office charged a small overhead fee for their services, which we deemed reasonable.

 

Because there were not a lot of reports when the system first went live, we were able to go ion and write a number of reports pulling out the essential information into a highly customized data report.

 

    <end Scott Muir>

 

Sue Julich  (University of Iowa)

 

1.     What is your name and the name of the institution(s) where you worked with NOTIS?  

Sue Julich, University of Iowa Libraries 

2.     When did your site install the NOTIS software and when did you start working with it? 

1988 – 1989

 

3.     What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do? 

I was half time departmental secretary and half time hardware (IBM 3 dumb terminals) support and MDAS Support

4. What was good about NOTIS? 

As I remember, NOTIS had more complete functionality than other systems at the time.  I remember talking to staff at other research libraries and they were always impressed with the circulation system in NOTIS and with the ease of setting up MDAS.   

   What was ... not-so-good?  

I’m sure there were things that weren’t so good, but I can’t think of them now. 

5. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember from those times?  

I remember the close knit group that was NUGM.  The user interactions at the first 3-4 NUGM conferences were very helpful as Libraries were making their way in the brave new world of ILS’s.

6.  Any special memories of particular NOTIS staff members?

Jerry Specht and colleagues were always very helpful when troubleshooting problems.  They took the time to talk with you and get to the root of the problem before asking you to try something based on guesses.  It was a very efficient way to handle support (at least from the users end).

7.  Any special memories of other NOTIS customers? 

8.  When did you / your institution stop using NOTIS?  What system did you go to after NOTIS?

Iowa moved to Aleph in 2000.

 

14.  A key part of NOTIS history was the active role research library directors and staff played in the development of NOTIS functionality via the Users Group and other avenues.   Are you aware of people from your library who played such a role? 

From Iowa, Mary Monson, Donna Hirst and Caitlin Robinson were very active in NUGM.  Larry Woods and Paul Soderdahl were instrumental in founding SMUG.  I did my first public presentation at a NUGM conference.

 

15.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code? 

 

This was a good idea and very beneficial.  Having the source code allowed Iowa to extend and enhance the system in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.  It was also very helpful for troubleshooting and understanding how the system was supposed to work.

 

<end Sue Julich>

The Florida/FCLA Story

The University of South Alabama Story 

The Harvard Story     (Added, 2016)