Questionnaire responses from former NOTIS staff members

 

*=  Photo  below

Note 1:  Staff who worked for Northwestern University Library but never for the NOTIS Office or NOTIS Systems, Inc., can be found on the separate Staff-NUL page.

Note 2:  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 3:  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 .

Contents

Bruce Miller  (see Interview). 1

Dodie Ownes*. 1

Doug Madigan. 6

Jane Burke*  (see Interviews). 9

Jerry Specht*. 10

John Kolman*  (see Interviews). 11

Jorge Fernandez  (see Interviews). 11

Kenton Andersen  (see Interviews). 11

Linda Scott Zaleski 11

Maribeth Ward*  (see Interviews). 14

Mark Gobat 14

Mary Alice Ball 15

Mary Burgett 17

Mary MacWithey. 18

Peggy Steele. 20

Randy Menakes  (see Interviews). 23

Roberta Kirby. 23

Stacy Kowalczyk* (see Interviews). 24

Stuart Miller. 25

Tim Tamminga. 28

 

*=  Photo  below

 

 

 

Bruce Miller  (see Interview)

 

Dodie Ownes*

 

 Dodie Ownes

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

 

I was working on a RECON cataloging project at Northwestern, using the NOTIS cataloging and authority control system. When the grant ran out, someone suggested that I contact NOTIS since they needed trainers. I think I started working for NOTIS in Jan/Feb of 1987 or 1988.

 

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects you were involved in?

 

Training specialist, I think?! I trained new customers how to use the cataloging, authority control, serials and acquisitions modules. Most of my customers were in Canada, but I spent a good chunk of time at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey CA, and in the Midwest at new customer sites. I loved working with the pros like Ben Burrows and Dale and Cathy. I think we were just finalizing having standard training manuals, in print, of course, which was a major feat.

 

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

I loved all the travel, and it was so interesting to visit all the college and university campuses and learn how everyone does stuff a little bit differently in tech services. Most of the people that worked at NOTIS were wicked smart, too, and it was great to be around so many bright folks. Not so good - when we were bought by Ameritech and everything got very "corporate" - I left soon after that, not because of it, but was glad to move on. Though it was to a really crappy ILS, the CARL system.

 

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

 

Visiting University of Victoria was fabulous - beautiful campus, with a quad that looked like a landing pad designed for aliens. I had a room full of trainees at Emporia State fall mostly asleep during a training - we had just had lunch at the Faculty Dining Hall and it was a complete Thanksgiving dinner. And I loved going to the pizza place across the street for pitchers of beer, usually after a new version was released and all the shipments of tape were out the door (HA! shipping code physically - that's CRAZY!)

 

7. When and why did you leave?

 

I left in July of 1991 to take a job as a systems librarian at University of Colorado-Denver. I had always wanted to live in the Rockies, and this seemed like  dream opportunity. Sadly,  the CARL system was soooo bad that I soon had a whole wall at the CARL offices filled with my problem tracking reports. When I attended a CARL User Group about 6 months into the job, they offered me a position - and 12 months later, I took them up on it! Working in an academic library was not all that I thought it was - lots of policy and procedure that needed to be followed, and publish or perish was always looming.

 

9.  Are there other things you think your fellow employees would be interested in knowing/remembering?

 

I think Jane Burke was the best model ever for running the business with intelligence, customer care, and vision.  And I used to smoke cigarettes then, and can't believe I used to sit in that tiny glass fishbowl to take my smoking breaks, with Brian - remember Brian with the lip ring? Who wore skirts occasionally?! 

 

 

5. For those of you who worked directly with customers, were there particularly interesting customers that you remember?

 

The folks at McGill were great, very smart and really helped re-engineer some of the modules, in a way. Vanderbilt as well, though I didn't work as closely with them.

 

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees?  (Feel free to discuss "non-favorites" as well -- those will be taken *off*line....)

 

Ben Burrows is the bomb!   You (Jerry) and John (black curly hair and glasses) were so nice to us librarians, and Chuck Williams who worked with RFPs and contracts.

 

8. 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 did it happen?    

 

It was a weird time in ILS land - folks were trying to get off of big mainframes, and on college campuses, fights were beginning between the library and campus IT on who should manage the ILS. Other new(er) companies appeared, like VTLS.  And sheesh, Unicorn,… what a dumb name for an ILS....

 

10.  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?)

 

The Authority Control system was AWESOME! It was definitely ahead of its time.

 

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?     

 

OPAC not so pretty, but did the job. Acquisitions was fun, but everyone had their own fund/cost accounting system, it was hard to train on!

 

c.      It's clear that NOTIS programs outperformed those of other library systems. 

 

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

 

Totally agree on this - marketing went after the crème de la crème, and it worked. I was very proud of our customer base.

 

e.     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.

 

f.       Other factors in NOTIS' success?

 

Jane Burke.

 

 

11.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code …

 

---- ewww, programmer stuff .... but, yes, giving out the code was super important to the ongoing development of the system, and certainly helped build a very strong sense of community!

 

<end Dodie Ownes>

 

Doug Madigan

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

 

I started working for NOTIS in March of 1989. My first job was as a documentation writer. I came to NOTIS from Northwestern University Library where my last job was "Acting Head" of Catalog Management (all the junk no one else wanted to do within the catalog department basically). Dodie Ownes had referred me to the position at NOTIS, and I reported to Stuart Miller.  I did the documentation thing for only about 6 months (I fondly remember being the author of the GLOB and GLCH global change documentation as well as lots of the cataloging and authorities doc). Then I became a product specialist and did the demos for a few years. Eventually I became one of the sales people (I even moved to Seattle for a while and covered the west coast, but then moved back to Chicago and did midwest and southeast for a while as well). I do remember selling some KeyNotis. I was pretty involved with everything at San Bernardino, and sold the system at Mt. Angel Abbey, which was certainly an anomaly for NOTIS. Eventually, I became pretty darn involved with NOTIS Horizon, both product management as well as doing many of the demos that led to all of the early contracts. I left NOTIS in I think September of 1994 when the bottom fell out with the whole Dynix/Notis fiasco and Horizon losing out to Marquis. From there I became Sales Manager for VTLS for about a year until I took a job with Ovid (actually it was CDPlus at the time, Tim Tamminga hired me). I eventually became Director of Academic Sales at Ovid, then in 1999 in April came back to Chicago as Director of Sales for Endeavor--Jane had been calling me off and on pretty much the whole time I was at Ovid.

 

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects  you were involved in?

Documentation writer, product specialist, Sales Rep. Also quite involved with Horizon, particularly doing many of the demos.

 

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

I learned a lot. About business, selling all kinds of things beyond just the library. I learned a great deal from Jane. I met a lot of great people in many libraries that I am still friends with.

 

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

Some real fun times with some folks at NUGM. Lots of fun travel experiences. Lots of car rides with Jane.

 

5. For those of you who worked directly with customers, were there particularly interesting customers that you remember?

Catherine Tierney at Stanford was one of my favorite people.  Also William Aguilar at CSU San Bernardino.

 

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees?  (Feel free to discuss "non-favorites" as well -- those will be taken *off*line....)

Dodie Ownes was great. Doris Warner of course. She'd always warn you on Jane's mood. Ben Burrows and Ben Shapiro. Learned a lot from Tim Tamminga. Jorge Fernandez was great. I remember laying down RS232 cables and connectors at San Bernardino with him trying to get their KeyNOTIS system going. I was the project manager for that Beta and spent a huge amount of time there.

 

7. When and why did you leave?

I left NOTIS in I think September of 1994 when the bottom fell out with the whole Dynix/Notis fiasco and Horizon losing out to Marquis. After investing my heart and soul in Horizon, and being involved in many of the existing contracts coming to fruition, it was a difficult ill to swallow indeed.

 

8. 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 did it happen?    

    [The history of the Marquis/Horizon system, including its interaction with the NOTIS Horizon system, is described (by Marshall Breeding) at http://www.librarytechnology.org/ltg-displaytext.pl?RC=12736  .]

 

Jane just really didn't want to play the politics needed. Dynix was bigger. Ameritech didn't understand library systems. All of those things together really. Plus Jane was a woman and Paul S. from Dynix was a man and I think that was a big factor for the Ameritech folks as well at that point in time.

 

9.  Are there other things you think your fellow employees would be interested in knowing/remembering?

I remember towards the end we were trying to implement Unicode into NOTIS (using the 880 fields and glyphs--basically images of the text, not characters, so not really indexed, but at least they displayed). I had to learn everything I never wanted to know about Unicode so I could do a presentation to the National Library of Australia.

 

Some longer, extra questions… 

10.  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?)

We had strengths others didn't, but not so much functions. Well, for a little while we had MDAS and no one else had something like that. Overall, we had better search functions, and our Cataloging and Authorities modules were stronger than anyone else's.

 

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?    

See above. Cat/Auth was better than anyone else's.  

 

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 think it was primarily the Assembler language code. It did fast transactions.

 

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 guess. More the sales people than the marketing people. And, it was a simple formula. Big, Academic, IBM shops were the first stop always.

 

e.      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.

Yes, see above.

 

f.        Other factors in NOTIS' success?

We had lots of people that understood academic libraries better than any of the other competitors.

 

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

They all factored in.

 

11.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code?  

This was a factor for the big sites, the ARL's. Not as much for the smaller ones. It was something that differentiated us from most of the competition however. But, it made support a nightmare sometimes.

 

<end Doug Madigan>  

 

Jane Burke*  (see Interviews)

 

 

Jerry Specht*

 

 Jerry Specht

 

In 1981, when I moved to Chicago, having just gotten my library degree and having just gotten married, one of the first things I did was to send my resume to Northwestern University Library since I’d heard that they were doing some interesting things with library automation.  They responded by saying that there were no openings at that time, but that they’d keep my resume on file -- and did.  Jane Burke was hired in Dec., 1983, to market NOTIS and in June of 1984 found my resume in a file cabinet and called me out of the blue.  Since I wasn’t doing anything especially important, I jumped at this chance.  I was a “Systems Engineer”:  installing the software, helping customers configure it, converting their data, and, initially, doing some technical documentation as well.  When we started hiring more people, I became the “Manager of Systems Engineering”.    I believe at one point I was supervising 12 people.  I decided that, though I was “O.K.” as a manager I was really better at troubleshooting and, after a couple years as manager, went back to being a regular Systems Engineer. 

    I continued working with NOTIS and Ameritech until Nov., 1998, when I left* and started working in a very similar (Technical Support) position with an Israeli library company, Ex Libris, which was then trying to establish itself in the North American library market. 

    I worked with NOTIS for 15 years and have now worked with the Ex Libris Aleph product for 15 years.

 

* I have scanned and uploaded my Oct. 26, 1998, NOTIS-L farewell to NOTIS customers (as I left Ameritech for Ex Libris): 

 

<end Jerry Specht>

 

John Kolman*  (see Interviews)

 

 

Jorge Fernandez  (see Interviews)

Kenton Andersen  (see Interviews)

 

Linda Scott Zaleski  

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

I was already a ten year veteran of the library automation industry by the time I joined NOTIS in 1991.  I had worked for Geac in Toronto early in their history as their first librarian and so was involved in the development, installation, product management and training of that ILS product.  I also had spent about four years for Geac in Europe. When I got back NOTIS was competing with Geac in the US in the academic market.

Late in my career with Geac I had a call from Jim Lewis who asked if I was interested in joining the sales organization at NOTIS.  I wasn’t.  However about two years later I met my husband-to-be (a Chicago resident and native) while at ALA in Chicago.   When we got engaged I called Jim and asked if there was a position for me.  There was an opening in Sales Support for which I could apply.  Chicago was also my hometown – so in 1991 I moved back to the Chicago area and joined the Evanston team at NOTIS.

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects  you were involved in?

My first position was in Sales Support, doing the demos and travelling with the sales team.  I was involved in the Smithsonian sale for NOTIS  (I had been their project manager at Geac), I did some demos at Princeton as I recall too.  Princeton was another project that I had worked on for Geac.  After my daughter was born I moved to development and worked on specifications for NOTIS and then NOTIS Horizon.  When we merged with Dynix to become Ameritech Library Systems, I was asked to do an analysis of the Marquis system with Sara Randall.  (By the way we did not recommend that it become the upgrade path for NOTIS.)   However, NOTIS Horizon was canned eventually by Ameritech and we all know the history of the Marquis product getting renamed to Horizon.  So I moved to Horizon product management.  At one point the Ameritech management asked me to move back to NOTIS as Senior Product Manager , perhaps to placate what was left of the customer base after announcing the demise of NOTIS.  In a slight change of heart, they asked us to revitalize efforts and gear up for a few more releases.  That was year Y2K as well.  By this time all the senior management had moved to Endeavor or elsewhere.  I assumed a lot of the local management responsibilities at that point for the Evanston office – and was also assigned to the UK for a short time in a management capacity.

 3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

Working for NOTIS was always interesting and challenging.  I was grateful for the support NOTIS gave to me and others with young families.  In development I was allowed to move to a three day a week schedule while raising my daughter.  I never felt that my career was compromised or that I had a lesser work load.  I did learn to be extremely efficient though!  

What was great about working for NOTIS is that one learned so much about the industry and the customers.  We were fortunate to learn so much from working with Jane. 

7. When and why did you leave?

 I took a good offer for a senior product management position at Polaris in 2001.  NOTIS customers had mostly all moved on to Endeavor by this point.  Most of the staff had moved on too. 

8. 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 did it happen?

The merged company could not sustain development of two new ILS products (Marquis and NOTIS Horizon) in addition to supporting the legacy offerings (Dynix and NOTIS).  To do so would have been confusing to the customer base and expensive and this was likely the party line.  But in the final analysis,  I think the choice of system was based on geography. The head office was in Provo and that was where the renamed Horizon development was based.  It would be

 10.  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: …

By 1986 – ARLS implementing second generation systems could no longer consider proprietary solutions.  NOTIS ran on IBM and no-one ever got fired for buying IBM.  There was a good reference customer in Northwestern – so it was proven.  NOTIS marketed ONLY to academic libraries.  The market focus was important to success at this time.  Finally, the success of NOTIS can be attributed directly to Jane Burke’s efforts. 

 <end Linda Scott Zaleski>

 

Maribeth Ward*  (see Interviews)

 

 

Mark Gobat     

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

MGG:  November 1987.  Couldn’t take working in development at a bank any longer.  I was enticed by Colin Smith’s (VP Development) desire to do development for the Apple Macintosh platform.   Well, that never happened.  But going to NOTIS was the best thing for me anyway.

 

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects  you were involved in?

MGG:  Programmer -> Team Lead.  MDAS, KeyNOTIS, GTO, PACLoan, WinGopher, ProPAC.

 

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

MGG:  Good:  The people.  The location.  The casual environment.  The lack of structure.

MGG:  Not so good: Other people.  The lack of structure as well.

 

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

MGG:  Mimosa morning.  Crazy Halloween events.  Great camaraderie.

 

7. When and why did you leave?

MGG:  November 1994.  The merger was a disaster.  Hello Endeavor!

 

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees?  (Feel free to discuss "non-favorites" as well -- those will be taken *off*line....)

MGG:  Jane Frye, of course!  And Laverne at the front desk.

 

<end Mark Gobat>

 

Mary Alice Ball

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

I was a part of the University of Michigan's Research Library Residency program, working in Library Systems and Undergraduate Reference. The term of the residency term was approaching and the NOTIS job was attractive. I enjoyed the interview process but have to admit that if Bruce Miller hadn't gone out of his way to persuade me I might have taken a job at NYPL instead.

 2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects  you were involved in?

I started out as a User Support Librarian and my final year at NOTIS became a Systems Analyst. I can remember being called Ms. MO because I had more Missouri accounts than anyone else. I remember testing the keyword/Boolean search function before it was released and finding it fascinatingly complex. I was also involved in the LDAP (?) project with locally mounted databases and ended up continuing to work on that after I moved to Loyola Chicago.

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

NOTIS was a very exciting place to work, everyone pitching in to accomplish the never-ending list of tasks. We got a lot done with very limited resources. I was the last person for a while to get an assigned desk because we were growing so fast. After that new people had to sit at desks vacated temporarily by people who were on the road. Does anyone remember the storage room at SEL that became the office for a bunch of us until we moved over to Oak Street?

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

At 4:00 on my first day of work Doris came over to teach me how to play the fishing game. I also remember support people wearing rubber animal noses while handling phone calls. It seemed to reduce the stress under which we were operating -- way too many calls about problems with the acquisitions module.

 7. When and why did you leave?

I left to be Head of Library Systems at Loyola Chicago (replacing Sara Randall who had just moved to NOTIS). It was just after the failed sale to Thyssen Bornemisza and before the sale to Ameritech. Life at NOTIS seemed a bit unstable.

9.  Are there other things you think your fellow employees would be interested in knowing/remembering?

Remember Dan Dougherty's fingernail and how he kept telling us he had used it Vietnam to fight off attackers? No wonder he was escorted out of the building!

5. For those of you who worked directly with customers, were there particularly interesting customers that you remember?

I remember Gene Getchell at U of Iowa telling me how Donna Hirst liked to play good cop, bad cop with him when she talked to NOTIS, and also how she thought she was a master of the pause for making others bend to her will. It was a valuable lesson for me in learning that I did not always have to respond immediately. :)

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees?  (Feel free to discuss "non-favorites" as well -- those will be taken *off*line....)

Doris Warner and Dale Hood are two favorites that I continue to miss to this day. Gone too soon. If anyone knows how to contact Doris's husband, Jack, I would be grateful for the information.

<end Mary Alice Ball>

 

Mary Burgett

 

1. I started working at NOTIS in 1986.  I started working a week after Tim and the next person to arrive (I think a month later) was Steve Ifshin.  I had been working at Blackwell North America and I had worked with many new NOTIS customers getting their data ready for loading into NOTIS (authority control, etc.)

Tim and I were the first Marketing Librarians for NOTIS.  You may recall that Jane was getting pressure to help with sales so out of a lot of candidates, Tim and I were hired.  My first day I came with a packed bag as we were traveling with Jane for a demo at Yale.  Jane lost her luggage and had to come to my hotel room and borrow shampoo.  It got to the point that eveyone I traveled with lost their luggage, as Tim would say "You can't even be in the same airwaves as Mary as you lose your luggage."  I knew after the demo that we were going to get Yale and we did.

I remember Peggy was really pregnant when I arrived and we had a shower for her at an Evanston restaurant--I can't remember the name. I believe that Steve took Peggy's desk when she went on maternity leave.

My first ALA was Midwinter and Jane put me in charge of the booth.  It was in Chicago and no one listened to me.  (Jane always lectured Tim and me to make sure the traveling trucks we used for our demos were packed just right.)  I lost control of the booth tear down--the next ALA I created packing lists and then we got trunks and new booth, etc.  But that first ALA we had a booth that had panels that hung a frame--maybe you remember.  We were demoing the Harvard fund accounting enhancements, but only Roberta knew how they worked.  I think we were also showing keyword searching--or that came later--which was why Steve came to NOTIS.

More later....

<end Mary Burgett>

 

Mary MacWithey

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?  I started working for NOTIS in October 1992.  

How did this come about?  During the NOTIS LMS implementation in 1988/89 at UT Dallas , I had observed and met some of the NOTIS trainers and started to think about going to work for this company. It looked like they had a fun and interesting job and, having grown up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I could also move back north. By 1992 I had become the Head of Serials and supervised the Serials acquisitions staff. We were using the LMS for checkin, claims, binding, and loading invoices. When I saw an ad for a Customer Support Services Librarian, I applied and accepted the position. I was elated. (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

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

I joined the Serials and Acquisitions team in Customer Support Services and began working with Helen Gbala, Bill Drewett, and Chuck Spatz. Soon I started answering customer calls. As the calls came in, I documented them, communicated with the customers about the problems assigned to me, and worked to resolve the problems. The following spring, I began training customers to use Serials and Acquisitions and traveled to customer sites in George, Utah, Texas and Wisconsin.  I really enjoyed the training sessions and visiting the different libraries. 

Were there particular projects  you were involved in? 

I became the LSER "expert" in Customer Support and also worked with a programmer on the redesign of QuikReports. 

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  

I found the company atmosphere very lively and refreshing. There was time for learning and for sharing the day's events. The 4:30 meeting connected us with the other teams working in Customer Support. It was a busy, fun and interesting place to work and I missed it long after I had left. I felt proud to be part of a grand adventure. 

   What was ... not-so-good?  

At time things got a little tense between people and there were many small changes. There were some big changes too. Carole Norris, Customer Support manager left the company, then a little later, two Customer Support staff members left suddenly. And just before I announced that I had accepted another position, the company was suddenly (as far as I knew) sold to Ameritech, Jane Burke left, and NOTIS took a obvious back seat to Dynix in Provo, Utah. It was shocking and upsetting and the work atmosphere changed dramatically. 

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

Beta testing Horizon was a strange experience for me. Or maybe it really was alpha testing as someone said when it crashed often. 

7. When and why did you leave?

When I moved to the Chicago area in 1992, my children remained in Texas. They were old enough to make that decision but it was a loss that eventually bothered me, especially on weekends. I had hoped my youngest would come with me. Although my husband and I enjoyed the wonderful fall colors, the Wilmette farmer's market, the many good restaurants, the Chicago Botanical Garden, and the much cooler summers, we decided to return to Texas where we could see family more often. 

9.  Are there other things you think your fellow employees would be interested in knowing/remembering? 

Going back into the library work environment took some real adjustment on my part. I really missed working at NOTIS and wished I had been able to telecommute. 

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees? 

I very much liked Luis Lacayo, Helen Gbala (we still visit occasionally) and Ben Burrows. There were others but I remember faces better than names. 

<end Mary MacWithey>

 

Peggy Steele 

 

1.  When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?

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

 

I began working at NUL in 1970 and had multiple jobs in technical services, mostly with various aspects of serials control -- acquisitions, cataloging, binding.   In 1980 I was appointed Head of the Serials Department, overseeing all the serials control functions.   When the Library decided to create what would become known as the NOTIS Office, I expressed interest in working there as the first customer support librarian.  In June 1983 I moved from the Serials Department to the newly created NOTIS Office where my title was NOTIS Services Librarian.    By that time I had acquired significant experience with all the technical services functions in NOTIS.   In the new position I was responsible for developing and writing the user manual that would be distributed to staff at customer libraries.   Excellent documentation already existed, primarily written by Betty Furlong if I remember correctly, but it reflected NUL's practices and policies.  My initial task was to genericize the existing documentation making it less NUL-centric and, therefore, easier for customer libraries to use with their own local workflows and policies.   I was also responsible for training tech services staff at customer libraries and providing user support on staff-side issues for our clients.   Initially, I also assisted with the NOTIS marketing effort by demonstrating NOTIS to potential clients at Northwestern, at other libraries, and at library conferences.   And last, but not least, I assisted with planning the very first NUGM (NOTIS Users' Group Meeting) which took place on July 14 & 15, 1983.

 

 

3.  What was good about working for NOTIS? 

 

For me it was quite an adventure, moving from a series of jobs in a fairly traditional library organization where there were clearly defined goals and expectations to a new, much more wide-open environment where responsibilities and procedures were yet to be fully formalized.   In some ways the early NOTIS Office business and support operations were a bit seat-of-the pants (not the software development component, I hasten to add!)

 

I always had the utmost respect for Jim and Velma. 

 

It was such a pleasure working with the early customers to whom we were just colleagues helping one another out, not vendor reps.   Often they took me out to dinner, not the other way around.  Over time as the NOTIS organization grew and as it became more business-like, these relationships naturally evolved.

 

 

4.  Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

 

My very first task (quite literally) in the NOTIS Office was to board a plane bound for Los Angeles where I was to assist in demonstrating NOTIS at the 1983 annual ALA meeting.   We had some terminals set up in a hotel suite to which potential customers were invited.   Having previously demonstrated only the serials module, and having had no training at all in how to do a proper demonstration, this was tantamount to baptism by fire.   It was an intensive period of learning, based on observing Velma, Kenton, Bruce and others and trying to absorb what they were saying and doing.

 

A few months later we had the very first NOTIS booth in the exhibit hall at the 1983 LITA Conference in Baltimore.   Velma, Kenton, Bruce and I (I hope I'm not forgetting anyone) flew to Baltimore with boxed-up terminals as part of our luggage.  Some of our equipment actually flew out of the tied-down trunk of our rental car as we were driving to the hotel.   We had to stop and retrieve it from the highway.   Fortunately neither the equipment nor the humans suffered any real damage.  We worked long hours at the booth and also did a limited number of in-depth demos in the NOTIS hotel suite.   It was also in Baltimore that we first met Jane.  She was still employed by CLSI and could not meet with us formally at that point.

 

7.  When and why did you leave?

 

Eventually we built a sizable support staff and I was ready for a different challenge. I also started having children (both my sons were NOTIS babies!) and I wanted to reduce my work-related travel.    I asked to be assigned to the systems development team as a systems analyst, and enjoyed this new position.   I resigned in summer 1988 to move to the University of Louisville (an early NOTIS site) with my then husband and our sons.    I continued working with NOTIS there -- as the library's NOTIS coordinator  -- for nine years.

 

<end Peggy Steele>

Randy Menakes  (see Interviews)

Roberta Kirby 

 

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. 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. 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>

 

Stacy Kowalczyk* (see Interviews)

 

 

Stuart Miller

 

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS? How did this come about? 

 

I was hired in June 1987 after NOTIS had been set up as a for-profit corporation but while the offices were still in NUL. I answered a job ad, I think from the Chicago Tribune. [This was the Dark Ages, after all.] I had been working as a special librarian in Chicago for 11 years before that.

 

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do? Were there particular projects you were involved in?

 

I was hired as a documentation writer (while we were still using that mainframe word processing program!!). Then I became manager of the documentation dept. Then I moved on to become a sales support manager, then marketing manager, then I went to customer support and then back to

marketing communications. So I did a variety of tasks, the common thread of which was communicating to and educating our customers and potential customers about NOTIS and its capabilities. At various times, I worked on NOTIS, GTO (!!), NOTIS Horizon, and InfoShare (I think that was the name).

 

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

 

The first few years at NOTIS was the best employment experience of my entire career ( and I'm going to retire in about 18 months after 43 years in the workplace). To me, the atmosphere was very collegial and my colleagues were great fun to work with. It was also an extremely supportive place to work--people were not shy about complimenting on your work and were happy to share credit for joint projects. I also felt that people wanted to be proud of the product and worked hard to make improvements. And I really think the product advanced dramatically in those first few years because people wanted to work for a company with a quality product. Personally, it was great for me as I was promoted, got good raises and bonuses, and knew that people valued my contribution--something that was very important to me and completely lacking in my last job before NOTIS and has been lacking in every job since. I also worked for two of the best bosses I ever had, Maribeth Ward (at the time--she later went rogue) and then Linda Sullivan (who was always great).  And many of my colleagues became friends and we're still friends, all these years later.

 

Leadership at the top was a real issue. I really think that Jane Burke was only interested in two groups of people: (1) those who could code; and (2) those who could close sales. Everyone else was a necessary evil; since I was in neither group, I eventually felt less than appreciated. [It took me a while to figure that out, because as I said above, at first it was a GREAT place to be.] And of course Jane never built a successful sales team--a key failing and surely a factor in why the company never make a profit (or if it

did, it was minuscule). But Ameritech's giving over the company to those people in Utah was the BIGGEST mistake ever. After that, things went from bad to worse VERY quickly. And of course it never helped that Ameritech never had a clue as to why it bought a library software company in the first

place.

 

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

 

When Doris Warner got her hair cut short, came in looking like Jeanne Moreau, and promptly started smoking a cigarette a la francais while slinking across the room. Jane Frye's Dolly Parton wig and outrageous outfits. Jane Burke dressed as an exotic bird for some party. The Pink Party (the only time I got drunk at work). The revolving doors for the Systems Engineer Manager and the Sales Manager. Some extremely weird employees who lasted maybe a year or less--too many to remember. (Who WAS that woman with all the fans?)   Working in Evanston--which I always enjoyed. The travel to back-of-beyond places like Ft. Hays, KS; Pocatello, ID; Montgomery, AL; Slippery Rock, PA; Big Rapids, MI--the list goes on.

 

7. When and why did you leave?

 

I left in January 1995. As the company got larger and the senior management started going off in opposite directions, things went downhill and reached rock-bottom when those people from Utah took over. I don't think Jane Burke was a very good CEO for a variety of reasons, but those arrogant individuals from out west were unbearable--they had no interest in quality at all and killed off NOTIS Horizon (to be replaced by that miserable Marquis system). The last year I was there was very depressing as I could see Jane Burke digging her own grave.  (I once had to listen in on a conference call with her and the Utah people and her contempt for them was palpable across the phone lines--they deserved it, but they were all high-ups and it was political suicide of course.)  Then the Utah company took over. (I remember the new CEO being asked at that first meeting if there would be layoffs, and he gassed on about how we were now the largest ILS company, and there would be all these opportunities for growth--and then the entire sales staff was laid off that afternoon; and then all the best people started leaving.)  I loved working for Linda Sullivan--my last boss there--but the company had changed beyond recognition--which was very sad. I had to move on.

 

9.  Are there other things you think your fellow employees would be interested in knowing/remembering.

 

See above.

 

5. For those of you who worked directly with customers, were there particularly interesting customers that you remember?

 

They were all crazy.

 

6. Particular favorite NOTIS employees?  (Feel free to discuss "non-favorites" as well -- those will be taken *off*line....)

 

As I said above, many of my colleagues became and remain friends to this day. For day-to-day fun, though, Jane Frye and Doris Warner never ceased to amuse and amaze me.

 

8. 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 did it happen?

 

Because those Utah people were arrogant and uninterested in listening to customers--or to any of the NOTIS employees. They thought they knew it all, and what they didn't know wasn't worth knowing.  They certainly were completely clueless about academic libraries despite our complete willingness to share our experience. Actually, Horizon was successful among public libraries—which, I admit, was the market those Utah people knew something about.

 

10.  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: …

 

Actually, NOTIS had 2/3 of all ARL libraries in North American at its peak.  I think it was due to performance: those IBM mainframes were FAST by the standards of the day and could handle what at the time were considered HUGE databases. I also think that NOTIS' NUL origins was a major factor in its success--the feature/function set was driven by the people who had to use it. We're seeing the same concept again in open source software development.

 

11.   How about NOTIS giving customers the source code? …

 

It probably made no real difference. The ones who actually tinkered with the code were few and far between and they were the ones who never called for support anyway. It was really more of a marketing ploy to reassure those libraries who formerly had developed their own homegrown systems in house--it was security blanket. Once NOTIS Horizon was being planned, it was announced early on: no source code and there was no push back that I was aware of.

 

<end Stuart Miller>

Tim Tamminga

1. When did you start working for NUL/NOTIS?   How did this come about?  (If your background prior to NUL/NOTIS is of interest, please include that as well.)

Response: I can't remember the month, but it was in 1986. I was working as a product specialist and trainer at Geac when I saw an ad for a salesperson posted in the Library Journal (or some such trade journal). I submitted my resume and heard nothing for at least the next 10 months. Out of the blue, Jane called and asked whether I was still interested, and I was. I then flew out to Chicago and spent a day on campus meeting with pretty much everyone in NOTIS. A few weeks later, Jane called and offered me the role of sales person. For my first day, I was told to bring a suitcase and that Monday morning, Jane and I headed off to the airport for a sales call at Yale University.

2. What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects  you were involved in?

Response: I believe I was the first NOTIS salesperson. Mary came on board the following week. NU didn't have a job classification for "sales person" or "account executive" so we were classed as "Marketing Librarians" while NOTIS was housed in the library. My job was pretty straightforward: Mary and I divided the US and Canada up and we contacted all universities and built relationships with decision makers within the library and computing centers.

3. What was good about working for NOTIS?  What was ... not-so-good?

Response: In the early days, selling an IBM mainframe application was a joy. We were selling a system every week for over a year at one point. In the last year, however, smaller and nimbler platforms and applications made selling a lot more challenging. I also loved and hated reporting to Jane. She was a superb mentor. She taught me pretty much everything I know about selling. But Jane was not much fun to be with when a sale fell through or my numbers weren't where she thought they should be.

4. Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?

Response: I remember being in a meeting with two senior administrators at the University of Victoria. One was the VP of Administrative Computing and the other headed up Academic Computing. The Academic Computing guy did not want an IBM mainframe-based application. The Admin head had an IBM machine that was being underutilized and wanted NOTIS. I sat there with the two of them and for a solid 1 hour said nothing while the two of them argued. Sometimes the Academic guy would ask me a highly technical question but the Admin guy would always intercept it and answer it for me. At the end of the hour, they concluded that they'd get NOTIS, we shook hands and I left. I think I spoke only a few sentences at the start of the meeting and at the end. That taught me the value of listening and waiting.   

7. When and why did you leave?

Response: I left in 1991. NOTIS had transferred me to the east coast (Philadelphia) and my friend Steve Ifshin was then working for CD Plus (eventually renamed Ovid). He mentioned me to the CEO who contacted me about starting up and managing their large system sales group. The opportunity to manage a sales team that I got to build was really attractive.

<end Tim Tamminga>