Nebraska Library Commission
        Network Services

               July/August 1996 vol.2 no.4 issn1082-4383

JULY/AUGUST Issue Highlights:
Meet the New Network Services Staff
Guest Columnist: Random Thoughts on the "O" Word
Grant Awarded for FirstSearch Access
LSCA Title II Funds Available

N3 (Ncubed) Newsletter is published bimonthlyby the Nebraska Library Commission Network Services team. It is the intent of Network Services to promote and support libraries in their cooperative efforts to share resources and information.

Circulation: 500. Published on PC software. Editor: Jo Budler. Word Processing: Jeannette Powell. Design and Production: Joanne Corson. ISSN 1082-4383

Send mail to:
N3 Editor
Nebraska Library Commission
The Atrium, 1200 N St. Suite 120
Lincoln, NE, 68508
Phone: 402-471-4031 or 800-307-2665
Fax: 402-471-2083
Home Page: /netserv/netserv.html


FirstSearch, OCLC's reference service for end users, is no stranger to Nebraska libraries and their users. Since its introduction to the library community in 1991, it was recognized as a means to increase access to information. Over the years the number of articles available full-text online has increased. This in turn enhances library services in all types of libraries of all sizes. Librarians were quick to recognize that it is no longer necessary to own material in order to have access to the information.

In the summer of 1995, the Steering Committee of the Nebraska Library Commission began discussing the possibility of conducting a FirstSearch trial in Nebraska. According to the Library Commission Long Range Plan for Library and Information Services, 1996-1998, the mission of the Library Commission is "statewide promotion, development, and coordination of information services. As the state library agency, the Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans." It was recognized that FirstSearch would assist the Commission in meeting this goal.

"The Commission saw the FirstSearch demonstration as an opportunity to use the service and evaluate its effectiveness and value for use through Nebraska libraries," said Rod Wagner, Director of the Library Commission. "The demonstration permitted many libraries to use FirstSearch at minimal or no cost."

The trial was scheduled for February 1 through April 30, 1996. During the month of February, participating libraries had unlimited access to WorldCat, the OCLC Online Union Catalog which contains over 32 million records. During the months of March and April, participating libraries had unlimited access to all of the FirstSearch databases ranging in subject area from agriculture, business, humanities, technology and including consumer information, newspapers, scholarly papers and conference proceedings.

The intent of the trial was to allow all types and all sizes of libraries to access the FirstSearch databases and to allow librarians to evaluate this service in relation to their library service and the needs of their library users. Several hands-on sessions were held across the state during the months of September and October to raise awareness of this service. At the Nebraska Library Association-Nebraska Educational Media Association Joint Conference in October 1995, a mobile network was set up at the Library Commission booth. Here librarians were able to telnet to OCLC and log into FirstSearch. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Many librarians who had not yet completed a participation form, did so at the Conference. By the time the November 15 deadline for completing a participation form arrived, 155 librarians had signed on to be part of the trial. Orientations for participating librarians were scheduled across the state beginning in December and ending in March. Although FirstSearch is intended for end users, it was determined that some orientation for librarians was necessary to help them get started and to maximize usage during the trial. The orientation sessions allowed individuals to go into the Administrative Module (which allows for customization at the local library level) and access each component. These sessions also gave participating librarians a chance to ask questions while doing hands-on searching in the databases.

During the months prior to the trial and during the trial itself, 24 sessions were held in Hastings, Bellevue, Norfolk, Burwell, Fremont, Scottsbluff, Sidney, Crawford, Columbus, North Platte, Kearney, and Lincoln. Library Commission staff utilized computer labs whenever possible and used the Commission's mobile network which was purchased in 1995 for the purpose of "training on the road." In all, Library Commission staff traveled 4,680 miles and more than 300 people attended FirstSearch orientation sessions.

From the beginning of the trial, the big question was: "What happens when it's over?" Clearly one of the purposes for the FirstSearch Trial was to assess the interest of librarians in forming a consortium to purchase FirstSearch. In the ideal consortium there are advantages to all members of the consortium which is exactly what FirstSearch offered: small libraries are able to afford a service which they would not be able to afford on their own; larger libraries get increased access without additional costs; and all libraries are able to add databases to the core of services, therefore customizing their offerings to their library users. To date, this is proving to be true. Librarians from institutions of all types and all sizes have expressed a desire to participate in a statewide group purchase of a base package of databases.

Consensus on the FirstSearch trial was that this was a worthwhile endeavor. Librarians and library users found a wealth of information online. While we may not be certain of exactly what happens next, we are certain that FirstSearch allowed the library walls to come down; geography and ownership became less important when information was accessible electronically. The FirstSearch trial was a success for many reasons, not the least of which is that it laid the groundwork for future partnerships and greater resource sharing.

Some users' comments were:

"I think this is an incredibly valuable asset-Wish it had more full-text offerings!"

"Although it (MDX Health) shows only abstracts, I found these fairly complete as some were
up to 6 pages in length."

"We have a patron who wants a biographical book about a certain author. The problem is
that the author currently has 12 books available, but we could not determine which of the
books, if any, was biographical (could not determine by title or subtitle). We tried to
look at OCLC records, but since we are selective users only, we could not find any subject
suggestions. Just for fun, I tried looking at WorldCat records to see if they could help.
And, they sure did! In the NOTES line on one of the records, I found the word
'autobiographical.' This is the book I will request for our patron."

"We would definitely be interested in the Base Package of FirstSearch. We have used
the databases you've listed frequently. THANK YOU!"

"We are VERY PLEASED with FirstSearch, and REALLY LIKE EBSCO."

"It has been great having FirstSearch available. Thank you."

"Now that our faculty and students have had access to all the databases of FirstSearch,
it is hard to choose. We really like it!"

-Jo Budler
Nebraska Library Commission


Allana Novotny
Welcome to Allana Novotny, a native of Wisner, Nebraska who started with the Library Commission June 3 as Network Services Librarian. Allana is a recent graduate from the University of Missouri School of Library and Informational Science. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Midland Lutheran College in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems. Her minors are in Computer Science, Human Services and English. As a student at Midland, Allana worked at Luther Library doing a variety of tasks both before and after automation. It was this job that helped her determine she wanted to earn her MLS.

At UMC, Allana worked as a teaching assistant in the computer lab for library science students. During her last semester, Allana saw the job listing on the Library Commission Home P age and knew it was the right one for her. Even her fellow students agreed that her name was all over the job description. She doesn't have a favorite web site because each venture is a search for something different, but says the hours spent on the Internet have served as the best teacher for understanding it. She says the best tactics for converting people to technology are time, patience and a spark of interest to convince the unwilling there is a benefit.

Her favorite thing about the library profession is working with people and helping them connect with information. She says it is exciting to show people what they can find and just how easily they can find information on their own. "This is an exciting time to be involved with technology." When I asked Allana what she liked least about her profession, she shared her frustration for small towns and their lack of choices for Internet connectivity if they have any choices at all.

She is looking forward to meeting Library Commission customers and is eager to help them meet and solve their information needs. In her free time, Allana enjoys cross-stitching and occasional fiction reads by authors like Stephen King and V.C. Andrews. Her favorite magazine reading is Internet World. She confesses many free hours are also spent on the Internet. Allana shares her apartment with 4 Mollies, 4 Neons and 2 (as she affectionately refers to them) slime suckers - all unnamed. Welcome Allana!

-Lisa Brawner
Nebraska Library Commission

Diana Boone
Diana Boone is our new OCLC Member Services Coordinator. She joined the Library Commission staff on May 20 and says this is the first time she accepted a job with the location of the city in mind first. She wanted to live in Lincoln and now returns to her native Nebraska after residence in Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, and most recently Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and earned her bachelors degree in Spanish with a minor in Library Science at Northwest Missouri State University.

Originally from Neligh, Nebraska, Diana started her library career as a volunteer with Ruth Strassler at the Neligh Public Library. Diana cites Ruth as the reason she wanted to become a librarian. Wary of borrowing money for school, a conversation with her high school speech teacher in which he told her that "you're investing in yourself and you'll never have a more sure investment in your life" inspired Diana to take loans and finish both degrees.

Diana's professional career began at the North Dakota State Library where she worked as an Interlibrary Loan Librarian. She continued at Wayne State College as an Interim Circulation Librarian and moved to Bellevue where she worked as Acquisitions Librarian and later as Head of Technical Services. Her most recent position was at the Arrowhead Library System in Minnesota where she was Automation Coordinator. Diana is eager to work in the areas of training and answering OCLC product questions at the Commission.

Because she loves to learn, Diana is interested in taking classes at UNL or Southeast Community College. She likes to discover an author and read all their books. Most recently she read the works of Mary Higgens Clark and LaVurl Spencer. Diana enjoys canoeing, tap dancing and is interested in pursuing local activities at the community theater and the YMCA. She is an avid classic movie fan and has set her VCR for all times of the day and night so as not to miss one of her favorites.

-Lisa Brawner
Nebraska Library Commission



In recent months there has been a lot of interest in and discussion of a new topic that is not really new at all. I am speaking about outsourcing, the farming out of certain portions of a library's work to a third party. Most often, outsourcing refers to cataloging, but it may also include acquisitions, building maintenance, and other functions. Outsourcing is often seen as a way to save money, increase efficiency, or release staff to undertake other important work.

Library administrators are intrigued by the idea because budgets are tight, new positions are as hard to find as hens' teeth, and sometimes outside help is needed to clear away backlogs. Some staff members are suspicious, uneasy, and sometimes downright frightened of the "O" word because it means change and uncertainty.

The idea of having someone else do the routine tasks in a library is nothing new, of course. A good example of this is the approval plan, long used in academic libraries to reduce much of the work involved in ordering new materials. We've outsourced much of our serials work for many years now, relying on vendors to drastically reduce the work involved in ordering thousands of individual titles. Many of us have outsourced a major portion of our retrospective conversion work for many years.

On the cataloging front, school and public libraries commonly buy materials "already cataloged" from book jobbers. Now academic libraries and some large public libraries are jumping into the fray by outsourcing some of their cataloging. Services like OCLC's PromptCat and TechPro offer the ability to quickly process routine items (copy cataloging) and to clear up backlogs. While such services cannot be implemented quickly, nor will they solve all our problems, they can offer relief in the long run.

One particular advantage of outsourcing cataloging is to free up technical services staff to concentrate on things which affect access to collections and which ultimately will improve user service, for example: authority control, cataloging non-print collections, and database maintenance. Another plus is the ability to transfer staff to public service departments such as interlibrary loan and reference which have seen dramatic increases in demand since the last decade.

For far too long we have paid too much attention to getting our catalog records "just right," dwelling on details which do not affect access or about which the average reader cares nothing at all. If outsourcing can free staff to spend more time providing service and making sure the online catalog is a user-friendly, helpful tool, then it is surely a good thing.

I do not advocate doing away with catalog departments and catalogers. We assuredly need them both and will for quite some time. But we also need new types of catalogers with computer and Internet skills and direct contact with the public to better understand how the catalog and other bibliographic tools are used. Let's not fear the "O" word and the future. Let's look at all we do and see how we can make it better. We can and must move our technical services, indeed the entire library, into the 21 century. Outsourcing appears to be one way to help us do just that.

-Robert A. Seal
AMIGOS Board of Trustees Chair
Reprinted with permission from Que Pasa, v17(2)

Technology in Nebraska's Public Libraries

Every year the Library Commission collects statistical data about Nebraska public libraries through the Library Statistical Report (a requirement for accreditation and state aid eligibility). In addition, the Commission gleans information from the Regional Library System Administrators, Nebrask@ Online reports and a variety of e-mail, fax, paper and telephone surveys. Data relating to technology in Nebraska's public libraries is compiled in the Nebraska Public Library Technology Assessment. The assessment is essentially a snapshot of technology in Nebraska's public libraries.

Technology Assessment Highlights (from the May 96 assessment report):

-There are 283 public libraries in Nebraska

-Approx. 65% have computers with an average of 5 per library

-Approx. 49% have CD-ROM's

-Approx. 39% have automated circulation systems

-Approx. 15% have automated cataloging systems

-Approx. 33% have Internet access

The Nebraska Public Library Technology Assessment is updated monthly and is available on the Library Commission home page at < /netserv/assess.html>. If your web browser doesn't support tables or you would like a paper copy please contact Jeannette Powell, 402-471-7740, 800-307-2665, or e-mail: Jeannette Powell and one will be sent to you. Please send additions or corrections to the assessment to Jeannette as well.

-Annie Sternburg
Nebraska Library Commission


FAQ for FirstSearch Web

A FirstSearch Web Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list was made available from the OCLC home page on March 5. Users can access the FAQ either directly by pointing their browsers to or by going to FirstSearch under Products and Services on the OCLC Home Page.

The FirstSearch Web FAQ list covers questions about how to best use FirstSearch Web. For general information about FirstSearch or information about databases or documentation, users can go to FirstSearch under Products and Services on the home page menu. The questions in the FAQ list are organized in categories and are dated for easier navigation. The FAQ list is a dynamic list which will continue to grow as questions are received. The questions in the list come from several sources, including questions referred from network and sales staff, OCLC User & Network Services support call reports, and comments sent to OCLC via the comments function on FirstSearch Web and the OCLC Home Page.

A FAQ List about Automatic Scripting for FirstSearch Web and EJO Web is located under Products and Services on the OCLC home page menu. The FirstSearch Web FAQ list will contain links to this list.

No. 68/1996 April


Congratulations to Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools
Susan was awarded a grant on May 14, in which she requested $500 to purchase a block of 500 FirstSearch searches. Due to an ongoing promotion by OCLC, Susan will actually be able to purchase two blocks of searches (1,000 searches) for $550. The searches are good for two years from the date of purchase. With these blocks of searches, Susan, her faculty and students will have access to all FirstSearch databases except ABI, SocAbstract, PsychIndex and MLA which are subscription only databases. Good job, Susan! It is great to see hard work and creativity rewarded.

-Jo Budler
Nebraska Library Commission

TIPS FOR FirstSearch WEB

FirstSearch Web maintains all the functionality of the TTY interface. Until the next release of FirstSearch Web, however, the administrative module will be accessible only via the TTY interface. Here are a few tips for using FirstSearch Web:

Click on the Start button after entering your authorization and password to long on. At this time, will not work with Netscape browsers when you enter more than two fields of information.

Click on buttons to navigate through FirstSearch and to execute actions, such as search, wordlist, and limit; do not use the Forward and Back buttons of your browser. For the sake of consistency and to ensure they are always visible, buttons are positioned at the top of the screen.

Click on the new Tag Record box for each record in the search results screen you wish to view or e-mail. With this release of FirstSearch Web, you can tag up to five records for viewing all at one time (OCLC hopes to increase this limit by the summer), and these records can be results from one or more database searches.

Enter your search terms in the search query box without any label to search the basic index, which contains keywords from the subject, title and notes fields. When you want to retrieve all relevant records containing a particular word, search this way. You can click on the Author or Title boxes underneath the query box to execute a keyword search for those fields. Bound phrase searching also is available for more precise searching. Click on the Help button from the search screen to display a list of labels and to receive information on other advanced searching techniques.


FirstSearch Summer Sale!

Effective immediately, OCLC is announcing a FirstSearch per-search promotion. Libraries who order FirstSearch blocks through August will be eligible for the lowest price level, which is currently 55 cents per search or $275 per block of 500 searches. Furthermore, libraries purchasing before August will be able to lock in the lowest prevailing price for a 12-month period. The minimum purchase is one block for individual institutions or groups.

New FirstSearch Prices, Effective September 1, 1996

1-9 blocks - 500-4,500 searches - $0.78 per search

10-60 blocks - 5,000-30,000 searches - $0.68 per search

61+ blocks - 30,500+ searches - $0.58 per search

For additional information about FirstSearch, or to place an order, contact Jeannette Powell at the Library Commission, 402-471-7740, 800-307-2665, or e-mail: Jeannette Powell.




The Nebraska Database
The WLN Conspectus Software is leased by the Nebraska Library Commission to be used by all types of libraries to complete assessment; to use the results in collection management planning; and to compare results over time. The Commission provides assessment tools and maintains the conspectus database. The Nebraska state database is shared with the world wide database maintained by WLN. The coordinated application of the WLN Conspectus Software can be used by small- to medium-sized libraries of all types.

WLN Conspectus Software
The WLN Conspectus Software supports collection assessment and management. It is organized around the framework of the Conspectus subject divisions, categories, and descriptors. It supports assessment of both Dewey and LC classified collections and is designed to accommodate smaller and special library collections as well as large research library collections. Supporting the WLN Conspectus Software are the WLN Collection Assessments Database and a variety of collection assessment publications.

The WLN Conspectus Software aids library staff in recording collection assessments and producing reports on collection strength, acquisition plans, and preservation goals. With the WLN Conspectus Software operating on a local microcomputer, a library can store acquisitions, circulation, and related collection data and produce detailed reports.

The WLN Conspectus Software operates on Macintosh and IBM-compatible microcomputers. It was developed using the FoxPro relational database system. The database is composed of five interrelated files. The software provides built in searching and reporting capabilities. The five interrelated files contain the library directory-type information, conspectus worksheets, assessment records, management statistical data from circulation and acquisitions, and MARC analysis data.

Reports may be generated in either graph or full textual format. Single or multiple library assessments, comparisons between libraries, and management reports may be prepared. Reports may be printed at the broad division level or at detailed category and subject levels. Assessment notes may be searched and sorted into topical reports. These reports can be effectively used for planning weeding or purchasing.

Collection Management Services
The Library Commission provides the WLN Conspectus Software for Nebraska libraries interested in using this tool for their collection assessment and maintains the Nebraska statewide database. Commission staff will provide instruction, data worksheets, assist with data entry, and generate reports. A training handbook was developed by staff to give assessors in small- and medium-sized libraries specific instructions for each data collection step to use in conjunction with the WLN Collection Assessment Manual. Commission staff provide on-site assessment training for libraries beginning assessment. Backup consultation and assistance are provided as requested during assessment.

The Library Commission also maintains a collection of materials about collection management and assessment. These materials include sample worksheets and assessment tools; a collection of library science books, periodicals, and videos; and bibliographies of collection management and cooperative collection management literature.

For more information about collection management and assessment contact Burns Davis, 402-471-2694, 800-307-2665.

-Burns Davis
Nebraska Library Commission



The Eastern Library System awarded $500 Reference Sources / Information Services grants to five system member libraries. Receiving the grants were:

Mercy High School-The New Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Douglas County Corrections-Criminal Procedures, Federal practice and Procedure, Federal Criminal code and Rules, and 1996 Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Waterloo Public Library-World Book Encyclopedia.

Scribner Public Library-McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford Companion to American Literature, Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology & Legends, and various other print and CD sources.

Historical Society of Douglas County-Contract with Rydik for Internet software, service, and training for one year.

The System has also given 27 accredited public libraries technology grants of $200 each and a $300 grant to the Omaha Public Schools in support of their 42 Annual materials Extravaganza author and illustrator visit.

-Kathy Tooker
Eastern Library System


The Nebraska Library Association (NLA) is pleased to announce its new presence on the World Wide Web! NLA's new Home Page can be found at <>. We hope that the technology of the Web will enable members of NLA to access timely and complete information about the Association. The Association is indebted to Nebrask@ Online, which provides host computer space and technical assistance for ongoing maintenance of the page.

Included on the page are a variety of materials about NLA. First is a link to information about the upcoming 1996 NLA/NEMA Convention in Lincoln. Dates, speakers, and general information is included. This summer a registration form will be posted for members' use.

The next section of the page includes documents generally available to the NLA Board, but previously hard for the rest of the members to access. NLA bylaws, officers (including e-mail links), and the entire NLA Handbook are included. By accessing the NLA Handbook, members can more clearly understand the functions of the Association, the duties of the officers, the organization of the Association, what Sections and Roundtables exist, etc. Soon the NLAQ will also be available on the page.

Links to other useful library sites are also on the NLA page. We have tried to limit the number of links to a few basic starting points which would be of high general interest to NLA members. Included are links to ALA, Nebraska Library Commission, state and regional library job listings, Nebraska's Electronic Library, and Nebraska Legislative Information. These links should provide the basic starting points for NLA members' search for broader library information.

The purpose of the new NLA Web Page is to increase and enhance communication by the Association, especially in terms of what is available to our membership. Links are provided to officers for e-mail comments. Please check out the page, and let us know what you think!

-Kate Marek
Nebraska Library Association President

LSCA Title II Funds Available

The Library Commission is pleased to offer public libraries one more chance to apply for a construction or technology enhancement grant from Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) Title II funds. The Commission was recently informed that a total of $166,011 in federal funds has been appropriated for Nebraska public libraries for 1996.

To begin the application process, public libraries must first submit a letter of intent, due by July 8, 1996. The letter of intent should indicate the general project the library is planning, and an approximate grant amount they will be requesting. Libraries submitting a letter of intent by the due date will be mailed an application form for the grant. The applications are due at the Commission no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 6, 1996. Grant awards will be announced by October 1.

Last year three public libraries received a construction grant for a new building, or for ADA accommodation of the existing building. An additional 55 public libraries received technology grants. Types of technology involved were: CD-ROM capability, automating card catalogs, automating circulation systems, and computer work stations for Internet access. An example of a possible grant project for 1996 includes purchase of a computer work station, a modem, software, and access to OCLC services including FirstSearch.

For more information, contact Sally Snyder, 402-471-4003, 800-307-2665, or e-mail: Sally Snyder.

-Sally Snyder
Nebraska Library Commission

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