The University of Guelph Library's SearchMe Public-Access Catalogue
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The University of Guelph is a medium-sized university located in southwestern Ontario about 100 kilometers from Toronto. The library has been automating its various systems since the mid1960s, starting with electronic data collection devices for a batch-oriented circulation system. The systems that followed included a batch cataloguing system called Scope, the CODOC system, and the Geac online circulation system (co-developed with Geac). The Geac circulation system was expanded to include online public access, acquisitions, and cataloguing, all running on the Geac mini-computers. In 1987, the University of Guelph Library began a pilot project to determine the viability of individual CD-ROM workstations as a replacement for its centralized online catalogue. This storage medium for the nearly 900,000 record bibliographic database was chosen because it offered an extremely cost-effective method of distributing the 500-megabyte database to what is projected to be a network of over 100 workstations. The original version of the search software and database was the product of a commercial vendor. The pilot project determined that while CD-ROM was an acceptable medium for storing and retrieving the data, the software used during the pilot project was not desirable for the long term, and the inability to change the database would require frequent and costly remasterings. As a result, a database design was developed and tested that would allow the library to write its own search software, prepare its own database, deal directly with the CD-ROM manufacturers at a greatly reduced cost, and add changes to the CD-ROM data. This software project was started in May 1988, and the new system was installed in October 1988 on 25 workstations throughout the library. Since then, the system has completely replaced the old, centralized online public access system and is running on 85 workstations in the two library branches and on a few additional workstations in some academic departments.