Other Automated Improvements

OCLC was not the only major technological change at the State Library in the mid-1970s. In 1966, the library had initiated its automated circulation system based on technology from the Secretary of State’s Driver’s License Department. Although the system served its purpose well, the state now felt the need for a system upgrade, especially in light of increasing inter-library loan service. In 1970, the consulting firm of Becker and Hayes was contracted for the Illinois State Library Data Processing Study to examine the library’s current system. The study recommended a more costeffective system, and careful consideration of potential systems followed. Reverting back to a manual system was immediately discounted. Finally, in the late summer of 1974, the State Library chose Computer Library System, Inc. (CLSI), a Massachusetts vendor whose circulation system was cost-effective and could be implemented immediately.765

Some of the existing technology at the State Library helped in the transition, particularly having data recorded on magnetic tape fed into a circulation control database, which meant extension to the library systems was readily possible. Remote terminals were now placed at each library system headquarters to be used in quickly determining if a title was held, and available. That title, if available, could then be checked out at the terminal. All this could be done in a matter of seconds and bypassed the traditional methods of checking microform catalogs, using TWX, or sending requests by mail. In addition, staff-searching time was drastically reduced.766

Shortly after the State Library adopted CLSI, the Northern Illinois, Suburban, and North Suburban Library Systems followed suit. In the fall of 1976, a project to test CLSI’s effectiveness within the State Library and the three systems began. The results were highly positive. In April 1978, Illinois Libraries offered this summary: “[CLSI] works and more persons are receiving more of the titles they requested because of it.”767

The conversion to CLSI was not perfect. State Library employees recalled that the system, at the time of its installation, was not ready for what the library demanded. As a result, library employees spent much time “debugging” the system and oversaw seven upgrades over the next 17 years, with one of the largest in 1983. However, the system did prove cost-effective. From an acquisition cost of $113,500, maintenance costs never exceeded $16,800 annually over the next six years. Interlibrary cooperation was now even easier. By 1982, seven of the 18 library systems were utilizing CLSI. In 1978, Joanne Klene, chief consultant of the Suburban Library System, called the adoption of CLSI “a really big milestone…which helped move us up to the next step of networking in Illinois.”768

Another automation method was BATAB, the Baker and Taylor Automated Buying plan that the State Library had instituted in the early 1970s. BATAB proved to be a major upgrade to the library’s ordering processes. Now, the library could place standing orders for new books, receive books on approval for inspection, and choose which titles to purchase. BATAB also provided library personnel with weekly printouts and monthly microfiche, which accumulated the titles on order and aided in financial planning and the tracking of orders. BATAB was yet another way in which automation had revolutionized the everyday activities of the State Library.769