Technical Services at the Library

The Technical Services Department also changed greatly in these years. Twenty-four employees worked in the Library Materials Processing Branch, cataloging, classifying, and processing materials. Newer forms of technology were constantly considered. The library had been producing catalog cards using Flexowriter machines, a type of tape-activated typewriter, since 1966. The Flexowriters were a definite improvement over more outdated equipment, including one older cardproducing machine that routinely caught fire. While these improvements greatly reduced human effort, other methods were also being considered by 1971, including updated IBM consoles and computer printed cards with MARC II tapes. The State Library also explored having the cards made by the new Illinois Library Materials Processing Center in Rockford.670

The MARC II tapes, which stood for “Machine-Readable Catalog,” were an innovation in library science that first appeared around 1968. The tapes contained information that resembled a card catalog format on each book in a collection, including author, subject, title, Dewey Decimal system classification number, and Library of Congress call and card numbers. Individual catalog cards could be printed from MARC II tapes. This database eventually proved useful in cataloging and interlibrary loan in a cooperative environment, and became part of the foundation for the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) network that went online in 1971 and revolutionized librarianship in the mid- to late-1970s. The State Library had explored the potential of MARC II tapes since the late 1960s and, by the early-1970s, made the switch.671

Projects involving MARC tapes continued throughout the decade. In 1976, a program with the exhaustive title of “Feasibility Study for Generating a Statewide Union List from Separate Nonstandardized Machine-Readable Files” was funded. Initiated by the Coordinated Science Laboratory of the University of Illinois, the project aimed to determine the plausibility of matching records in different formats. The study was created for libraries wishing to convert their records to machine-readable form and with input from MARC tapes.672

Microfilming was also increased. In 1971, the Library Materials Processing Branch finished the Illinois State Library Microfilm Automated Catalog (IMAC). Six years earlier, the branch had supervised the first inventory of the library in conjunction with the computerized circulation project. The microfilm version of the catalog, which cost $18,836 to create, had many advantages. With this fast and easy reference tool, users now had immediate and specific data on the holdings of the library. Previously, time had been spent in making telephone calls or requests via TWX to determine if the State Library owned a book. Now, time spent on interlibrary loan requests dropped dramatically. Staffers were able to process interlibrary loan requests more quickly by verifying information submitted with requests, and the library systems workloads were reduced as well. Information for cataloging and bibliographies was readily accessible, and an archival catalog copy was created for protection against fire or other disaster.673

Within a few years, the State Library catalog was filmed on a quarterly basis to remain current with new additions. In 1975, federal funds paid for the filming of the card catalogs at the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. This created better access to those universities’ catalogs for the 18 library systems and the other two R & R centers, the State Library and the Chicago Public Library. The benefits of IMAC and its succeeding programs were reflective of the technological gains enjoyed not only by the State Library but by the library profession nationwide.674

The Collection Development Branch of the Technical Services Department was charged with the selection and purchasing of new library materials. The library’s acquisition policy was revised annually and included the automation of the BATAB project. The branch, which handled an “internal book budget” of over $300,000, also processed orders, accounted for vouchers and encumbrances of purchases, and processed material for both the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Supreme Court Library. Also within the Collection Development Branch was the Serials Section, which handled all aspects of serial publication acquisitions for the library. In November 1969, the Binding Section was established within the branch, charged with locating, and binding, any books in need. In the first eight months of its inception, the section re-bound 5,227 pamphlets and paperbacks, 4,436 books, and 167 periodicals.675

Other Technical Services branches included the Government Documents Branch, formed in August 1963 to combine the federal, state, and out-of-state publications under a single branch head. The creation of the branch was due largely to the March 1963 designation of the State Library as a regional depository for federal publications (although, in fact, the library had received most such publications for many years) when the U.S. Government Printing Office began sending all its publications to the library. Previously, the State Library had been able to choose which documents it wanted to receive. The library’s collection numbered 635,000, with over 2,200 items received and processed monthly.676

The Illinois Documents Section, which had just moved back to the Centennial Building after 32 years in the Archives Building, was responsible for the 63,000 state documents in the library’s collection. In 1967, the General Assembly directed all state agencies to provide the library with “sufficient copies for its collection and for exchange purposes.” An average of 183 items were received monthly, and distribution was made to the Library of Congress, the Chicago Public Library, state universities, and the British Museum, among others. The library’s Out-of-State Documents Section handled the 33,000 out-of-state publications in the collection, which received 880 new documents each month. This was a sizable job itself despite a major weeding of out-of-state documents in 1964.677

The entire June 1971 issue of Illinois Libraries was devoted to government documents topics. Albert Halcli submitted an article titled “How to Escape the Documents Ghetto,” a reference to how librarians were swamped by the influx of government publications. In conjunction with the Illinois Library Association, the State Library sponsored a documents workshop in Chicago on March 19, 1971, to “provide practical working and informative sessions” dealing with federal documents for librarians and administrators.678

Two subsequent federally funded documents workshops followed as the State Library became a mentor for other libraries on documents handling. The first was a workshop on state documents held in Springfield Jan. 20-21, 1972, sponsored by the ILA. Over 100 documents librarians attended, and papers presented at the workshop were reprinted in the June 1972 edition of Illinois Libraries. That October 21-22, a United Nations Document Workshop was held in Chicago in order for “Illinois to get a new perspective on United Nations documents.” The workshop was held in conjunction with the designation of 1972 as International Book Year, and its papers were reprinted in the March 1973 issue of Illinois Libraries.679