by Lorre Smith and Lynne (Lyn) Martin
MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship, v.2 no.2, Fall 1994:88-109.

A fact sheet published about the University Libraries' Interactive Media Center (IMC) describes a polished array of collections and services. "The IMC today . . . offers an innovative learning environment and powerful educational tools to enhance teaching and learning through the use of new electronic technologies. At the heart of the IMC are twenty individual workstations, each containing a microcomputer, a videodisc player, CD-ROM (compact disc-read only memory) drive, videocassette player, and a video monitor. These individual components can be directed to interact using available software. An impressive array of commercially produced software and media is continually being acquired for the IMC. The University has also purchased authoring stations for faculty to produce instructional packages tailored for courses offered at the University at Albany.

Building on three decades of academic experience in computer-assisted programmed instruction, interactive media uses a variety of new information technologies to supplement or reinforce classroom instruction . . .

The holdings of the Interactive Media Center include instructional media titles in optical, electronic, and traditional formats. (1) CD-ROM allows random access to sizable databases (audio, video) and full text in conjunction with other microcomputer functions. (2) Videodiscs include classic films and visual (i.e., image and full motion video) databases. Many videodiscs contain two unique soundtracks: the "original" soundtrack and a supplemental track with commentary or a second language. Computer software can be used to control the sequence and rate in which a videodisc's contents are viewed. (3) Computer programs on floppy disk are available for a wide variety of disciplines and purposes, including authoring, simulations, tutorials, and data analysis. (4) Videocassettes may serve as primary and supplementary course material. In addition, the IMC houses audio CDs (compact discs), audiocassettes, and other audiovisual materials. The IMC collection is included in the (University)Libraries' online catalog. A complete catalog of

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current holdings is also available upon request for review . . . "(University Libraries 1993)

The IMC described in this fact sheet was not always tame and docile. Not that long ago, the IMC was a "wild and hypersonic beast" -- a very wild beast, who tested the limits of all who tried to "tame and ride" it. This is the tale of the beast itself, its riders, and those who survived.


The IMC is a recent addition to the University Libraries. The genesis of the IMC concept at the University at Albany occurred in early May 1989, and the work to establish it began at once. From its inception, the IMC proved to be "a wild beast" that required "taming" in the most hypersonic sense -- but, a wild beast with incredible potential. The project to establish the IMC was swiftly undertaken from its very beginning.

From its genesis until its "grand opening," everything about the IMC proved to be time-sensitive. There was an overriding urgency to complete each phase of the project, from the construction to the initial orders for hardware and software to the ribbon cutting ceremonies. Optimally it was to be completed in just the few short months from May 1989 until opening of the fall semester in September 1989. It became necessary to relax those optimal deadlines as the solutions to the logistical problems of opening a new center on campus were developed.

At that time, there was no advice to be had. Catalogers and user services librarians alike searched for written work by pioneers in the field, but realized that none existed. Contacts in the network of colleagues built up over the years yielded little or no advice.

Since the original IMC work was completed, interactive multimedia have been discussed in a plethora of articles. Only a scant number of titles have dealt seriously with management

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issues, however. The overwhelming majority are at the introductory level and describe multimedia for the librarian who has not yet encountered it. The remaining articles are for the most part announcements of new products, or of emerging products.

Lorre Smith reflected on administrative and management, and that work remains alone as the only systematic discussion of interactive media issues in academic and research libraries. Sheila Intner has discussed the cataloging of interactive multimedia in several pieces. "Guidelines for Bibliographic Description of Interactive Media" now exist as the result of the discussions that Intner reports, and they will help subsequent decision-making, at least in the area of technical services.

The authors hope that this article will begin to fill the enormous discussion gap concerning management issues of multimedia materials in academic libraries. The authors hope to encourage others to describe experiences and decision-making processes as familiarity with this new type of library material develops. More discussion is needed on circulation and service ideas, physical processing and security and on a plethora of technical aspects such as estimated lifetimes of the materials and preservation.


Early in May 1989, immediately after the conception of the IMC, an approximately 1600 square foot area was constructed for the IMC in existing space on the basement level of the University Library. A limited amount of office space was created, as well as an IMC service desk. The space allotted to the IMC formerly housed the sizable microform collection, and that collection had to be condensed and incorporated into the IMC space. The IMC structure was completed in early December 1989, just days before the IMC's grand opening. Special funds (exclusive of the University Libraries' regular funding) were very quickly allocated to construct the new space; purchase

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the requisite furniture, media display cases, computer workstations, other office furniture, security devices, and a broad range of media items (primarily interactive software programs); and hire new staff.

Despite the speedy completion of the IMC structure and the arrival of the equipment and furniture in early fall 1989, the original target grand opening date of the first week of classes of the fall semester 1989 proved impossible. December 8 was selected as the new opening date, but even that date proved difficult to meet. In late November the Department Head requested at least one PC and one Macintosh for staff training (the University computer technicians were still assembling them and adding jacks and plugs for peripherals). The library staff worked daily to conquer the ins and outs of the Macintosh operating system and interface, and to learn about sound and video peripherals for computers. The Macintosh world, along with speakers and video attached to computers, had been completely foreign to the University Library until then. There were daily raids of the Acquisitions and Cataloging departments to get software items to test on the new machines. The staff had to be proficient enough to demonstrate one program on each workstation! University carpenters were busy constructing carrels. Twenty IMC workstations were installed December 7. All of the hypersonic complications and frustrations, however, were overcome, and the IMC grand opening occurred on December 8, 1989.


Looking to precedents set by other institutions who had gone through the experience of building interactive media centers soon proved to be impossible. The use of optical media for storage of sounds and images was a very new field (optical discs had only been commercially available since approximately 1981). The use of computer technology to create interactive multimedia had been developed during the previous four or five years. Most of the development at that time was in elementary and secondary education, and virtually no one was doing such things on a mass scale.

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As noted above, in addition to the special funds allocated for construction, equipment and new staff, over 700 new media items were also purchased. The collection included: CD-ROMs, music CDs, CAIs (computer-assisted instruction programs), and simulation software programs and datasets, also videocassettes, videodiscs, and videodiscs and/or CD-ROMs with accompanying Hyperstacks. The Hyperstack is a type of controller program peculiar to the Macintosh world and is created with the use of Hypercard, an interactive database software that is used extensively in multimedia. Total holdings of the IMC currently top 3500 titles, and continue to include media programs in every format and format combination imaginable. New items are now purchased from the University Libraries' own funds, and the flood of items purchased initially has decreased to a manageable rate of about 400 titles annually.

Under the pressure to stock the IMC with new media, a few members of the Academic Affairs staff selected the items with little or no consultation with University Library staff. This created two problems. First, some of the software programs ordered were not compatible with the IMC workstations, and could not be used (and could not be examined for cataloging!). Second, hundreds of laser discs, floppy discs, compact discs, multimedia kits, magnetic tapes, and extensive collections of videotapes were ordered in the early summer 1989. All materials had been ordered through the Academic Affairs purchasing office in the Administration building and normal University Library materials acquisitions procedures had been circumvented. The new programs began arriving in great numbers by mid-summer 1989. The new materials were not delivered directly to the University Libraries, but to the Academic Affairs office, and were delivered to the Libraries after they were opened. It didn't occur to the people in that office that billing information, licensing agreements, etc. would be necessary for the University Library people. IMC, Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Physical Processing staff had to quickly scramble to accommodate the influx of the materials. Existing procedures had to be quickly modified and new procedures created. It also meant that existing priorities

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had to be shifted to accommodate the imminent opening of the IMC in just a few short months. Backlogs of regular work, especially in Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Physical Processing grew as quickly as the new items arrived. The impact of so many materials arriving without the benefit of library staff expertise and preparation was significant.

None of the normal collection development and acquisition procedures applied to this huge influx of materials. No orders existed in any library records and no vendor catalogs or contact information was available for return of damaged, missing, or flawed pieces. Acquisitions records had to be entered in the way that gifts are entered into the University Libraries' online system (Geac GLIS). It soon became clear that price information had to be obtained from the Academic Affairs purchasing office along with vendor information. The normal consultation process between bibliographer and acquisitions staff could not take place, so the audiovisual librarian (Head of the Media, Microforms, Periodicals and Reserves Department), the acquisitions staff and the catalogers had to improvise. Added to the crush was an influx of music CDs, purchased with allocations for replacements of older, deteriorating long-play, vinyl music disks. About 800 music CDs were purchased initially during 1989-90, the same fiscal year in which the IMC opened. Some vinyl disks were retained and required either recataloging or retrospective conversion.


The University Libraries were able to hire new staff for the IMC. In June 1989, a new librarian (with expertise in library media, audiovisuals and computer technology) was hired. The new librarian, as the Department Head was responsible for the new Interactive Media Center and three other public service units. She functioned as the audiovisual librarian as well as the head of the Department. The department name was changed to Media, Microforms, Periodicals and Reserves (MMPR) from

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Reserves/Non-Print and Periodicals. Several months later, an Instructional Support Associate (paraprofessional), with computer-related expertise was hired as IMC Coordinator. In addition, because the IMC created a new public service point, one full-time library clerk was hired and 1500 hours of student employment were allotted. The IMC was open for the same number of hours as the University Library: 96 hours per week. The Coordinator and clerical support assistants taught staff, faculty, and students to use the new hardware and software.

Unfortunately, the Technical Services Division was not able to hire any additional staff to accommodate the new influx of IMC software. The added burden of coping with the initial purchase of items, as well as the burden of continuing to acquire, catalog, and process them had to be subsumed by existing staff. As for cataloging, prior to the genesis of the IMC, the University Libraries held only a minimal media collection, consisting of primarily sound recordings, multimedia kits, and select videocassettes. Few new items were being acquired. One Audiovisual Cataloger could easily handle the cataloging of all media items in addition to a number of other cataloging responsibilities. At first, the "lone" Audiovisual Cataloger attempted to keep up with the tremendous influx of new items -- but that attempt proved impossible, as the backlog was staggering, and continued to grow. Eventually (in mid-1990), the cataloging responsibilities for the IMC media were parsed amongst three catalogers.

The first cataloger (originally responsible for audiovisual cataloging), continued to catalog all of the program types that corresponded to types that were most familiar: multi-media kits, VHS videocassettes, and sound recordings. The first cataloger also took on cataloging for videodiscs which are like VHS videocassettes) and audio CDs (which are sound recordings). The first cataloger was increasingly involved with an authorities project that gradually required more and more time. The second cataloger (Serials Cataloger) tackled all serial-type IMC software, such as serial items and periodical

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issues that were published as or with floppy discs or CD-ROMs, as well as all CD-ROM indexes.

The third cataloger (hired to catalog rare books, archival manuscripts, documents, and monographs) had a background in cataloging audiovisual and interactive software. She eventually focussed exclusively on interactive computer files, videodiscs and CD-ROMs with accompanying Hyperstacks and rush items (same or next day turn-around). The third cataloger cataloged all media that could not be handled by the first cataloger during the times when the authorities project work took precedence.

At the same time, the Head of Cataloging concentrated on current cataloging. Three remaining catalogers in the department were not enlisted in the IMC cataloging project or required to take on any additional current cataloging responsibilities because they were already engaged in other priority projects (such as retrospective conversion, foreign language backlogs, etc.). Needless to say, cataloging backlogs grew during the time that IMC items were top priority. Much later some additional cataloging assistance was garnered from a limited number of cataloging graduate assistants and interns from the University's Rockefeller College, School of Information Science and Policy.


The Libraries' administrative structure surrounding the IMC grew very quickly during fall 1989. An Advisory Group, comprised of librarians from all divisions of the Libraries, was formed first. The Advisory Group grappled with a wide range of issues, including: user services, access to the collections, user eligibility, security for the collections and the equipment, staff functions, circulation policies, and copyright/public performance issues, and they recommended polices to the Library Policy Group. Early on, the Advisory Group formed subcommittees on circulation, technical services and collection development. The subcommittee on collection development recommended formation

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of an IMC Selection Committee to discuss collection development issues related to electronic media. This group also discussed the

use of University Libraries' funds to support the acquisitions of new software and equipment in the future (initial funds were provided by the University). As the Advisory Group became less active an IMC Working Group was formed by the Technical Services Division. It was an independent group (comprised of Cataloging, Physical Processing, Acquisitions, and IMC staff) that grappled with all the technical details related to the IMC software.

Decisions regarding security of the materials influenced decisions regarding cataloging and processing the materials. The very nature of the new media (most of which were electronic or magnetic), combined with the nature of the University Library Knogo security system (also magnetic), resulted in the decision to maintain closed stacks for the IMC collection. Media could then be secured with closed stacks and the staff weren't concerned that materials would be destroyed by magnets. There was a strong desire to display the items on the part of the Vice President who conceived the Center. This resulted in physical processing for display containers, which were placed on racks in the public areas of the IMC, and processing for storage containers, which were in the secure closed stack area. Hours of consultation between IMC and Technical Services staff (along with a good bit of trial and error), resulted in a growing body of experiences and policies. These began to guide related policies and processing procedures. The equipment was eventually secured by a complex electronic monitoring system.

The group which had ordered the original hardware and software requested an opening day catalog of all IMC holdings to be printed and distributed at the opening day celebration and subsequently to the academic departments on campus. Since the items had been ordered outside the normal acquisitions procedures, order lists had to be obtained from the Academic Affairs purchasing office. A printed catalog was created using

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Enable software. The catalog listed items by format, such as videocassettes, diskettes, video discs, and multimedia kits. The printed catalog proved to be very useful because a IMC users have continually requested lists of media by format, and because Geac GLIS could not produce such lists. The Enable database was used to issue updates of the print catalog, and it was used heavily until the new Advance integrated library system superseded it.


The creation of the IMC, resulting in the massive influx of new media, in every conceivable format, all at one time (as well as the prospect of increased continuing acquisitions), presented quite a cataloging workload and workflow wild ride. All members of the IMC Working Group felt strongly that IMC items should be ideally be classified using the Library of Congress Classification system(LCC), primarily because the remainder of the University Libraries' collections were classified in LCC. After considerable examination of other systems, LCC was initially adopted for all IMC items, with the exception of one group (the music CDs, music audiocassettes, and long-play, vinyl music disks). An in-house classification system (an abbreviated LCC, using the vacant music schedule "MX" class, and incorporating features of the ANSCR: Alpha-Numeric System for Classification of Recordings) was implemented for classifying the music items. The in-house classification worked well at first, but as the collection of recordings grew, the system became unwieldy and problematic. In addition, the system proved confusing to IMC users, because music videocassettes and videodiscs were classified in LCC. There are currently, however, no plans to reclassify the music items using LCC. Added to the sheer mass of new items, the following group of eight overriding needs compounded the cataloging challenges:

1) The need to provide minimal title information for the grand opening, so that the steady stream of visitors to the Center could find the titles held. Circulation (barcode) information was necessary for the software that would be heavily

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used in the demonstrations that would continue into the spring semester 1990.

2) The need to provide at least minimal title and circulation information for the remainder of the items included in the massive initial purchase.

3) The need to quickly provide full cataloging in Geac GLIS, as well as in the RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) database and in the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) database. Full cataloging AND circulation information needed to be provided as quickly as possible.

4) The need to program Geac GLIS and to create and/or update the Geac GLIS machine-readable cataloging (MARC) tables to accept, similar, yet different MARC formats (particularly for the computer files format), as well as to make the requisite changes to other Geac GLIS MARC tables, based on recent MARC updates.

5) The need for several catalogers (rather than just the one Audiovisual Cataloger) to master several new cataloging formats and use of the various software and hardware quickly, as well as to accommodate media cataloging into their workflow. There a Monographic Cataloger vacancy, and a need to train that new cataloger.

6) The need to maintain the status quo of existing cataloging workflow and special projects, including a massive retrospective conversion project and the start-up of authority control in Geac GLIS (both having an equal to or greater priority than the cataloging of IMC software).

7) The need to quickly establish new cataloging (as well as acquisitions and physical processing) policies and procedures. The newly established policies and procedures were altered frequently at the beginning of the process.

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8) The need to provide full cataloging records for the items on RLIN. RLIN presented it own unique brand of complications, combined with the need to tape transfer RLIN records to Geac GLIS and to OCLC. There was a lack of any cataloging copy in the RLIN database for 75% of the items and RLIN cataloging copy requiring editing for the remaining 25% of the items. The lack of copy or acceptable copy meant a much slower cataloging process.

In order to catalog the IMC materials at a hypersonic rate, every attempt was made to streamline the cataloging process, to save precious time, to minimize cataloger aggravation, and to retain as much consistency in cataloging as possible.

First, "brief" cataloging and circulation records (containing only short title, barcode and requisite circulation data) were entered in Geac GLIS for approximately half (about 350) of the IMC items purchased initially. The brief records were replaced later by full cataloging records from an RLIN tape-load.

The same procedure had been done several times previously for other, much larger groups of books and periodicals; therefore, procedures were already in place and practiced for the process. The increased workload for this process was accommodated into the regular workflow, and the brief records were entered in Geac GLIS in a just few weeks. Brief records were not submitted to OCLC. The full cataloging records were sent to OCLC later, as they were created. At the same time, the Heads of Cataloging and Library Systems worked on programming the MARC table additions and alterations that would permit Geac GLIS to accept full MARC records from RLIN for the visual format materials and computer file format materials. The changes and additions were completed over a period of several months, in time for the first full cataloging records to be entered.

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To speed the cataloging process, the catalogers prepared RLIN workforms for original cataloging of the multimedia and audiovisual items, similar to the books cataloging workforms. Because large groups of similar items were to be cataloged, workforms were specifically modified to incorporate like features (such as producer, system requirements note, imprint statement, etc.). The workforms saved considerable time on both the cataloging and RLIN inputting/editing processes, and also assisted in the elimination of errors in consistency. Further, for like items, the RLIN data inputter was instructed to "CRE-STAR" (create a new cataloging record from an existing one -- much like the OCLC "NEW" command) from the first of the like records. Early on in the process, the Catalogers developed several "cheat sheets" or condensations of pertinent portions of the longer, written cataloging procedures, that could be posted for quick reference, such as: Geac GLIS- and RLIN-specific location and materials type codes, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, Second Edition, Revised (AACR2R) order and content for MARC 5XX notes fields, etc.

The recently-adopted "Guidelines for Bibliographic Description of Interactive Media", developed by the Interactive Multimedia Guidelines Review Task Force under the auspices of CC:DA, was not yet being circulated in draft form for review at the time. Decisions were made by extrapolation from existing local conventions and reasonable adaptations of cataloging rules.


The initial work of writing the physical handling procedures was completed in just three weeks. The procedures were, at first, revised often. The procedures are now part of the regular cataloging procedures, but are still refined as needed. The IMC Working Group assured that discussion and integration of procedures took place among the units involved and coordinated solutions so that further problems were avoided. The Working Group made sure that all clerical staff involved with acquisitions and physical processing had a part in the

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discussions and that they gave feedback concerning the workforms and processing procedures. The staff at that level had excellent ideas about ways to improve the communication and workflow, as well as materials and techniques to use.

The IMC Working Group met frequently at first, but currently meets only as needed, to alter or clarify policies and procedures, or to resolve problems. The Group developed a processing form with instructions, designed to provide consistency and clarity in the handling of media, from the time the software items are received in the Acquisitions Department, until the time they are available for use in the IMC. The Head of Cataloging and the three media catalogers prepared (and, of course, revised) written cataloging procedures, that were to be included in a larger Cataloging Department procedures manual. During the fall semester 1993, a combined IMC/Acquisitions/ Cataloging/Physical Processing procedures manual was created by the IMC Working Group. The combined manual has proven very useful to all the departments because the work involved in each department to handle the IMC items is much more interdependent than it is with acquisition of print materials.

Many processing questions were particularly interesting. The question about how to deal with fragile software was first settled by the decision to protect archival copies and use working copies in the IMC. After about nine months, that policy was overturned, due to expense of handling and the negligible amount of abuse of IMC software. The question of how to handle the versions of computer files that accompany optical media titles was settled by using a note concerning the version in some cases, and in other cases by cataloging the computer file using explanatory notes.

The IMC Working Group also developed a priority sequence of eleven media format groups for cataloging and processing both the backlog of IMC items ordered for the opening of the IMC and items received on an ongoing basis.

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The eleven priorities, in rank order were:

1) All rush items, regardless of format. Rush items are those requested for immediate use (usually by a faculty member), and are then fully cataloged and processed within 24 hours of the request.

2) All items needed for class use by specified dates, in date order.

3) Software programs. Items from the National Collegiate Software Clearinghouse were excluded from this priority because it was apparent that they were not used as frequently as any other software.

4) CD-ROMs.

5) Videodiscs and/or CD-ROMs with accompanying Hyperstacks.

6) Videodiscs and VHS videocassettes.

7) Spoken-word audiocassettes.

8) "Booksoft" (monographs, serial, or periodical issues published with accompanying computer files). Booksoft items were given a low priority, primarily because handling, processing, cataloging, and location decisions had not been finalized. As decisions were made, booksoft items were incorporated into priority three.

9) Music CDs and music audiocassettes. Also included in this priority were long-play, vinyl music discs that were not being replaced by music CDs and required recataloging or retrospective conversion. These items were assigned a low priority, based on the assumption that this category would be the least in demand, and because the in-house classification was not finalized until later on in the cataloging process.

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10) CD-ROM indexes. The indexes were also assigned a low priority because they were not going to be housed in the IMC; instead the indexes would be housed and used on the main floor Reference CD-ROM area. The indexes have now been cataloged in serials format because the serials format gives much fuller information about an index's serial qualities. Numerous supplemental MARC 5XX notes, regarding an index's computer file qualities, are also added.

11) The National Collegiate Software Clearinghouse software programs. These items (issued on 5 1/2" diskettes) were assigned a low priority because the use of the items was expected to be low.


The need for the Working Group gradually faded in importance, and consultations are on a person-to-person basis. Most of the thorny problems have already been encountered at least once and resolved, and there appears to be little that can now stump the staff. All of those involved have gained considerable confidence in dealing with interactive media, and have developed problem-solving skills with relationship to media, resulting in a new level of expertise. This new level of expertise and experience has been bolstered as the wider library and media center community also grapples with issues regarding media.

Problems with interactive multimedia such as access, technicalities of use, multiple titles, odd packaging and copyright will continue. However, now that a more calm pace has evolved, the consultation and problem solving process has become routine. Despite every conceivable complication (foreseen and unforeseen), the University Libraries' staff adapted well to all of the new media formats, the new equipment, the ever-changing policies, procedures, and pressured deadlines. Target cataloging and physical processing completion dates were met. By August

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1990, all the videocassettes were fully cataloged and processed. By September 1990, all the software and CD-ROMs (exclusive of CD-ROM indexes) were cataloged and processed. Cataloging of the CD-ROM indexes was completed by mid-1992. By November 1990, all the multi-part, interactive media, including those with videodiscs and Hyperstack software components were cataloged and processed. By June 1990, 75% of the music CDs and audiocassettes were fully cataloged and processed, although the backlog of older long-play, vinyl music disks still remained. Music CDs continue to be purchased in large numbers, resulting in intermittent cataloging backlogs.

With the backlog in hand (and with the authorities project well under way) a revised workload was assigned to the catalogers. The original Audiovisual Cataloger continued to catalog most all of the currently received IMC items. The Serials Cataloger continued to catalog all serial-type items and CD-ROM indexes. The third cataloger returned to the initial assignment of cataloging rare books, etc. and only handles the excess that the first cataloger cannot handle (primarily when there is a large influx of new items or authorities project work takes precedence) and the Head of Cataloging was relieved of extra current cataloging duties, to take on other projects. The Physical Processing staff, with minor backlogs of monographic materials and with the aid of student assistants, were able to keep up with the massive influx of new media with relative ease.


There is no doubt that the genesis of the IMC was one of the wildest and most hypersonic rides that the University Libraries' staff had ever taken. Nevertheless, all of the riders of the wild beast survived, as has the wild beast itself. The IMC has now taken its place in the mainstream of library services. Interactive media are now acquired, cataloged, and processed right alongside books, journals, and microfilm, etc., and all the new procedures that were demanded by the interactive media are now fully entrenched in the usual acquisitions, cataloging, and processing procedures. Backlogs of all materials

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still remain, although that is more a function of the inability to fill long-standing and new staff vacancies and of the added work involved in converting to a new online system, than of the influx of new interactive media or other materials. University faculty are using the interactive media in increasing numbers to instruct their classes and for their own research, and the students are using the IMC to complete assignments as well as to listen to music or watch a video.

All-in-all, there are (at least!) twelve "bits" of general advice for those considering a similar wild ride or who find themselves thrust upon a wild beast with little or no warning.

These bits of advice may seem obvious, but do bear emphasizing:

1) Plan ahead, if possible! The wild ride certainly will go a lot smoother, if there is time to consider exactly what should be ordered and exactly how media should best be handled once received.

2) Do confer frequently with all staff members (including support staff) who will be dealing with the media in one way or another. Remember to alert everyone concerned immediately when there is a change in policies and procedures. The formation of various working groups is a good method to handle questions as they arise, and to disseminate information.

3) Keep abreast of current cataloging practices. Changes in current practices seem to impact more on the cataloging of electronic media (especially interactive multimedia) than on the cataloging of materials in other formats.

4) Keep the user in mind at all times. This is especially important for cataloging staff. Do not be afraid to bend (or even break!) the cataloging rules, especially when applied to the

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more complex interactive media, if that will assist users in locating needed items in the online catalog. Multiple added title entries, extra subject headings, and locally assigned subject headings can significantly assist users in locating items in an online catalog. Having a program on the shelf is of no value if the user does not know it is there.

5) Loosen up! Do not be afraid to change policies and procedures for dealing with electronic media frequently when first working with them, until a sensible, workable library-specific system evolves.

6) Carefully document all policies and procedures (especially when they may be changing frequently), together with dates, reasons for alterations, and who made the decisions.

7) Strive for consistency -- both with policies and procedures designed for other materials formats, as well as between individual cataloging records for like-format media.

8) Remember that media cannot always be handled in exactly the same manner (especially for physical processing) as books. While there are many similarities, it is best not to force a "square media peg" into a "round book hole."

9) Electronic media must be previewed in order to be accurately cataloged. The _AACR2R_ prescribed chief source of information is still the information on the program itself, not necessarily the information on the program's container, mailing package, or shipping list.

10) Do not live in fear of floppy disks, CD-ROMs, PCs, videodisc players, Hyperstacks, and other emerging technologies. Anyone (even the most technology-shy library staff member) can learn to use any piece of equipment and any media program, given time and instruction.

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11) Media will always require much more care and much more time to catalog than most print materials. The media are inherently more complicated than other library materials, having more component and disparate parts than other library materials. These types of media required more care to acquire, catalog, and process.

12) Do keep a sense of humor. This is especially important as the project loom ominously ahead, deadlines are short, and someone else is controlling the time frame.

Coping with the rapid and massive influx of library materials (in both familiar and unfamiliar formats),is not unique to the University Libraries. Coping with creation of a new Department, in conjunction with the rapid and massive influx of interactive media is a more unique circumstance. It is hoped that sharing the University Libraries' experiences with the genesis of its IMC, will assist others, as they attempt to tame and ride a similar wild beast!


Lorre Smith is Head Media, Microforms, Periodicals, and Reserves at the University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222.

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Lyn Martin is currently Cataloger at the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, Cobleskill, NY 12043. Prior to that she was Monographic Cataloger at the University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222.

MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship
Fall 1994
ISSN 1069-6792
October 1994

This article is copyright (C) 1994 by Lorre Smith and Lynne (Lyn) Martin. All Rights Reserved. MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship is copyright (C) 1994 by Lori Widzinski. All commercial use requires permission.

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