Posted by: Steven Harris | February 20, 2012

Tech Timeline

I’ve been thinking about how much technology has changed since I started working in libraries in 1983. I decided to create a timeline of where I’ve worked and the technological things that happened to me personally and in the workplace. This list does focus on my experience, which is primarily in acquisitions, collections, and reference. There were lots of other technological events in libraries during this time, but I had little involvement with them.

1983-1990

photo by Steven Harris

Where: University of Utah, Marriott Library, 1983-1989; Law Library, 1989-1990
Jobs:
I worked as a student searching orders in acquisitions, staff doing a serials inventory, and as head of monograph ordering
Library Tech:
In acquisitions we searched all orders on OCLC, but we also used microfilm to determine availability from book vendors. There was an on-order database. Somehow, IBM punch cards were still involved in the ordering process. There was a selection process for an integrated library system. NOTIS was chosen. We also implemented a link between OCLC and our ILS to create brief order records. There was a lot of talk of Silverplatter and other CD-based data products. Don’t remember them being implemented. We used bitnet email.
Personal Tech:
I bought my first computer, an Apple Macintosh 128K.
Mobile Tech:
I think I bought a Walkman a few years before this time. I wasn’t much for carrying it around.

1990-1991

photo by Maliaca

Where: University of Arizona, Main Library, 1990-1991; Center for Creative Photography, 1990-1991
Jobs:
all student positions while I went to library school – reference graduate assistant, library instruction assistant, Center for Creative Photography student assistant
Library Tech:
They had not implemented an OPAC/ILS when I was in school there. Still a card catalog.  I remember library school courses on spreadsheets and wordprocessing. There were collections of databases on CD in the reference department.
Personal Tech:
Still had the Mac, but the library school had a computer lab that I hung out in quite a bit. I don’t think I had Internet service at home. Still using a bitnet-like email system. I did make the leap to music on CD. Had a little Sony shelf-top stereo.
Mobile Tech:
Still only the Walkman for mobile.

1992-1994

photo by Stuart Seeger

Where: Texas A&M University, Evans Library, 1992-1994
Jobs:
Humanities Reference Librarian
Library Tech:
I wasn’t involved in tech much other than what was used in the reference department. There were towers upon towers of cd databases, but we also offered mediated database searching (which had, of course, been around for many years). FirstSearch, an unmediated database platform from OCLC was making its appearance. The library OPAC was NOTIS. I didn’t even have my own computer at work. Several of us in one area shared a PC. The library created several Gopher pages.
Personal Tech:
The Mac went belly-up just when I finished library school. I went the entire time at TAMU without a computer at home. I did get a TV and a VHS player.
Mobile Tech:
Alas, only the Walkman.

1994-1998

photo by Tim Johnson

Where: Louisiana State University, Middleton Library, 1994-1998
Jobs:
Humanities Reference Librarian
Library Tech:
Continuing use of CD databases, but a growing number of networked databases as well. A statewide consortium, LOUIS, worked to shared online resources. “The Web” exploded in 1994 with the introduction of Mosaic. I and several co-workers developed web subject guides, which we called “Webliographies.”
Personal Tech:
I bought a second-hand IBM clone (funny that they were called “IBM” clones, non?) At home I had dial-up networking through the university.
Mobile Tech:
And (really) still only a Walkman.

1998-2004

photo by Wyoming Jackrabbit

Where: University of Tennessee, Hodges Library, 1998-2004
Jobs:
English Literature Librarian
Library Tech:
Networked databases pretty much supplanted towers of CD databases. It became assumed that all libraries would have a  web presence. E-resource management services became common. My computer at work was a laptop that I plugged into a docking station with network connections and desk-top monitor. There were a lot of things happening in library digitization that I wasn’t really involved with. I and many librarians, however, were involved in maintaining websites and online services.
Personal Tech:
Bought a new HP PC and had an Internet service provider at home. Bought a DVD/VHS player. Kept all my VHS recordings of Ren & Stimpy.
Mobile Tech:
I bought my first Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): a Compaq iPaq with Microsoft Pocket PC. I went through a couple of versions in a couple of years. Also got my first cellphone:  a Motorola StarTAC. I loved its small flip-phone form-factor.

2004-2008

photo by Steven Harris

Where: Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, 2004-2008
Jobs:
Collection Development & Management Librarian
Library Tech:
E-resource management was pretty much a necessity with all the networked resources available. The USU library implemented RFID tags just before I arrived there. They also implemented automated storage system that was part of a new library/library renovation. I worked on deciding what to store and what to keep out in public stacks. The library started an institutional repository and worked on a lot of digital projects that I was not involved with. I did, however, encourage the library to adopt a variety of social media.
Personal Tech:
A laptop replaced my desktop at home. I dove whole-hog into social media myself with Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter. Gmail became my personal email.
Mobile Tech:
I finally merge the cellphone and PDA with a Treo smartphone. Bought an iPod mini. Didn’t really like it. Also talked the library into buying a Sony Reader for staff use. I later bought a first-generation Kindle for personal use.

2008-Present

photo by Steven Harris

Where: University of New Mexico, University Libraries, 2008-present
Jobs:
Director of Collections & Acquisitions Services
Library Tech:
My involvement with tech is mostly through collections. The number and variety of networked resources is mind-boggling. The library IS online. Lots of library digitization going on. UNM was an early adopter of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) for online archival finding aids. We implemented a discovery layer for information search. Tinkered around with WorldCat Local. We’re thinking about what our next generation of OPAC should be. Many library electronic resources have been “in the cloud” for a while, but this seems markedly so now. We have begun loaning iPads and Kindles to the public and have bought several other brand of e-reader for staff training purposes. Library social media is pretty much the norm.
Personal Tech:
I’m all about laptops. I’m using all kinds of cloud products such as Google apps, Dropbox, and Evernote.
Mobile Tech:
Also bought a netbook, which has pretty much fallen into disuse. Got the library to buy me an iPad for work. Bought a Kindle Fire for personal use. In the space of three years, I’ve adopted iPhone and then switched to Android. Small mobile devices, social media, and cloud apps have converged to become a significant part of my work and recreation.

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