Cooperation between the Library and the Computer
Center in Aid of the Remote End-User

FUERA DE LA BIBLIOTECA: Interación entre el Centro de Cómputo y la Biblioteca Mediante el Programa de

Asistencia al Usuario Extramuros

Amy Lewontin
Library, Bentley College
Boston, MA 02154, USA

Keywords: End-Users, Computer Center, Academic Libraries, CD-ROM, CD-ROM services, Bentley College, LEXIS, Dow Jones News Retrieval, Information Retrieval, Computer-based Instruction, Computer-based Learning, Databases, E-Mail.

Abstract: With the burgeoning of end-user online and CD-ROM services in libraries and information centers, comes the question of access and control of many of these services. Many of our library users are coming to the library infrequently or are finding many of these new services. Bentley College, a business school, has been experiment-ing, for several years now, with offering access to some of the more popular services it offers in the library to interested faculty and staff for use outside the library. The two end-user databases are LEXIS and Dow Jones News Retrieval. Many larger libraries are finding that mounting tapes of online databases on mainframes which can then be accessed along with their online catalogs serves their clientele well. Smaller libraries, unable to afford the high cost of mounting tapes may find as we did at Bentley College, that offering passwords for remote access by interested faculty and staff could meet some of that demand for increased access. This presentation will describe and demons-trate the approach taken by the Library in working with our computer center for the creation of menus and macros (working with Procomm and a site license) for easy access of remote databases such as LEXIS and Dow Jones News Retrieval, as well as the Library's online catalog from faculty offices and homes. Training is offered for the databases in the library and the computer center maintains a staff person to assist with communication questions such as terminal emulation and bawd rates. Remote access of end-user databases is surely and extra for many libraries. We have found as we mea-sured our usage of the remote databases that the menu-driven databases such as Dow-Jones remains more popular with end-users than the more difficult to use LEXIS.

Resumen: Con la popularidad nueva de los servicios de "en-linea del usuario final" y "cd-rom" en las bibliotecas y centros informativos, se llega a hacerse la pregunta del acceso y del control de muchos de estos nuevos servicios. Muchos de los clientes que frecuentan a nuestra biblioteca tienen el problema de que al llegar a la biblioteca, la mayoria de los servicios ya estan suscritos en exceso de la emision. Bentley College, una universidad que se especializa en entrenarles a los estudivantes para entrarse en el mundo de negocios, ha estado experimentando por pacos anos con ofrecerles el acceso afuera de la universidad a unos de los servicios mas populares, a los miembros del cuerpo docente y el personal. Los dos bases de datos de clase usuario final son "LEXIS" y "Dow Jones News Retrieval".

Muchas de las mas grandes bibliotecas de que el montar el las cintas de los bases de datos en-linea en el marco mayor, que luego se podran accesar con sus catalogos en-linea, les sirve bien a los clientes. Las bibliotecas mas pequenas, que no pueden pagar la cuesta alta de montar estas cintas se informaran, (como hemos aprendido a Bentley), que el empleo de contrasenas para el acceso remoto por el profesorado y el personal interesado, pudiera satisfacer parte de la gran demanda para tener mas acceso.

En esta presentacion se describira y se mostrara el modo de plantear utilizado por la biblioteca para trabajar en el Centro de Computadoras hacia la creacion de "menus" Y "macros" (trabajando juntos con Procomm y Dow Jones News Retrieval), tanto como el acceso entre el catalogo en-linea de la biblioteca y los despachos y residencias del pro-fesorado. Se ofrece el entrenamiento para los bases de datos en la biblioteca; y en el Centro de Computadoras siempre hay un empleado para dar asistencia con las preguntas de comunicacion, por ejemplo como la emulacion del terminal y las tarifas de.

Es seguro que el acceso remoto de los bases de datos es un servicio extraordinario para muchas bibliotecas. Hemos visto que al medir nuestro uso de los bases de datos remotos, los bases de datos manejados par el menu, como "Dow Jones", se quedan mas populares con los usuarios finales que el mas difícil a utilizar, "LEXIS".


During the last decade we have witnessed the rapid growth and popularity of end-user online and cd-rom services in libraries and information centers. With this tremendous expansion of on-line services within institutions comes the question of access and control of many of these popular new services. Librarians may be finding these services to be so sought after and oftentimes over-subscribed in the library, that requests are made from many library patrons for use of the databases outside the library's doors. At Bentley College, we began asking ourselves how we could accom-modate some of the heaviest users of our online services, mainly in our case, faculty, and their often overworked graduate assistants without depriving the constant library users, mainly the student population, from gaining access to these online services as well.

Many larger academic libraries are finding that mounting tapes of the more popular end-user databases (such as the Wilson indexes, Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index, etc. ) on main-frames accessed along with their online catalogs serves their clientele well (Potter, 1989). Library users can then use their personal computers and modems from homes and offices to dial into the institution's computer network and access library catalogs as well as the library online databases. This level of service may possibly require lengthy consultation with the library's online catalog developer to fine tune the software from the online databases so the two will use similar command language. This could require a large investment in both time and money.

Smaller libraries, unable to afford the high cost of mounting tapes of online databases on their mainframes, may find as we did at Bentley College, a mid-sized institution serving about 8,000 students and 750 faculty and staff combined, that offering a few passwords for remote access of online end-user databases by interested faculty and staff could meet some of that demand for more access time. We also found that an added benefit was the good working relationship that developed with many of the computer center staff who serve many of the same clientele as the library.


This is really the story of the remote end-user, the friends out there you never knew you had. The story begins at Bentley College, in Waltham, MA, a few miles west of Boston in the heart of the Rt. 128 belt of computer companies that surround the city of Boston. Bentley College is a business school that offers undergraduate degrees in finance, banking and accounting as well as graduate degrees in business, computer science and taxation. This year Bentley will for the first time be offering bachelor of arts degrees in the more traditional liberal arts areas such as History, English and Philosophy. Many of our students, faculty and staff are extremely computer literate. For several years now Bentley has had a program that provides every undergraduate student with his/her microcomputer for home use. Portable Hewlett-Packard computers are leased by the stu-dents and they receive copies of word-processing software as well as a spreadsheet for financial analysis. All full-time faculty are provided with a computer for their home or office use.


In 1987, in order to meet the demands of our faculty and staff for uploading and download-ing to and from the college's minicomputer, a Prime, from their homes or office, communications software was made available at the computer center. Given to interested faculty and staff, the software was distributed by the Academic Computer User Services, a group that offers micro-computer support campus-wide. The software chosen by ACUS was Procomm, a very versatile shareware program that offers a site license for a reasonable price. Menus and macros were created by the staff of ACUS to enable the end-users (faculty and staff) to allow for easy uploading and downloading to their accounts on the Prime. These menus permitted faculty to use Procomm to dial in to the Prime from their home or office, log on to the system, and then upload data files to their account on the mainframe or do some sort of data analysis on the mainframe and then down-load the data to their own personal computers. The use of Procomm menus simply made their communication with the mainframe much easier with automatic logons.

About the same time that Procomm was introduced on campus for communication with the Prime mainframe, the Library at Bentley introduced its new online catalog to our academic commu-nity. From the very beginning the Library offered the possibility of remote access to our online catalog to any interested library users and handouts were prepared by the Reference department describing communication setups and terminal emulation necessary to use our system remotely. We christened the online catalog SOL (Search On-Line) also nicknamed for the library's bene-factor, Solomon R. Baker. SOL, (a Dynix system) also runs from the campus Prime, but a different log on is necessary to reach the library catalog rather than the administrative and faculty accounts.

With the cooperation of ACUS, SOL was added to the menu screen for the distributed Procomm software. Access to our online catalog from home or office became simply one more menu item on the distributed software (see Figure 1). Along with the addition of SOL to the menu, the idea of adding logons to end-user databases heavily used by faculty and staff also arose. This would add two online databases for remote use by interested faculty and staff (see Figure 2). Since 1984 the Library has offered all students, faculty and staff the unlimited use of LEXIS and NAARS (NAARS is the National Automated Accounting Research System of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and in 1986 the Library introduced the use of Dow Jones News Retrieval Service (Belastock, 1987). The arrangement we have with the vendors of these online services is a flat-rate fee. This means that the more hours our library patrons spend using the online services the better and so we have always encouraged heavy use of these services for

; NEWMENU.CMD: Application for an easy interface to Procomm.


; Written by: Hussein Mourtada

; Version : 3.1

; Assisted by: Traci Carment, paul lambert, James Zeitler,

Bill Vanderclock, Janice Campo, Ted Moy

& Ted Kennette


; Questions: Please call A.C.U.S. at extension 3421

MAIN UTILITY MENU ( Version 3.1)

Developed by A.C.U.S.

1. Logon to Host Systems.

2. File Transfer (Sys B ONLY).

3. Solomon R. Baker Library's Search On Line Catalog.

4. Dialing Menu.

5. Utilities.

6. Return to Primos or Network Prompt.

7. Exit Procomm (Logs user out.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

<ESC> : to Halt this MENU.

<ALT> + <F5> : to recall this menu.

<ALT> + <X> : to EXIT Procomm.


Figure 1.

;DIAL.CMD --> Provides Dialing Options into Bentley or BBS'.


;Written by: Hussein Mourtada


;Version 3.1


1. Bentley (via modem, from home).

2. ScholasTec (Unix BBX).

3. Tymnet/Dow-Jones.

4. Citinet.

5. PC Magazine's BBS.

6. BCS IBM Group.

7. Manulal Dialing (to call other #s)

8. Return to Main Menu.

9. Exit.


Figure 2.

faculty, staff and students. We promote the use of these end-user databases in workshops, indivi-dual tutorials (for LEXIS only) and in bibliographic instruction classes. Figure 3 is a directory of databases of the Dow Jones New Retrieval.

The configuration of computer terminals in the library is such that we have two terminals set up for LEXIS searching and two terminals in a separate room for searching Dow Jones News Retrieval. We have kept extra passwords from both Dow Jones News Retrieval and LEXIS for outside remote searching by interested faculty and staff. Telling these patrons about the possibi-lities of remote searching and getting them to use the end-user databases from their homes and offices are two different matters. Prior to the distribution of Procomm, this has often meant advising faculty and staff over the phone based on all the varieties of communications software they may have purchased and acquired. Also, another problem frequently encountered when speaking with faculty and staff was setting the terminal emulation correctly and explaining the log on sequences for the end-user databases. Individual use of Dow Jones and LEXIS was rather infrequent and attracted only the more determined computer users on the campus.

After consultation with the ACUS group over what databases should be included with the distributed communications software, we spent time explaining the end-user databases to our friends in the computer center. Some people were familiar with the more popular menu-driven Dow Jones News Retrieval, less so with LEXIS, which offers mostly legal cases and statutes. Once the decision had been made which databases to include, passwords were given to interested faculty and staff and Procomm macros were written by ACUS to make for easy dial access. End-users working from their offices do not even need modems for their remote access to LEXIS or Dow Jones. The Procomm macros access the 9600 baud modems on the Prime for dial-out access and faculty working from their offices have a direct connection from their own computers to the Prime. For home use modems are required and the Procomm menu accommodates for that.


As for marketing of these services, word of mouth has spread the news about the campus that the library offers the use of databases for use in homes and offices. We have also targeted individual faculty members who frequently send their graduate students in to download large amounts of data. Our attitude is that the graduate student or faculty member might be more com-fortable working in his/her own environment or at his/her own pace, including nights and week-ends. New faculty members often are told from their older colleagues that the service exists. As for active promotion, many faculty have been reached as the Library Director and his Associate Directors have individual conferences with faculty to discuss their research needs. The faculty member is informed that if he/she could benefit from using these end-user databases in their research, they might try using the databases from their homes or offices. Faculty use of the end-user databases for Dow Jones News Retrieval tends to be heavily statistical such as the down-loading of data on stock or bond prices or stock averages such as the Dow Jones averages. Use of LEXIS tends to be for case law for research articles and faculty heavily use NAARS, the account-ing database within LEXIS for downloading data from annual reports. Many of our faculty will be looking at certain kinds of accounting changes that occur in the footnotes of annual reports and free-text searching of the annual reports is invaluable to the accounting faculty at Bentley.


There have been some changes in the Library itself because of the time and effort at spent promoting the new services. Remote access to online databases has meant that the Library staff, primarily the Reference staff, have all become quite adept at providing a new service that for lack of a better phrases we can call "end-user counseling." Perhaps this is something that will be talked about more in the coming years as libraries and information centers develop more information networks that give their patrons access to more and more electronic services from decentralized sites. The computer center employs one microcomputer expert to assist faculty and staff with communications questions and he was our programmer in writing the log ons to the end-user databases.

Many libraries and information centers are now at the stage of putting cd-roms on local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs) and providing dial-in access to these networks. As the technology we have at hand becomes more available and accessible, librarians and informa-tion specialists will be there to inform and disseminate the information to their patrons. Many librarians are being asked nowadays not simply how to explain the use of boolean operators for end-user searching but to talk to library patrons about concepts previously unfamiliar to librarians such as terminal emulation or baud rate. We are often asked our opinion nowadays of a good modem purchase for a newly purchased portable computer. At Bentley College, the Library Reference staff presently distributes packets of information concerned with using the remote online databases, as well as the communications software settings for the home computer and passwords for remote use.

Two years have passed since the remote databases have become available with the free copies of Procomm and the menus and macros for easy access, and as far as we are able to measure, there are a good many end-users out there, dialing into the Library's catalog as well as the databases available to them. No longer are we receiving the number of distraught calls from end-users as we did in the early days of the program's inception. Due to the billing systems of both LEXIS and Dow Jones that measure hours used, as well as individual databases within the two systems accessed, we are able to measure usage thoroughly. We are able to measure usage from both LEXIS and Dow Jones News Retrieval in the library and from home or office, the remote access.

Library use for LEXIS and Dow Jones News Retrieval average about 150-175 hours per month. This has been true for the last five years with some peak months and low points because the use is highly dependent on class assignments for students and research pressure for faculty. When the figures are compared between library use and remote use, it becomes apparent that LEXIS has not generated the popularity that access to Dow Jones has. For the more difficult to use LEXIS system, remote use is averaging about eight hours per month. That breaks down to about fifteen to twenty-five callers per month. For Dow Jones News Retrieval, a menu-driven system, that perhaps because of its ease of use and greater applicability to a business school, remote use is very high and appears to keep growing with every passing year. Remote use was first measured in the summer of 1988 and in August 1988 remote use equaled 47 hours. At that time library use was still greater than remote use. Measured again in Sept. '89, remote use was higher than library use. Remote users for Dow Jones and LEXIS have access to only one password for the whole campus, while use in the library equals two dedicated workstations.

Remote access of end-user databases is surely an extra for many academic libraries. The end-users are definitely out there and obviously enjoy doing their own searches. How successful they are with the more complex full-text databases such as LEXIS and NAARS, the accounting database, remains to be seen. A survey of remote end-users is in the planning stage and it remains to be seen how we will actually reach all those end-users out there. A few definite conclusions to be drawn from the project has been that the popularity of the end-user databases seems to be two-fold. In Bentley's case the popularity among remote users of Dow Jones over the LEXIS database cannot be doubted. We attribute this to the ease of use that menu-driven systems offer as well as the applicability of a business database at a business school, of course, that offers a large variety of business information over a legal database that requires some minimal training for use and is mostly confined to case law. Yet use in the Library for both Dow Jones and LEXIS tends to be about the same.

We have been asked many times when this will be available to students for remote use. It is conceivable that in the near future when students could be receiving modems with their personal computers for dialing into the college mainframe or when their dormitories have direct communication connections to the mainframe. The other development is a plan to add the news databases of NEXIS to our remote user databases. The span of news sources on NEXIS might just make this database, although not menu-driven the most popular source yet for remote users.

Through the development of the end-user remote program we have learned many new skills and become aware of the value of certain kinds of information to scholars. We have tried to supplement the access of electronic information for academic users who visit the library only infrequently or at unusual times. We have also tried to assist academic users whose information requirements are particularly heavy due to their heavy research needs. We feel that we have been successful in contributing to the enlargement of the electronic information network that is growing on our campus.


Belastock, T., "Legal Resources in an Academic Business Library,"College & Research Libraries News, 48: 684-687 (Dec. 1987).

Potter, W. G., "Beyond the Online Catalog: Steps Toward Creating an Online Library,"Journal of Academic Librarianship, 14: Center insert (January 1989).