Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Mary Bolin

Date of this Version



Published in RQ 29:4 (Summer 1990), pp. 525–533. Published by the Reference and Adult Services Division, American Library Association. Copyright © 1990 American Library Association. Used by permission.


This article discusses the implementation of WLN’s Laser-Cat CD-ROM catalog in a medium-sized academic li brary. It describes the creation of a LaserCat/Information desk in the library lobby and the use of technical services librarians and paraprofessional staff from technical services and elsewhere in the library to staff the desk.

In large libraries, public and technical services functions have generally been quite distinct. In small libraries, on the other hand, every librarian and staff member has had to be a generalist, and there may not be the possibility of maintaining a strict division between the traditional functions, even if that were thought to be desirable. In a medium-sized library, predictably, the situation may be somewhere in between. More communication and cooperation may be achieved with somewhat less effort than is required in a large library, but the organizational chart of a medium-sized library is likely to be more similar to that of a large library than a small one. The idea of breaking down the barriers between the traditional technical and public service functions in libraries is extensively discussed in library literature, at professional meetings, and elsewhere. Automation is one reason why this idea is discussed so frequently. The catalog no longer resides in one place, and therefore the people who maintain the catalog may also be dispersed. Catalogs need no longer contain only conventional bibliographic records for conventional library materials, which may mean more participation in database building by public services personnel. Technical services staff may be faced with the prospect of sitting in front of a computer screen eight hours a day. Staffing a reference or information desk can provide needed variety as well as being an other good use for the knowledge developed in technical services activities.