This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 12, 1993

May 12, 1993 - ACLIN and Dial-Pac

I'm pleased to announce another remarkable achievement by the Colorado library community.

Last year, you may remember, we unveiled our new Colorado Library Card. The CLC sticker -- which many of you snapped up for your Douglas Public Library District library cards -- lets you check out items FOR FREE from other participating libraries. At this point, that includes almost all of the public libraries to the north and south of us, and a good many academic and school libraries as well.

But the Colorado Library Card was last year's wonder. In 1993, we're taking the notion of library cooperation one step further. As of right now, it is possible to "dial-in" to a statewide, toll-free network and have access to literally millions of books all around the state. We called it the Access Colorado Library and Information Network, or ACLIN.

What does "dial-in" mean, exactly? It means you need to have a computer or terminal that has a modem and some "telecommunications" software. You just set your software to the following options: 8 bit word, 1 stop bit, no parity, and "vt100" terminal emulation. You can run the network at 9600, 4800, 2400, 1200, or 300 baud -- whichever speed is supported by your modem. Then direct your computer to call (in Douglas County) either 440- 9969 or 786-8700. (Caution: the two lines will be merged in the near future. If, one day, 786-8700 doesn't work, go back to the 440-9969 number.)

Once you get connected, you'll be presented with two "prompts." Just type, in lower case, the letters "ac" (without the quotes), followed by an enter or return each time. After the second return, you'll get a screen that tells you about how ACLIN was funded. Press enter again, and just follow the instructions on the screen.

The very toughest thing about the system is that when you pick an item off a menu, you must first type the number (e.g. "1"), then press enter or return to move your cursor there, then enter or return AGAIN to make it happen.

The big statewide publicity push for ACLIN won't happen till this fall. Why? Not every library feels ready to support the barrage of technical questions they may receive.

But I have a lot of faith in ACLIN. As one of the members of the menu-design team, I know how hard we worked to make the system genuinely easy to use.

I also have an announcement about our own services. We've upgraded our software as well, in order to make things more convenient for our own "dial-in" users.

Using the same settings for ACLIN described above, dial 688-1428. (Note: our modem is a little slower than ACLIN. You can only use the following "speeds": 2400, 1200, or 300 baud.) When you get connected, press enter or return a couple of times to let our respective computers shake hands with each others. At this point, you should see a "login" prompt. If you don't, try holding down your control key while simultaneously pressing the letter "q." Then press enter again. (If you get a "Password" prompt, just press enter and try again.)

At the "login" prompt, type (in lower case ONLY) the word "library" (without the quotes). Press enter or return. Next, you'll see a list of terminal types our system will support. Frankly, I think the vt100 option is the most reliable - - use that one if you can.

Next, you'll get two screens of "terminal testing" -- just follow the instructions on screen, responding with a "y" if you can read the screen clearly, and "n" if you can't. If you answer "y," you'll go to the catalog. If you answer "n," you go back to the list of terminals and get to try again.

Once you do get connected, you'll see some new options -- mainly, the periodical searches I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Another major enhancement is the ability to direct the "pickup" of a reserve or Hold to another branch. For instance, you might see that a book is available at the Oakes Mill Library, but want to pick it up in Parker. Just place the hold as usual, and the system will guide you through the options.

We're updating our Community Information Referral listings, too - - data about various organizations serving Douglas County residents. Finally, watch for a new service: our Community Bulletin Board. From most of our search screens, you can type "bb" (without the quotes) and go to some screens that list various events. Right now, it just includes library events. But soon, we'll be expanding it to include all kinds of recreational, educational, cultural, and governmental calendar items.

When you're all done with our system, work your way (using "q" for quit) all the way to the first screen of our system. It looks like a card catalog drawer. Then type the word "later" (still no quotes) and press enter or return. In a while, you'll see the "login" prompt again. Now it's safe to hang up.

If you don't work your way back to "login" it won't hurt anything. But the next person to try the line might not be able to read the screen as well.

Come fall, by-the-bye, ACLIN will be a menu item right on our own system, giving our users access to CARL, and CARL users access to our system. But that's a few months away yet.

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