College & Research Libraries News

Patron-use software in academic library collections

By Denise M. Beaubien Online Coordinator, Central Science Library University of Florida

Erich Kesse Preservation Officer University of Florida

Bruce Emerton * Education Reference Librarian California State Polytechnic University

Alice L. Primack BI Coordinator, Central Science Library University of Florida

and Colleen Seale Online Coordinator for Social Sciences and Humanities University of Florida

The University of Florida guidelines for purchasing, cataloging, circulating, and preserving software.

ASoftware Study Committee at the University of Florida Libraries was appointed in the summer of 1986 to study the desirability of purchasing patronuse computer software and to examine and make recommendations about the Libraries’ role in providing computerized information to our user community. This committee developed policy recommendations to guide current and future purchases and services.

The following questions, which were given to us as “the charge to the committee” were used as a springboard for our examination:

1. Should we purchase software? What kinds?

2. If so, where should we house it?

3. Should software circulate to the public?

* Formerly at the University of Florida Libraries.

4. If so, how shall we protect the copyright agreements?

5. Shall we ask for all software to be cataloged and entered into our online catalog?

6. Must we make back-up copies? How?

7. Must we provide microcomputers on which to use the software?

8. What funds should be used to purchase software and hardware?

Reference software should be housed near its print counterpart.

As the Committee addressed these questions, we generated a list of issues which appear below. Following each set of issues is the related excerpt from our policy recommendations. The excerpts address many of the issues. The issues and excerpts may prove helpful to other libraries in developing their own software policies. Appended to the article is a bibliography of selected readings compiled during the drafting of the policy and since updated.

This policy has been in practice at the University of Florida Libraries since January 1987, but our collection is still small and thus we cannot yet report on the impact of its implementation.

General issues

1. Define “software” as it will be used.

2. Define formats to be considered (i.e., disks, CD-ROM, tapes, etc.).

3. Determine what computing facilities are currently available on campus.

3A. Who can use these facilities (e.g., students, staff, faculty)?

3B. What software formats are available at these facilities?

3C. What services are provided (e.g., tutorials or instruction, programming, etc.) for specific software packages?

3D. May software from outside these facilities be used there?

3E. Would these facilities be willing to house and mount software selected and purchased by the library?

4. Consider groups of patrons to target for software and services (e.g., groups defined by status, affiliation, etc.).

5. Consider cost recovery.

6. Consider computer literacy of patrons (e.g., online catalog, use of CD-ROM, end-user search- ing).

7. Consider hardware availability, specifications, etc.

7A. Who will select hardware?

7B. How will hardware purchases be funded?

7C. How will hardware be maintained?

8. Consider staff training for virtually all areas of the library (selectors, acquisitions, catalogers, reference, etc.).


Machine-readable materials already play a significant role in the collection of the University of Florida Libraries. The Libraries have been acquiring machine-readable data files over the last fourteen years, beginning with the conversion of census data into machine-readable format, and UF has been a leader in collecting and providing access to these materials. We currently maintain a large collection of tapes in the social sciences and business, serving several departments on campus, and service has recently been expanded to the sciences. Patrons request use of the tapes through the Libraries, and our Systems Department sends them to the University computing center, where they are made available for the patron to use for a period of three weeks via any terminal which can connect with the computing center. Renewal may be made for a longer period.

The Libraries also make extensive use of remote online systems. Library staff routinely search remote databases, both bibliographic and non- bibliographic, for patrons. The bulk of this use is for retrieving bibliographic citations. The Libraries charge the patron the direct cost plus a small recovery fee.

The NOTIS-based online catalog to the Libraries’ collections has been in use at University of Florida since 1983, and is now being implemented in all of Florida’s State University System institutions. With approximately 90% of items in the collection in the online catalog, patron reaction has been very positive. Studies and observation have shown that many patrons will wait to use an online terminal rather than use the card catalogs. The online catalog is available all hours the Libraries are open plus some additional hours. Besides terminals in the Libraries, access is available through office terminals throughout campus, and by dialing in from off-campus locations.

A few pieces of software exist in the Libraries for reference, computer-assisted-instruction, and as supplements to books. No use or circulation policies or procedures are now in effect for these materials.

Outside the Libraries, the University computing center provides many copies of some of the most common software programs. These materials are available for use by students and faculty in laboratories in several campus locations. Materials are non-circulating, for use in the laboratories only. Faculty may also use the facilities of a faculty computing center, which provides training courses as well as software and hardware for use.

Acquisitions issues

1. Define desired scope of selection.

1A. Will scope meet teaching and research needs?

1B. Will it provide for general-use programs only (e.g., database management systems, spreadsheets, etc.)?

1C. Will it be restricted to reference applications? Will it provide for bibliographic and/or non- bibliographic software?

2. Determine if software purchase will be based on availability of hardware.

2A. Location (e.g., in the library; on campus)?

2B. Circulation status (e.g., non-circulating; reserve)?

2C. Format (e.g., CD; CD-ROM; CDI; disk; tape in reel, cassette, cartridge)?

3. Attempt to find out what software is already available for public use on campus.

4. Determine who will select (e.g., subject selectors’ faculty, the Systems department).

5. Locate funding source for purchase of both software and hardware (e.g., general materials fund, a new fund, Systems department account).

6. Determine who will examine and negotiate licenses and contracts (e.g., selector, acquisitions department, Systems department).


We perceive a need to obtain software to meet teaching and research needs of each program within the University. Types of materials to be provided can be bibliographic or non-bibliographic. Bibliographic materials may include indexing and abstracting services, gateway software to make online databases accessible to patrons, and end-user systems and services such as Easy-Net. Non- bibliographic materials may include demonstration software; numeric data; calculative, analysis, and decision aid programs; computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and tutorials; and online journals, encyclopedias and directories.

We recommend that formats be selected based on accessibility through hardware available on campus for use by library patrons. If the materials will be non-circulating, the hardware must be available in the Libraries. The following formats should be considered for purchase if appropriate hardware is available: laser or optical disks such as CD, CD-ROM, and CDI; floppy or hard disks; and tape, including cassette, cartridge, and reel. New formats should be considered as they become available.

Materials may be obtained through purchase or gift. Efforts should be made to have materials now in University departments deposited in the Libraries as the central repository for the campus, so that access may be assured.

Bibliographers and selectors will review and select machine-readable formats for purchase by the Acquisitions department in their assigned areas just as they do for other formats, using subject-based funds. To make these purchases viable, funding should be increased as needed. Special funds should be provided for unique or expensive materials.

Appropriate and sufficient hardware should be purchased from special funds. Provision must be made for examining and negotiating licenses and contracts with vendors to meet library needs while fulfilling vendor requirements. The Acquisitions department may be the most appropriate to oversee this requirement.

Cataloging issues

1. Consider cataloging software.

1A. Should software receive full or partial cataloging?

1B. Is a cataloged finding-guide sufficient?

1C. Is an uncataloged listing beneficial?

2. Consider additional, non-standard subject headings.

3. Consider inventory and catalog all software on campus.

4. Consider location and cataloging of accompanying documentation.

4A. Should this documentation be maintained together with the software or separately?

4B. Should location of this documentation be noted in catalog or item record?

5. Consider location and cataloging of books with accompanying software.


We see a need for all machine-readable materials received by the Libraries to be listed and organized for easy access.

We recommend all Library-owned software be cataloged and accessible through the online catalog. New materials should be cataloged as they are received. Data tapes should continue to be indexed by the Systems and Reference departments, and then cataloged as time allows.

We recommend attempting to identify and inventory machine-readable data files which are available for use by patrons throughout campus.

We recommend that documentation or other materials which will be shelved separately from the software which they accompany should be noted in the online catalog and in the documentation and software packaging.

Access issues

1. Consider holding locations (e.g., Systems department, reserve room, software library, most appropriate library, subject shelving locations, etc.).

1A. Is a designated control area within each holding location required?

1B. Where will software be housed which cannot be used on-site?

1C. Should reference-use software be kept in the Reference department?

2. Determine hardware needs in each holding location for reference use and browsing.

3. Consider issues of security, space, noise (e.g., need for enclosed area).

4. Develop appropriate circulation policies (e.g., loan periods, etc.).

5. Consider copyright protection statements and issues.

6. Determine level of reference service(s) to be provided for software.

6A. Should level of service be the same as for traditional formats?

6B. Should service include special aspects such as suggesting specific software packages, helping patrons locate and understand documentation, explaining policies and procedures?

6C. To what extent must staff help with hardware and peripherals if housed in the library?

6D. Are there other, independent sources of help on campus (e.g., a computing center)? (See General issues, 3C).


The Libraries need to assume the role of providing access to machine-readable materials to students and faculty.

In order to facilitate this access, we recommend that materials be placed in the location where they will be used, for example: Main Reference, Main Periodicals, or branch libraries. Materials should be kept within a designated controlled area in each location, e.g., reserve area. Formats which cannot be used on-site, such as reel tapes, should be kept in the Systems department.

Each location must house sufficient equipment to support reference and browsing functions. Space needs to be defined, and we suggest enclosed areas for reasons of security, supervision, and noise.

We recommend that reference software should be housed near similar print counterparts. We foresee that certain computerized indexes such as ERIC and PSY CHINFO may in time require a dedicated terminal due to frequency of use. Such indexes may soon no longer be available in a printed format but only on CD or other machine- readable formats. As these materials supplant printed equivalents, space problems may be relieved.

Circulation policies for software should be much like that for other library materials, dependent on content, format, and anticipated use as well as hardware requirements and restrictions. Software may be used in the library if hardware is available, or checked out for use elsewhere. Circulation should be subject to contractual arrangements as well as existing library policies.

Some combination of the following procedures should be used to protect copyright and the Libraries’ liability, with staff training provided in these procedures.

a. negotiation of licenses and contracts with vendors to meet library needs while fulfilling vendor requirements;

b. signs at all places where software is obtained or used, stating use and copy restrictions, much as photocopy machines are now marked;

c. labels on software packages stating restrictions;

d. disclaimer to be read and signed by the patron

Software circulation should be handled much like reserves.

before use of software;

e. patron must leave ID while using software in the library;

f. patron must show ID in addition to library card when checking out software; and

g. warning and enforcement by staff of legitimate use.

Reference staff should provide reference assistance with materials in machine-readable format, just as they do for other formats. Reference assistance should include, but not be limited to, suggesting available software to patrons, helping patrons find and understand the documentation accompanying the software, showing patrons how to turn on the computer and insert the disk, and explaining procedures and regulations for use of software. Appropriate bibliographic instruction presentations and guides will need to be developed.

Preservation and protection issues

1. Define the following terminology as used: archival version, patron-use version.

2. Consider duplication issues.

2A. Should original or copy be used by the patron?

2B. Where should archival version be stored?

2C. Will multiple originals need to be purchased if duplication for archival purposes is not allowed?

3. Consider protection issues.

3A. What problems are associated with detectors, book drops, shelving units, climate control, etc.?

3B. What special handling is required?

3C. Will disk and documentation be shelved together or separately? (See Cataloging issues, 4A and 5).

3D. Should special packaging be used for software?

4. Assign responsibility for maintenance of software.


Single copies for public use, or otherwise as provided by the agreement, should be made by the Systems department if allowed within the parameters of the contract with the vendor. If multiple copies are needed but not permitted by the license or contract, multiple originals should be purchased.

When possible, an archival copy (i.e., the original) should be kept in the Systems department.

Circulation of software in all units should be handled much like reserves, with special consideration of content, format, and anticipated use. Disks and documentation will be stored separately, with disks in special packaging. Procedures to protect copyright and liability as outlined above should be followed in all circulation areas. Loan period will be determined by the appropriate selector working with circulation staff. Each circulation unit should develop procedures for handling software that will coordinate with existing policy.

Protective packaging should be provided and special precautions taken to ensure preservation of circulating materials. Software must never go through a sensitizer machine, and must not be returned in a book drop.

The Systems department should maintain hardware, act as liaison in selection and purchase of hardware and software, make or maintain archival copies of software as appropriate, and provide staff training as needed.

Suggested implementation

We suggest that our recommendations be implemented in this order:

1. guidelines for hardware purchase be developed by the Systems department;

2. selection and purchase of hardware and software, giving priority to reference materials;

3. initial training of staff;

4. bibliographic instruction and end-user instruction; and

5. continuing education and ongoing training.

Staff members need to receive initial and ongoing training as appropriate. They will be expected to work with machine-readable formats just as they do with other formats. Specific areas we recommend to be included in the training are:

1. introductory discussion of this relatively new format;

2. enhancement of collections by inclusion of software;

3. detailed training in locating information helpful in selecting and evaluating software;

4. consideration of security and preservation of software;

5. copyright enforcement;

6. special use regulations; and

7. hands-on training as needed in the basics, for example, caring for and inserting disks, turning on computers, etc.

We recommend publicizing these new formats and the new services they make possible. The university community could be informed through library publications, the university newspaper, and other media; bibliographic instruction efforts; selector/faculty discussions; and by library staff who make suggestions on software to patrons just as they do for other formats.


The University of Florida Libraries Software Study Committee sees machine-readable formats as an integral part of library collections. It is the role of academic libraries to continue to support teaching and research needs by providing materials in any format. Microforms have been incorporated successfully into libraries; software should be viewed in a similar manner. If libraries do not provide these materials and appropriate assistance, they may become exclusively an archive of printed materials rather than a resource for all forms of current information. Libraries have a unique capability to organize and supply information. No other area on campus has the expertise to take up the role that libraries would relinquish if new formats, accompanying hardware, and instruction are not provided. Designing and implementing patron-use software policies is a step toward providing more complete access to information.

Selected bibliography

ACRL Task Force on Libraries and Computer Centers. “Libraries and Computer Centers: A Progress Report, May 30, 1987.” College ir Research Libraries News 48 (September 1987): 442-47.

Avallone, Susan. “Public Access to Microcomputers.” Library Journal 110 (May 1985): 105-6.

_______. “The Trial by Error Phase.” Library Journal 110 (May 1985): 96-97.

Brennan, Patricia B.M., and Joel S. Silverberg. “Will My Disks Go Floo If I Take Them Through?” College & Research Libraries News 46 (September 1985): 423-24.

Chiang, Katherine B. “Computer Accessible Material in the Academic Library: Avoiding the Kludge.” In Energies for Transition, Proceedings of the Fourth National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries, Baltimore, Maryland, April 9-12, 1986, edited by Danuta A. Nitecki, 67-69. Chicago: American Library Association, 1986.

Curtis, Howard, ed. Public Access Microcomputers in Academic Libraries: The Mann Library Model at Cornell University. Chicago: American Library Association, 1987.

Demas, Samuel. “Microcomputer Software Collections.” Special Libraries 76 (Winter 1985): 17-23.

Dewey, Patrick R. Public Access Microcomputers: A Handbook for Librarians. White Plains, N.Y.: Knowledge Industry Publications, Inc., 1984.

Freeman, Steve. “Apple Corps at St. Louis.” Library Journal 110 (May 1985): 110-12.

Hannigan, Jane Anne. “The Evaluation of Microcomputer Software.” Library Trends 33 (Winter 1985): 110-12.

Intner, Sheila. “Problems and Solutions in Descriptive Cataloging of Microcomputer Software.” Cataloging and Classification Quarterly 5 (Spring 1985): 49-56.

Jaffe, Lee David. “The Role of the Academic Library in Campus Microcomputer Services.” Small Computers in Libraries 6 (June 1986): 27-29.

Lytle, Susan S., and Hal W. Hall. “Software, Libraries, and the Copyright Law.” Library Journal 110 (July 1985): 33-39.

Microcomputer Software Policies in ARL Libraries.Systems and Procedure Exchange Center, SPEC Kit no. 123. Washington, D.C.: Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1986.

Microcomputers in ARL Libraries.Systems and Procedure Exchange Center, SPEC Kit no. 104, Washington, D.C.: Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1984.

Mitchem, Terri. “The Bowker National Microcomputer Usage Study, 1984.” In The Bowker Annual of Library and Book Trade Information, 29th ed. New York, N.Y.: R.R. Bowker Company, 1984.

Piele, Linda J., Judith Pryor, and Harold Tuck- ett. “Teaching Microcomputer Literacy: New Roles for Academic Librarians.” College ò- Research Libraries 60 (July 1986): 374-78.

Piele, Linda J. “Selecting Software for Microcomputer Centers.” Wilson Library Bulletin 60 (June 1986): 23-26.

“Role of Computers in Sci-Tech Libraries.” Science and Technology Libraries, vol. 6 no. 4 (Summer 1986). [entire issue]

Rosenstein, Linda. “Checklist for Micro Center Policies.” Small Computers in Libraries 6 (November 1986): 4-5.

Schack, Markham B. “Public Domain Software is a Natural for Your Library.” Small Computers in Libraries 7 (April 1987): 28-32.

“Selecting Microcomputer Software and Systems.” RASD Update 7 (April/June 1986): 13-14.

Smisek, Thomas. “Circulating Software: A Practical Approach.” Library Journal 110 (May 1985): 108-109.

Snelson, Pamela. “Library Instruction and the Computer.” Small Computers in Libraries 5 (September 1985): 11-12.

______. “Microcomputer Centers in Academic Libraries, Part I.” Small Computers in Libraries 5 (June 1985): 6-9; Part II, 5 (July/August 1985): 7-9.

Talab, Rosemary. “Back-ups: A Controversial but Necessary Part of Software Collections.” Small Computers in Libraries 7 (March 1987): 36-39.

Turner, Judith Axler. “Scholars Weigh Library’s Role in Collecting Computerized Research Data.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 32 (July 16, 1986): 34.

Uppgard, Jeannine. “Public Access Microcomputers in Academic Libraries: Part I.” Small Computers in Libraries 7 (January 1987): 28-32; Part II, 7 (February 1987): 10-11.

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