Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

History of the Library

The 1980's

Financial Crisis. As noted earlier, in 1978 California taxpayers revolted and passed Proposition 13. It dramatically changed the way that public schools are financed. No longer could junior and community colleges levy local property taxes to raise revenue for operation of these institutions. Consequently, such institutions had to compete with all the other State agencies for operating funds. The impact on the library at Pasadena City College was most evident in the reduction in the amount of money for library materials and for salaries and other personnel costs. In the closing years of the seventies, the hourly payroll for clerks and librarians had been reduced by dropping Saturday hours and by shortening the evening hours. Student staff had also been reduced. Consequently, classified and certificated personnel inevitably found it necessary to do some of the student work-a false economy, indeed!

In 1980-81 the Library had a materials budget of almost $73,000. In 1983-84 this figure dropped to a low of $26,104. By the end of the decade, however, it had recovered and was at $139,192 for 1989-90. The Library continued to receive Federal grants under the Higher Education Act, the College Work Study Program and the Extended Opportunity Program.

Personnel. Facing a severe financial crisis for the year 1983-84, the Board of Trustees and the Administration announced that the College budget would have to be cut by at least 10 percent across the board. Since some budgetary items could not be cut at all, or only minimally, others would have to be cut more than 10 percent. With 85 percent of the Library's budget being spent on personnel, it was virtually impossible to make significant cuts in the budget without cutting personnel.

Be that as it may, the librarians received a terrible shock, early in 1983, when the Superintendent recommended to the Board of Trustees that all librarian positions, except for Mr. Grainger's, be eliminated. (In order to accomplish this, staff members would have to receive intent-to-layoff notices prior to May 15, the statutory date beyond which personnel contracts are automatically renewed.)

Concerned that the Library might receive a disproportionate and unreasonable reduction in staff, Mr. Grainger went before the Board of Trustees on March 10, 1983, and, holding back tears, made an impassioned plea on behalf of the Library and its staff. He presented a number of facts that he feared might otherwise be overlooked in the prevailing climate of hysteria. Briefly stated, they were as follows:

1. Students, faculty and staff regard library resources as more essential than any other College service. In a recent study, known as the Carvell study, 97.7 percent of those who responded had ranked the Library in first place compared to thirty-nine other support services and programs. In other words, the Library was considered as essential by virtually everyone in the academic community.

2. The Education Code and Title 5 of the Administrative Code mandate the employment of certificated librarians.

3. Librarians are teachers, as stated in the Education Code. Even though they do not generate Average Daily Attendance, they are central to the instructional program.

4. The Library budget had remained at the same level over the previous five years. Therefore, both certificated staff and classified support staff had already been reduced 22 percent, and funds for library materials were "ridiculously low."

5. It is not possible for a single librarian to cover all the bases. There are just too many separate duties and stations for one person to cover them all.

6. Adequacy of the Library is a factor in determining whether an institution will be granted full five-year accreditation. The Library was already 35 percent below State standards.

In closing, he stated his belief that these facts were compelling reasons for not eliminating the librarians, and that he could see no reasonable justification for terminating them.

His plea, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Although in shock and disbelief that the Board would seriously consider removing almost all of the librarians, Mr. Grainger and his staff made a further attempt to get the attention of the Board. They hurriedly prepared a report on the consequences and effects of layoffs, and forwarded it to the Board on April 7, 1983. The cover page quoted from the slogan for the 1981 National Library Week, "LIBRARIES WILL GET YOU THROUGH TIMES OF NO MONEY BETTER THAN MONEY WILL GET YOU THROUGH TIMES OF NO LIBRARIES." In their report they reiterated the previously cited facts, and presented additional information in considerable detail on the duties and responsibilities of librarians as specifically stated in theCalifornia Administrative Code (Title 5).

In summary, they stated that "if the certificated staff is reduced to one person, the Library will be severely hampered in its ability to provide the professional services which are clearly delineated in Title 5. Collection development activities will virtually cease. The catalog librarians who have the expertise to carry out the planned automation of the Library will be laid off. All formal instruction in the utilization of library resources will cease. Reference services will be reduced from 60.5 hours per week to 10 or 15, and will be very limited in scope. Support staff will receive minimal supervision. Quality controls will be almost nonexistent. Many other professional duties and responsibilities will not be performed. Library service will not be available during late afternoons and evenings or during vacation periods."

Two other sections of the report covered the fiscal impact and the human elements. The latter section concluded with a summary and recommendation: "The librarians are experiencing deep grief over possible loss of jobs. They feel their talents and contributions to P.C.C.'s instructional program are being overlooked, and they are incurring what may prove to be needless expense for legal assistance. Even in a worst-case situation, librarians will be needed. Unless the Trustees really think that they may ultimately remove all six librarians from the staff, it is strongly recommended that they take action immediately to rescind some, if not all, of the notices, thus sparing librarians the continuing anguish and needless expense of legal fees and disrupted lives. Trustees are urged not to permit this scenario to play out to the May 15th deadline."

A final section of the report covered other factors, namely: (1) the effect on the Library's implementation of and future development of an automated system which was being installed that very week, (2) the effect on evaluation of the college by the Accreditation Teams, and (3) the fact that the Library Staff had already been significantly reduced over the past several years.

Additional support for the Library's case came by unanimous vote of the Learning Resources Advisory Committee, a group of fourteen faculty members who represented each of the academic departments. The Committee expressed its alarm about the proposal to decimate the staff of librarians, and described many of the vital services that the library staff performs for students and teachers. They pointed out the need for reference and instructional assistance from early in the morning until late in the evening, and expressed concern that cutbacks might endanger the College's accreditation. They urged that cutbacks, if necessary, be made in areas less essential to instruction than is the Library.

In spite of these efforts, intent-to-layoff notices were given to all of the Library's certificated staff, except for Mr. Grainger. Notices were given also to over 100 other faculty members. Several positions in the College Administration were also scheduled for elimination. Most such administrators, however, had seniority and credentials that would permit them to claim teaching positions. Nevertheless, the prospect that a large number of faculty members, including several administrators, might be laid off illustrates the severity of the crisis, as viewed by the Administration.

The reader, unless one of those who received a layoff notice, can hardly imagine the full effect of this devastating news. As one means of coping with the crisis, the College did put into place a number of retirement incentives that would and did encourage personnel to retire early. Such was the case with Mr. Grainger. By retiring early, he hoped that he could "save" at least one certificated position. Reminiscing about this traumatic time, Delois Flowers said that even though his retirement had saved her, "the experience was devastating no less." She remembers being severely ill and almost immobilized for eleven days. In her words, "It took the Library a long time to recover in many ways because staff morale was low and we had to work very hard for a long time." Mrs. Franklin and Mrs. Yuki of the Library's support staff also took advantage of retirement incentives and retired. The three vacant positions thus created were simply not filled for 1983-84.

Reductions in staff, plus reductions in the budget for library materials, supplies, and equipment, resulted in a 33 percent drop in the total operating budget for the Library. Fortunately, Mrs. Kim had seniority over other teachers in the English Department, and was reassigned there for the coming year. Evidently, Mr. Grainger's presentation to the Board did have some effect because layoff notices to Mr. Weitzel, Ms. Flowers, Mrs. Kingman, and Dr. Lomen were ultimately rescinded. The only librarian actually laid off was Mrs. Sherman. The position of College Librarian, however, was left vacant, and it fell upon Robert Miller (Assistant Dean for Instruction, Learning Resources) to provide general guidance and supervision over the Library and its staff. According to the Library's annual reports to the State, staff positions, in full-time equivalents, fell from 14.53 in 1982-83 to 9.3 in 1983-84, a reduction of 36 percent. The same reports show reductions of 13 percent in the number of faculty members (i.e., from 688 to 598) and 16 percent in the student enrollment count (i.e., from 22,000 to 18,500). It is clear that the Library was hit disproportionately harder than most any other department of the College.

Reminiscent of 1979 and prior to this assault on the certificated staff, several members of the College's classified staff had been offered one-month reductions in assignments for 1982-83 in lieu of layoffs. Jane Vohden, Library Secretary, was one of those who accepted a reduction from eleven months to ten.

Largely because of budget cuts, almost every measure of library service dropped significantly during 1983-84 compared to the year before, as follows:

1982-83 1983-84

Periodical titles 434 358

Interlibrary loans 248 170

Reference assistance 15,473 9,470

Students in orientation classes 1,006 207 Borrowers 11,759 9,350

Turnstile counts 549,814 474,955

Books added 3,777 1,010

Books withdrawn 4,772 1,313

Analytics typed 2,323 311

Materials budget $ 36,689 $ 26,104

In a note of thanks to the Library Staff in August 1984, Mr. Miller stated, gIt almost goes without saying that the 1983/84 academic year was among the worst ever experienced by the College Library staff. However, through the adversity, I observed a high degree of dedication, quality, and a willingness to carry on and provide library patrons with quality service.h Further, he commended the staff as follows: "Behind the scenes, the library hurt and it hurt badly. To our patrons, this was not obvious. This is a tribute to you as you endeavored to make certain the service was provided. Many found yourselves performing duties you had never done before. Not once did I hear a complaint. Every time I called or visited the library, I was cordially greeted and expertly assisted." Such was the caliber of the library staff.

Although the financial crisis was a factor in Mr. Grainger's decision to resign his position as College Librarian, he continued during retirement to serve the Library as an hourly employee, first as an on-call substitute, later as the developer and interviewer for an oral history collection, sometimes as a fill-in for persons on leave of absence, and most recently as the author of part two of this history of the Library. At this writing, he is now in his forty-fifth year of active association with Pasadena City College.

Looking back on his twenty-four-year tenure as College Librarian, Mr. Grainger proudly remembers some of the things that were accomplished:

  • Professionalized the work of librarians and support personnel so that each was doing work appropriate to the assignments; obtained appropriate reclassifications
  • Maintained a style of participative management that allowed librarians a great deal of freedom in carrying out their individual assignments. Librarians and, through them, their subordinates were also given a primary role in decision-making with respect to all major issues concerning the Library and its operation
  • Fostered an esprit de corps amongst the members of the library staff that made the Library an enjoyable place to work.
  • Regularly informed the Administration of library building needs, and prepared numerous plans for remodeling and improving the building, many of which were sent on to the State
  • Implemented a Library Technology Program that provided trained para-professionals who met the needs of the local library community for many years; secured establishment of a separate Department of Library Service for administration of this instructional program
  • Inaugurated in-library copying services for patrons and staff
  • Implemented acquisitions procedures that greatly expedited the delivery of books, and reduced the workload in the Library as well as in the College's purchasing department
  • Instituted the acquisition of back files of periodicals on microfilm and microfiche
  • Established a Student Learning Center that eventually became the College's Learning Assistance Center
  • Identified deficiencies in the old library building and worked with the maintenance department to improve the lighting, ventilation, and air conditioning of the library. On numerous occasions, drew perspective drawings that were used by maintenance staff for building specialized items of library furniture
  • Contracted with OCLC for services and products that enabled the creation of a machine-readable database that formed the basis for automating many aspects of library service
  • Provided leadership for establishing such cooperative ventures as the San Gabriel Community Colleges Library Cooperative and the Southern California Interlibrary Loan Network
  • Chaired a statewide committee that worked directly with the Chancellor's Office over a period of several years to develop guidelines for learning resources centers throughout the State
  • Established a Special Services collection for students with special needs
  • Set up procedures to facilitate automatic and regular weeding of the book collection
  • Extended borrowing privileges to non-student residents of the College District and to local high school students
  • Participated in the formation of the Council of Department Chairmen in 1968, and served as the Council's secretary until retirement. Served as faculty advisor to the Baptist Student Union for several years
  • Taught library administration for two summers at USC's Library School
  • Served on the Advisory Board of USC's Graduate School of Library Science

The financial crisis that was a factor in Mr. Grainger's retirement quickly dissipated, for in the following year (1984-85), the corner was turned and the Library was on its way back. The staff was restored almost to the level of 1982-83. Mrs. Sherman was re-employed. Mrs. Kim was called back from the English Department, and the two vacant support positions were filled. Mrs. Kim was appointed as Director of Library Services, effective July 17, 1984. (In 1986 her title was changed to Assistant Dean, Library Services.)

As noted earlier, staff changes are shown in the "Years of Service" charts in the appendices. During the eighties, there were six librarians in and four out; twelve classified in and sixteen out.

In September 1990 Mrs. Kim resigned her position as Director but remained on the staff. During her six-year tenure, she accomplished much, not the least of which was active participation in the planning of a beautiful and much-acclaimed new library building. When asked to highlight the accomplishments during her tenure, she stated that any accomplishments or new developments could not have been done without cooperation and support given by all librarians and library staff. For the period 1984-90, she humbly listed the following highlights, some of which are covered elsewhere in greater detail:

  • Restored the library services hours from 51.5 hours in 1983-84 to 67, including four hours on Saturdays (1984)
  • Installed new 3M Book Detection System (1984)
  • Initiated "discarded/surplus book sale" with Board approval (1984)
  • Opened Trust & Agency account for coin-operated Xerox machines with Board approval (1984)
  • Expanded library services by subscribing to two CD-ROM periodical databases and by utilizing DIALOG databases
  • Installed five Online Public Access terminals for patron use for the first time
  • Formed the Friends of the PCC Library (1986)
  • Received a $10,000 grant from the Moseley Charitable Foundation to enhance the book collection for international understanding and $4,000 to present a lecture series
  • Completed the retrospective conversion of all catalog records into machine-readable format (1987)
  • Installed the subject authority file in the VTLS database (1987)
  • Reestablished the Library Technology Program beginning with the Fall Semester 1991

Materials. As noted earlier, the Library had over 112,000 volumes on June 30, 1980. Because of severe crowding in the bookstacks, librarians worked diligently to minimize growth. For two years after Bob Ball's retirement in 1979, he was employed as a consultant to do a thorough analysis and review of the book collection. During that time, he worked with faculty members on a major weeding project, and was able to reduce the collection by 1.1 percent. In six of the next ten years, negative growth was achieved by withdrawing more books than were added. In 1990 the collection stood at 109,313. This was 3 percent lower than ten years earlier. Besides conserving shelf space, another benefit of the reduction in the size of the collection was that many unnecessary duplicates, as well as obsolete and unsuitable books were weeded out. Sometimes discards (e.g., duplicate copies) were given or sold to other libraries. Most discards were disposed of through salvage sales conducted occasionally by the College.

In order to circumvent a haphazard development of the collection, the staff drafted a "Collection Development Policy." This policy served as a guide to the orderly development of the Library's collection of materials. The policy covered the following topics: philosophy, mission and educational goals; library clientele; library philosophy, missions and objectives; selection policy, collection priorities, and selection responsibility; selection criteria; gifts; review of books questioned by patrons; selection of electronic resources; and weeding and discard policies and procedures. The policy has been regularly reviewed and revised when changing circumstances warranted it.

Steps were taken to build up the book collection in several areas where weakness had been noticed (e.g., electronics, surveying, TV production, and drafting). Working as a consultant after her retirement in 1979, Grace Seward coordinated with Bob Ball in the weeding project as she reclassified and "cleaned up" several subject areas where there were inconsistencies in classification. Undertaking a major task, she reclassified several sections of the book collection, notably Indians, nursing and the Treasure Room collection. She also revised and developed new cataloging procedures, including changes that were necessary in order to conform to a revision of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules.

Although the book collection was shrinking, other collections were growing. Over the course of the eighties, audiocassettes went from 2,617 to 3,025, and microfilm reels from 5,079 to 6,572 (plus 27,630 sheets of microfiche). Acquisition of microfilm and microfiche (begun in 1987-88) made it feasible to discard backfiles of many periodicals, thus reducing the excessive crowding in the periodical stacks. (Staff had often had to use small stepladders in order to reach the top shelves.)

In 1986-87, the Library began to build a collection of videocassettes with the purchase of 137 titles. Pamphlets and documents were being added at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 each year. Nevertheless, by judicious and persistent weeding, the staff was able to achieve near-zero growth in the pamphlet collection.

Finances. As noted earlier, once the financial crisis passed, personnel levels were largely restored. Materials budgets also began to move upward again. From a 1983-84 low of $26,104, the materials budget climbed steadily, augmented from time to time by grants from other sources. For example, in 1985-86 the Pasadena City College Foundation awarded three minigrants that totaled $1,769--$351 for Cinema History, $418 for Microfilm Periodicals and $1,000 for the Asian American Collection. The following year the Foundation began a series of minigrants that were used to begin an Oral History collection. Under these grants, Mr. Grainger, working as an independent contractor, conducted eight interviews: Louis Creveling, first studentbody president and college benefactor; Dr. E. Howard Floyd, former College President; Irvin G. Lewis, former Vice-President for Student Services; Lois Ramey, former College Bank manager; Walter Shatford, member of the Board of Trustees; and William I. Weitzel, former Head of Reference Services in the Library. In addition to PCC Foundation grants, a local private foundation awarded $14,000 in 1985-86 to improve the book collection for international understanding and to implement a lecture series.

Other augmentations to the materials budget included a $6,500 gift fund in 1983-84, a $10,000 grant in 1986-87 from the Moseley Charitable Foundation of South Pasadena, a Special State Augmentation of $101,500 in 1987-88, and a special augmentation of $35,000 in 1989. The Library also began to augment its budget by means of semiannual book sales, not only of discarded books but also of books contributed by faculty and alumni. In October 1986, continuous book sales were inaugurated, and they normally net several thousand dollars annually. (Librarians are often amazed at what the public will buy, even very out-of-date textbooks.) In 1987, the book budget was augmented by $5,000 collected in library fines for overdue materials. Because of the various grants, the number of items to be cataloged and processed increased significantly, and the Library suspended the acceptance of gifts.

Library Usage. As was mentioned earlier, circulation figures for items checked out are affected by many variable factors, including the number of items which patrons choose to use within the Library rather than to check them out. The Library has partial counts of in-house use by daily counts of the number of items picked up from tables and reshelved by staff. Neither these, nor items returned to the shelves by patrons are included in the circulation figures. Items picked up and reshelved by staff increased from 46,477 in 1980-81 to 68,058 in 1989-90, and more than offset the drop in circulation figures from 100,478 in 1980-81 to 86,610 in 1989-90.

Because the number of borrowers pretty closely coincides with student enrollments, the counting of borrowers was discontinued in 1985. Subsequently, each student's ID card served also as a library card. About 600 cards were issued each year to adult nonstudent residents and College alumni, and to several dozen high school students.

Assistance to patrons at the Reference Desk climbed from less than 15,000 in 1980-81 to 21,511 in 1989-90. Interlibrary loans increased in the same period from 296 to 438.

Services. In a continuing effort to respond to students with special needs, the Library took a couple of steps early in the eighties. First was the establishment of a Special Services Collection, including materials for students who have learning disabilities and for those who are visually impaired. Another step was the improvement of outreach and liaison with ethnic groups and foreign students. Activities included an international book fair, several effective exhibits, the compilation of bibliographies, and publicity on library resources and services.

In 1985-86, the Library subscribed to a service whereby books were provided on a rental basis. Know as the McNaughton Collection, bestsellers and books primarily of current interest were provided on a rotating basis. They often included titles that would not normally be purchased by the Library. Most were of short-term interest. When warranted, titles were purchased for the regular collection. This service was continued until 1990 when the staff decided that the Library could create its own popular reading collection, and named it the Bestseller Collection.

As the financial picture improved, the Library was able to extend its hours of opening. Beginning in 1984-85, one hour per day was added. Saturday mornings were added to the schedule the following year. The Library had been open only 55 to 57 hours a week in 1983-84, the year of severe financial crisis. It was now open for 67.25 hours each week.

Library orientation for class groups reached only 207 students in 1983-84. By the end of the eighties, two to three thousand were being reached in this way each year. Librarians would go to teachers' classrooms or the teachers would bring classes to the Library, or a combination of the two approaches would be used. Earlier sessions were mostly by lecture. By the end of the decade, when classes met in the Library's Orientation Room, librarians were able to show on a classroom screen an exact reproduction of what patrons would see on a computer screen when searching the online catalog.

Lecture Series. In 1986-87, a twelve-part "International Communications" lecture series was planned, and three public lectures were given in the spring semester. The Moseley Charitable Foundation in South Pasadena funded the series. Seven additional lectures were presented in 1987-88. Over 1,300 students, faculty, and community residents attended these lectures. In 1988-89, the Library assisted Professor Susie Ling from PCC's Social Sciences Department in presenting six humanities lectures and a photo exhibit funded by a $7,000 grant from the California Council for the Humanities. Attendance was 1,210. The series was completed the next year with three lectures attended by 575 people.

Housing and Equipment. In order to improve the Library's accessibility for persons with physical limitations, an elevator was installed in 1980 near the front entrance.

Phot of students walking past south entrance

Patrons who were dependent on wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers could reach the front porch entrance level from the level of the central quad. Library staff could also use the elevator for book trucks when they were collecting books from the on-campus book return bins. An automatic door opener was installed on the entrance doors. A stairway, however, was the only way to reach the lower stack level. It was necessary for handicapped persons to ask library personnel, usually student assistants, to retrieve books from the basement for them.

Phot of students walking up a stairway interior. .

Some effort was also put into improving the poor lighting in the forty-year-old building. New fluorescent fixtures replaced the incandescent fixtures in the basement and also in the entrance lobby. New carpet and tile improved the lobby floor. In 1986, the lobby was dressed up further by the addition of two couches that were donated by the Friends of the Pasadena City College Library. This group had been organized the year before under the leadership of Joanne Kim, Library Director, with Mrs. Shirley Burt as the first president.

One of the shortcomings of the Sentronic Security System, from the time of its installation, was that patrons could easily detect magnetic sensors placed under the book pockets. Sensors were sometimes removed, thus enabling books to be taken from the Library undetected. In 1984 the Library switched to the 3M Book Detection System. This system uses virtually undetectable targets, and has proved to be very effective in intercepting ghoth books.

During the eighties, in order to utilize the Virginia Tech Library System effectively, microcomputers began to make major inroads into the Library. Staff terminals were installed in Cataloging, Acquisitions, and at the Reference Desk, with a printer attached. A terminal was also placed in the Reference Office, and a laser printer was attached in order to facilitate searching in the DIALOG databases. Eight online public access terminals were installed for the use of Library patrons.

In September 1986, Joanne Kim and Rod Foster, Director of Media Services, approached the Administration once again with a request to expand the Library by incorporating Harbeson Hall. Faced with crowded conditions forty years earlier, Winifred Skinner, the College's first librarian, had bemoaned the situation with these words: "Those changes which we most desire appear impossible in our present cramped quarters. We need a new building. It seems to us, we have always needed a new building. It is a chronic state." The chronic state had returned, and the Library was once again bursting at the seams.

In March 1987, a proposed plan for expansion was well received by the Board of Trustees. The next month, Mary Ann Sherman and Joanne Kim went to two or three planning meetings for a new Learning Resources Center. Because actual construction of new facilities would be several years away, the staff continued to press for early expansion into Harbeson Hall. In recent years Harbeson had seldom been used for instructional purposes, so the time seemed appropriate for moving in that direction. The staff, therefore, proposed a minimal level of space renovation by removing the stage and cutting two openings into the library reading rooms. The proposed budget for the renovation was only $75,000, not including shelving and furniture costs of $64,000 to $105,000. Although the cost for the proposed renovation was relatively low, nothing came of the staff's efforts.

As the decade drew to a close, a FAX machine was installed to facilitate the sharing of materials through interlibrary loans. It was also used to transmit book orders to various vendors. An up-to-date Xerox copier was also brought in for staff and patron use.

New Building. Hope for new facilities became a reality in February 1988 when the College filed an application with the Chancellor's Office for a new library building (47,067 square feet for the Library and 6,000 to 7,000 for Media Services). The firm of Kurt Meyers Partners was engaged to develop a $100 million master plan for the College, including a new library. Planning moved forward, and in November 1988, College President Jack Scott was quoted as optimistically stating that "we may expect to see a new building in five years." The State did, indeed, approve an initial $2.7 million in capital building funds for Pasadena City College in May 1989. Not until the end of the year, however, were schematic drawings available for review by the librarians.

Automation. Significant strides were made in the eighties toward automating various library services and routines. In 1983, the College purchased software to run the Virginia Tech Library System (VTLS) on the College's Hewlett Packard 3000 computer. Entry of online cataloging for new materials began immediately. OCLC tapes containing 25,000 previously cataloged titles were also loaded into the VTLS system. Over 88,000 titles had been entered into the VTLS online catalog by the end of 1986-87.

In the fall of 1986, a contest was held to seek a name for the online catalog. At an awards ceremony on December 16, 1986, the Friends of the Library gave $25 for HEWEY, the winning entry, and $15 for the runner-up.

In June 1983, the Library began using the automated circulation module for all patrons. The Library had prepared for it by attaching barcoded labels to books and other materials. Student identification cards already contained barcodes, so materials and patrons were easily identified and connected by means of barcode readers.

In 1986, the addition of two public access terminals enabled patrons to access the online catalog (HEWEY). In the same year, student and faculty research needs were met in a new way by the addition of Lockheed's DIALOG databases. DIALOG ultimately provided access to 300 million records from over 320 databases.

By 1989 the Ohio College Library Center, now known as the Online Computer Library Center, provided access to 20 million records in over 6,000 libraries worldwide. The addition of an interlibrary loan component in 1980-81 had simplified the interlibrary loan process, and generally shortened the length of time for receiving materials from other libraries.

The automated catalog first became available to off-campus users in 1987 when dial-up access was made available to students and faculty at John Muir High School. In-library access to citations for articles in four hundred periodicals and the New York Times was made possible by setting up the Academic Index on an Infotrac microcomputer workstation with CD-ROM.

The following year retrospective conversion was completed with over 96,000 titles now in the catalog. The College contracted with Blackwell North America to supply authority control to the online catalog. Such control provided full cross-referenced subject headings for searching the catalog. By January 1, 1989, all catalog records had been converted to machine-readable form and the card catalog was "frozen." All new cataloging went only to the online catalog. Searching was enhanced even more by the activation of a module that enabled searching by key words. During the summer of 1989, retrospective keyword indexing was accomplished.

In 1988-89, the Library acquired computer software from Midwest Library Service and from Baker and Taylor, two major book jobbers, that now made it possible to order nearly all books online. In 1989, an additional Infotrac workstation gave patron access to newspaper articles through the National Newspaper Index. (An OCLC M310 workstation was purchased to replace an obsolete 105 terminal.) The Infotrac workstation was complemented by the addition of a Wilsonline workstation, also with CD-ROM, which gave access to the well-known Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, including retrospective coverage to 1983.