I can still remember the pride with which, just under 20 years ago, we installed a punched‐card ALS system into the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. It was the wonder of the age. Admittedly the equipment was temperamental, and the system produced overdue notices consisting of numbers which borrowers could not translate into authors and titles, but this was state‐of‐the‐art library automation. The system was expected to give users of the library a ‘better’ service (I do not remember that being defined), at a lower cost (the costings probably also being uncertain but at least with the potential to save on labour‐intensive manual methods), and we expected automation to give the Brotherton Library a good image, forward‐looking and taking advantage of new developments. My mixture of nostalgia and cynicism has a purpose: if we could feel as we did 20 years ago about a system which would today be regarded as primitive, how will we feel in 20 years' time about today's systems? And if we anticipate the same mix of nostalgia and cynicism in 20 years' time, what does that tell us about planning new systems now? Do we give up, on the basis that in due course what we do now will be regarded as primitive, or do we press on, on the basis that in due course what we do now will be tolerated kindly by our successors as another stage in the development of library automation?
Friend, F.J. (1991), "‘Upward still and onward’: where are we going in library automation? A personal view", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 257-259. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb047088
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