Libraries and their patrons are showing increasing interest in providing dial-up access to the automated library systems of individual libraries and library consortia. While virtually any ASCII-compatible terminal or a micro with a modem and an ASCII emulation package can be used to access a data base on a minicomputer-based library system, there are several prerequisites for such remote searching of the system:
- Dial-up ports that are available
Dial-up capability is dependent on the system having one or more ports or channels set aside for this type of access.
- Baud rate levelj
Most library systems now operate at a communication rate of 1,200 baud. The terminal used to access the system must be set to operate at this rate.
- Accessibility by system owner(s)
Dialing up into a system impacts on both the system load and, if the result of access is an interlibrary loan request, staff time. Therefore, not all system owners will necessarily welcome heavy dial-up usage. Permission should be sought before access is attempted.
- Sign-on-off procedures. Every system has its own unique procedures for signing on (connecting) and signing off (disconnecting). These should be determined before seeking to dial up into a system.
- Searching and messaging strategies
Searching and messaging procedures also differ from system to system. A terminal operator's manual or documentation specially prepared for the dial access user should be studied before any attempt to dial up into a system.
Readers seeking further information on the use of microcomputers in accessing remote systems are referred to LSN Vol. III, No. 3, and LSN Vol. II, No. 5.