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Interview of Jane Burke

Recorded:August 17, 2016

Listen to the full audio of the Interview


Map of/Excerpts from August 17, 2016, Interview of Jane Burke

Links to 3 other (transcribed) interviews of Jane: .

Interview map/excerpts


0:00:00 Introduction

0:00:45 Jane's move from CLSI to Northwestern: John McGowan, Dick Boss, Lee Ellis

0:04:00 University of Cincinnati -- Aleph customer?

0:04:30 Incorporation of BRS Keyword/Boolean into NOTIS

0:07:20 NUL involvement in KwB screen design "That was the beauty of NOTIS at that time." (All the customers got the source code and could include/exclude whichever pieces they liked.)

0:09:00 Near-sale of NOTIS to TBG (Thyssen-Bornemisza Group): Jane quashed the deal: "...pretty much because I objected to it."

0:10:30 Ameritech deal. "A very terrific community of users"

0:11:30 Changes to product/organization which contributed to success

· 0:12:20 OCLC interface / GTO

· 0:13:30 Keyword/Boolean "end-users wanted to be able to search in less structured ways"

· 0:14:30 "Commercial package offering" critical ... more important than development

· 0:15:45 "New Circulation, the most important in making the system acceptable to other libraries" [Note: NUL's existing circ system was an online, real-time system, but had no CRT/keyboard and used a badge reader / punched cards rather than barcodes.]

· MDAS, a very important aspect

0:18:50 "word-of-mouth" marketing / little non-ISDO development as feasible alternative? [Jane:] "I don't think it's features…. The minute that you say you are making an offering to a marketplace, you have to accept that marketplace's input."

"Without a responsiveness to other customers, there would have been far fewer customers."

0:22:30 Sale of NOTIS to Ameritech; need for more investment?: "I don't recall feeling that way"

0:23:45 NOTIS' success: 57% of all ARL libraries had NOTIS. "This was the first time these large research libraries were investing in integrated library systems, and in most cases they had IBM mainframes on campus…. I, personally believe that that was a major factor."

0:26:00 "We represented a solution at the time when there was a tremendous interest in actually getting an integrated library system in place."

0:26:30 Functionality: "I think if you put NOTIS up against GEAC at the time, both of them had a complete set of modules.... NOTIS, having been developed at a large research library, was comfortable for a large research library…. More a matter of degree than it is an absence of function." "Certainly the focus on excellence in Cataloging."

0:27:50 Marketing. "Public libraries came because their cities/counties had big IBM shops, but it was clear, as time went on, that NOTIS was much more suitable for the academic library market."

0:29:40 (IBM-based) Competitors: DOBIS and BLIS. "Institutions wanted to be associated with not only a set of programs but with a community and a fully packaged product…. In the United States there was no DOBIS support organization, no community of users."

0:31:40 Other vendors that supplied source code: PALS. "We never let anyone believe that this was something they could do without a programmer."

0:32:50 MVS/VSE. "There wasn't any more revenue from big customers [than from small]; we sold the package at a fixed price.... I think it was probably a fairly naïve way of doing it, but it made our lives simpler…. People understood that this was Northwestern University Library doing something that was intended to be of benefit to other libraries."

0:34:40 Other university-library-developed systems. [What NOTIS had that these other systems lacked was] "the ability to commercialize the system and make it happen for other libraries, while allowing those libraries to feel that they were part and parcel of what was going on."

0:35:30 [Jerry:] I think, too, that a difference was the quality of the programs. Did you perceive this quality before coming to Northwestern?

[Jane:] "No. But it was clear to me, in my work with CLSI, that this was a system which had created capabilities that I was hearing were needed by academic libraries." "I wasn't really looking."

0:37:05 Main Competitors: GEAC, CLSI, III, DRA

0:39:20 Sales. "I don't remember having that sort of competitive sense that made you disappointed if you didn't win.... A lot of it was that John McGowan kept all the way through to the end the feeling that this was part of the community of libraries."

Unexpected sales: Louisiana State [/LOUIS consortium] and DALNET.

0:41:00 Divestment of NOTIS Horizon by Ameritech. "I completely agree with John and Maribeth: it was very much politics at Ameritech.... I certainly did not understand how to operate in the politics of a large corporation…. I don't think that Ameritech even understood the difference between the kinds of libraries.... A library was a library and they were not going to have more than one offering…. Paul took Ameritech executives to the basketball game."

0:44:00 NOTIS' peak (1994). "... sunsetting of the mainframe era.... Institutions were going to want cheaper hardware platforms.... I think it's never [just] one facet. It's a combination of technologies, people, politics, the times…."

0:46:10 What are you most proud of having done in your time with NOTIS?

· coming to understand the needs of large academic libraries

· a chance to mature as a leader and a manager

"I really think that Northwestern University and the leaders at Northwestern University had tremendous vision: to talk about this effort and to really do a true technology transfer. This was not something that institutions, at least institutions in the Midwest, did. They decided to take this risk and I think it paid off for them ... at least I hope it did."