The Wired Librarian's Library Microcomputer Hall of Fame

William Urban taught me a long time ago that if we ignore our past, we will screw up our future. As I look back on fifteen years of library microcomputing, I feel it is important to recognize those who (in the humble editor's opinion) have got us to where we are.

This page is dedicated to those whose efforts have increased the access citizens have to library services through the implementation of microcomputers. This is strictly a personal perspective, although the individuals names here are pretty much respected throughout the library community for their efforts.

With the exception of Griffin and Zamora, my personal gurus, they are presented in alphabetical order. If I have missed anyone, Mea Culpa (although you can email suggestions to me).

The Gods on Mount Olympus

Hillis Griffin -- During the summer of 1981, while I was enrolled at Rosary College, doing the MLS thing (how we prostrate ourselves for a profession) I enrolled in his "Library Automation" course. Besides teaching me that "don't believe it when Systems Administrators say their computers can't do it -- they are too lazy or don't know how to " he provided me motivation to try things. He is also my mentor, and although I have not heard from him in years - he left Argonne for Berkley - and was the founder of the Osborne Computer Library Users Group. He is the one who told me the line I conclude all of my workshops with:

"When typewriters invaded libraries, librarians complained that it was 
too difficult and awkward to lift it up and dip it's corner in the inkwell."

I have met many colleagues along the way who have been inspired by this visionary, and if you ever get the chance, ask him to tell you the story about the first time he ever showed his computer-generated catalog cards to another librarian.

Ramon Zamora -- was the creator of "Computer Town USA " an early '80's project to encourage public libraries to provide microcomputers for public access. By documenting how valuable micros were as tools for the public, it was the principle impetus for these activities nationwide. Libraries are in business to provide services, and Ramon's driving force was that folks needed access to computers and libraries were the natural vehicle to accomplish same.

Those who have widened or 
straightened the path up the mountain

Karl Beiser -- Another of the pioneers is Karl Beiser from the great state of Maine. He's of the size to scare any canuck invasion off, and of mind to out-think five at a time. I haven't seen him since I quit going to ALA, but I'm sure he's behind the Excellent site at the State Library of Maine. His books were standards, and I would love to hear from him.

 

Bob Bocher --He has come into his own of late with his Wisconsin Site, the best library web site there is. Back when I knew the cheesehead, he was laboring away for Sweet Sally Purebred knocking the kinks out of WisCat and figuring out how to merge millions of micro based catalog records. We solved the problems of the world together, and Mamb saved us from a personal encounter with the Holy Grail in San Antonio.

Betty Costa -- The creator of Computer Cat the first micro based online catalog. It was a run time version of DB MASTER (now there is a blast from the past) and her husband Larry had something to do with it the way I remember the story being told. She also did two neat books with her daughter Marie: A Micro Handbook for Small Libraries and Media Centers . About every other year I get a nice note, saying how she and Larry are enjoying life in the mountains of Colorado. Their original back up scheme was a live wire to a VCR. They sold out about 1984 to Winnebago and have lived happily ever after.

John Dvorak -- although I have only met him twice, almost fifteen years ago, I admire both his writing and his perspective. If you read only one paper product with regularity, his "Inside Track" column for PC Magazine should be it. Now days you may know John from his "Real Computing" NPR show…scope him out at http://www.realcomputing.com.

 

Hank Epstein -- The father of MITINET MARC - Still the best piece of library management software ever coded and one of the Wisconsin Crowd, part of the brain trust that gave us WisCat, and old mainframer with vision to use the power of microcomputers. Hank ain't pretty, but can his software dance!

 

Monica Ertel -- was the Librarian at Apple Computer. First off she is just a neat person - somebody who would succeed at anything they did. She also coordinated the largest library user group ever, the Apple Library User's Group - ALUG. She was a motivating force for the Apple Library of Tomorrow (ALOT) grants, which demonstrated and pushed the envelope on microcomputer applications in libraries. When Apple no longer needed her, they no longer needed me. God, for the return of Woz...

 

Chuck Follett -- had the misfortune of going to high school with your editor, and coming from the family that has been corporately wed with books and libraries for the entirety of this century. His dad (Charles NOT Chuck) is the driving force behind the Follett Library Books Company. In 1982 I dragged an Apple ][ to Crystal Lake, showed it to the Board of that Corporation, and that afternoon the Follett Software Company was born. Originally they were a software jobber, and when they went into library automation software they went hard and heavy. They outlived the Bob disaster, (and learned a lot from it) and in 1984 bought out the Library Software Company from Bob Skapura and Joe Ward.

LeRoy Finkel-- When we lost LeRoy in '95 educational computing lost perhaps the sharpest mind of the lot. He was the cornerstone of the San Mateo group (I got to go in '83 and '84) that put out the Educational Software Preview Guide with folks like Ann Lathrop et al. LeRoy was adamant about computers being tools for kids, and though he never did a lick of library software, he taught me much which gave me skills I never would have had.

Glen Granger -- The ol' marketing Maven from Highsmith performed two acts of kindness I'll never forget. First, when the Apple Library Template Exchange got too big for me to handle at home, he moved it to Highsmith (and thanks to Duncan as well) and it ran like a top without me. When I had to choose between going corporate or going to the state library of Iowa, he gave me a decision model that has stood me in good stead ever since. He's been retired for a while, but wherever he may be, he has my debt of thanks

Jeb Griffiths -- Founder of Winnebago, and never took kindly to your editor - I always felt like he thought I was a threat to his existence. The early days were ugly, name calling put-down drag outs. He never listened to your humble editor when I said there was enough business to keep all of his and Chuck's relatives in business as long as they created decent software.

Andy Larson--The first employee of Follett Software Company used to sell books to me in Yates City (and there are few who even know where that is) back before there was a Z-80. I have been too many places and done too many things with a guy who dragged a dog around in his car to do more than thank him for all he has done for me.

 

Brower Murphy--The brains behind the old  The Library Corporation cranks out great product. Not only that , but he cares about library users. The ill-fated "Common Knowledge" was an attempt to share information for the good of all. Unfortunately it was way before it's time. If I was stranded on a desert island, he is one guy who I would want with me because there would be no shortage of intelligent conversation.

Jean Armour Polly--Running around corporate somewhere now, she was one of the old ALUG crowd who paid more attention to library users than the library administrators. An early web advocate, and if the tiny gray cells serve me correct, the founder of PubLib listserv.

Bob Skapura -- along with Joe Ward founder(s) of the Library Software Company. First was Overdue Writer and then a string of hits culminating in Circulation / Catalog Plus line. All of this was sold to Follett in 1985. There was the Pierre fiasco somewhere in the middle of all of this, but the one thing Bob and Joe did better than any vendor I ever met was listen to their users. Together (That is Bob and I ) we developed the Software Evaluation Matrix which was a formula-driven tool to compare different library management software packages for a series of workshops in Oklahoma in 1989. Bob now cranks out really neat titles for Highsmith Press. I would give body parts to have his email address, as I have not heard from him in four years.

Joe Ward -- along with Bob Skapura founder(s) of the Library Software Company. Joe stayed with Follett, and has been developing stuff ever since. Joe loved his Trash 80 Model IV. I still remember the alpha version of Circulation Plus - they sent me a Z-80 card they had bought at some computer fair, and the only instructions with it, in magic marker on the side of the card, was "Install in slot 4": Four years ago he told me that ROM's were going to be phased out by the net. I said not in my lifetime. He still doesn't have to deal with our crummy ISP. Understands the Reference Interview process (interaction?) better than any software developer I know.

An Index to the Online Issues

Wired Librarian's Newsletter Front Page

1983 - When there were four microcomputers at the ALA show

and hard drives were just a twinkle in my pappy's eye ...

May 1983 June 1983 June 1983 ALA Edition July 1983 August 1983 September 1983
November 1983 December 1983        

1984 - The industry awakens

January 1984 March 1984 April 1984 May 1984 June 1984 July 1984
August 1984 September 1984 October 1984 November 1984 December 1984

December 1984

The Mac Page

1985 - wow we've got hard drives !!! 

You've Got Rhythm who could ask for anything more?

January 1985 February 1985 March 1985 April 1985 May 1985 June 1985
July 1985 August 1985 September 1985 October 1985 August 200  
 
Page last modified Tuesday, November 08, 2005