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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.