Jeanne DeMars Interview

Jeanne DeMars.

Jeanne DeMars was a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State University when they began the great conversion of their card catalog to the MARC format via the OCLC union catalog (early 1970s). Shortly thereafter, after getting her master's degree from St. Cloud, Jeanne became the library director at Willmar Community College, began the process of converting from cards to MARC in preparation for their move to the PALS (Project for Automated Library Systems) system, and trained library staff to help with the project. From there Jeanne worked at PALS (program of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities initiated at Mankato State University in 1978) for a number of years before arriving at Traverse des Sioux Library System in Mankato, MN, where she currently works as Assistant Director for Technology Services.

Jeanne DeMars's interview questions focused on the topic of library automation. In the early 1970s, the MARC standard was relatively new, the OCLC union catalog was new (now known as OCLC WorldCat), and projects to convert library card catalogs to machine readable MARC records were just beginning. In her interview, Jeanne also describes searching the OCLC union catalog when it first became available, when PALS (shared union catalog of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) was first rolled out to students and faculty, and other stories about automating library card catalogs.

Interviewed by Sara Ring, Minitex, on August 31, 2012.

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Quotes From the Interview

On users of library services:

All through my career its always been about that end user. Whether it's a student, a kid, a college student, or a community member, a patron at a public library. It's always about that interaction in the end between the librarian and the person or the resource you're providing and the person. It's always about that. And it's exciting. And I never forget that. (2:36)

On automating the card catalog to MARC records:

I just remember vividly sitting at those old, big (as a grad student) terminals. And, we were facing each other, two banks and two banks, and talking to the person across from you. Because you would get bored out of your mind, card after card after card, and having the most interesting conversations with whomever was on the other side. Whether it was a librarian from the school putting in some part time hours and learning about this and learning about her job to somebody from a private college who was there, hearing about her experiences. It was just so much fun. We had a really good camaraderie going, and we were all working toward a common project, a common goal that brought so many different people from different libraries together... I noticed at that time that libraries weren't afraid to call on one another for assistance... (7:12)

On searching the OCLC union catalog in the 1970s:

... There wasn't such a thing as keyword searching, with early OCLC, so we knew those 4,3,3,1 combinations, 4, 4, and all those ways of searching and you know, there was enough people involved in those early retrospective conversions that even when we were looking for an edition of Tom Sawyer, there were lots and lots and lots to choose from... there wasn't a way to really limit very much, so it was very time consuming to search... but still, to us it was still miraculous... But now, looking back I think, oh my gosh those were the old days! That's like the Model T when you used to take the car out and go 20 mph and thought you were doing good. (15:33)

Creative Commons LicenseThis Oral History Project interview by Minitex is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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