Seattle, Washington

The Library Microcomputer Environment: Management Issues.
Edited by Sheila S. Intner and Jane
Anne Hannigan. Phoenix: Oryx
Press, 1988. 258 p. $27.50. ISBN:
Originally this was to have been a
book about managing microcomputer software, but the editors "realized that the introduction of microcomputer software into the
library ... represented the introduction of a new environment into
the agency-an environment affecting more than the array of materials on its shelves." The book
therefore became a compilation of
various subjects-not limited to
either software or managementorganized loosely under the headings "Traditional Considerations"
(a discussion of software collection
development, cataloging, and reference); "The Nontraditional
Character of Microcomputer Software" (a review of sources, hardware, copyright, and UNIX, a program for textual analysis); and
"Newer Impacts of Software upon
Libraries" (covering CD-ROM, satellite linkages, local area networks
(LANS), and manager's role). Most
people will probably read only certain chapters of specific interest
rather than the entire work.
As a compilation, the book contains something for everyone interested in the general subject of
microcomputers in libraries. It is
well worth its price for the collection of varied and useful information included in one volume, and
many of the contributors are recognized authorities in their subjects. For example, Nancy Olson
("History of Organizing Microcomputer Software") and Jean
Weihs ("Organizing the Collection: State of the Art") each have
participated in the development
of Anglo-American Cataloguing
Rules (AACR) guidelines for cataloging microcomputer software.
Their chapters provide insight into
Bull Med Libr Assoc 77(2) April 1989
the principles behind the guidelines, as well as an appreciation of
the unique challenges software
presents to cataloging and classification standards. (One wonders,
though, why these chapters were
not combined, since there is considerable overlap. For example,
both authors discuss subject access
to microcomputer software and the
LC cataloging in publication project.)
Other well-crafted sections of the
book include a chapter about copyright issues. Pamela Reekes McKirdy presents a succinct review of
relevant legal cases and gives logical explanations of the evolving
interpretation of the law as it relates to new technologies. She discusses protection for the "look and
feel" of a software application and
the implications of recent rulings
for the future of software improvements, interface standards, and the
availability of PC clones. Marilyn
Kemper's discussion of local area
networks includes a brief review
of the literature and an excellent
mix of definition, description, and
advice. Some of the chapters include a selected bibliography, and
these, as well as the index, will be
useful to the reader. Unfortunately, not all of the chapters are
as well-written or informative as
these, and satisfaction with the
book will depend on which chapters are read.
This book's most serious flaw is
the lack of good editing. The book
reads as if each chapter author were
given an outline of the book so that
references to other chapters could
be made, but no one read the entire
book when it was completed. If
someone had, they would have
been compelled to make editorial
changes. Some sentences are not
sentences, and some thoughts are
not clear: "Computer salespersons
sometimes seem to indicate that
these menus are like a magical person sitting inside the computer just
waiting to meet your predicament
with a specific solution"; and "It
has taken the field of librarianship
many years to catch on to the benefits and rewards of using computers, but since it has, there is no
stopping the diversity of ways librarians are finding for their machines." A section about compatible, or clone, computers begins
with the author stating "originally
I intended to warn against compatibles, but I have discovered that
an IBM compatible is frequently a
much better machine." The remainder of the section is a description of problems with compatible
computers. Writing style differs
significantly among the chapter
authors and ranges from chatty first
person familiar to third person pedantic.
A basic problem with books
about computers is that changes in
computer technology outpace the
publication and review process. By
the time this review is published,
the content of the book will be two
years old. This year The Library Microcomputer Environment is less of a
resource for technical information
but still a good introduction and
overview of issues facing people
responsible for managing microcomputers in libraries.
Gale G. Hannigan
The Upjohn Company
Kalamazoo, Michigan
KESNER, RICHARD M. Information
Systems: A Strategic Approach to
Planning and Implementation.
Chicago: American Library Association, 1988. 257 p. $30.00. ISBN:
Kesner has attempted to broaden
his 1984 book, Automation for Archivists and Record Managers, using
two important concepts, strategic
planning and information systems. He has also attempted to
broaden his audience to include all
information service professionals
in all types of institutions. His def227
Book reviews
inition of information service
professionals includes data network managers, data-processing
managers, management information system (MIS) managers, information center managers, librarians, records managers, and
archivists working in government
agencies, universities, nonprofit
institutions, and private sector corporations. This is quite a task; and
therein lies the flaw of this book.
In attempting such a broad sweep
the book becomes a mixture of
general treatise and detailed technical guide, diluting its value for
the novice, intermediate, or experienced manager of information
systems. The book's real focus appears to be record managers and
archivists in the corporate setting.
The introduction, the first chapter, and the final postscript are devoted to a discussion of the merging but separate roles of all
information service professionals,
another strong theme in Kesner's
earlier book. The second chapter
presents "a series of general observations" on corporate culture,
strategic planning, and the structure of management information
systems (MIS) within an organization. He emphasizes that the environment, goals, and objectives of
the greater organization must
shape information services, and
recommends that MIS professionals centralize only those services
that are common and decentralize
the unique. While I agree that strategic thinking and organizational
structure are critical to the development of effective and economical information delivery and
management systems, his recommendations are not new. The applications of these concepts to specific cases, including library-based
scenarios, would have provided a
more effective model for readers.
The third chapter is a review of
the information generated by four
types of organizations, and the
fourth chapter is a review of electronic data-processing hardware
and software. These chapters are
very basic and suffer from too much
detail; for example, one of the figures is a table of alphanumeric value symbols with ASCII and EBCDIC equivalents. However, the MIS
systems and services matrix section provides a useful evaluation
The fifth and sixth chapters are
the "meat" of the book and cover
management techniques for planning and implementing information systems within an organization. Sample assessment and
evaluation forms are used to discuss needs assessment, the planning team, a planning matrix,
request for proposal (RFP) preparation, hardware and software selection, hardware purchase and installation, data input procedures,
and staff and user training. The
management techniques are presented generically. Specific examples, case studies, or scenarios
would have been extremely useful,
but they are missing.
Both of the final chapters discuss
the interaction between records
managers or archivists and dataprocessing managers. The seventh
chapter does present scenarios for
implementing information systems, but the focus is on records
management and archives. There
are no library-based scenarios. The
eighth chapter is devoted to machine-readable records disposition
and retention. There is no bibliography for the work as whole, but
each chapter is heavily footnoted.
Although I agree with the author's philosophy, this book, as a
total work, was a disappointment,
particularly from the perspective
of an academic health sciences librarian. The book seems more appropriate for records managers and
archivists, or for librarians in
charge of internal organization
records who need to know something about the planning and
management of information systems within the larger corporate
Debra Ketchell
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
on File Dictionary of Health Care
Management. New York: Facts on
File Publications, 1988. $35.00.
ISBN: 0-8160-1637-2.
The Facts on File Dictionary of Health
Care Management is the newest in
a series of Facts on File publications covering the language of various disciplines. Other volumes include public administration and
personnel management/labor relations. According to its compilers,
the book "presents a comprehensive set of definitions for terms and
phrases related to the purposes,
structures, functions, practices,
programs, laws, codes, ethics, and
financing of health care services
and organizations."
This is no mean task. The scope
of the discipline called "health
care" continues to be perceived as
increasingly broad, and its multidisciplinary nature makes decisions about what to include in such
a dictionary difficult and somewhat arbitrary. Additionally,
health care is in a state of such fluidity that attempting to capture and
define its language is destined to
be only partially successful.
Still, the effort is important. As
Paul Ellwood points out in his
foreword, this dictionary "provides another sign of the maturation of American health care management ... an effort to establish
some order and consistency to its
language." The work, at its best,
can record only how things are at
a particular point in time, recognizing that, in an attempt to reflect
what is new and evolving, it may
also be somewhat out of date.
The dictionary's five thousand
entries cover all three major sectors of the health care economy,
Bull Med Libr Assoc 77(2) April 1989