Screensurfer at the Harvard Library System

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Finding Books and Journals Simplified with Screensurfer

Finding a book or journal from Harvard University' s library system can be a daunting task. Harvard boasts the largest library collection in the nation, and possibly even the world. The system comprises more than 90 separate libraries, and the electronic database contains more than 90 million records.

In order to find what they were looking for, for years students could log onto the Web and search for titles by 18 different criteria. Caren Smith, development team leader, explained that Harvard teamed up with the Screensurfer Team to create the solution. They needed to replace an antiquated and complicated mainframe system that required students to know complicated codes and syntax to find what they were looking for.

Enter Screensurfer. The general purpose Web gateway put a Web user interface on the mainframe system, so students needed only to point and click their way to the information they needed. Harvard initially looked at 10 vendors when they began this project in 1997, and when it came down to Screensurfer and another competitor, Harvard actually went with the competitor. But a year later, they realized that wasn't the way to go. Once on board with Screensurfer, Harvard couldn't be happier.

"We are extremely pleased," said Smith. "We like the functionality that Screensurfer offers. The Web and the mainframe world don't merge very well, but this system does a good job of integrating the two. Screensurfer is stable and reliable, and offers an attractive, user-friendly front end."

After four years of online service with Screensurfer, a direct Mainframe Web access solution was implemented. With Screensurfer, Harvard was able to implement the benefits of Web access four years earlier than other University systems.

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