UCSB’s Davidson Library’s online services recently received a face-lift, though some wrinkles still need ironing.
In an effort to modernize its facilities, the library’s management has renovated its Pegasus system, which serves as a catalog for books, journals and other periodicals on campus and throughout the UC system.
Under a new version of Pegasus, students can start personal accounts on the Pegasus web site at , which keeps track of checked-out and recalled books. Students can also renew the books online.
Currently, two specific aspects of the catalog are not functioning properly. Students cannot yet put books on hold or recall books that are checked-out online, and must come to the library to do so. A feature on the old Pegasus system that allowed library patrons to search the catalog using call numbers is also unavailable.
While the new Pegasus is designed to be more functional and accessible as a web-page-based interface, problems with the use of some of the new aspects of the system, as well as some of the old, have created more frustrations than accommodations, said junior global studies major Taro Ando, a student assistant at the library.
“It looks nice, but it isn’t,” he said. “All the parts that were supposed to be the perks of the new system don’t work.”
Once fully operational, however, the updated Pegasus would offer more features than the old system, according to Head Librarian Sarah Pritchard.
“[Pegasus] has amazing potential and we’re only scratching at the surface of the possibilities which will make many of the functions of the library catalogs more seamless,” she said. “We can put a URL into a catalog record for electronic journals and government records, and even links to entire texts online.”
The most noticeable change to the format of Pegasus is its appearance. Instead of the black screen with green type, the new Pegasus catalog is in HTML format and appears as a web site viewed through a web browser.
The off-line computer search terminals throughout the library should be removed altogether by October, according to Library Information Services Coordinator Carol Gibbens.
“Now that internet-ready computers offer access to Pegasus and other Internet-based catalogs, the [terminals] are no longer needed at the library,” she said.
The library has experienced a bottlenecking of web resources, which Pritchard said would be alleviated with Internet-ready computers.
“We have such a huge laundry list of computers to replace and we are so limited to where we can put computers because of wiring that we can’t replace every computer,” she said. “We’re aware of the problem and a project has been scheduled to deal with the wiring issue.”
People using the computers for e-mail access have caused lines to form behind computers. Library staff has tried to limit students using Internet computers for purposes other than Internet research and to discourage the use of the stations for e-mail access.
Gibbens said it is hard to place restrictions on the Internet computer stations because so many people use their e-mail accounts to send information to other people or to a printer.
While the graphic interface of the web browser allows new Pegasus users the luxury of not having to read a help menu, the overall speed is usually slower than the old system. The new page takes longer to load and can also be delayed by server problems.
Pritchard said the usefulness of the new Pegasus system has the potential to supercede that of its predecessor in the long run, and that the current problems are inevitable with any new system.
“When you move over a million records with all the information that accompanies each record from one database to another there are bound to be problems, but the conversions have been made,” she said. “There are a few areas that we know are not working out the way we would like, but we’re happy with what we’ve got.”