Hi, I'm new to this list which I just discovered.  Quick intro:  I'm a
collections librarian, collecting in the physical sciences for the Univ. of
Georgia.  I don't get paid for programming but have been using PowerBasic over
the last 15 years to do wondrous things for myself.  (Having reached the magic
age of 60, let's hear no more about 'old' librarians.)  I'm just starting to
get into Perl which will useful for getting stuff from the Internet.

(Now that we've mostly agreed that it's probably useful for at least
some librarians to know something about programming, I'm kind of
curious to know what others feel are some of the #1 all-time best uses
to which they have applied their programming chops. In other words, if
programming skills are useful in libraries, what are they useful for?)

Let me tell you briefly about my all-time best project - best because it saves
me so much time.  (Though I have lots of other projects too!)

Being an orderer of books I need to keep track of what's available and what
I've done with what's available.  Long ago I had a card file but, of course,
have long since moved to a database (currently Microsoft Access, used to be

One of my problems is populating that database: adding data by hand is out of
the question since I add about 7,500 enties a year.  My solution: Worldcat.  I
search by ISBN (usually), mark the records, make a detailed list, cut and paste
into Notepad and save.

Then the best part.  The program that I written formats that text file from
WorldCat into a 2nd file that is an input file for Access. Thus I can download
100s of very complete records into Access in a very short period of time. (I
get electronic records from BNA and use those files, and a short program, to
collect ISBNs so that I can search WorldCat with 20 ISBNs at a time.)

I've been doing this for about 10 years and the work that used to take many
days each week now takes a few hours.

William Loughner
Physical Sciences Bibliographer (Ret.)
University of Georgia Libraries

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