My ASCISRECON Experience

By Angie Barillaro

In 1991, whilst I was Head of Library at Catholic Regional College, North Keilor, I organised the automation of the school library, mostly using the ASCISRECON program. I found the program simple to use (even for a computerphobe like myself), and would like to discuss how I used it at CRC. No doubt every school using ASCISRECON will have come up with its own variation and process as the program is flexible.

After term one was spent imputing data from shelf list cards for the fiction collection, the thought of such a tedious process for 13,000 plus non fiction books seemed too daunting to contemplate. With a library staff of only myself and a .8 library technician (plus a full-time AV technician) I doubted if staff time could be spared on so much data entry. There had to be an easier way, and there was ... ASCISRECON!

I ordered the package and received it immediately. There was a detailed but simple handbook to go with it and I found Lance Deveson patient and helpful with my questions. So the program was loaded on and there it was -ASCISRECON at a touch.

Because staff was minimal, I did not see the point of looking up ASCIS order numbers on microfiche - so ASCIS by ISBN's it was! Bravely we pushed on despite horror stories about low success rates etc ... The program allows you to set your own standards. For example, you can keep your own call numbers, subject headings and much more. I chose the minimalist approach thorough and through. A trolley was loaded up with books that had been barcoded by a volunteer mum. At the computer, each book was picked up, the ISBN keyed in from the back, and the barcode was wanded in via the barcode reader. That's it! Books without ISBN's (about 4%) were put aside to be manually inputted or tossed.

Daily backups were essential to protect data being lost and when one file was ready, (1600 to 1700 records), the file was loaded onto a floppy and sent off for processing. Much to my delight, the success rate was high; the lowest rate was 75%, but one file was 91 %! Considering the speed at which books were entered, this is outstanding. The next process involved going through the collection again. The barcode was wanded in to see which records did not exist, and these needed to be put aside to be manually imputed.

As well, circulation statistics (ie class set, teacher reference etc ... ) had to be added.

I was impressed by the program and in two terms had seen the complete automation of the nonfiction section. It is also great to see that the ASCISRECON program can now be used for a minimum of 100 titles, and processing dates are very frequent. If I were still at CRC I would use the program for all my new stock. After all. a teacher -librarian is most appreciated when she is team-teaching, not cataloguing in the backroom!

Angie Barillaro