Libraries Bid Farewell To BayLIS Catalog

July 15, 1998

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University's Moody Memorial Library and Jesse H. Jones Library laid to rest the school's first-ever on line catalog in an unusual way -- during a New Orleans-style funeral service July 14.

The procession -- complete with a computer-sized coffin and pallbearers, a Dixieland band, a "library chorale" singing a medley of gospel songs, a line of mourners and a eulogy -- moved from the foyer of Jones Library through a connecting hallway to Moody Library where the actual "service" was held.

During the eulogy, Bill Hair, theology and philosophy librarian, remembered the "good" times, like the 1992 incident in which the BayLIS catalog scrambled all of the circulation records.

"This black and orange cathode ray cyclops of mediocrity carried us in the Information Age," Hair remarked. "Weak and anemic though he was, he was still our child, and we loved him."

But where did this unusual way of "saying goodbye" to a library catalog come from? Patty Bellus, media and technical services librarian and the chair of the "funeral committee," said she first heard of the idea during a Texas Library Association meeting.

"We have people who worked with the old card catalog, then made the switch to the on line catalog in 1989," Bellus said. "We thought this would be a good way to let us say, 'We are going to miss some aspects of the old system.' It gives us a chance to let go and get ready for the new."

Baylor will be replacing BayLIS with the modern, user-friendly Innopac system, dubbed Bearcat.

"Kids today come into the library very computer literate, and they immediately want an on line catalog," Bellus said. "We've been wanting something more up-to-date with a more modern look and feel, and we'll now be able to offer things like search engines and a web interface."

Bearcat will be available to the public later in the fall.

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