Murray C. Shepherd
These are exciting and challenging times for "knowledge workers," as librarians and information scientists are sometimes called. We live in the Information Age, an era in which new knowledge is being generated at an incredible pace. Rapidly developing and converging technology is allowing ideas to flow more freely than ever before. This is the environment in which academic libraries must define their missions, plan their operations, and improve their ability to respond to the information needs of learners, teachers, and researchers.
The past year has been a year of unprecedented growth for the University of Waterloo Library. With the introduction of TRELLIS, our new automated library system, the University of Waterloo academic community suddenly had easy access to over 7.5 million items. With the support of the university and the help of alumni and friends, we've continued to expand our digital collections of primary source and reference material and to develop and maintain the infrastructure these materials require. We've also continued to build our more "traditional" collections.
Despite the tremendous amount of effort such growth demands, we've continued to offer excellent service to students, faculty, and staff at Waterloo. We've introduced several bold initiatives, including an electronic book and article retrieval service, a new Web-based service which provides quick and easy access to electronic databases, and an electronic reference library offering access to selected electronic indexes. And we've continued to reach out to the academic community at Waterloo and beyond.
Without the untiring efforts of our talented and dedicated librarians and support staff, none of this would have been possible. They are truly the Library's greatest resource.
The biggest news of 1998 was the launch of TRELLIS, a new automated library system which offers integrated access to the holdings of all three members of the TriUniversity Group of Libraries (TUG): the University of Waterloo, the University of Guelph, and Wilfrid Laurier University. We chose the name TRELLIS-a lattice used to support climbing plants-because we see our new system as a support for our students, faculty, and staff. The name also suggests growth, strength, branching out-all words that describe what a library system should be.
Just over three years ago, librarians at Waterloo, Guelph, and Laurier agreed to acquire a shared, integrated library system. Selecting and implementing the TRELLIS system was a significant collaborative undertaking. Thirty-two staff members from the three libraries were involved in selection. Seventy-eight served on TRELLIS focus/prototyping teams. Staff members from all three libraries were also involved in implementing the new system.
Now up and running, TRELLIS allows users to search the collections of all three libraries at once. Operating on a graphical-based system using Windows software (Web- and character-based versions are also available), TRELLIS offers expanded searching capabilities, including both exact word and keyword searching, as well as a full range of Boolean operators. The new system is capable of connecting directly to remote electronic resources through links built into the catalogue records.
Attending the launch of TRELLIS, the new automated library system: (standing, left to right) Murray Shepherd, University Librarian and Dr. James Downey, President, University of Waterloo; Dr. Mordechai Rozanski, President and Michael Ridley, Chief Librarian, University of Guelph; (seated, left to right) Ruth Abbott, Manager, Universities Branch, Ministry of Education and Training; Virginia Gillham, University Librarian, Wilfrid Laurier University.