See our updates on planning for Fall 2020.

student in media lab

Chapter 14: Library and Computer Use

[The first two documents excerpted here are part of the Planning Bulletin series. The third is a memo from the Three College Computer Center, a facility which Hampshire shared to perform administrative computing functions.]

The Hampshire College Library

by Robert S. Taylor. March 1969. Click here to download a pdf of the full Planning Bulletin.

Academic libraries built during the last third of this century will still resemble conventional libraries, but the resemblance may be misleading. This is because the definition of a library is changing rapidly, and will continue to do so for some time to come. The challenge, then, for new libraries is the creation of a new institution merging the best of the traditional library with a readiness to make maximum use of innovation in communications technology. They must, for survival, be prepared to offer conventional services, while at the same time experimenting with and changing those services. (p.5)

Those responsible for college libraries are thus under increasing pressure to re-examine library processes and, more fundamentally, to reassess the reasons for the libraries' existence. They will be faced with an increasing number of critical decisions: to automate the library processes; to standardize systems; to seek integration of book with non-book media; to develop cooperative agreements and networks; to use sophisticated communications systems; to analyze and evaluate their own operations. Changes in technology, in curricular design, in costs, in types of students, in the services demanded, and in patterns of learning are happening so fast that a critical change in libraries is imperative...the library must be a center for the creation, use and distribution of knowledge in a variety of media, communications-oriented rather than book-oriented.

To move from passive warehouse to dynamic process, several things are necessary. First, the library must contain not only books, but all forms of media relevant to the educational process. More importantly, these must be viewed not merely as additional packages to process and to store. Rather, these forms must be relevant and important to the learning process. And the library itself must play an active role in this process. Second, the library must extend itself to responsi-bilities not normally included in the conventional library. The bookstore, audio-visual activities, computing services, and institutional research are a few of the elements that, together with the traditional book library, will strengthen each other. Third, and perhaps most important, the library must be open-ended. Because of the dynamics of communications technology, libraries must be designed and operated so that they are more adaptable to change than they are now. We do not know what demands will be made on the library in ten or twenty years, but we do know that they will be different than they are today. By 1990, it is likely, for example, that the excellence of the academic library will not be measured by the extent and quantity of its collections but rather by the capabilities of its information processing system and hence its response to user needs.

Within this context of innovation and change, the Hampshire College Library has been designed to be a demonstration model for college library development and operation in the last third of the twentieth century. To serve as a prototype for the coming decades the Hampshire Library will:

...combine book library, bookstore, computing center, display gallery, and Information Transfer Center. the nerve center of the campus connecting the library electronically with student rooms, faculty offices, classrooms, other libraries, and information processing networks.
...have its materials ordered, cataloged, and marked by a commercial firm so that staff energies may be directed toward help to the user.
...demonstrate the economies possible through the automation of library processes.
...experiment with student operation of the Library so that students, under professional guidance, will be serving their peers.

...explore and develop an active role for the Library in the teaching and learning process.

In short, we intend to create a dynamic and open-ended environment in the Library, from which the Hampshire student will develop a better sense of the organized complexity called communication. By becoming a more capable and spphisticated user of the new Library, a student will possess tools necessary to respond to two of the major challenges of this century, the information explosion and the revolution in communications technology. (p.5-8)

Computers and Computer Use

by Robert S. Taylor. March 1969. Click here to download a pdf of the full Planning Bulletin.

The computer and related information technology will be a pervasive influence in the culture of the latter part of this century. All students (and faculty) at Hampshire should be exposed to it. Some will use it as a tool in problem-solving. Some will study its architecture and its languages. Some will use it as a teaching device. Others will study it historically, economically, or culturally. But all should have exposure.

Within this context then, the following areas appear to be major types of uses for Hampshire College.

Educational uses.

  1. All students should develop an understanding of the role of the computer in society, not only as a tool, but as a trigger for change. This includes principally (a) the effect of the computer on social, political, and economic organization; and (b) its possible implications for our concepts of mind and intelligence.
  2. All students should have the opportunity to develop a high capability. Some will work toward a deeper understanding of the structure of computer languages.
  3. Students in the natural and social sciences will use the computer extensively to solve problems and to process and analyze data. For independent work we can expect students to use the computer extensively for data manipulation.
  4. Students in language and communication will use the computer in somewhat different and more difficult ways to describe. This is a relatively new field and programs for these operations, though plentiful, are not standardized or developed as are those in scientific computing.
  5. The College will wish to maintain close knowledge of and, where feasible, to exploit programs in computer assisted instruction (CAI). The current state of CAI for higher education will probably preclude extensive dependence on such systems in 1970-71. (p.6-8)

User Preparation of Checks for the Check Reconciliation System

Amherst College
Interdepartmental Memorandum

March 6, 1974
From: Jon Rhoades
To: Alex deVillier, Dave Hornfischer, Charles Jackson, Fred Roberts
Subject: User Preparation of Checks for the Check Reconciliation System

1. Input Preparation User Responsibility

It has come to my attention that in several runs of job REJ020, Check Match and Reconciled Record Purge, certain checks have been processed upside down. This causes the check to print on the check error report with an error message of "CHECK NUMBER NOT NUMERIC" and a check number of a single zero. This occurs on those payrolls whose checks are square cut. This would be the Amherst-Folger cash disbursement checks and the Hampshire cash disbursement checks. All other payrolls are currently using checks which have at least one corner diagonally cut.

In order to resolve this problem, it will be necessary for the user to make sure that all checks are submitted to the Computer Center in the right position. In other words, they must be submitted to the Center right side up. This follows a standard operating procedure of the Computer Center in regard to user input.


Stay In Touch
With Hampshire College
Snail Mail
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002