The University of Southern California’s Department of Cinema has received a $112,586 grant from the U.S. Office of Education to study the feasibility of an automated cataloguing service for all the audio-visual materials now in use in an eight-county southern California area.
Conducted with the cooperation of all audio-visual libraries in Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the study will extend over a two-year period and could well result in the largest computerized library in the world.
USC earned the right to conduct this research because it already has developed imaginative, computerized techniques capable of revolutionizing the film libraries of the world.
The idea began with one man—USC’s Director of Film Distribution, Mr. Glenn McMurry.
It was McMurry who first envisioned getting all the details related to USC’s own rather extensive library on computer tape. Because there was no other way to do this and because of his personal interest in the concept, McMurry first taught himself how to program an electronic computer and how to operate the business machines associated with it.
Next, he "trained" the computer and the machines to handle the mountain of data necessary in cataloguing, advertising, and distributing films, and keep a running record of the whole operation.
The Office of Education grant will permit McMurry and his small staff—aided by the audio-visual libraries in the eight-county area—to apply what they already know will work for the film library of a large university to all the materials in all the educational audio-visual libraries in the area.
Eligible for inclusion in this experimental cataloguing service will be the materials now in the hands of the schools, libraries and all other non-profit organizations.
The federal grant directs McMurry, his staff and the cooperating AV libraries to "examine the feasibility, problems, costs and all details related to such a computerized service."
With the Office of Education grant, McMurry’s research team expects to build the prototype of a system which, conceivably, could one day cover the nation and possibly the world.
"First we must prove that the system we have developed at USC will work for a larger selection of audio-visual materials than we have in our own extensive library and for a much larger geographic area," says McMurry.
"This is the challenge outlined for us in the U.S. Office of Education grant terms. In doing this, we hope to prove that USC’s Systems Cataloguing could work for the nation—with all of the information on all of the educational films in the country stored at one point—perhaps right here at USC."
The USC research program will be under the administrative supervision of Dr. Bernard Kantor, Professor of Cinema and Chairman of that department at USC. Dr. Kantor lives at 177 South Poinsetta Place, Los Angeles (36).
McMurry’s staff includes Mr. Charles Vento of 1512 Dorland Street, Whittier, research associate; Bertha Landers of 4930 Coliseum Street, Los Angeles (16), editor; and Mr. George A. Wehbi of 8903 Carson Street, Culver City, who runs USC’s film library.
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