LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
1996 Volume 6 Issue 1/2; June.
Quarterly LIBRE6N1 EDEN

LIBRES Special Issue


Editor's Preface

This special issue of LIBRES, an electronic, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in the field of Library and Information Science Research, is devoted to the subject of telecommuting and/or telecomputing in the area of cataloging. The three articles that follow examine this topic from very different perspectives. Leyson and Pelzer provide a historical perspective of telecataloging, and consider the topic in its present emanation as well as some forecasts on its future progression. Browne examines the field of indexing as a subtopic under telecommuting and cataloging, and describes the opportunities this field provides for working at home. Finally, Blosser and Zhang describe their "Interactive Electronic Serials Cataloging Aid," an attempt to apply new technology to traditional cataloging principles, and t the implications of their online cataloging training tool for telecommuting and telecomputing in the area of technical services. Telecommuting, telecataloging, remote cataloging -- all of these terms describe a phenomenon that has just begun to emerge as a work option in the library environment. Telecommuting appeared in the early 1990's as an experiment in some large multinational corporations, and has so far been a resounding success as a viable workplace alternative for both employers and employees alike. Some interesting statistics to consider:

     A person working 1 or 2 days a week at home can save a company

      $6,000 to $12,000 a year through lower turnover, reduced office

      space, and hikes in productivity.

     In 1994 almost 9 million people telecommuted, a 20% increase over

       the previous year.  By 1998, that number will increase to 13   


     Over the past three years Ernst & Young, the accounting and

       consulting firm, has reduced its office space by 2 million feet,

       resulting in a savings of $25 million a year.

     AT&T has 3.5% of its employees telecommuting, and hopes to raise

       this number to 15% by the year 2000.  It saved $80 million in

       real estate costs last year from its 35,000 telecommuters.

     2,500 employees out of 56,000 at Hewlett-Packard telecommute at

       least part-time as of November 1995.

     Savings on lunches, wear and tear on a car, and clothing can

       amount to $1,000 a year savings for employees, as well as 

       reduced stress and an increased sense of freedom.

     Employee productivity increases about 8 to 20%.(1)

     A GSA survey, released after the first annual Telecommute America!

       celebration, asked Fortune 1000 executives who incorporate       

       telecommuting as a workplace alternative what their opinions

       were on this topic.  Sixty-four percent cited savings on office

       space costs, 58% cited increased productivity, 63% mentioned

       improved employee retention, 61% cited reduced absenteeism,

       63% mentioned reduced employee stress, and 79% cited improved

       employee morale.  An overwhelming 92% of these executives said

       that telecommuting had produced advantages in savings for their


Such amazing statistics in favor of telecommuting are transforming the way corporate America does business in this era of downsizing. Only recently are libraries exploring the possibilities of telecommuting, especially in the area of technical services. Listed below are some of the many Internet sites related to telecommuting and working at home:

Telecommuting, teleworking, and alternative officing

American Society of Indexing

Telecommuting Advisory Council

Telecommuting jobs

Yahoo index on telecommuting

Telecommuting and Telework Resource Page

Telecommute America home page

There is also one listserv devoted to telecommuting, which so far has had only sporadic traffic. Send mail to with the message "subscribe remote-work [your e-mail address]" in the body of the message. You will also receive instructions to access a variety of interesting documents on telecommuting in the welcome response. Hopefully, this special issue of LIBRES will encourage discussion among the library community, especially on the AUTOCAT listserv. I personally worked full-time for nine months and currently work part-time as a remote cataloger for Iowa State University from my home in Houston, Texas (see a description of the Synthesis Coalition and the NEEDS database at While cataloging computer files remotely is more feasible than books or other physical objects, libraries need to explore the opportunities that telecommuting can provide. I hope that the following articles will stimulate discussion and experimentation.

                             Dr. Brad Eden

                             Coordinator, Technical Services

                             Automated Library Services

                             North Harris Montgomery Community

                                  College District

                             Houston, Texas




     (1) Statistics taken from Jim Barlow, "It will pay to do your home

              work," _Houston Chronicle_, March 28, 1996; and Jonathan

              Marshall, "Telecommuting picking up steam," _San Francisco

              Chronicle_, [date unknown].

     (2) BNA Daily Labor Report, 24 Oct. 95, A4.

This document may be circulated freely with the following statement included in its entirety:

Copyright Bradford L. Eden. 1996.

This article was originally published in
_LIBRES: Library and Information Science
Electronic Journal_ (ISSN 1058-6768) June, 1996
Volume 6 Issue 1/2.
For any commercial use, or publication (including electronic journals), you must obtain the permission of the authors:
Bradford L. Eden

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