Reporter 427, 16 November 1998


Letters

Celebrating library’s catalogue of success

Dr Christine Margerum
Department of Politics

The University Library’s IT staff deserve to be congratulated on their efficient conversion of the library catalogue over to the World Wide Web.

Neither Cornell University, where I am currently a visiting research fellow, nor MIT, where I conducted some library research last summer, had web-based catalogues and I have seen few that are as easy to use as the one at Leeds.

Web-based catalogues seem to hold great promise for researchers. Last week, I received training at Cornell on a computer programme that can transfer information from web-based catalogues directly into citations and bibliographies. Ironically, this feature does not work with Cornell’s catalogue, because, unlike the staff at Leeds, Cornell’s librarians have been unable to get their web-based catalogue to work.

Old blokes needed

Vic Rogers-Gentile
School of Textile Industries

Recent published research by the universities of Cardiff and Aberdeen examining the differences in academic achievement of 60,000 students at degree level has concluded that (a) privately-educated entrants are less likely to graduate with a first class degree than those from comprehensive schools, (b) women are less likely to gain a First than men, and (c) entrants with no formal qualifications, and/or mature students, also do better than qualified entrants.

Logic tells me that very old, unqualified, males from comprehensive schools should be actively sought to improve standards.

Space age technology

Dave Holdsworth
University Computing Service

Can I add to the thoughts about part-time parkers?

If more people became part-time parkers, we may actually solve the space availability altogether. However, once you have your permit, parking is free. There is no incentive to reduce one’s personal demand on the car parking space.

We could have a charge per day of use. This would give some financial incentive in favour of less car use – car pooling, rail, bus, bike, walking.

Any effect that it had would be to make more space available, and in any case it would be fairer to those who use the car park less than five times a week.

I have a strong hunch that the technology is feasible. The entry system already collects the necessary data from the cards, and the new readers for cards seem to be reliable enough for this purpose. Electronic data transfer leading to salary deduction is clearly quite straightforward.

Perhaps there may be those who would wilfully avoid charges by ignoring no-entry signs, or sneaking through under a descending pole. However, there are possibilities for random checks, and the sanction of denial of a permit would be so severe as to encourage compliance, even without a barrier on the exit by the Parkinson Building.

We need more permits. Hence, it has to be either more spaces or less use by permit holders.

The current practice of disadvantage to the recent recruits and part-timers is bad for the University, and may even discourage people from accepting research posts.

Fear of invasion?

Dr Alan Slomson
School of Mathematics

Adrian Smith’s complaint (Reporter 426) about the confusing naming of buildings misses the point. I had thought it was part of a carefully thought out strategy to improve our security.

It goes along with all the maps recently erected around the campus. They are beautiful to look at but practically useless unless you are already close to the building you are looking for.

But maybe I am wrong and the House and Estates Committee does not fear an invasion. Perhaps, instead, it is just part of the “presentation is more important than content” movement that has taken over so many of our activities?

Those were the days

Reg Allenby
School of Mathematics

“Come in, come in” the lecturer sighed
In a voice which was filled with unease.
That twice weekly hour had come round again
When he saw all his forty tutees.

His mind quickly raced to some thirty years back
When his tutees then numbered just three.
He could mark all their work, do three hours research
And still be back home for high tea.

But since those good days when just one in nine
Was encouraged to enter HE,
Government pressures had changed all of that
To a fraction quite near one in three.

By a quick calculation (his maths was quite weak)
He concluded that thirty years on
The present proportion attending HE
Would then be quite near one in one.

And thirty years later?...He couldn't believe
What his brain was now saying would be:
That THREE TIMES THE PEOPLE alive in the land
Would be in some form of HE

Not only these numbers but admin. as well
Were beginning to get out of hand.
But with TQA visits to come very soon
No time for heads stuck in the sand.

“Three copies of this, please“ and “Five more of that”
Will keep our friend’s feet in the mire.
To find that lost time to write books and research
I think he had better RETIRE.

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