Building a management information system
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Statistics are an important tool in management decision-making. Every area of the library performs work that is measurable in some way. In many libraries data on collection activities results from daily routines and is facilitated by integrated library systems, but the collection of data on reference activities is left to periodic sampling, generated by hand tallying. In 1994 at the Medical Sciences Library of Texas A&M University we began to investigate, design, and implement a method of collecting statistical data on the computer based on a program developed at the Houston Academy of Medicine/Texas Medical Center Library in 1993. By 1995 we had a fully functional, customized Management Information System, using the Paradox relational database software, that tracked not only client serve interactions at the reference desk, but also administrative operations such as billing. The system was migrated to Microsoft Access in 1998. The MIS is still used to track reference desk transactions, mediated searches, librarian-taught classes, and activities in the Clinical Veterinary Librarian program.