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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Dial-up edition

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian & College Archivist

The library's Westlaw terminal, circa 1981. 
The interface has changed a bit over the years.
The fall semester of 1980 saw a big change at the South Texas College of Law Library - we purchased the Westlaw computerized research system. Westlaw and LexisNexis started in the 1970s as dial-up services with dedicated terminals. When South Texas first purchased Westlaw, our license allowed 50 hours of research time a month with unlimited supervised "play time." Play time referred to access limited to learning the functions of the system itself, not to do actual research. In order to use the system you had to set up an appointment. Once trained, students could sign up for half an hour per week of free time. If they went over that 30 minutes they had to pay for the extra time. Once students had entered their search query they could print out the a copy of their retrieved cases as a kind of bibliography (a list of case names). They could then proceed to the proper books to finish their research. It took a while for the system to catch on and gain in popularity - apparently people preferred the books.