UA to update, expand online general catalogue

By Joseph M. Molina
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 12, 1996

Charlies C. LaBenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat

The University of Arizona's General Catalog is making the transfer from a printed format to an expanded World Wide Web site on UA Info. Susan Steele, associate vice provost for undergraduate education, is in charge of putting the UA General Catalog online.


In March 1997, improved general and graduate catalogs will be available on the Internet, making crucial information more accessible to students.

The 1995-97 catalogs are on UA Info, but are presented as a text document only, said Susan Steele, associate vice provost for undergraduate education at the University of Arizona.

She said the online catalog's purpose is to help advise students and faculty in making correct choices.

Steele said the improved catalogs will be easily searchable and will allow printing of sub-parts and links to other electronic information. She said the site will also include departmental home pages and the student handbook online.

"This is part of a larger project to make information available to students," Steele said.

Loyd Bell, manager of administrative processes for academic and student affairs, said the convenience of an online catalog is that students can also search the Internet and ask for information pertaining to their majors.

The computer system is set up to be interactive, Bell said. After a student enters his or her information, such as personal identification number or major, the computer will tell the student what catalog he or she should use. If the student believes the i nformation is incorrect, he or she could see an adviser.

"Students will be able to view descriptions of courses and policies and will have many options," Bell said.

Class information will be available at the site, allowing students interested in taking a class to view what it is all about. Bell said this will save students the time and frustration of going to a class and then wanting to drop it.

With the current online catalog, Bell said one problem is that the cover differs from the print version, making it unrecognizable to students. He said icons and backgrounds are being developed so students will be able to recognize the online catalog's imp ortant information.

"We want students to have the same comfort with the electronic catalog as they do with the print (version)," Bell said.

Another problem with the printed catalog is that students do not use it, Steele said. She said some of the printed catalog's information is hard to find and some students do not know how to search through it.

Finally, Steele said the catalogs are printed every two years and are out of date when they are re-released. A supplement is made, but she said it is also out of dated when printed.

"We felt that it (the catalog) was not serving its needs, and now, with the electronic catalog we can do better," Steele said.

The electronic catalog will contain the same information as the print catalog, but Steele said it will be updated.

"The result will be more and better information," she said.

One of the concerns that is being taken seriously is that some people are not computer literate, Steele said. This is the reason why the electronic catalog is being made as user friendly as possible so the print catalog can be eliminated in the near futur e, she said.

Bell said a decision has not been made to determine if the print catalog will remain.

The electronic catalog will be tested for one year to see how it works out and to see users' responses.

"We will wait and see if it meets the students' needs," he said.

Students owning personal computers will have the easiest access, but Bell said it will be available at all campus computer labs.

"You do not need an e-mail account to access the system," Bell said. "Having a computer at home is just a matter of convenience."

Bell said another plus is that people living off-campus and out-of-state can also access the catalog.

To access to 1995-97 catalogs, please go to UA '95-'97 catalogs