UA Info slated to become interactive

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Buying textbooks usually means searching through shelves, standing in line and generally getting frustrated. Technology might change that.

UA Info, the University of Arizona’s online information service, and the ASUA Bookstore are making plans to make book-buying easier.

Brett Bendickson, UA Info coordinator, said the service is in the works, but a lot of preparation will be necessary before it is available to students.

"We're interested in it, but there are some technical barriers and a fair amount of process involved," Bendickson said.

Frank Farias, ASUA Bookstore director, said the service will not be available to students for at least another year.

He said the system will allow students to see a list of books they will need for the semester, choose if they want new or used books and have them set aside by using their credit card number. The books can then be picked up quickly.

This fall, a similar setup will be done manually to test how such a system will work, Farias said.

The system, which will be offered to incoming freshmen, will be "a testing opportunity to see how to work out the kinks before we try it electronically," he said.

Farias said the bookstore is working on plans to purchase a server that will allow the bookstore to interface with the UA Info system. Software will also need to be purchased, and Farias said it will take some time to switch to a new method of textbook sales.

Students can see which books are required for each course through UA Info's online schedule of classes.

Bendickson said he is also working on adding a "booklist" feature to the service. That would allow a student to enter their p.i.n. and student ID number and get a "shopping list" of all the books they will need for their classes.

Bendickson said UA Info is "hit" over 10,000 times a day. A "hit" is recorded each time a different item is accessed. For instance, accessing information about two courses in the schedule counts as two "hits."

Currently, the schedule of classes is currently the most accessed portion of the service.

The online version of the schedule can assist students because it is the most up-to-date version available. Students can check to see if a class has been cancelled or if its location has been moved before they register.

Another feature of the system allows students to check current enrollment of a particular section, which will show how many seats are available in the course.

"As soon as they register, they can go back in (to UA Info) and see the seats available go from three to two," Bendickson said.

Other new features on UA Info include searchable Wildcat archives, Bendickson said.

By accessing the newspaper through UA Info, users can enter a search string, and all articles that contain that string will be listed.

"Almost all of these are on-campus use," Bendickson said. "But the Wildcat gets a fair amount of off-campus readership."

UA Info can be reached several ways. From a campus network, such as GAS, type "lynx http://www.arizona.edu". On the VMS system, users must type "setup uainfo" at the system prompt first. From anywhere on the Internet, the address is "http://www.arizona.edu".

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