From Duluth News-Tribune
Points North
Section B
Page 1
Tuesday, May 31, 1994

Technology
you can swear by

Addition to UMD library collection has 16 versions of the Bible on CD-ROM

By Jason Skog
News-Tribune staff writer



 CD-ROM held next to a large bible
Bible Library available at the library
 

 Doreen Hansen plucked a cartridge of compact discs from file drawer and loaded it into a small box connected to a computer. Chunk. 

"It just takes a few seconds to load," she said. 

The box whirred and, in a moment, a list of options flashed across the screen. 

Your choice of:  16 versions of the Bible and accompanying reference tools, a dozen maps and thousands of sermon outlines totaling more than 100,000 pages - all packed onto a single computer disc for handy reference and study. 

Hansen, a depository office manager at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, helped coordinate the Library's new CD-ROM system.  It's a cutting edge donation from the Northern Bible Society. 

It's also the only one of its kind in the Twin Ports. 

"You wouldn't find all this stuff in any library short of the Library of Congress," said Don Pearce, former directory of the Library and a member of the Northern bible Society. 

The CD-ROM program is the most recent and easily the most contemporary addition to UMD's extensive collection of more than 1,400 Bibles and religious writings.  Some date as far back as a Torah from the 13th century and a first edition of the King James Bible from 1611. 

So what is a CD-ROM? 

"CD" stands for compact disc, and "ROM" is the acronym for read only memory.  That means the disc can only be used to read information or data - you can store files on it. 

Showing the CD-ROM workstation compared to actual biblesAside from containing a mass of Biblical information, the program allows quick cross-referencing of passages, names, phrases and commentaries on the Bible.  You can even take your research home by downloading it onto a floppy disk. 

It's so much easier to get from one version to another," Pearce said.  "If you had all this in print form, you'd have a table full of stuff." 

David Wheeler, pastor at Hillside United Methodist Church, said he's excited about the time he could save using the new technology.  Right now, his church has computers, but no CD-ROMS. 

"I think it's wonderful, but there's no reason why the church should be falling so behind in technology."  Wheeler said.  It's good only to the extent that we don't worship the technology, but the things we can learn from it." 

Wheeler said the advances in computers are often neglected for fear of change - especially by older members of the church. 

"We ought not be afraid at all of technology," he said.  "It's good stuff.  It frees you up to do more." 

The cost of purchasing the same material in book format would cost about $1,300 and take up as much space as the Encyclopedia Britanica.  As a computer program, the cost is $$95 and the information is compressed onto a standard 45/8-inch disc. 

The program is a "windows" type system, allowing the user to view several versions at the same time.  The windows can be moved, shaped and sized by using a computer mouse. 

A screenshot of the programThe Northern Bible Society was originally set up in 1932 to provide scripture in the language of various nationalities immigrating to northern Minnesota.  Today the society helps distribute Bibles with the help of the American bible Society, and supports local scripture scholars. 

Even for those apprehensive when it comes to high-tech gadgetry, it only takes a few minutes to learn how to use the New Bible Library. 

UMD librarians customized the CD-ROM system with its own start-up menu so that every program begins the same way. 

So whether you're sitting down at the computer to find a passage of scripture from the King James Bible or looking for 1990 Census figures for Minnesota, the process is the same to begin both programs. 

Until the cable for the information superhighway is laid and connected, those interested in using the New Bible Library must do so in person. 

But UMD is developing a way to connect the CD-ROM system to the network of other computers on campus and eventually allow access to every computer in the Northland. 

"If we can get it to the College of Business or Liberal Arts, we could probably just as easily get it 100 miles away," said Bill Sozansky, acting director of the Library. 

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