Mark Eckes Interview

Mark Eckes.

Mark Eckes worked at Minitex from 1974 to 1984, when Minitex was just three years in to the program. He managed the Minitex staff (payroll, vacation, sick leave) and was responsible for office purchasing and OCLC billing. In his interview, he describes early technology used at Minitex for processing interlibrary loan requests, such as the TWX machine, and Minitex's first computer. Other topics discussed include the Minitex traveling slideshow, what it was like to work with Alice Wilcox (the first Minitex director), and the Minitex tennis and softball team.

Interviewed by Sara Ring, Minitex, on July 7, 2011.

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Quotes From the Interview

On sending interlibrary loan requests via the teletypewriter:

The TWX machine. That was an interesting piece of equipment. I had not seen one before I came to Minitex and it was a Western Union teletype. It probably measured 3 feet across and 4 feet tall and it had a keyboard on it. Electrified but not anything like an electric typewriter because you really had to bang on it to get it to work. And on the side was about an 8-inch roll of yellow paper tape, probably about an inch wide. It would put dots in it, depending on the different key that you struck. And we had yards, and yards, and yards, and yards of this yellow tape that once we were done we had to roll up and sort of organize and we would write on it what library it was going to be sent to. Because first you had to prepare it, then you had to feed it back into the machine and you had to dial up the TWX machine on the other end, and they would get it. (6:43)

On working for Alice Wilcox (Minitex director, 1969-1982):

I had a ball working for Alice, she's a brilliant thinker, a brilliant mind. She definitely had her quirks, but I loved it. She really was my mentor and a person that I tried to emulate throughout my career... probably the most important lesson I learned from her, she never said can't. We can't do this, I can't do this. Now, many times she said won't. I won't do that or we won't do that, but she never said can't. And I think it was something that really stuck with me. To persevere no matter what kind of road blocks come up, barricades come up. You work through them, you work around them, you go over them, but you plow forward. (17:44)

On the Minitex 40th Anniversary:

What strikes me as 40 years for Minitex, that's amazing. It didn't dawn on me at the time I guess that I was into it so early, came really when it was only three years old. And to have just two directors, Alice Wilcox and Bill DeJohn, I think is quite remarkable. It really shows the strength and stability of the program, the worth of the program. That it continues year after year after year to get funding. Congratulate everybody for making 40 years and I'm very happy to have been a part of it. (31:55)

Creative Commons LicenseThis Oral History Project interview by Minitex is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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