The University Record, April 2, 1996

MITS rises to the challenge 

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Want to open a burger stand in Central America and need to know if there's any competition? Call MITS. Need to know more about de-icing an aircraft, Spain's growing pharmaceutical industry, how gender affects business negotiations or what alternate versions of the Shoemaker and the Elves fairy tale are around? Call MITS.

The U-M's Michigan Information Transfer Source (MITS) has handled more than 160,000 such requests since it opened in 1980. Now, well into its 16th year of gathering information from more than 1,000 databases, MITS continues to serve a variety of business and professional areas including manufacturing, medicine, chemistry and law.

A part of the sixth largest academic research library in the country, MITS has direct access to more than 6.5 million volumes; 100,000 journals and periodicals; 3,000 annual and corporate reports; association and professional society publications; United Nations publications; and federal, state and foreign government documents. In addition to these sources, researchers at MITS have established an extensive network with other libraries and information centers around the world.

"We can retrieve almost any publication that isn't confidential or classified, and we can get it quickly," says Pam MacKintosh, director of MITS.

While some companies hire their own researchers, others find it more profitable to use the services of university-bound organizations such as MITS, which operates as a fee-based service. With the skills of the sharpest detective, most ingenious c omputer hacker and service-oriented librarian, the information specialists at MITS attack any request, searching in the hundreds of commercial databases that index and track trade literature, newspaper articles, business journals and technical literature. And it takes these information professionals only days or hours, if requested, to get the results to their clients using the latest in electronic conveyances.

"MITS gets material out the door typically within three days," MacKintosh says. "We have several levels of rush service, including a max rush which gets information or articles on their way to our clients within three hours."

Sometimes the needs of the client require an extra service, and MITS personnel have risen to such challenges ensuring conscientious service that on occasion has required working non-scheduled hours or tracking down a FedEx office still open on a Saturday night.

So, whether it's golf course liability policies for water hazards, production and consumption of cookies and snack foods in Latin America, or the pros and cons of 12-hours work-shifts that is needed, call MITS, 763-5060.