Cibbarelli's Surveys: User-Ratings of COMPanion's Alexandria Software
Cibbarelli, Pamela R., Computers in Libraries
Librarians using COMPanion's Alexandria software were mailed a questionnaire asking them to rate Alexandria on a variety of qualities using a scale of 1-10. The results of the survey are shown in the table above. (Table omitted)
The survey was mailed to COMPanion's 2,000 installations of Alexandria; 95 libraries responded. When multiple responses were received from one library, the responses were averaged and entered as a single response. Of the 95 respondents, 48 percent rated Service/Support "10", "Exceeds expectations." The software also earned an average score of "Better than average" in every category.
ALEXANDRIA IOLS SOFTWARE
Alexandria is an integrated online library system for Macintosh computers. Now in version 3.5, the software is full featured, providing capabilities to manage acquisitions, online catalog, cataloging, circulation, CD-ROM interface, reserve room, media booking, interlibrary loan, and serials and subscriptions. Reports are easily generated and can be viewed on the screen prior to printing.
It is Boolean searchable and also includes a phonetic "sounds like" that is easy enough for elementary students to use. According to the information submitted for the forthcoming edition of The Directory of Library Automation Software, Systems, and Services (Learned Information, 1994), the majority of Alexandria's clients are school libraries, about 80 percent; 10 percent are university/special libraries; and 10 percent are business libraries.
Alexandria can import and export full MARC and MicroLif records. It also integrates directly with Brodart's Precision One using COMPanion's "SmartMARC" technology.
COMPanion also provides an integrated connection to CARL Systems' award-winning Kids Catalog. Alexandria users can connect to libraries using a Dynix or CARL computer by making a menu selection from the OPAC.
Alexandria does not require a dedicated machine, so the terminal(s) used to access the OPAC may also be used to access other library resources, such as CD-ROM applications. Some CD products are already directly integrated into the OPAC station, including SirS and InfoTrac's TOM.
The software is affordable with prices ranging from $1,195 for a single workstation to $4,395 for a library site license. Training is priced separately.
COMPanion Corporation's Library Automation Division produces, markets, and supports Alexandria software. COMPanion is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and just moved to new facilities in January 1994.
Neil Cross, Jr., Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (Talledega, ALA): "I would like to see a training session offered to users. This would help in sharing feedback on the system, make suggestions on change in the program (to make it more user friendly and more marketable), and see how others are using the program and any tips on keeping things running smoothly. I would have liked to have had a manual prior to receiving the program so I could have seen or known about all the system requirements and other items that need to be purchased to have the system run smoothly."
David L. Walton, Alpine District Media Center (American Pork, UT): "I have been very happy with the metamorphosis Alexandria has undergone from version 1 to 3.41. Bill and his team have taken every suggestion graciously and incorporated many and enhanced them within the product. I feel very much like they work directly for me and treat my comments as if they were their own. I can't wait to see how this product continues to evolve."
Herb Stude, The American School of the Hague (The Hague, Netherlands), reports that with no previous Macintosh experience, "following the documentation provided and in consultation with our school computer coordinator, installation was easily accomplished....Our overseas location made this (service/support) a prime consideration. We have had prompt, friendly, and helpful communications with COMPanion via phone, fax, and Applelink....While COMPanion does offer training sessions, this was not feasible for us due to our geographic location. However, we have found that this was not an essential consideration due to the very thorough documentation and our excellent local computer specialist support staff."
Katherine Sullivan, Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center (Scottsdale, AZ): "When our school was first setting up its library, the school district decided to try its first Mac circulation....It was my very first first-hand experience with an automated circulation system and with computer technology at all. Alexandria was remarkably easy to learn and to install. But as I get more knowledgeable I am becoming more aware of its shortcomings."
Cheri Johnson, Athenour School (San Jose, CA): "I use Alexandria for all my library needs. Checking in and out books, having a list when the classes come in of which books are still out, sending out overdue notices, keeping track of where books are and which books are due. The last two years I have only had two books that were lost. The previous years I lost many more than that. Alexandria has been a lifesaver since we don't have that much money to spend on books anymore."
Pat Gritton, Athens Academy (Athens, GA): "I use Alexandria for searching, circulation, budgeting, subscriptions; it is a great application software!"
Jill Pawesci, Aztec Elementary School (Scottsdale, AZ): "I find Alexandria a pleasure to use. Its capabilities seem endless. I seem to find new ones daily!"
Gerald Soon, Burnsview Junior Secondary School (Delta, British Columbia, Canada): "Burnsview Junior School is the first Canadian site for COMPanion....I have been able to have the advantage of the computerized circulation system as my collection has been gradually automated. Student records were accessed using records downloaded in tab-delimited format from the school board's IBM mainframe computer. All of my patrons were loaded in basically minutes!...As patrons borrowed materials, we entered them into our computer using basic information...and I was able to "fill in" the records using Brodart's Precision One CD...If I were to automate over again, I would not hesitate for one moment to choose Alexandria again!"
Karen Brachmann and Rosemary Knapp, Camas High School (Camas, WA) agree that "the support is phenomenal. Alexandria is tops with us."
Bonnie Goff, Cedar Bluff Primary School (Knox County, TN): "My site was the first installation of Alexandria in the East Tennessee area. As a result, I have been privileged to showcase Alexandria to interested librarians. These demonstrations have resulted in Alexandria being selected for many locations in this area. I have been very satisfied with every facet of Alexandria's performance, operation, and product support by COMPanion. COMPanion has continued to improve Alexandria by refining and adding operations that increase its usefulness and performance. COMPanion listens to suggestions, and you can be assured that the next version of Alexandria will be better and more useful."
Linda Whitmore, Cedar Ridge School (Sandy, OR): "We started using Alexandria when school started this year (2.5 months now). It took me last year to choose software, get hardware, and input short records. This year's project includes retro conversion and bringing catalog terminals on line. I am working on my own--no paid assistance. Also, I didn't have any experience prior to this. COMPanion has been terrific. I can't say enough about their outstanding service and support. Neither can I even estimate how many times I have called them for help. They are always on the phone after 2 or 3 rings; there is always someone to talk to immediately. No holding for ages. Two things fueled my decision to buy Alexandria: 1. I wanted to use Macs; 2. I could count on great support. Their product is terrific. I'm sold. I'm happy."
Arlene Sorenson, Cherry Hill Elementary School (Orem, UT): "Library Circulation--Easy to use, covers all I need and much more. Library Collection and Equipment Inventory--Use a portable reader, it's wonderful. Fund Raising Project--Checked out items to be sold to each student."
Michelle Yee, Pat Diskin Elementary (Las Vegas, NV): "Our concern was having to enter each book by hand since the retrospective conversion program our district had was IBM. To our delight we found it didn't matter. With a simple program our Mac turned into an IBM. We were able to load close to 5000 books within four months. Alexandria accepted every entry. Changing and modifying entries is an extremely simple process. Adding and removing patrons is also very easy. Alexandria has made our lives much easier."
Kathleen A. Tobin, Durango High School (Las Vegas, NV): "I chose the Alexandria system as the system that seemed the easiest to use and the one with the best reputation and most complete package of established services. I have had to make many adjustments learning a new computer and a new management system. The program is very easy to use...I have found most of the problems easy to work out. The support staff is wonderful. I have occasionally made suggestions for improvements to the program, and the company has been receptive."
Lois Sell Baer, Eastern Mennonite High School (Harrisonburg, VA): "We use Alexandria for all circulation tasks including overdue and classroom libraries. Catalog features are available at (our) circulation desk only. Future plans include installing terminals for the automated catalog. Our catalog cards are printed out via Alexandria. One of the best features of Alexandria is the import/export function which allowed us to import from a Microsoft Works database when we were starting up. Many parent and teacher volunteers entered information (as many as 10 working at a time) into the database which I later imported into Alexandria."
Jacque Burkhalter, Fidalgo Elementary School (Mount Vernon, WA): "We have three patron stations in the library, and additional patron stations networked out into our primary and intermediate classrooms. From the classrooms, patrons can place holds, check their records, and perform various searches...I generate my order forms and budget data directly from Alexandria. As items are received, I have the option of using outside sources for record data, or downloading the short record used for ordering so that incoming items can be immediately added to the collection. I then use Brodart's Precision One CD database to search for MARC records for new items."
Fourth Avenue Junior High School Library (Yuma, AZ): "We use it as a collection management system--Circulation and Electronic Card Catalog. Right now we are doing retroactive conversion of [the] collection. This is going well because the students are able to do most everything, i.e., rebarcode, enter new titles and patron. They like being able to work on the computer. I like the freedom it allows me."
Claudia Mahlman, Garland Street Middle School (Bangor, Maine): "Currently using circulation component. Will soon use online card catalog. Entering collection using Alexandria's...interface with Brodart's Precision One. I found Alexandria very easy to learn. When I ran into problems or needed help interpreting the manual, the telephone help was unbelievably fast, patient, and knowledgeable. Program updates were mailed quickly. With my limited experience with Alexandria, I would recommend the program to any Macintosh user who has no library software experience."
Nan Meyer, Halecook Elementary School (Romulus, MI): "Basically I am using check in/out, bookdrop, locating books and all general library procedures. I especially like the report capabilities, and ease. I don't have to worry about an accurate overdue list as it is all done for me. I made personalized barcodes for all my paperback books and entered them in the system which makes check in/out much easier. I am very happy that the students can check the inventory from their own room and have a book in mind even before they come to the media center. Using the portable barcode reader for inventory made the job much faster. I am thoroughly pleased with the Alexandria library system."
Dotti Bellinger, Health Partners (Minneapolis, MN): "We are a corporation that uses Alexandria for a combined catalog of entries from several department libraries. The catalog is made available to nearly 3,000 employees. COMPanion has really gone out of their way to accommodate our needs. Very friendly staff."
Sylvia Person, Holdredge Middle School (Holdredge, NE): "The only thing I wish Alexandria had was a "How to Manual." I would like chapters on 'Doing Inventory,' etc. I seem to spend too much time looking for steps and learning by trial and error and end up calling support for help. Their tech support is great, however, and always is prompt and helpful."
Larry Parsons, Ilwaco Jr/Sr High School (Ilwaco, WA): "Alexandria is certainly the easiest automation software that I've used. It's perfect for those of us who find DOS user antagonistic."
D. Rhodes, Jane Bryan Elementary School (Hampton, VA): "We are using circulation. We are also enjoying the ability to make orders and total orders while using Alexandria. We've done this during and between classes. It has been wonderful!"
Patty Sands, Lake Grove Elementary School (Lake Oswego, OR): "This is our circulation system for our media center. It eventually will have a card catalog when we can get the funding for Precision One. Wendy Weirick (Alexandria customer communications director) is extremely helpful. This is the best customer service I have encountered. These folks will take the time to walk you through any difficulties."
Molly Pearson, Lakewood Elementary Library (Lakewood, WA): "We use Alexandria for circulation and catalog search. It has the capability of doing retro conversion on its own from short book entries and Precision One. I love Alexandria! The level of tech support is outstanding!"
Lorna Squire, Mona Elementary (Mona, UT): "I love Alexandria because it not only saves me time but enables me to keep track of books and students. Alexandria also saves hours of work when we do inventory at the end of the year. I rate Alexandria excellent!"
Randy J. Mathey, Monroe Middle School (Green River, WY): "Material management has become a realistic goal for the first time in years. It is finally possible to hope catalog records match the collection. This allows selection to be a science rather than an intuitive art....We are becoming so dependent on the services available with Alex we don't think of these things as projects, this is how we now do our daily work. We are constantly planning more access and training. We intend that very soon every computer in our building will be networked to the catalog. Students use information in the catalog for their daily writing, teachers use searches in their daily planning. We are hooked on promised future feature upgrades and are already making plans for their use...I am an old dinosaur of a librarian. I am not a computer advocate, even of automated libraries--but Alex made a believer out of me."
Myrna Harbaugh, Parent Education Resource Center (Orem, UT): "PERC uses Alexandria as an inventory/circulation management system. We loan educational books, games, and videos and parenting skill-building books, tapes and videos to families to help improve school and family skills. Alexandria helps us track usage, past and present users, and other statistics for reports. The people in customer support are the best! They can either talk me through my problem or get back to me quickly with the solution. They are also very open to suggestions for product enhancement. All of us at PERC think Alexandria is a great library program."
Judy Power, Piedmont Lakes Middle School (Apoka, FL): "I use Alexandria to manage my media entry collection. It is wonderful. I do everything easily and efficiently. I LOVE the program. I found that I did not need training. The program is easy, and I had used an IBM management system before. Using a Mac and Alexandria was very easy, and the frustration disappeared! My Alexandria is networked throughout the school. We have had problems with the network, but Alexandria is great."
Barbara A. Bish, Priestly Forsyth Memorial Library (North Cumberland, PA): "Alexandria has been a wonderful addition to our library. We are a small library with a small staff--Alexandria is like adding a staff member."
Phyllis M. Roche, R.T. Cream School (Camden, NJ): "I am in a brand new K-8 School. The library is fully automated. The children are learning to look up their own books. In the next month we will be networking to two additional computers; then they will be independent in using the computer to find their books. The children are fascinated with the program, and I love it. It makes life so much easier."
Dianne Hamilton, Roosevelt High School Library (Fresno, CA): "We are able to create barcodes that match our students' permanent I.D. numbers, so we don't have to re-enter data every single year for every student. What a tremendous advantage!...The more we've learned to do with this sophisticated program the more we are impressed and delighted with its capabilities. Thank you COMPanion."
Karen Gaddis, Sam Barlow High School (Gresham, OR): "We have Alexandria library program (multi-user), and we also use Alexandria's textbook program. We like having the compatibility between them."
Becky Murray, Saudi Arabian International Schools (Saudi Arabia): "We are now doing inventory for the first time since we computerized. We have been impressed with the ease of using the industrial barcode reader. We are impressed with the ease of compiling statistics and the different choices and combinations of statistics. We are capable of checking out many more books per child, and we are able to keep very good track of them. The newer version has many good options that we haven't used yet--ordering and periodical records, for example."
South Summit High School Library (Kamas, UT): "I am very impressed with the system and with the help from COMPanion. I also appreciate the work that is done in updating the system."
Susan Hamilton, St. Thomas More Catholic High School (Lafayette, LA): "Presently I have the only Alexandria installation in Louisiana. Also, I have the only fully computerized school library in my parish. Other schools are struggling to get online with (an IBM IOLS); I am already there because Alexandria is so easy to use that I could figure it out myself--with a little help from the 800 number. I am not naturally attracted to computers and there is not a lot of support for Apple where I live, so ease of use was very important in making it possible for me to offer our students an adequate preparation for the 'information highway'."
Sue Dunne, Suntree Elementary School (Melbourne, FL): "The product has been very reliable and easy to use. Cost effective for multi-station network usage."
Kathy Lauretann, Teacher Center, Georgetown Community Schools (Georgetown, SC): "The Teacher Center is a Resource Center for Teachers in our county. We automated the Teacher Center in '91-92 using Alexandria, and it is a wonderful program! I don't know how we ever managed without it."
Vickie Nelson and Deborah Kaufman, University of Oregon Computing Center (Eugene, OR): "With one reservation, we were generally happy with the online catalog from the beginning, somewhat less enthusiastic about the subscriptions module, which was apparently (and maybe still is) in a fairly early stage of development. The staff has always been available, helpful, responsive, patient, encouraging, and friendly, and has already fixed most (or all) of the problems we had with the subscriptions."
Kathy Jo Percy, Wasatch High School (Heber City, UT): "We researched three other library automation systems before deciding on Alexandria. We found Alexandria to be the best because of the ease of the program, the great support, the ongoing improvements and the versatility of the program. We liked the idea of our owning the hardware and the program itself, allowing us to use the hardware as needed and deciding for ourselves if we want to upgrade every year, as school budget allows. We would highly recommend this program to any library that is thinking of beginning an automation program or changing from an existing one."
Nancy Jo Pinney, Washington High School Library (South Bend, IN): "COMPanion has been wonderfully patient and helpful, a fine company with which to work. So far I have found Alexandria to be an excellent program. The few glitches or shortcomings I've called to their attention are being promptly addressed and corrected or revised with interim releases."
Margery Seid, Westland School (Los Angeles, CA): "When I was comparing different programs, prior to purchase, several other companies did a very hard sell. COMPanion was not ever pushy. They seemed to have unlimited patience in answering my numerous questions. They were also willing to be as flexible as possible about the financial aspect of purchasing."
Joann Bjorh, Wick Elementary School (Romulus, MI): "We just started this year using Alexandria as a complete checkout system of the books in our elementary library. It's a bit scary trusting the computer and the program--but its so easy to use that you just have to!"
JoAnn Calhoun, Woodbine Elementary School (Woodbine, GA): "Automation of circulation of K-5 elementary school. Finding a patron or item is unbelievably easy! Answering the questions, "Do I have a book out? How many books do I have? Who has a certain book?" now doesn't require a big physical search. So easy! The range of reports is remarkable. The ease of printing reports is wonderful. Adding new items, or patrons; changing a barcode number; removing items or patrons is a snap. Printing overdue notices and lists is so easy and saves hours of the clerk's time. The telephone support personnel are excellent."
For more information about COMPanion's software, please contact Carla F. Breton, COMPanion, 1831 Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, UT 84121-3041, phone (800) 347-6439 or (801) 943-7277; fax (801) 943-7752. E-mail: Applelink COMPanion.
User ratings of software will continue in future issues of Computers in Libraries. If you would like sites using a particular software package surveyed, or if you have a comment about the column, contact Pamela Cibbarelli at (714) 969-8358 or e-mail to Internet address PCibbarelli(at)Fullerton.edu.
Pamela R. Cibbarelli is the president of Cibbarelli's, 419 Main St., Suite 82, Huntington Beach, CA 92648 (714-969-8358 Internet: Pcibbarelli(at)Fullerton.edu.…
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Publication information: Article title: Cibbarelli's Surveys: User-Ratings of COMPanion's Alexandria Software. Contributors: Cibbarelli, Pamela R. - Author. Magazine title: Computers in Libraries. Volume: 14. Issue: 3 Publication date: March 1994. Page number: 30. © 2008 Information Today, Inc. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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