Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Breaking Down the Data

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Breaking Down the Data

Article excerpt


Chapter 3 examines differences in ILS satisfaction by library type (public vs. academic) and size. Satisfied libraries praise quality customer service; dissatisfied ones mention a variety of issues, including business direction, ILS functionality, customer service problems, and cost. Chapter 3 also examines trends over time for both satisfaction and interest in open source, and speculates on reasons behind these trends. Finally, it examines the relationship between company loyalty and future migration.

ILS Satisfaction

As mentioned in chapter 2, a few products--notably Apollo and OPALS--received exceptionally high satisfaction ratings. These products typically serve small libraries; therefore both the products and the libraries may not be reflective of trends for other types of libraries. Through the linkages to lib-web-cats, it's possible to associate survey responses with additional data elements to bring in factors such as library type or size of collection. We were also able, by using data from lib-web-cats, to correlate library collection size for most, although not all, of the libraries in the survey. This let us examine ILS and customer support satisfaction for three sizes of library--smaller, larger, and very large--and two types--public and academic. There were not enough respondents from other library types in the survey to permit meaningful comparisons.

One caveat: collection size is self-reported, and libraries may use different metrics; for instance, they may make different choices about how to count electronic content. Therefore the breakdown by library size should be taken as a broad approximation.

When segregating the survey data by the size of the library, in this case determined by those with collections over 50,000 volumes, much more interesting results are revealed than from the total aggregate data. This view of the data filters out the ultraposirive responses submitted primarily by small libraries, providing a more fair comparison of those companies and products that serve all but the smallest libraries. Removing the smallest libraries, and the 347 for which collection size could not be determined, leaves 1,043 out of the 2,102 total survey responses (figure 1). Note also that only products with at least 20 active sites generate discrete entries in the summary tables.

In this view of the data filtering out smaller libraries, Polaris stands out as the ILS with the most positive ratings, with an average of 7.84. Millennium ranks second with 7.19. A middle group of products (Library.Solution, Aleph, and Evergreen) all rank between 6.4 and 6.75. Voyager, Symphony, and Horizon received similar ratings around 5.9.

By looking at the comments, we can see some of the reasons behind these ratings. While top-ranking Polaris has usability concerns for some customers, many agree that "customer support is beyond excellent," including increased responsiveness over the past year. Libraries feel that "they really listen to our issues, thoughts, and suggestions"; for example, "via the Polaris Users Group enhancement process." One library feels that "The customer service is unparalleled. I would not say that I would stand on a street corner in a clown suit to sell it, but it's close." Notably, few of these comments are about the software itself; rather, they note the libraries' exceedingly positive relationship with their vendor, which seems to translate into satisfaction with the product.

As for Millennium, a common theme seems to be "We are happy with III/Millennium except for the cost." Indeed, while satisfaction ratings are generally high--and there is a great deal of interest in Innovative's discovery interface, Encore--many comments are negative. Libraries express concern about maintenance costs and about having to pay individually for new features, including "basic functionality (faceted browsing, spell check etc) that is part of other companies' standard web catalogs, but must be purchased from III. …

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