Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Vendor Profiles

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Vendor Profiles

Article excerpt

Abstract

Chapter 4 examines in depth a few major ILS vendors: proprietary vendors Polaris, Biblionix, SirsiDynix, Innovative; and Koha support companies ByWater and LibLime. These serve a range of library types and span the range of satisfaction ratings. For each vendor, respondents' comments illuminate possible reasons behind the ratings.

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As the survey both asks for numerical ratings of satisfaction and provides a free comment field, it is possible to explore the reasons behind libraries' ratings of various vendors. However, readers are cautioned against taking these subjective impressions as definitive. Libraries' experiences with their vendors vary, and every vendor has both satisfied and unsatisfied customers. In addition, there are a few factors that make inferences from comments a challenge.

First, the majority of people who fill out the survey do not leave comments; those who do may not speak for everyone. In fact, it seems likely that people with unusually positive or--especially--negative views are more likely to comment. Therefore, the comments may present an exaggerated view of companies' strengths and weaknesses.

Second, while some issues recur frequently, others may be mentioned only a handful of times. Are they outliers, or do they represent views of the many libraries that did not comment? We have tried to consider how these minority views fit within the general themes for each vendor and quote, or exclude, them responsibly.

Third, many libraries are simply not in a good position to comment in depth, because a consortium or IT office handles contact with their vendor. These libraries typically fill out the numerical questions, but their comment fields address only their lack of contact.

Finally, no matter the general trends for each vendor, libraries should make their own decisions based on their individual circumstances. Many ILS products are best suited to a particular niche, and libraries' satisfaction may mostly reflect whether they are in that niche, not the skills of the company or the quality of its software. Also, libraries' overall satisfaction with customer support sometimes appears to have much more to do with the representatives assigned to their institution than with the company as a whole. Libraries are urged to think about how their specific experiences may vary from the average.

Polaris Library Systems: Polaris

Polaris has earned outstanding ratings for ILS, company, and support satisfaction from 2007 through 2010 (see figure 24). Among commenters, it appears that the major reason for this high satisfaction is an excellent relationship with the company; for instance, the 2008 commenter who said, "Polaris has the best customer service of any company I've dealt with, even outside the library industry." Numerous comments through all four years of the survey compliment the quality and responsiveness of customer service. A few also praise the company for listening and note that its users group is an effective forum for two-way communication; says one 2010 commenter, "A company that listens to their customers wants and needs via the Polaris Users Group enhancement process and does a great job implementing changes that benefit all."

Although there are no areas in which Polaris receives persistently negative comments, libraries do seem to have had mixed experiences in terms of usability and migration. Two commenters refer to the software as "easy to navigate" and "smooth, intuitive," while a third complains of the "hassle" of performing certain searches. Comments on migration note its difficulty and sometimes express dissatisfaction with quality assurance during the process, but typically express satisfaction at the end result. One hurricane-afflicted library liked "their flexibility and willingness to readjust schedules because of our circumstances."

[FIGURE 24 OMITTED]

Comments on functionality are harder to interpret. …

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