Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Integrated Library System Software for Smaller Libraries

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Integrated Library System Software for Smaller Libraries

Article excerpt


This is the first of two issues of Library Technology Reports that focus on integrated library system software for smaller libraries. The aim of this project is, through description, illustration and evaluation, to provide the most timely overview possible of microComputer-based library automation packages, and thereby to assist libraries in making well-informed purchasing decisions in this key technology arena.


The organizational plan for this project has changed several times. There is no single arrangement that would meet the needs of all LTR subscribers and single-issue purchasers. In addition, a number of vendors were not able to supply a current, full-release version of their software in time to synchronize with the original organizational plan. Covering software that would be obsolete by the time of publication, while never fully unavoidable, had to be minimized to the extent possible. Consideration of these factors resulted in a compromise.

This issue focuses in large part on software products that appeal predominantly to special libraries. Most of the products with a significant school library orientation or customer base have been deferred to a subsequent issue. Some products, of course, have a public library or even an academic library appeal, while others are of potential interest to multiple types of libraries. It has been necessary to divide these between the issues. It is hoped this arrangement will meet the needs of the majority of readers. In particular, it should make it possible for non-subscribers with a strong interest in either the special or school library area to purchase a single issue and get most of the information they seek. Public and academic libraries will need to consult both issues.


While reviews are the mainstay of this report, I have also included some additional background material that is general and tutorial in nature. Preceding the reviews themselves, there are sections on:

   Selecting an Automated Library System
   The Graphical User Interface
   MARC and Special Libraries
   Client/Server Technology

These sections selectively expand on issues that are encountered in the reviews. They are meant to offer brief, timely overviews of some important points of potential interest to those selecting a new automated library system. Were it typographically convenient to do so, these pieces would appear as sidebars among the reviews rather than in a section of their own preceding the reviews. Additional summaries of this type will be included in the forthcoming issue which will complement this one.


As stated at the outset, this issue of Library Technology Reports and the one that will follow it constitute a report on "integrated library system software for smaller libraries." This concept carries with it a burden of definition greater than ever before. Two questions immediately form themselves. What is "small?" What constitutes an "integrated library system?"

The concept of smallness has ambivalence for most of us. "Small is beautiful," especially if we are talking prices, delays, bank lines or problems. Yet "big" is always hiding in the wings. We want the biggest bang for the smallest number of bucks, a big time in the Big Apple for a small weekend package price. Most of the time, those of us who run libraries would prefer not to think of ours as the smallest around. Yet we recognize that it is unrealistic and unfair to expect that smaller libraries will have the collections and services offered by larger libraries.

Software vendors have a similar conflict. Everyone would like to sell big systems to big customers for large amounts of money. Yet the obstacles to success in that business are daunting. Library software developers have made economic decisions to concentrate on specific niches within the size and type continuum: special libraries, academic libraries, smaller public libraries, multiple libraries within school districts, etc. …

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