Magazine article Computers in Libraries

November/December: Academic Libraries

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

November/December: Academic Libraries

Article excerpt

This is the fourth and last in a series of articles designed to profile the functionality available in integrated library systems and the user ratings of those products and services. This article is focused on academic libraries (colleges and universities). Former articles in the ILS Marketplace series focused on public libraries in January, special libraries in April, and school libraries (grades K-12) in June.


To obtain accurate and up-to-date vendor product facts, Cibbarelli's contacted the companies that provide integrated library system (ILS) software marketed specifically to academic libraries and invited those companies to participate in the survey. Each company completed a questionnaire indicating the current status of its products for academic libraries. You can check and compare product features in Chart 1.

To obtain user ratings of these products, the ILS companies, as part of their questionnaire, were asked to provide a way to reach their installed sites. Additionally, Information Today, Inc. posted the user ratings survey on its Web site (, and Cibbarelli's contacted several associations and listservs to increase outreach. Many thanks to the ILS companies, listserv managers, user group officers, Information Today, Inc., and to everyone who responded to the survey for their support of the project. You'll see the results of the user ratings scores for each ILS product in Chart 2.

Product Features and Functionality: Chart 1

ILS companies indicated the current status of 25 features and functions for their products. Status was defined as "general release," "now in beta," or "planned." Companies indicated a default status, "not available," by leaving the line blank.

A couple of the ILS companies responded to the survey with additional categories they would like to have added, or with amended lists to reflect their products' features. These requests were accommodated where possible, but the charts include only the standardized information from the initial survey. This was done to be fair to all ILS companies participating and to standardize the data.

Users' Survey Ratings of ILS Products: Chart 2

We received many responses, including several from outside the U.S. Some users rated products not included in the survey, but those results are not included in Chart 2 because there were not enough responding sites for those products to qualify for inclusion, or because the vendors failed to provide information about the functionality of their products. (A product had to receive at least three user surveys in order to be included in Chart 2.)

Users rated the features, functionality, and service of the product they are now using on a scale of 10 to 1. The numeric values were defined as follows:

10--exceeds expectations
 8--very good
 6--above average
 4--below average
 2--very poor
 1--crying for attention
 x--no opportunity to evaluate

In averaging the scores, blanks and "x"s were not counted, and therefore did not affect the average as would a score of "0."

The chart differentiates between those functions that are not available and those for which there were not enough users responding to provide an average score. When the function is not available for a particular product, Chart 2 indicates the status of development with "in beta," "in planning," or "not available." When there were fewer than three sites providing a score for a specific feature or service, the chart shows an "x" indicating "no opportunity to evaluate."

Multiple responses from a single installation were averaged to provide a single response for that installation. This was done to prevent any one site from skewing results.

For the products of Sagebrush and VTLS, there were not enough responses to provide an ethical sampling of their user sites. …

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