Magazine article Information Today

Buying a System for the Future: Cost Effective Selection

Magazine article Information Today

Buying a System for the Future: Cost Effective Selection

Article excerpt

Buying a System for the Future: Cost Effective Selection

Buying or replacing a library automation system today should be easier and less risky than it was fifteen years ago. We have learned a great deal about functionality, vendors, and hardware. Software is at the point of being considered a commodity. However, vendor and system failures have made us more cautious. New issues to be considered - such as rapid advances in technology, network, and user access - raise new questions.

Phase one of library automation concerned itself with the automation of internal operations of the library, such as circulation, about which librarians knew a great deal.

Phase two of library automation included mostly additional international operations such as building a MARC database and implementing automated acquisitions and serials control. Additional features included an online catalog for the staff and an online catalog for the public. Thus Phase two was also very familiar to most of us.

The next phase, as I see it, has very little to do with automating internal operations. Rather, it deals with an area about which most of us know very little.

Emergence of Networks

We are faced with the emergence of a knowledge-based society requiring access to information, most of which will not be in the library but in external databases. This access will be available through PCs and workstations over local area and wide area networks.

Library staff members are now faced with a very complex network technology about which most of us know precious little. …

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