Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

ILS Marketplace: School Libraries - from Computers in Libraries Magazine's Quarterly Series on Library Automation Markets

Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

ILS Marketplace: School Libraries - from Computers in Libraries Magazine's Quarterly Series on Library Automation Markets

Article excerpt

Your guide to vendor product facts and user ratings

Editor's Note: Last June, my colleagues at Computers in Libraries magazine published the third in a four-part series of articles by library automation guru Pamela Cibbarelli. It seemed so well targeted to you, the school library media specialist and technologist readers of MMS, that we decided to run it here as well. Here's hoping you find it a useful resource.

-David Hoffman

This article is designed to profile the functionality available in integrated library systems and the user ratings of those products and services. Previous articles in the ILS Marketplace series focused on public libraries (in January) and special libraries (including corporate and government, in April). The final article will focus on academic libraries (colleges and universities) in November/December.


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 school libraries and invited those companies to participate in the survey. Each company completed a questionnaire indicating the current status of its products for school 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, "feature not available," by leaving the line blank.

Users' Survey Ratings of ILS Products: Chart 2

Responses were received primarily from sites in the U.S. and Canada. Users rated the features, functionality, and service of the products they are now using on a scale of 10 to 1. The numeric values were defined as follows:

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" (B) "in planning" (P) or "feature not available" (blank). 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 several vendors, there were not enough responses to provide an ethical sampling of the user sites. These are Brodart's Amlib; Sagebrush's Accent, Athena, and Winnebago Spectrum; and TLC's CARL.Solution. …

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