Cibbarelli's Surveys: User Ratings of SIRS Mandarin Library Automation Software
Cibbarelli, Pamela, Computers in Libraries
The Mandarin system was introduced in 1986 by Media Flex, Inc. In 1995, Mandarin was acquired by SIRS. Mandarin is a fully integrated library system that includes functionality for an online public access catalog (OPAC), circulation, cataloging, inventory, statistical analysis, and report generation. Optional modules include acquisitions, serials, and Z39.50 functionality for client and server.
Mandarin operates on DOS and Windows workstations. There is an optional MacMandarin interface for Macintosh workstations. The OPAC can be implemented in English, French, German, and Spanish.
Mandarin can import, export, create, edit, and store complete MARC records. The MITINET/marc cataloging program is integrated into the system, providing standard and advanced templates for the cataloging of books, videos, computer software, and archival and other materials.
Librarians using SIRS Mandarin software were mailed surveys asking them to rate the product. The survey was a standardized survey used by Cibbarelli's to obtain users' ratings of software with a consistent methodology. It was mailed by SIRS to all Mandarin sites. Responses were mailed directly to Cibbarelli's by the librarians. There were 85 responses received. The scores can be seen in the table and, graphically represented, in the chart.
SIRS already had a very successful track record providing libraries with print references and electronic databases for over 20 years. Mandarin has been implemented in many sites with the SIRS CD-ROM products integrated into the configuration. SIRS CD-ROM products include SIRS Researcher--a general reference, full-text database; SIRS Government Reporter--a database of U.S. government documents, U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, Congressional Directory, and other selected government information; SIRS Discoverer--a reference tool for elementary school and high school researchers including 450 magazines, newspapers, and government documents, presidential biographies, and an almanac; and SIRS Renaissance--an arts and humanities database.
SIRS management has indicated that in 1998, Version 3.0, the "next generation" of Mandarin, will be introduced with full graphical capabilities and point-and-click navigation.
There are approximately 1,600 Mandarin installations. About 92 percent of their installations are in school libraries, 1 percent are in government and corporate libraries, and the remaining 7 percent are in academic and public libraries.
Comments from User Survey Respondents
It is obvious from the user ratings that most Mandarin customers rate the software very favorably. Here are some of the comments volunteered by survey respondents.
Jack Luskay, John Jay High School (NY): Students use Mandarin with ease. The vendor is open to suggestions and encourages input. Mandarin is a very fine product.
J. Meyler, Westpark School (Quebec, Canada): I would like more inhouse training ... on a regular basis.
Hilda K. Weisburg, Morristown High School (NJ): Mandarin is fast and flexible. On an eight-station LAN with 286 stations running on a 386 file server and Novell 2.1, we had rapid access to our 40,000 records. With our new Pentiums it's amazing! Of course we want more--more versatility in inventory capability, more on-screen help menus, and Windows 95.
Mary Podolyak, Wainfleet Township Public Library (Ontario, Canada): The software is very user friendly--certainly for the staff, but even more important, for the public. Cost for annual update and service contact has remained constant, which is so very important during these "budget cutting" times. Support staff at Mandarin has always been prompt to return calls and has helped us work through any difficulties that we have had.
Terri Ring (NC): The biggest complaint I have is the lack of a Booking/ Advance Reservations Module! My experience with training and support was poor at the time of installation. …