K-3: THE SMALL LIBRARY AT THE AUTOMATION CROSSROADS

Joni Lynn Cassidy

“Attention Software Shoppers”

EVALUATING THE VENDOR AND THE SOFTWARE

How stable is the company? Who owns it? How long has it been in business under the current management? Ever been sold or taken over? Is the company's main focus the development and support of software, or are they part of a larger company with other business interests?

Is the software using the latest technologies?

What about product maturity? How long has this version, currently on the market, been installed? Has the product been out long enough for most of the bugs to be fixed? Ask these questions specific to each individual module, or function, in which you are interested.

Is the version of the software that the sales representative is demonstrating the same one that is actually installed in client libraries? It's possible for a vendor to be supporting many earlier generations of software and to misrepresent them as installations of current software to inflate their numbers making it appear that the current software is in broader distribution than it actually is.

Is this software installed in libraries like yours? Can you get a client list? If so, call other special or law libraries. Ask them how the software is working for them.

Was the software written to run on the operating system you're proposing to run it on? Or has the vendor modified it to accommodate different operating systems (i.e. It was written for UNIX but now they offer a version that runs on NT)?

Most software vendors offer onsite training for new installations. But what about refresher courses or the opportunity to train replacement staff in the future?

Is there a users group? Local, regional, national? Does the users group hold meetings?

How does the company decide on product enhancements? Is there a mechanism for user input such as an annual ballot?

How good is the technical support? What is the ratio of technicians to installations? Is everyone in Tech Support trained on the whole system, or are there “specialists”? When you call in, will the phone be answered by a machine, a receptionist who takes a message, or a real live technician who can help you get back online? When you call other clients for references, find out how long they wait on the average for a call back when they've had a technical problem.

A PARTIAL LIST OF AVAILABLE PRODUCTS: MID-SIZED SYSTEMS

OPAC / CATALOGING / SERIALS / WEB GATEWAY / MARC RECORD IMPORT AND EXPORT
COMPANY PRODUCT PRICE RANGE PHONE WEB SITE
SIRSI Corp Unicorn $35,000 + WebCat 256-704-7000 www.sirsi.com
Cuadra Associates STAR $19,000 + training 800-366-1390 www.cuadra.com
Robert A. Schless Notebooks/Lotus Notes (NO MARC EXPORT) $18,000 + training 978-443-2996 www.rasco.com
Library Corporation Library.Solution $12,200 inc. training 800-325-7759 www.tlcdelivers.com
ILS Sydney Plus $35,000 + web OPAC 604-278-6717 www.ils.com
EOSinternational Q Series $15,000–$37,000 800-876-5484 www.eosintl.com

A PARTIAL LIST OF AVAILABLE PRODUCTS: SMALL SYSTEMS

OPAC / CATALOGING / SERIALS / WEB GATEWAY / MARC RECORD IMPORT AND EXPORT
COMPANY PRODUCT PRICE RANGE PHONE WEB SITE
SIRS Mandarin M3 Core Package $5,500 + training 800-232-SIRS www.sirs.com
CASPR Library Systems CASPR Library World $4,700 + training 800-852-2777 www.caspr.com
Nichols Advanced Technologies Athena $6,100 + training 800-642-4648 www.nicholsinc.com
InMagic, Inc. DB/Textworks $6,000 + training + consultation 800-229-8398 www.inmagic.com
On Point, Inc. TLC Total Library Computerization (NO MARC EXPORT: Exports in dBase, ASCII) $4,500 202-338-8914 www.onpointinc.com
Best-Seller Inc. Best-Seller $10,000 + training 514-337-3000 www.bestseller.com

A PARTIAL LIST OF AVAILABLE PRODUCTS: VERY SMALL SYSTEMS

OPACS AND WEB OPACS
COMPANY PRODUCT PRICE RANGE PHONE/WEBSITE NOTES
Cassidy Cataloguing MOLEhill 2000 $750 setup + $250 Per month 973-481-0900, www.cassidycat.com WEB HOST
Right On Programs Computer Access Catalog $899 516-424-7777, www.rightonprograms.com NO WEB OPAC
CASPR Library Systems LibraryCom $400 per year 800-852-2777, www.caspr.com WEB HOST

COMPARING THE SOFTWARE PACKAGES

FEATURES SOFTWARE
       
Operating system        
Hardware req'd
OPAC features
Web OPAC
Cataloging features
MARC in/out
Serials features
Acquisitions features
Circulation
ILL module
Budgeting
Report features
Web gateway
Training
Tech. Support
User group
Other features
COSTS        
Software license
Installation
Training
Maintenance
Data conversion
Telecommunication