Ed-Tech Trends (untitled)
In the year that has elapsed since our last article on library automation products, several exciting enhancements have been made to existing packages while new products have been announced. A few examples of trends in this area are modules or new features that make systems more user friendly for disabled patrons&emdash;features that also help institutions comply with ADA legislation. Providing enhanced and easy-to-use connections to other databases via the Internet is another trend. And lastly, offering support for the cataloging and retrieval of electronic files is a new feature promoted by several packages. In all, many steps have been taken by library software vendors in the attempt to make library automation as flexible and painless as possible. Building on a Good Thing As libraries and their patrons become more technologically savvy, and collections more sophisticated, software vendors find themselves constantly adapting their products. Brodart Co., for example, has announced their Precision One Integrated System, a CD-ROM-based solution that has been revamped. Public access catalog features are based on the Le Pac catalog, which offers two search methods. A circulation module automatically calculates fines, loan periods and restrictions. Lastly, the Technical Services Module was formerly known as the Precision One Cataloging System; it provides daily catalog updates, access to a database of over a million titles, and the ability to change or delete information. All three modules work together. Other highlights include automated interlibrary loans and resource sharing, plus access to one's own or a regional collection. COMPanion Corp. has announced a Mac-based interface between their Alexandria CD-ROM Server product and Brodart's DOS-based Precision One Cataloging System. Alexandria tracks circulation and inventory, manages subscriptions and acquisitions, and provides a catalog with search capabilities. It is the only Mac product to integrate directly with Brodart's Precision One using SmartMARC technology. Librarians can perform retrospective conversion by inputting title, author and LCCN or ISBN codes for items then instructing the computer to search the Brodart CD-ROM and download records automatically into Alexandria. Increasing the lines of communication between patrons and libraries, the new Request Module for SIRSI Corp.'s UNICORN and STILAS UNIX-based systems is accessible through the enhanced public access menus. With it, users can submit requests for holds, literature searches and purchases; ask reference questions; leave suggestions; and notify the library of a change of address. Because administrators can control the request and reply format, this module can be used for a variety of other related purposes, such as requests for more information on course offerings. Several Follett Software Co. products have been redesigned under the heading of Unison, which allows each core product to operate together in any combination or maintain its independence as a stand-alone product. All products connect to a central database engine, automatically linking and sharing information with additional products as they are installed. Circulation Plus, Catalog Plus and Textbook Plus all feature the new design. MacSearch Plus Station also operates under Unison; when used with Catalog Plus, the latter's DOS-based database can be accessed from networked Macs. New releases are available for two library programs from Winne-bago Software Co. First, Union CAT Version 3.0 for DOS computers is a district-level card catalog program. Samples of new features are reports that provide materials by location, subjects and locations lists; card image displays that follow AACR2 cataloging standards; support for Spanish characters; the addition of the new US MARC 852 tag format; and more. CIRC/CAT is also enhanced in its latest incarnation, Version 2.0. The circulation and online catalog program for the Mac platform now boasts multiple levels of password protection, two online catalog search screens for either single-search line or advanced multiple-field search line requests, an inventory reports module and other time-saving functions. Chancery Software has re-written their library module. Formerly Mac School Library Version 3.2, Mac School Library Pro employs a circulation window that checks out items, checks items in, places holds, checks an item out for repair and reports an item lost. Other windows can be opened at the same time. Patrons reserve titles, not items, and there is no limit to the number of holds that can be placed. Search speeds have been improved, and the ability to update Library Pro patrons with address, phone and homeroom number changes entered into the company's Mac School program are also new. Plus new data fields like Call Number, Local Call Number, Item Types and Sub-Collections have been added. Lastly, Version 4.0 of MITINET/marc, developed by MITINET/marc Software sports a redesign. This version imports and edits USMARC records plus converts pre-1991 MicroLIF records. The system can be customized to prompt for those fields that are always entered. Users can sort, select and print records from one main screen; print spine and pocket labels; cut, copy and paste text in cataloging workspace; automatically create record numbers; and much more. What's New Many new programs have been announced as well. Another modular system, the INNOPAC Library System from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. is built around a single database of full MARC records as well as non-MARC brief records. An OPAC system with automatically created cross references, a circulation module, an order entry/acquisitions module and serials control are included. Materials booking is available as an additional subsystem. Innovative Interfaces will customize versions of their software for individual sites. The modules listed above are also sold separately. A new product for elementary and secondary schools, Gaylord Information Systems' PISCES product includes modules for full MARC cataloging, circulation control, public access catalog, acquisitions, serials control, scheduling, e-mail, networking and report generation. Flexible in nature, student registration records contain fields for homeroom and teacher, and can be imported from a school's administrative system via the PISCES SuperSHARE Module. Reports on library use can be based on grade level. Lastly, Right On Programs has introduced two new programs. The first is SUPER Circulation Control EXPANDED, a circulation and online catalog program that automates check-in and check-out procedures as well as boasts online card catalog features. Of note are new expanded onscreen text fields, a personalized welcome screen, search capabilities and password protection. The second program is SUPER Circulation Control PLUS, similar to the other program, however instead of expanded text fields, PLUS offers the ability to print catalog cards. Looking Out for Others Several new packages support products that facilitate the use of library software by the visually impaired. One company, called TeleSensory, has developed V View, a direct screen magnification product that enlarges text and graphics up to 16 times their normal size. Two library automation software vendors, Winnebago Software and Data Trek, Inc., support the product. Library staff and patrons will both benefit, while library administrators will appreciate the ability to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All Winnebago DOS-based programs support V View, which can be enabled or disabled at any time. Data Trek feels the product is ideal for use with its library software, in particular their OPAC system. Geac Computer Corp. Ltd. has developed two products to address the needs of disabled patrons. OptiView software provides image enlargement on DOS and PS/2 computers for visually impaired users, while OptiVoice produces synthetic speech output of all onscreen text. With a single keystroke, patrons can hear the subject, title and author of an item, then obtain any desired reference information. This product includes an internal speech synthesizer, headphone, external speaker, software and documentation. Multimedia & The Library As discussed in last year's article on library automation, the definition of "book""is changing. Today libraries not only handle texts but electronic files such as software, fonts and images. Several new products are available that allow libraries to track these multimedia items. Of the several new announcements made by CASPR, Inc., the unveiling of LibraryWorks 2.0 for the Macintosh is most relevant for multimedia libraries. This version includes document storage and retrieval capabilities plus support for images and sounds. MARC records can be attributed to photographs and art images, sounds, film clips and QuickTime movies. For more sophisticated libraries, the software can also handle collections where multiple images and documents are linked to one record. With the addition of the company's OPAC, Library-Browser 2.0, patrons can search a library and view the images on-screen, play sounds, download files or retrieve any digitally stored item. ImageLink from Data Trek, Inc. is another such product. This program employs technology that imports and links scanned images such as photographs or illustrations to records in the developer's GoPAC (Graphical Online Public Access Catalog) product. Patrons can view an unlimited number of images relevant to each catalog record without leaving the OPAC station. Improving Communications School libraries within a district, and surely a state, may often run different library automation programs. But what if a patron needs to know what other locations have particular materials? Well increasing communications has been considered by several companies, one of which is SIRSI Corp. SIRSI has developed a line called Retrieval Interface Manager (RIM). Several Intelligent Interfaces have been created for this line, including ones that provide SIRSI users with automatic online access to NOTIS, PALS, BRS, Dialog and other public access systems. The telecommunications protocols and linkages are invisible to the user; he or she can search the remote OPAC using SIRSI's Unicorn or STILAS programs. In addition, access to the Internet is considered a virtual must for many collegiate libraries. SIRSI has addressed this concern as well with their new Internet Navigator. This program maintains a list of over 600 academic and research databases and catalogs available through the Internet. Once a site is selected, the program transparently connects and logs the patron onto the system. Along those lines, NOTIS Systems, Inc. has introduced Win-Gopher, a Windows-based front end to Gopher that allows patrons to navigate the Internet via a graphical interface. The program searches gopher servers, retrieves files, launches helper applications, and supports Archie and Veronica searching protocols. WinGopher also downloads sounds found on the Internet and transfers images through the GIF viewer from the Internet to any Windows application. Increasing Possibilities The trend seems to be increasing both patrons' and library staff's ability to access information. Automation software that can bring information to those with disabilities or increase access to information stored on the Internet or disparate programs are at the forefront of their genre. And of course software that handles multimedia reports, sounds, movies and other electronic files further anticipate the needs of 21st-century libraries.
This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1994 issue of THE Journal.