N.B. The question of a library system for a smaller library comes up on the ARLIS-L list regularly. Kraig Binkowski sent a compilation to the list in late 2001 and it is below, along with some other notes on smaller systems. There is also an annual compilation on library systems, big and small, in a spring issue of Library journal.




From Kraig Binkowski KBinkowski@delart.mus.de.us
Date Thursday, December 13, 2001 9:23 am
Subject [ARLIS-L] Integrated library systems for medium/small museum libraries

Hello ARLIS,
Some of you requested that I post the replies to my question to the list - And here they are. Thank you to all the respondents, as always you have been extremely helpful.

QUESTION: I am curious as to what other libraries of comparable size (<50,000 volumes) are using for an automated library system, and if you are happy with your product.


1.My library has 27,000 volumes. None of it was cataloged when I got here a year and a half ago. During that time I have cataloged about 4,000 items. I purchased Follett for my opac and circulation, but also looked at Winnebago/Sagebrush and Caspr. It cost $3,200. The primary reason I selected Follett was data integrity. I catalog on RLIN, and download the records into Follett. I ran a test on all three systems and noticed Follett imported the records without changing them whatsoever. Caspr added a lot of strange punctuation and did wonky things with the diacritics. Winnebago/Sagebrush was not able to import the subfield b of the 090. What I don't like about Follett: the icons have a gradeschool look and it only understands Dewey classification for browsing. I decided I could live with those things.

All three systems may be smaller than what you are looking for, but they all have a lot of features and power.

As far as costs go, Follett said they would meet any price. Since Caspr was lower by almost $1,000, Follett dropped its price to match.

2.Our library is about the same size as yours and we just implimented our first automation system this summer. We are using SIRSI net. I am very pleased with it, especially not having to buy additional hardware, software or pay for additional computer support, or run all the backup programs. You can access our catalog through the BMA's homepage www.artbma.org, or you can go there directly at http://www.sirsi.net:6622/. The Corcoran and Maryland Institute College of Art are also using SIRSI net.

3.The Toledo Museum of Art uses the SPYDUS system from Sanderson/CMI of Englewood, OH (www.sandersoncmi.com). We have been using it for about six years and are pleased with it. We are able to download cataloging from RLIN (search only account) and OCLC. There are new GUI modules available/coming, but unfortunately, we will have to delay implementing them because of budgetary reasons. We are using Acquisitions, Cataloging, Circulation, Inquiry, OPAC and Serials (the last is a difficult module - seems we are the only people using it). The system is based in Australia, but there are about a dozen sites in the US (in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Oregon). We have about 87,000 records in at this point, including books, catalogues, vertical files and selected groups of auction and sale catalogues.

If you want to see the OPAC, visit our site at: www.toledomuseum.org/library and then search the catalog.

[In March 2005, Anne Morris of the Toledo Museum of Art sent a message to the list stating that they were very happy with Spydus but were facing an upgrade of the software and were checking again. Dennis Kreps of the Kalamazoo Institute of Art (dennis_kreps@kiarts.org) replied "We at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts use the Verso system developed by Autographics. Our collection contains approximately 10,000 volumes, and we house several special collections. This system is also used by a number of small public libraries in the Southwest Michigan region. ..."]

4.We've had Sirsi for about 6 years & love it. We are a university, but have approximately 60,000 volumes, so I guess about your size. Sirsi is very adaptable to special libraries - they actually started there. I found after looking at some of the smaller systems that getting a more powerful system to begin with was much better in the long run. The one we originally considered is now out of business - couldn't keep up with the technology. With Sirsi, your yearly maintenance fee includes upgrades, so you tend to find the places that have had Sirsi the longest (some 20 years) have the most up-to-date systems because they are used to upgrades and do it faster. Meaning - you don't have to worry about having to migrate to a newer system (there is no "legacy" system). Like all systems, there are problems, but Sirsi is very open to listening to customers, to incorporating needed changes in upgrades & the user group support is excellent. If a Sirsi person can't help, another user usually can.

The only other museum that I can think of at the moment that uses Sirsi is LACMA (ARLIS-er Debbie Smedsted) and she has problems because the museum MIS dept. runs it & the library doesn't have much control. We had problems too at first because of our own admin - not Sirsi - and that would have happened with any system. But overall, I would say it is a good solid product for any library and well worth the money. How you get the money is not my area of expertise!

5. I'm at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. We bought Endeavor Voyager and really like it. It's very customizable, which I appreciate for special materials. Our library has about 60,000 cataloged titles, but many more volumes (annuals, multi-volume sets, etc.) We are putting records in for our artist files now. I would advise you to get your Information Systems technician clearly involved if they maintain the server. Let me know more specific questions.

6. We purchased Endeavor's Voyager and love it. We now have 40,000 titles input in the system combining what was converted and current cataloging. I'll be happy to talk to you about it if you'd like to give me a call.

Kraig A. Binkowski
Head Librarian
Helen Farr Sloan Library
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
(302) 571-9590 ext 529


There is also a biannual publication entitled Directory of library automation software, systems, and services, published by Information Today, Inc., Medford, NJ -- 800-300-9868 or http://www.infotoday.com. The 2002/2003 edition is compiled and edited by Pamela Cibbarelli.


CASPR has developed a web product for small library catalogs -- up to about 5000 titles. It is being happily used at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. In a message on the RADCAT list, Lisa Sanders, head of the CSDE library, says Librarycom is fairly full service including opac and circulation capabilities, records can include hyperlinks (e.g. online resources, tables of contents, images of bookjackets), and that you can download some LC records via their FREEMARC service. CSDE Library = http://csde.washington.edu Lisa Sanders = lsanders@u.washington.edu (11 april 2002)


cumulative responses from RADCAT and other lists, gathered by Chad Abel-Kops, October 2002


collected responses from ARLIS-L on recommended softwares for the small new library system (message from Roberto Ferrari, 5 March 2003)


The MARC homepage has a list of systems that collect, organize and manage MARC 21 records -- http://lcweb.loc.gov/marc/marcsysvend.html. This listing includes large and small systems, some with summaries, most with links to vendor homepage.


summary of responses to ARLIS-L message, 20 January 2004:

From "Robinson, Shirley J" robinsonj@WINTHROP.EDU
Sent Tuesday, January 20, 2004 1:09 pm
Subject [ARLIS-L] Thank You for OPAC Vendor Info and Summary

Thank you to everyone who answered my query about opac vendors. My supervisor is still looking through all of the replies and has expressed great appreciation for the information provided. If anyone is interested, I will be glad to forward what I received. Here is a summary. Once a decision is made, I can share that, too.

Past Perfect: good, low cost; can get a fully functioning trial cd
Mandarin Automation System by SIRS: inexpensive but user has had many problems
Sagebrush Athena: inexpensive; “Sagebrush had a fantastic look, but did not import the subfield b of the 090.”
Follet: inexpensive, performs well at importing records from RLIN
Caspr: inexpensive, but tends to import odd punctuation marks.
SIRSI net customer: very pleased. Did not have to buy hardware or software

Thanks again.

Joy Robinson
Slide Curator
Department of Art and Design
Winthrop University
Rock Hill, SC 29733
Phone: 803-323-2668
Email: robinsonj@winthrop.edu

Slide Library Assistant
Mint Museum of Art
2730 Randolph Road
Charlotte, NC 28207
Phone: 704-337-2065
Email: jrobinson@mintmuseum.org

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