Beginning this winter, Avatar Systems Inc will offer the Integrated Library System (ILS) developed by the Lister Hill Laboratory of the National Library of Medicine, through timesharing in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area. Participating libraries will have their data bases loaded on the Avatar system, which can then be used for acquisitions, serials control, circulation, online catalog, etc. The system can also be used for on-line MARC cataloging. The service will be available from 7 AM to midnight Monday through Friday. Two computers will be used and extensive back-up facilities will be provided.
Each library will pay a one-time charge for set-up and training, then a monthly fee based on the number of terminals and the amount of data stored. The lowest rate is approximately $385 per month for a library with a single terminal and a small data base. For most libraries the fee would be $1,000 a month or more. There is a 10% discount for a two-year contract and a portion of the payments can be applied toward the subsequent purchase of an in-house Avatar ILS system. A library could reduce the cost somewhat by using terminals it already owns.
Another vendor of automated library systems, Sigma Data of Rockville, MD, already offers a commercial timesharing service in the DC area, but it has been marketed exclusively to Federal libraries. Avatar will approach public, academic and special libraries. Avatar hopes to extend the service to other cities if the timesharing concept is successful. Two other major vendors responded to LSN's query about possible timesharing services by saying that they would not enter the market themselves, but would be interested in working with anyone who wished to launch such a service using their system.