Despite the fact that we have expressed concern about the suitability of the IBM Series/34 minicomputer for library automation (LSN Vol II, No 12 p. 95), a number of libraries are interested in the availability of software for the automation of library circulation procedures on the IBM System III, System/34 or the System/38. This is because many local data processing centers have access to such equipment. In the context of the range of current options for library automation, this approach would not be our first choice. However, we report the results of a recent investigation to provide a basis from which others, faced with a need to consider this approach, can begin.
System III hardware is no longer sold by IBM and the System/34 is expected to be withdrawn from the market soon. The recently announced System/36 is being promoted as a replacement for the System/34. Promotional material suggests that programs written for the /34 can be readily adapted for the /36. Similar claims were previously made for transporting software from the /34 to the /38, but in practice the conversion has been difficult and costly.
IBM's range of minicomputers are batch processing oriented and do not utilize the de facto minicomputer standard of asynchronous communications, adhering instead to the mainframe standard of bisynchronous communications.
Such a communications protocol requires that applications utilize relatively expensive IBM 3271 terminals, and limits the availability of communications software to facilitate linkage between IBM systems and those of other minicomputer manufacturers.
The applications programs mounted on IBM minicomputers tend to be resource consumptive when compared with similar applications mounted on other minicomputers. It therefore requires more resources to perform functions on an IBM mini.
We were able to identify the following software to support online circulation control on IBM minis:
Rosemarie' s Baby, Grace A. Dowe Memorial Library, Midland, MI
Originally designed to run on an IBM System III, Model l5D, the software package known as Rosemarie' s Baby currently supports circulation functions and data base searches by author, title, and author/title. The software has recently been rewritten to operate on an IBM System/38 and it is planned to introduce this version of the system in Midland on July 1, 1983. At the same time an acquisitions module will also be mounted.
As implemented at Midland, the system supports only brief bibliographic records containing author, title, imprint and publisher data, and item number. The bibliographic records average 200 characters in length.
Rosemarie's Baby currently supports the following activities:
- patron file inquiry by patron number, name and address
- bibliographic file inquiry by title. author and a combination of title-author
- access to the patron circulation record
- access to the book circulation record
- a statistical package with both on-line and off line capabilities
- financial functions.
The software supports the following circulation functions:
- realtime updating of patron and item files upon checkin and check-out
- automatic keyboard lock when an attempt is made to checkout material to an ineligible patron (e.g., excessive overdues, invalid residency) or material to be checked out is on reserve or hold
- operator override of system blocks
- checkout of multiple items to a patron with only one scan of the patron card
- checkin and checkout using an OCR wand or through keyboarding the appropriate numbers
- automatic generation of due dates- the system supports multiple due dates
- automatic production of due date receipts
- operator override of system supplied due date
- automatic identification of holds/ reserves during checkin
- automatic calculation of overdue fines
- all items can be renewed provided there are no reserves outstanding. The renewal loan period can be any date selected by the operator
- immediate determination of which patron has a wanted item allowing a recall to be notified.
The system will also handle reserves. It automatically calculates fines due on overdues and prints fine notices. Multiple overdue items and partial payments can be accommodated.
Daily, monthly, semiannual, and annual cumulations of circulation statistics are available online. Reports include: adult, juvenile, and audiovisual circulations; checkout by hour; total books checked out; and total books checked in. The circulation reports available off line, for the same statistical periods, include circulation by type of material; total circulation; number of items and titles in the collection; total books checked in; and circulation by Dewey number categories.
The financial statistics available online are also presented on a daily, weekly, monthly, semiannual, and annual basis for amounts taken in for fines, reserves, book bag charges, audiovisual rental, lost card fees, lost book charges, and the amount forgiven in fines.
Other statistics and reports are also available.
When asked about system features that would be altered if the system was being developed now, the operational aspect identified as being most desirable was the mounting of fuller records to support subject searches of the data base.
The software developed by Midland has been made available free of charge to other libraries. The libraries known to have taken advantage of this offer are both in Michigan-the St. Clair Shores Public Library and the Traverse City Public Library.
The St. Clair Shores Public Library mounted the software on its IBM System III Model l5D. The system became operational in May 1981 with all charge, discharge, and overdue features in place. A limited inquiry capability is also available. Book reserves and subject inquiry features were designated for future development. No modifications have been undertaken on the library software since May 1981. The system does not support the use of the MARC record format, although the Library views this as a desirable future enhancement.
The Traverse City Public Library has rewritten Rosemarie's Baby to run on an IBM System/34. The rewrite has been completed and the programs have been loaded into the City's System/34 but the software has not yet been tested.
Farmers Branch (TX) Public Library
Some eight years ago the Farmers Branch Public Library developed software to support the automation of circulation on an IBM System/38. The software is made available free of charge to city governments and not-for-profit organizations. The bibliographic data base contains brief records which includes fields for author, title, subject headings, imprint, pagination, date of publication and price. The system supports all circulation functions and plans are in-hand to develop online patron access catalog capabilities. Originally a batch system, the software has been updated to operate in online mode.
McKinney (TX) Public Library
McKinney is using an automated library system developed by the City to run on its IBM System/34. The system has been operational since May 1982 and currently supports circulation activities. In addition to checkin and check-out, the system handles reserves, fines, overdues and statistics, and provides alerts to prevent the checkout of items to delinquent patrons and to identify items which should be retained for some reason. The system does not support barcode or OCR symbology-all patron and item numbers must be entered at a keyboard. When such numbers are entered, the system displays sufficient patron and bibliographic information to enable visual verification that the numbers have been keyed correctly.
The software supports brief bibliographic records (limited to six lines of input) containing author, title, LC subject headings, ISBN, Dewey Classification number and item number. This data base may be searched by author, title or subject. The bibliographic and patron files may be queried to establish which patron has borrowed which item and which items a particular patron has checked out.
Some work has been done on the development of acquisitions capabilities. At present the acquisitions librarian can enter items being considered for acquisition and flag them for printout at a specified later date. Development of a catalog card production module has halted for the time being. All forms and reports are printed in batch mode in the evening.
J & K Computer Systems, Inc., Mesa, AZ
J & K Computer Systems, Inc. offers educational software packages for IBM System/34 and /38 minicomputers as well as financial, employee and inventory control software. The company has developed a Library Management System, which is available only as an add-on module for the student administration system on the System/34.
Known as LIB, the system has been designed to support circulation in school libraries. Each item entered in the bibliographic file must be assigned a unique identifier from one to six characters in length. Each character may be alphabetic or numeric. Each item assigned an identifier as part of the library checkout system must also be assigned a description. From the system description this appears to be conceived as the title information about the book, magazine, film strip, etc. The following data base maintenance functions are available: new, change, delete, lookup, search.
The program is designed to support checkout and checkin of library materials and fine recording. Both patron and item number have to be keyed for each transaction and the due date must also be calculated and entered by the operator. Both patron and item number have to be manually keyed to accomplish checkin of a returned item.
The system allows online look-up access to a file which shows the items an individual patron has on loan and the unpaid fines owed by that patron. Information displayed in this function comprises: book number, date checked out, date due, date checked in, number of days late, fine amount, fine amount paid, fine amount due, and total fines due. Look-up access is also given to files of: books currently checked out, the "catalog" of library materials, and the file of "fines received today."
The license fee for the use of the Library Management System module is $1,000 and annual maintenance is billed at $100. J & K will provide a one-day training seminar for library staff for $300 to $600 per day in Mesa, or at the customer's location for $400 plus travel time and expenses.
J & K has plans to enhance the module to include the production of catalog cards, book pockets and spine labels. A spokesman said that further enhancements such as an online catalog might also be considered. If these enhancements were made, it is possible that the Library Management System module might be made available as a standalone system. It would probably be offered on the System/34 as well as on the new System/36 recently introduced by IBM.
During the investigation, several references pointed to the East Brunswick (NJ) Public Library having developed a circulation control system on an IBM System III. The East Brunswick system was developed for that equipment but is now running on ICL hardware. The system currently supports circulation, acquisitions, and file inquiry by author, title and item number. It does not support records in the MARC format.
Attempts to trace a system reportedly developed by a library in British Columbia drew a blank. One of the local authorities we consulted suggested that the reference might be to old, mainframe based systems developed by university libraries in the 1960's.
Librarians thinking about having software written by one of the automated library system- turnkey vendors adapted for transfer to an IBM environment might find useful information about the attitudes of vendors in a LSN article (Vol. II, No. 9, pp. 69-70), which investigated the question of the availability of library automation software for Burroughs hardware.