At least eight local library system vendors (COBIT, DRA, Dynix, INLEX, Innovative Interfaces, NSC, Sirsi, and Unisys PALS) now offer information and referral (I & R) modules, with which it is Possible to build and maintain files of local services. The range of prices for these modules is between $5,000 and $15,000, except for very small or very large systems. Several other vendors which do not provide a separate I & R module, still make it possible for a library to include such information in its bibliographic data base, but not as conveniently. It is generally accepted in the industry that an I & R file consists of non-bibliographic records describing programs, services, organizations, events and individuals about which library patrons are likely to seek information. The information in a typical record might include an organization's name, the services it provides, to whom service is extended, hours of availability, fees, contact names and numbers, and the last time the data were updated. Community calendars also may be maintained in an I & R module. A MARC format for information and referral has now been developed and, at least, 11 local library system vendors have announced that they will conform to the standard.
Libraries interested in including an I & R requirement in their local Library System RFP may wish to adapt the following statements to their needs:
- The system shall allow the creation and maintenance of an information and referral file and shall support the searching, display, and printing thereof.
- The file shall support a minimum of 1,000 information and referral records which average 1,000 characters but may require up to 12,000 characters, plus indexing overhead for 20 access points.
- The system shall be capable of taking in, storing, and outputting I & P records in the MARC format.
- The information and referral file shall be available through the online patron access catalog.
- The file shall at least be searchable by all of the following: agency name and program name; subject, keyword; administrative bead; and contact person.
- Boolean operators shall be available for name, subject, keyword, and geographic searches.
- It shall be possible to search the information and referral file with the command structure used for accessing the online patron access catalog.
- It shall be possible to, at any patron access terminal equipped with a screen printer, instantly to print any citation.
- It shall be possible to print-out the entire file or a subset thereof on the system printer.
- It shall also be possible to searching chronologically by the date on which an entry was last updated.
- It shall be possible to produce a mailing list that will be used to solicit updated information from an administrative head or contact person using a predetermined updating date.
- The system shall be capable of supporting separate subject headings, cross references, and authority files for the information and referral file.