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ALA Annual Conference 2001

Information Today [September 2001]


The exhibit hall of the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference, held this past June in San Francisco, continues to stand out as the venue that best reflects the state of library automation. All the companies that offer automation products to public and academic libraries participate, and many choose this conference to make major announcements. Those that specialize in products for special libraries are not necessarily as well represented, as they tend to focus on the Special Libraries Association conferences.

Some of the important themes this year included a focus on enriching library automation systems with new flavors of content and expanding their scope to contain a wider range of information sources. Most ofthe library system vendors have updated the look and features of their online catalogs to keep pace with the expectations set by online booksellers and other e-commerce sites.

Developers of library automation systems struggle, however, to offer eye-catching interfaces with ever-expanding information and still provide the structure and organization of information expected by librarians. Content providers, such as Syndetic Solutions, that deliver services to enhance bibliographic content are in great demand. Current expectations now require the library's Web catalog to include book jacket images, tables of contents, summaries, and book reviews.

The industry has experienced some business changes. The really big news involved SIRSI Corp.'s planned acquisition of Data Research Associates (DRA). The announcement came immediately before the conference and all parties involved were still working through the implications of the change. As of this writing, the acquisition is proceeding as planned. In other news, EOS International announced its new ownership. Its founder, Scot Cheatham, purchased the company from the U.K.-based Dawson Holdings Co. In these two cases, formerly public companies now find themselves under private ownership. In addition, Pigasus Software, developer of the WINGS Request Management System, was purchased by Auto-Graphics.

The school library market continues to be dominated by Sagebrush Technologies and Follett Software Co. Sagebrush has expanded its offerings through a partnership with SIRSI to exclusively market Accent, a configuration of SIRSI's Unicorn that's specifically designed for school libraries. Book Systems, Inc., a small company specializing in school and small public libraries, seems to be gaining momentum.

As vendors that specialize in very large academic libraries, Ex Libris and Endeavor are both doing well. Ex Libris continues to win a large percentage of the new sales in this arena. Endeavor seems to have come out of the slump it experienced following its sale to Elsevier Science last year, as evidenced by its contracts with Yale University, the ILSCO consortium in Illinois, and the University of Montana. Recent sales by Ex Libris include the California Digital Library and the University of California­ Davis.

Each of the following library automation companies was present at the conference. Included are the significant products or services that were demonstrated and any major announcements.

Auto-Graphics, a publicly owned company that specializes in resource-sharing systems, announced its acquisition of the WINGS Request Management System (and all its personnel) from Pigasus Software, Inc. The WINGS Request Management System was designed to help libraries automate the management of interlibrary loan (ILL), document delivery, photocopy, and purchase requests. The system includes support for the ISO 10161 ILL protocol, but also integrates with ILL systems such as OCLC and DOCLINE outside of the protocol. Pigasus, founded in 1997, was a private company that was owned in whole by Candy Zeman and Art Zeman. Auto-Graphics will incorporate WINGS into its product line to enhance its existing resource-sharing offerings, and will integrate WINGS into its Web-based Impact/VERSO Library Management System.

Last year, Auto-Graphics created its subsidiary, a Web portal site that provides library and bibliographic information to librarians as well as the public.

Book Systems, Inc., based in Huntsville, Alabama, demonstrated its Windows-based Concourse library management system and its Z39.50-based eZcat copy cataloging application. Book Systems' products appeal primarily to school libraries and small to mid-sized public libraries. In one of its largest sales, Book Systems announced that the Hamilton County Public School System in Tennessee had recently chosen Concourse.

CASPR Library Systems offers two different approaches to library automation. Its Library World is a traditional library automation system that operates on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. The company's LibraryNet Web server allows a library to publish its Library World online catalog on the Web.

CASPR also offers an ASP (application service provider) library automation system called LibraryCom. This Web-based service lets a library automate its collection with no local software. All cataloging, management, and access is accomplished through a Web interface. For no cost, CASPR provides a limited version of LibraryCom to libraries. The free service includes up to 10 megabytes of storage for catalog records—usually about 5,000 titles. Additional storage and product support is available to libraries that purchase subscriptions to the service. LibraryCom includes access to a database of 2 million MARC records from which the library's local collection can be derived. Through the use of this database as a cataloging resource, the number of records that the library will have to create anew should be minimal. CASPR recently released version 3.2 of its LibraryCom service to include support for the 856 MARC field, which provides active links to Web resources.

COMPanion Corp., a company that specializes in library automation software for schools, demonstrated version 5.43 of its Alexandria system. Alexandria operates on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. With version 5.43 the system is also compatible with Apple's new Macintosh OS X (pronounced "ten") operating system. Other new features in this version include the ability for the client to search external Z39.50-based resources and support for multiple languages in the Web interface. The system's MARC editor has been updated and the database engine has been enhanced to improve searching and performance.

Data Research Associates, Inc. announced its proposed acquisition by SIRSI at ALA. While this business change was the hottest news at the conference, DRA found itself in an unusual position. As a public company, its acquisition by a private company is a transaction that will take some time to complete, and there are no guarantees that such a purchase will finalize successfully.

While the acquisition is still on track, DRA and SIRSI were still officially competitors even though news of the deal had been made public. DRA and SIRSI staff were still adjusting to the concept of becoming a single company and were in the process of learning each other's corporate cultures. Because of the non-finality of the sale, it was largely business as usual at the DRA booth. As recently as July 24, DRA and SIRSI announced their cash tender offer in which SIRSI's parent company will begin purchasing all outstanding shares of DRA stock. (For a complete look at the merger, see "SIRSI Acquires Data Research Associates" on page 17 of the July/August 2001 issue or at newsbreaks/nb010528-1.htm.)

At the conference, DRA staff showed the company's flagship product Taos, including the acquisitions module, which is the last remaining major module to be completed in this new library automation system. DRA recently announced that the Fairfax County Public Library in Virginia, a large library system, will migrate from its INLEX/3000 system to Taos.

Endeavor Information Systems demonstrated the latest versions of its Voyager library automation system and its ENCompass digital library system. It also introduced its LinkFinderPlus reference-linking system.

LinkFinderPlus is a comprehensive system that helps libraries provide links among their various information products, even when they are from different publishers and aggregators. LinkFinderPlus adds additional features from information services to other resources that might include abstracts, reviews, and full-text content, as well as to online bookstores and Internet search engines. The system complements and is compatible with the CrossRef linking initiative of over 70 publishers and relies on the OpenURL linking mechanism that is currently under standards consideration by NISO. LinkFinderPlus is of the same product genre as Ex Libris' SFX and offers similar features, though with different underlying technologies.

Endeavor also demonstrated its ENCompass digital library management system, which was released in March. ENCompass facilitates the development of digital collections in a way that makes them part of an overall comprehensive system but that doesn't make them isolated and unconnected. The product includes support for standards such as XML, Z39.50, EAD, and Dublin Core.

Endeavor continues to have success with Voyager. At the time of ALA it announced the product's selection by Yale University. More recent announcements include implementations in the Libris national system in Sweden, the Illinois Library Computer Systems Organization consortium, and the University of Montana.

EOS International announced its recent change in ownership. Since 1994 EOS International has been under the ownership of Dawson Holdings Co. As previously mentioned, EOS announced that Scot Cheatham had purchased the company, with Tony Saadat as a partner with equity interest. This arrangement is expected to allow the company to focus more strongly on research and development and product enhancements.

EOS demonstrated its two primary products: the client/server Q Series and the Windows-based GLAS. While GLAS targets smaller libraries, Q Series is designed to accommodate mid-sized to large libraries. EOS also announced its new E-Library service, an ASP alternative to library automation using EOS software where the library relies on external servers rather than ones housed locally in the library.

epixtech, Inc. demonstrated the recently released version 7 of its Horizon Sunrise library automation system. This release includes a new Z39.50 cataloging capability, major enhancements to the circulation module, support for Windows 2000 clients, and support for Unicode.

The company also demonstrated iPac, its latest generation of a Web-based online catalog. iPac can be used with either of epixtech's automation systems, Dynix or Horizon. epixtech has joined an increasing number of library automation companies that have entered into a relationship with Syndetic Solutions to provide enriched content into its online catalog, including tables of contents, book reviews, book jacket images, and book reviews.

The Universal Resource Sharing Application (URSA) was also demonstrated at the conference. This product has been used successfully in services such as the Tampa Bay Library Consortia's Anywhere Anytime Library e-Catalog, and Alleycat.

In order to help the needs of public libraries that are mandated to offer filtered Internet access, epixtech announced that it has entered into a partnership with N2H2, a company that offers Web management services using a combination of software and human review to provide access to approved Web resources.

Ex Libris USA demonstrated its Aleph 500 library automation system, SFX reference linking product, and MetaLib digital library product. The company has enjoyed strong sales of Aleph 500 both in the international and North American marketplaces. Recent large U.S. sales include the University of California­Davis and the California Digital Library. An electronic reserves module has recently been added to Aleph 500.

SFX, a pioneering product in the reference linking arena, has been selected by a number of North American universities and research centers. SFX, based on the OpenURL linking mechanism, allows libraries to provide a set of additional services to any of a number of compliant information resources. These services include links to full text of articles from citations, searches to related works by the same author, access to local holdings information from the library's catalog, and links to document delivery systems and online bookstores. SFX can be run on a local server operated by the library or in an ASP arrangement in which Ex Libris hosts the service. Ex Libris purchased the underlying SFX technology from the University of Ghent in Belgium in early 2000 and has continued its development. After a period of beta testing, the product was released for production use at about the time of the ALA conference.

Follett Software Co., a major library automation supplier for school libraries, demonstrated the latest versions of its Catalog Plus and Web Collection Plus applications. Consistent with the demands of the school library environment, Follett's Catalog Plus integrated system is available for both Macintosh and Windows computers.

Web Collection Plus allows a library to make its online catalog available to its usersthrough the Web, including the ability to place hold and ILL requests. School districts can create comprehensive catalogs that span multiple schools through the Union Catalog Plus product.

Fretwell-Downing Informatics offers both library automation software and ILL and resource-sharing systems. Fretwell-Downing is a U.K.-based company and has recently begun to offer its OLIB7 library automation system in North America.

While OLIB7 has not yet been particularly successful in the U.S., the company's Virtual Document eXchange (VDX) product has gained significant interest. VDX allows library consortia to create for themselves a peer-to-peer resource-sharing system using the ISO ILL protocols that can also interact with other ILL and document delivery systems.

Fretwell-Downing also offers a complementary product called Z-Portal, which allows libraries to create a virtual union catalog that lets library users search multiple libraries and databases simultaneously.

Fretwell-Downing's other offerings include an application for creating digital collections called Z'Mbol, which operates with multiple types of metadata and document types. Z'Mbol uses a Z39.50 interface, allowing the resources to be easily integrated with the library's overall environment.

Gaylord Information Systems unveiled version 2 of its Polaris library automation system at ALA. Among other improvements, this update of Polaris includes a significantly enhanced online catalog, called PowerPAC. Based on XML technologies, PowerPAC will provide the ability to offer content that's customized to the interests of individual library patrons. Some of the supplemental content items include tables of contents, book reviews, and summaries. PowerPAC can deliver results sorted according to their relevancy with the user's search query.

Also consistent with providing enriched content through PowerPAC, Gaylord announced its agreement with MSNBC to deliver news headlines and story abstracts that are updated several times each day.

Gaylord targets Polaris to public libraries of all sizes, having successfully installed the system in several countywide library cooperatives. The company is involved in converting many of its customers that are operating its older Galaxy system to Polaris.

Innovative Interfaces, Inc. announced three new products and services at the conference, including new features for its MAP product, WebBridge, and AirPAC.

MAP (Millennium Access Plus) provides access to an extended set of content sources through Millennium's online catalog. The capability of MAP has been enhanced through the use of MetaFind, a searching technology licensed from MuseGlobal that offers simultaneous search and retrieval across multiple resources of differing types. MetaFind is not restricted to Z39.50-compliant resources—it can also search resources that do not conform to this protocol.

The WebBridge enhancement allows users to link from a basic record display in the Millennium online catalog to supplementary and related content such as book jacket images, book reviews, and tables of contents. WebBridge manages these links so that they're created dynamically and according to parameters set by the library.

Innovative also announced the AirPAC interface to its Millennium online catalog that's designed specifically for wireless devices. This optional feature allows library users with Web-enabled cellphones and PDAs to access the library's online catalog.

The Library Corporation (TLC) continues to expand its products and services. With over 400 installations across 1,200 libraries, its Library.Solution library automation system continues to enjoy strong sales. The YouSeeMore enhanced Web catalog operates with both Library.Solution and the CARL system, providing information such as book jacket images, tables of contents, summaries, and reviews to supplement basic catalog records. YouSeeMore now includes new personalization features, allowing each library user to create his or her own interactive library Web page. Users can easily view their own library account record to see items checked out, when they are due, and any fines owed. The Library Corporation has partnered with MuseGlobal to integrate cross-resource searching into YouSeeMore.

TLC also recently announced that it had licensed the Library.Connect ILL toolkit to Ex Libris. This software will facilitate the development of ISO ILL-compliant resource-sharing capabilities into Ex Libris' products.

In yet another partnership, the CARL subsidiary of The Library Corporation will provide software and hardware to Baker & Taylor (B&T) in support of the customized cataloging services that B&T offers to its customers. Book suppliers such as Baker & Taylor are increasingly involved in delivering MARC records and other specialized services to their library customers. The partnership with The Library Corporation includes providing access to its ITS•MARC database and supplying advanced cataloging utilities to four geographically dispersed processing centers.

Sagebrush Technologies, a company specializing in school library automation, continues to expand its product offerings. Sagebrush's original purchase of the Athena system from Nichols Advanced Technologies in 1998 was followed in January 2000 by the acquisition of the Winnebago Software Co., one of the leading school library automation companies. With these two products, Sagebrush gained a major share of the school library automation market. In February, Sagebrush took another major step forward with the addition of Accent, a version of SIRSI's Unicorn library automation system customized for K-12 school libraries. Through this partnership with SIRSI, Sagebrush gains yet another option to satisfy the needs of school libraries.

SIRS Mandarin offers both a suite of database products and the Mandarin M3 library automation system. At the conference the latest version of Mandarin M3 was available for inspection. Now in version 1.1, recent enhancements include a new release of the Windows OPAC that allows library users to see their personal record, viewing items they have currently checked out or have previously borrowed. The OPAC also offers new search capabilities and browse indexes.

SIRSI Corp. came to the conference following the announcement of its intention to acquire DRA. In January, Patrick Sommers became SIRSI's new president. Company founders Jim Young, Jacky Young, and Mike Murdock continue to have very active roles in the organization, focusing mainly on strategic technology developments. Reflecting its new focus on electronic content, Laura N. Dawson, former director of content development with, joined SIRSI in April as the content development director for the company's new iBistro product.

SIRSI's iBistro is an online catalog that includes an enhanced interface, personalization features, and content enrichment services. iBistro brings a new look and feel to the Web online catalog, offering a more up-to-date interface designed to appeal to users familiar with online booksellers and other popular Web sites. The product gives the user easy access to personalized information, such as his or her library record and lists of new books in areas of interest. Options for enriched content delivered throughiBistro initially include book jacket images, tables of contents, book summaries, and reviews.

A new division of SIRSI, called LINK, was formed in March to focus solely on large academic and research libraries. A version of iBistro, called iLINK, will evolve from this division and will include content sources and software configurations appropriate for the specialized needs of large libraries.

Some of the major sales that SIRSI announced include the LOUIS consortium in Louisiana, which comprises the University of Louisiana, a member of the Association of Research Libraries. Other recent sales include Michigan's Suburban Library Cooperative, the Old Colony Library Network in the Boston area, the Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority (INCOLSA), and the Cooperative Computer Services consortium of 20 Chicago-area public libraries.

The Technology Resource Foundation demonstrated its new OpenBook library automation system. The organization has developed this system in an open-source model and will distribute it without cost. To use the system a library need only obtain a modestly configured server on which to run the software. Its target libraries include Third World and rural libraries that otherwise would not be able to afford to automate their collections. OpenBook offers an entirely Web-based system that provides an impressive set of features. The system has Unicode support, currently includes support for three languages, and can easily be adapted to others. The capabilities of OpenBook are competitive with many of the commercial systems designed for small libraries.

VTLS, Inc. demonstrated its suite of library automation products at the conference. The Virtua system is now complete and has been delivered to a number of domestic and international sites. Virtua's support of multiple language scripts through its native Unicode implementation especially appeals to libraries with culturally diverse collections. VTLS also offers products and services related to multimedia imaging. The company also supplies Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) products from Gemplus to provide advanced capabilities in inventory control, circulation, and theft detection. VTLS offers two ILL options, the ILL Manager from Research Libraries Group and the WINGS ILL Request Management System developed by Pigasus Software, now a subsidiary of Auto-Graphics.

[Editor's Note: For more information on many of the products mentioned above, see the Library Systems Today section beginning on page 45.]

View Citation
Publication Year:2001
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Information Today
Publication Info:Volume 18 Number 08
Issue:September 2001
Publisher:Information Today
Place of Publication:Medford, NJ
Online access:
Record Number:9644
Last Update:2024-06-13 21:15:46
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00