SIRSI Corporation has officially announced a new user interface and work flow manager for its popular Unicorn Library Management System. Called WorkFlows, the new product uses Windows, graphical user interface, and client/server technology to streamline a variety of library operations.
WorkFlows was developed over the past two years by SIRSI staff and SIRSI customers, most notably libraries at Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University. The product has been designed to speed most major library operations. For each task, it eliminates unnecessary steps, combines others for increased efficiency, and provides an easy-to-follow roadmap for the user to complete each process the fastest, easiest way possible.
During the past few months, SIRSI has conducted final usability tests with three of its current customers: the libraries at Nashville State Technical Institute and Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Knox County Public Library, in Knoxville, Tennessee. The purpose of the tests was to provide SIRSI with feedback on the ease-of-use and effectiveness of the new WorkFlows product.
According to John Dickson, SIRSI's Director of Software Development, "The results of these final tests were impressive. We tested WorkFlows for one day in each library. First, we gave a one-hour demonstration and then two hours of hands-on training on normal daily library tasks. The remainder of the day was used for improvised exercises and feedback. In all cases, the user had no difficulty in learning WorkFlows. After only three hours of training and hands-on exercises, they were using the product fluently.
"In other words," Dickson added, "WorkFlows does what it is supposed to do - make library operations easier, faster, more efficient. We're very pleased."
WorkFlows employs the user interface and productivity enhancers of Windows' 95. These include the use of clear, colorful icons to graphically guide users through each library task, as well as 'Wizards' to combine steps and lead users to the fastest, yet thorough completion of each process.
While WorkFlows streamlines most major library operations, Dickson also announced that SIRSI is providing an optional tool kit, called WorkBench, that enables libraries to use WorkFlows' protocols to alter processes and customize work flows to conform precisely to local library policies and procedures. "With WorkBench, and a one-week training course which is included with it, each library is able to manipulate WorkFlows to meet unique local needs and reengineer operations to maximize productivity in each library environment," reported Dickson.
Greg Hathorn, SIRSI's Vice President, Library Products, stated "We are very proud of WorkFlows. While it continues our long tradition of employing new technology to make library operations easier, it also represents the first major break-though in library automation in many years. Instead of just automating more manual procedures, WorkFlows actually provides a means of completing library operations faster, more efficiently, more easily. WorkFlows provides an easy way for librarians to do things differently, to redesign work tasks, to streamline operations, to improve productivity, and truly reengineer how libraries will operate in the 21st Century."
SIRSI, founded in 1979, is a privately-held company with headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. SIRSI uses the most advanced technology available to provide easy-to-use information systems for libraries, businesses, and archives. With offices in major U.S. cities and subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, the Peoples Republic of China and the United Kingdom, the company has established its Unicorn products as the leading UNIX-based, client-server library information systems in the world. For more information, contact SIRSI via phone at (256)704-7000, fax at (256)704-7099, or World Wide Web at http://www.sirsi.com.