Baltimore, MD (February 5, 1997). The Enoch Pratt Free Library has announced the awarding of a $655,000 contract to Sirsi Corporation of Huntsville, Alabama, for a sophisticated information software system that will project Pratt customers into the 21st Century almost four years before 2001. Installation will be completed by June of this year.
The announcement was made today by Library Director Carla Hayden after a Board of Estimates meeting at which the contract received official approval from City authorities. The contract funds will be supplemented by private monies, bringing the project cost to $900,000.
"The Sirsi project is a prime example," said Dr. Hayden, "of the new direction in which our library is going. Not only will it give our customers state-of-the-art information services, but the cost will be shared by the City and the Pratt Library Board of Trustees."
Since hiring a Development Director last April, the Library Board has been working hard to secure funds from private sources to augment City and State allocations. It considers the purchase of a new software system an early opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of a public/private partnership.
Of the $900,000 that will be spent on the Sirsi system, $350,000 will come from the Pratt Board and $550,000 from the Library's operating budget supplied by the city.
"We are pleased and enthused about working with one of the preeminent urban libraries in America," commented Jacky Young, President and COO of SIRSI. "Together we look forward to providing a new level of information access for the Baltimore community."
After Sirsi software is installed, Library customers will find they have taken a quantum leap forward in the ease with which they will find the information they need. For the first time ever, anyone using the system will gain access to Pratt's entire voluminous collection of more than 2 million books; 11,000 magazines and newspapers; 20,000 videos, computer disks, and films; 1.2 million federal and state documents, and more. New books ordered for the Library will also be listed. In addition, the powerful yet flexible system will provide full graphics access to the Internet and to Pratt's own collection.
Sirsi, founded in 1980, is a privately held company which develops, markets, and supports information software systems for libraries, business firms, and archives. It is used by more that 600 libraries and information certers world-wide.
The company was selected by the Pratt Library after almost two years of careful planning and deliberation by the staff, led by Patricia Wallace, head of Pratt's Information Access Division. The new software will replace an outmoded, frequently inactive automated system purchased in the 1970's.
The new service scheduled to begin in June will be enhanced in months to come by additional computer equipment and software that will continue to make information-searching a pleasure rather than a chore for city and state customers of Baltimore's public library system.