The Health Sciences Library has signed a contract with SIRSI Corporation for installation of a new library system. Founded in 1979 by information and computer professionals, SIRSI, based in Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the world's leading suppliers of information automation. The same system has also been selected by the University Libraries to replace the current VIRGO system.
The marriage of SIRSI's WebCat server software with installed and readily available Web clients, such as Netscape and Mosaic, means that libraries at the University of Virginia can make access easily available without having to distribute, monitor, or maintain special client software.
SIRSI's Unicorn system is a fully integrated library automation system. The Web-based online catalog, known as WebCat, features a hypertext format that allows users to jump directly to the services they require, such as the catalog, periodicals, information desk, reserve desk, community services, and user status information. The public access catalog can be searched for any word, phrase, or combination of the two, appearing anywhere within the records in the database, and call number or "shelf" browsing is also available. Other special features include:
- User Status - an option that allows users to view their own status for current bills, checkouts, holds, and requests.
- Information and Referral System - a feature that allows a library to use the Information Desk to automatically maintain a new book list, or to post meetings and announcements.
- Request System - this provides a bi-directional form of communication. Users can place requests for holds, literature searches, purchases, interlibrary loans, suggestions, and reference questions. The library may also send information directly to users through the Request System.
- Z39.50 Client - SIRSI's host-based Z39.50 client allows users to access other library Z39.50 servers, while retaining all the search capabilities of the local SIRSI system. This includes screen design, command language, and hypertext searching, regardless of its availability on the target Z39.50 server.
- Electronic Mail - In addition to sending mail to individuals, any report, including bibliographies and user notices, can be sent via e-mail. Online catalog search results can also be exported to mail addresses.
The migration to a new online system is not trivial, and Health Sciences Library staff members will be working diligently during 1996 to achieve a smooth transition to the new system. Public introduction of SIRSI at the Health Sciences Library is slated for summer 1996.