Ameritech Library Services, one of the first vendors of automated library systems to introduce a patron notification and telephone renewal system, has released TeleCirc II, a second-generation system based on an interactive voice response system built by Edify, a market leader in that field with over 1,100 accounts.
TeleCirc II can be used to notify patrons by telephone of holds, overdue items, and fines, and to allow patrons to use a touch-tone telephone to automatically renew books.
The text-to-speech functionality of the system makes it possible for library patrons to hear the title of an item spoken by a synthesized computer-generated voice when the item barcode is entered using a telephone keypad. The system also verbalizes the item title when a patron proactively phones to learn the status of a particular item. In addition, the software gives libraries the option of prerecording general messages and directions in a human voice. TeleCirc II is available in multiple languages. It is Windows NT-based and runs on standard PC hardware using TCP/IP network connections.
An increasing number of libraries are beginning to use interactive voice response systems because it can save postage and staff time. Most vendors of automated library systems now offer such a product, or have one in development. Sirsi, a major competitor of Ameritech, was the latest to announce such a product. It has signed a contract with Enhanced Systems, Inc. to develop an automated telephone notification module for its Unicorn Library Management System. General release is planned for early next year.
[Ameritech Library Services, 400 Dynix Drive, Provo, UT 84604; (800) 223-5413; fax: (801) 223-5202; www.amlibs.com.]