September 1999, while still working for Graham & James LLP, I had to
face the fact that the Professional Series from Eos, Intl. would no
longer be supported. Though it was a DOS product, we were
relatively happy with the Professional Series catalog. But
customer support is an important issue. Granted, it had been many
years since I’d called customer support, but the hard truth was that
if database corruption reared it’s ugly head we could lose all of the
cataloging records for our 2,300 book collection. No one would be
available to offer assistance in recovering the records from a
now-defunct proprietary database format. Then there was the fact
that that Y2K was looming. (Yes, I know it didn’t turn out to be
much of a problem, but who knew?) The catalog was a valuable firm asset
that had required a great deal of time and money to produce, and I
couldn’t risk losing it.
usually the case, I had specific requirements.
wanted a product that would keep my records in MARC format. It
may not be pretty, but it’s the only standard we have. MARC
insures that cataloging records are easily transferable, making
converting catalog records into another MARC compatible system a
fairly trivial process. My current predicament was a perfect example
of why that’s important.
didn’t need a serials control program, as I had written my own
using MS Access.
had used call number prefixes extensively. Professional
Series had a call number prefix field, which I used to designate
subject area/location, for example, CORP so I needed a system that
would include this field.
web-enabled product was desirable, as it would eliminate the need to
install proprietary software on everyone’s computer.
report that I absolutely had to have was a summary of the search
results in an abbreviated list showing the title, call number and
location, including the call number prefix.
the way, there wasn’t much money in the budget.
started researching. And I was surprised at how many relatively
low-cost options were out there. The fact that I was only
looking for a catalog, and not serials control made all the difference.
Law libraries have unusual needs when it comes to serials, and an
integrated system with all the necessary features isn’t cheap.
because of the proliferation of online catalog products for school
libraries, that aren’t known for their large budgets but are
known for their loyalty to MARC, there are products out there that can
handle MARC records with aplomb and provide decent user interfaces. Mind
you, they had serials modules that wouldn’t know how to handle the
1,000 volume Federal Reporter, or even a basic routing list. And
it’s true, some of the interfaces were highly graphical, and perhaps
more appropriate for elementary schools, but who’s to say that our
attorneys wouldn’t welcome, how shall we say it, a friendlier,
speaking, the companies that produce these products do not have big
marketing budgets, and law firms aren’t their primary market, so
don’t expect to see them exhibiting at AALL. By the way, some of
the companies that market online cataloging software will also put your
records on the web for you. Some won’t. Of the ones that
won’t, almost all of them were considering it.
here’s a quick list of several of the products that I found worth
considering, FOR THE ONLINE CATALOG ONLY! There may be many
other good ones out there. These happen to be the ones that I
found during the course of my research. I haven’t included
prices because they often they vary depending upon the size of your
collection, which modules you want, etc., but for my situation prices
ranged from $600-$5,000. I’m including my comments on these
systems, but keep in mind that software is constantly being improved,
and what might be a problem for me, might be an advantage for you.
Library World (http://www.caspr.com)
- See http://www.ilsr.com/caspr.htm
for a recent review. The cost for this product is quite low.
Important to note is that CASPR will also put your MARC records on the
web for you, also at a very low cost. I thought it was quite
functional for the price. But even if you don’t decide to use
it, you may want to use their FREEMARC service, which lets you search
and download MARC records from their web site. http://www.caspr.com/.
Caveat: Maybe I’m dense, but just in case I’m not the
only one, be aware that their Library Directory is NOT a list of
libraries that use CASPR. It is simply a directory of online
catalogs. Also, I did talk to a firm librarian who had tried to
barcode using this product, and was having difficulties due to the fact
that CASPR choked on titles with 1,000 volumes, a situation that
doesn’t commonly happen in school libraries, their main market.
Mandarin (http://www.sirs.com) -
I really liked the public access catalog with this product. I
really hated the cataloging interface, but maybe it was just me.
At the time I was conducting my research, they did not have a demo disk
available. Instead they sell through sales representatives who
will welcome the chance to give you a demonstration. It is a
client-server application, which is unusual with the lower cost systems.
) - ITS MARC Products. I found this product to be very confusing
and not very intuitive, though I heard from several people who like it.
What I really couldn’t tolerate was the fact that the Z39.50 search
module could not accommodate title word searching. You HAD to know
exactly how the title started, as it would only search starting from the
beginning of the title. But if you found the record you wanted, it
was very easy to import and edit the record, and there are other
searching options such as LC number. But you might want to take a
look at their web site. They are now offering a web product for
searching MARC records (and allows title word searches) that
might be handy, depending upon the pricing. This is new since I
looked at their product.
Alexandra ( http://www.companioncorp.com/
) - One of the more expensive of the systems listed here, at least for
corporate users. Newsflash! According
to their web site, they’re now offering their system free through July
1st. At the time of my research, they didn’t offer web
hosting, and the public access catalog software had to be installed on
each work station.
International GLAS (http://www.eosintl.com/)
-You can opt to store records in MARC format with this product. I
know of several people using this that are happy with it. I never
fully evaluated it due to its higher cost, and the fact that I
couldn’t get the demo disk to work on my computer. It was
probably a glitch with our network, so don’t hold that against them.
(http://www.simainc.com/) - SIMA
is one of the few products that is geared towards the legal market.
I eliminated it from consideration because it doesn’t maintain the
cataloging records in MARC format. (It does, however, import MARC
records.) But if this isn’t important to you, you may want to take a
(http://www.inmagic.com/) - By far
the happiest group of users seem to be those using INMAGIC. I
eliminated it because it doesn’t maintain the records in MARC format, but Larry Ross
at the Environmental Law Institute had what I thought was an imaginative
solution to that problem. He uses Z39.50 software to download MARC
records (he uses shareware called Znavigator, but Bookwhere would also
work, see below), imports them into MITINET (see below), then exports
them to Inmagic. He maintains his holdings in MITINET so as to
have a current MARC copy of all of his records, and periodically updates
by exporting them to Inmagic. Another thing to note is that while
the Inmagic software is quite reasonable, the WebPublisher software for
putting the catalog on the Internet is considerably more expensive.
) - This is a great piece of software that works with a variety
of online catalog systems, including CASPR. It gives you an easy
interface to Z39.50 compliant catalogs, thereby allowing you to search a
variety of online catalogs including RLIN, OCLC, Library of Congress,
MELVYL, and many, many more, using a uniform interface. You can
then download full MARC records to be imported into whichever library
system you choose. For a complete list of library catalogs
that support Z39.50 protocol, and are therefore searchable with
Bookwhere, see http://www.bookwhere.com/bwusers/bwlibr.html.
(Be aware that some catalogers do not consider it ethical for libraries
to capture records from other libraries and use them as their own.) Cost
is about $300.
) - Mentioned above under Inmagic, MITINET is a DOS program, and a darn
good one. A Windows version isn’t expected until the end of
2000. You can use MITINET to edit, import and create full MARC
cataloging. The cost is about $500.
know what you’re wondering. What did I finally do? Well, I
had just about decided to simply wait until Jan. 1 to see if the
Professional Series still worked. After all, we were doing okay
with the status quo. But because of the lack of support and the
possibility of data corruption, I started exporting MARC records from
Professional Series on a monthly basis, and sending them to Joni Cassidy
of Cassidy Cataloging. She reviewed them to ensure that the records
were, in fact, in clean MARC format, and she maintained an off-site
backup for me.
me say that If there’s anyone out there still using Professional
Series “without a net”, I strongly urge you to regularly export the
records in MARC format so you have a clean back-up in case there is data
corruption. I started doing this in September when the support expired
for good, and sure enough in November we did experience data corruption.
And coincidentally our network’s backup program had been giving the
Information Services people trouble, so simply restoring was a problem.
lost very little data, however, since I was exporting all my records to
MARC format on a monthly basis. We quickly went to Plan B.
Cassidy Cataloging took the records they’d been storing for me and put
them on the web within just a couple of days, using their online web
catalog, Molehill. (http://www.cassidycat.com/index-n.html
) Molehill has a feature that very few other products have, that
is, the search results list include the title, location and call number
for all copies of the title. This may sound like a small thing,
and it does, of course, do much more. But doing a search and
printing a quick list with locations, then handing it to the attorney
was what I did most often, so that was important to me. There is a
set-up fee for all Molehill catalogs, and a monthly maintenance and web
hosting fee. For more information see http://www.cassidycat.com/molehill.htm
that I could continue cataloging on an ongoing basis, I purchased
MITINET, and also Bookwhere, which I used to download MARC records.
The downloaded records are easily imported to MITINET, and records are
also easily exported from MITINET to a standard MARC format that can be
read by most cataloging systems. I regularly exported all my
records and emailed them to Cassidy Cataloging so that they could update
the Molehill data. This turned out to be a very easy and
thanks to all the people who shared their information with me when I
asked for help on law-lib. And if you’ve found a unique solution
to cataloging your library collection, let me know, and we’ll include
your case study right here on LLRX.com
started in my research by attending a workshop at AALL, “All Systems
Are Not Created Equal.” Conducted by Mary Dzurinko and Nina Platt.
Included with their handout was a vendor survey that was invaluable. For
order information, or to browse the survey by vendor, see http://www.ilsr.com/SURVEY2.HTM.
Which brings me to another great resource, their Webzine, Integrated
Library Systems Reports, http://www.ilsr.com/.
of Library Automation Systems in Use at Various Libraries – By Solo
Librarians’ Listserv - http://www.alrc.doe.gov/library/autosurv.html.