[Editor's Note: Last year, Barbara Fiehn put a magnifying glass to the sector of the library automation industry that's active in K-12 through her two-part series, "The Voice of the Vendors: Futures in School Library Automation, Parts 1 and 2," which ran in the May/June and July/August 2005 issues of Multimedia & Internet @ Schools. In those stories, she shared the results of her conversations with Follett, Sagebrush, Companion Corp., Dynix, Mandarin Library Automation, The Library Corporation (TLC), Innovative Interfaces, Inc., and Sirsi Corp. This year, we've asked her once again to touch base with as many of these companies as she can to find out what's new and compelling in the market in general and in their offerings in particular. Barbara also identified several other important players in the K-12 automation market—Book Systems, Library Soft, and Surpass—and has added discussions of their products and services as well. Here, in Part 1 of her Library Automation in K-12 Update 2006, she covers these three companies and notes what's new at Innovative Interfaces, Sagebrush, and TLC.]
Library automation continues to evolve, so I've enjoyed connecting with several companies for first-time coverage in this series as well as reconnecting with companies I've spoken with previously. They're all listening carefully to customers to meet their changing needs, as you'll see below.
But before detailing my findings company by company, here are a few observations:
* As the vendors I contacted for this article spoke with me, I noticed their sense that IT departments and librarians are more actively comparing systems than previously. This strikes me as good for continued competition in the market. With the continuing budget constraints in the school market, purchase of the right system must be a careful consideration.
* Vendors continue, of course, to release new centralized systems. As they do, there is some concern by individual librarians about the changes taking place. The move to districtwide Web-based systems asks library staff to adjust not only to change but to a whole new way of doing business. For some, this is a threatening environment; for others, it offers new
opportunities to better serve patrons.
The Three Newly Covered Vendors
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