[Editor’s Note: Northern Illinois University library science professor Barbara Fiehn is back again, reporting on library automation for the school media community. This year, after working hard with an automation system to gain some new perspectives, she talked to other users—see her survey results in what follows—and to the vendors.
Enjoy her update!]
I’ve spent part of this summer helping a novice media specialist automate a small, rural, K–12 media center. Sometimes this was arduous and other times it was a comedy of errors. Since we worked without training on the new automation system, many things were done by trial and error. Working without a shelf list, we weeded, downloaded records, bar coded, and reshelved. Our first attempt to use the hand-held inventory unit was a disaster. Some of my school library science students volunteered to help, and those who were transitioning to the same automation system in their jobs this fall brought media specialists from their districts to get some hands-on experience before their training.
New spine labels still need to be printed and applied, but we are waiting for the second order of labels to arrive. The first order, contrary to the supply vendor’s catalog indication, was not compatible with the automation system. After about 700 work hours (counting volunteer workers), we are thankful for the really user-friendly automation system and the invaluable and patient phone support staff.
The final step in this adventure is to give my cataloging and automation students some real-life experience this fall cataloging new books for this school’s collection. After all, they have to practice on something.
The Year in Automation—An Overview
This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.