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Purchasing an ILS (Part 3): Research and identify systems

After you’ve identified your current needs and determined your resources, you can begin the general research process. As a non-profit special library with limited technical support, I didn’t delve too deeply into the open-source systems. Some smaller libraries with technologically-savvy people are implementing these systems. If you are fortunate to have one of these individuals on staff, consider taking time to explore these systems before ruling them out.  

As I stated in a previous post, there are a number of systems out there, so I focused my energies on identifying systems geared to special libraries. Though most vendors have systems for “everyone”, some specialise in the special library market and are very familiar with the needs of these libraries.

Below are some of the resources that I reviewed and found particularly helpful:

  • Pamela Cibbarelli. “ILS Marketplace: CIL’s Quarterly Series on Library Automation Markets: April 2003: Special Libraries.” Computers in Libraries 23.4 (2003): 33-40. Though this article is now dated and new systems are out there, it was nice to see a matrix-style resource.
  • Survey of Library Automation Systems in Use at Various Libraries, by the Solo Librarians’ Listserv. It’s a little dated, but a great place to start. This site also provides some good links to other resources.
  • Library Technology Guides: This is an excellent resource for information about the current status of products, mergers, and library automation. It also has a searchable directory of libraries that identifies the type of ILS each is using and links to the catalogue (where available). You can narrow your search by library type.  
  • Bibliotech: This site provides a database of ILS vendors and current news analysis and commentary on various technologies. Though you cannot narrow the vendors by market focus, they do provide information about the vendors’ geographical location. If your library is based in North America, you might want a product from a North American company. Technical support services might be more accessible.

You might also consider reviewing the Directory of Library Automation Software, Systems and Services, edited by Pamela Cibbarelli.

In addition to web and literature research, I also looked at archives of various listservs (e.g., Web4Lib) and posted to the Special Libraries Association Solo Librarians listserv to inquire about the systems implemented in listserv members’ libraries. Finally, if I saw a library catalogue that I liked, I emailed the library and asked them what system they were using. Some of these systems can be tailored substantially, so the product name is not always apparent.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People are quite happy to provide their suggestions and feedback when asked. I was pleasantly surprised by this (and thankful)!

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One Response

  1. […] resources discussed the main points one need to think about when making the great decision. Here is a good resource about the process of purchasing an ILS by Reegan D. Breu. Others have compiled lists of ILSs with […]

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