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Small Library Needs Recommendations for Web-Based Cataloging Software

Librarians who LibraryThing

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Feb 2, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Hi, I'm a volunteer in a museum library*. The library, a specialty library, currently containing 10,000 volumes, would love to get their catalog online. While exploring grants and other funding, we are doing some initial exploring of possible software that would assist with this. The library currently uses something called Winnebago, but would like to change over to something web-based.

Do any of you have recommendations for web-based library software that might work nicely for a smallish, specialty library?

They are pretty cost conscious, as the library has no line item in the museum's budget. It functions entirely on volunteers and proceeds from their ongoing book sale (donated books and magazines related to the collection).

Any help is appreciated, here or I can be emailed at avamatthew at gmail.com

*please excuse my not naming the museum and library on the forum, at least for now. This is, at the moment, an 'unofficial' and very early exploration.

Feb 2, 2012, 3:28pm Top

Ava....I'm a librarian at a small public library (all volunteer) - about 6000 volumes, mostly books, no serials, some AV offerings. We use a software from LibraryWorld.com and are very pleased with it. In fact, about 35 small libraries in Maine use this. They are quite inexpensive ($395/yr) require no server, and have circulation, patron database, catalog, serials, reports, inventory and OPAC functionalility built in. Are they perfect? NOT. But do we have the $$ and personnel resources to run and OCLC system. And do we need to? NOT. I'm thinking that one of the museums here in the area uses this also, but can't quite remember.

Anyway, check them out online, and give them a good look. You can get a 30 day trial for free, and you might find this is very doable. Feel free to send me a PM on my profile if you want more detailed info. Good luck.

Feb 2, 2012, 4:16pm Top

Variations on this topic have actually come up a pretty large number of times. I'd recommend using the search function for this group and browsing the old threads. Lots of recommendations and comments that you'll likely find helpful!

Feb 2, 2012, 4:49pm Top

>2 tututhefirst: tutu, thanks. I did look at libraryworld this morning and noticed the price tag (which is mostly for using their web space, if I remember correctly).

Jeremy here at LT has given me two open source options: Kpha and Evergreen (I think Evergreen is what our regional system uses. Adequate, but I think the interface and look is not great)

>3 kmaziarz: thanks, kmazlarz (ok, I admit that I looked twice at your user name. I thought it said "karlmarx" the first time:-)

Feb 2, 2012, 4:58pm Top

Haha...you still spelled it wrong, though. No L. It's an I. :-)

Feb 2, 2012, 5:10pm Top

>3 kmaziarz: i or l....guess it depends on which part of my glasses I'm looking out of!

Feb 2, 2012, 6:44pm Top

I'll add a NON-recommendation for Evergreen. In my experience, it's everything bad about shareware with none of the good stuff. (unless one of your volunteers is a super-capable software designer with lots of free time, in which case you're good to go!)

(Like you, you'll forgive if I don't mention my exact location, but I'm in a decently large consortium using Evergreen, and it's really quite tragically bad.)

Edited: Feb 27, 2012, 3:40am Top

tutu, thanks! I found the LibraryWorld really useful for myself too. I haven't tried it yet but I'm loving the options it offers. Can you please tell me what challenges are you facing with it, if there are any? Also, for patron privacy, can I refrain from putting in any personal data in there other than the membership number and name? Also if I put their name in there, will it be visible to the public? Is there a way to make it private only for the patrons?

Feb 27, 2012, 12:13pm Top

The only data in LW that is visible to the public is the regular cataloging information from the MARC record and an indication about whether or not the item is currently available. If you want to look at our online catalog it's at Library Catalog.

Even for the staff working in the library, you can control how much of anything they see by structuring their access. We allow our circ desk volunteers to have access to the patron file (small town = everyone knows everyone anyway) so they can add new patrons, but the only thing the system requires is the patron barcode you assign, and the patron's name. I'd highly suggest you fill in the some of the other info - phone, mail address, patron Type (i.e., youth, adult, non-resident, etc) so you can get decent demographics for your funders. The patron's name (or list of names) will not be available to the pubic.

Biggest challenge is the learning curve for our computer averse, chronologically advanced volunteers. AND...knowing ahead of time what definitions and settings to establish. (We are having to go back and review/redo almost 4500 records from a change in definition of how we first thought we'd want to do something.) Contact me via PM when you get ready to start, and I'll happily ring your chimes (I have unlimited long distance phone at home) to point out some of these GOTCHAs to avoid.

Other challenge is that their HELP files are less than optimal, but their customer service is good, and for the $$ you can't beat it.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Mar 2, 2012, 9:45pm Top

Thank you Tututhefirst. That was very helpful. I will put it to the test when I get to the office first thing next week. Will let you know if I have any more questions.

Thanks again.

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