Sunday, May 1, 2011

Week 13 ~ Online Public Access Catalogs

This week our instructor has asked, how am I going to reward  myself for doing so well in this course!  Hmmm, I guess that's a good thing!  Well, it's a matter of budget.  If money were not an object I'd have my yard completely landscaped, a new roof on my home, new siding, and a three season sun room built, topped off by a four week summer trip to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with my husband!

Big Ben - London, England

Irish Castle

St. Andrews Golf Course - Scotland

Thatch Home - Wales
However, since none of the above is in my budget, and photography is a hobby, I've decided that the best thing to do is to make a sensible selection and buy myself photo-shop software!  LOL!!!


The second part or the first part of this assignment, depending on how you look at it and what your priorities are was to interview a library media specialist and blog about it.  Below is a recap of my conversation with my cooperating teacher whom I did my practicum with.

~ ~ ~ OPAC INTERVIEW ~ ~ ~

For my LMS interview, I interviewed the the LMS where I did my library practicum last semester. I knew we used Alexandria a library system that I wasn't familiar with. As a library aide I had worked with another system. During my interview the LMS told me that while she wasn't 100 % satisfied with her OPAC she wouldn't replace it. She also felt that the students seem to have success with it.

One change she would like to have changed is the default, it is set to search for books in the entire district - if
you want to only search the high school you must manually set it to do so. Needless to say, when kids are searching from their own computers they forget this step.

Another problem is if you don't put in the exact term it won't give you the results. For example, if you search for "Lowell mills" you get one result; "Lowell mill" returns five. It doesn't allow you to use wildcard operators to search. It's possible that this has been corrected in the latest version, as there is a new one available.
The cataloging component system is MARC21 compatible, however it doesn't display on the OPAC. The system also supports Z39.50 standard communications protocol.

When I asked her if she had any other OPAC experience she told me that she'd worked with TLC and she thought that had a superior OPAC, however the cataloging features of Alexandria are are much better than TLC.

When I asked if she would consider being integrated with the two local libraries (this is a regional school district) she told me that she would not consider inter-library loans with any library, even within the district. The reason for this is that my limited book money* goes for items that are very specific for our curriculum, so I need those books to be available for our kids when they need them. As it is, I have a hard time keeping up with the demand at the high school.

When I inquired about technical support she told me there is a small fee and they (Alexandria) are very responsive to phone calls. She also said she's always had a real live person answer the phone right away.
Additionally, how things are handled depends on the problem. The don't have anyone in charge of the district and They have paras not Library Media Specialists at every library except the high school so there's not the coordination that there should be. Basically she told me they all try to muddle through and help each other.

Finally she told me that she didn't have experience with a lot of systems so it's hard to make comparisons. Alexandria has some strengths, but it has too many features that she found unnecessary and serve only to make the necessary functions more confusing at times.

*The library budget runs between $20,000 to $25,000 dollars annually.

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