Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Of Library Catalogs and eLibrary Blogs... Where Hi-Tech Meets Tradition!

So...new books have been added, and computers provided. What's next? A card catalog of course!

If you are my age or older, you probably remember the old card catalogs -- those big wood cabinets with rows and rows of index card files, right? Well since then, all of those cards have been digitized, and entered into library automation systems.

These allow you to search for books not only by subject, author, or title, but also by any keyword you can think of. Once you find the book (and now, in most libraries, videos, dvds, audiobooks, etc. ) that you want, you print out or write down the call number (usually a Dewey Decimal number) on a little slip of paper, and then search for the actual book on the shelf.

Today, when you find the book and take it to a circulation desk, they check your item out to you, and give you a due date -- all using an automated system. They also enable you to keep track of who has borrowed items, when they are due, etc. So, this was another big goal for Bingerville - to get the library automated! But how??

Thanks to Mandarin Library Automation Solutions, a leading software provider for this kind of software, we are able to bring Bingerville's library into the 21st century. Mandarin provides a free trial of Mandarin M3, one of their basic library automation programs, which they've allowed us to use at the Bingerville Orphanage.

Art Graham, the Vice President of Technical Services has even offered to help out with some tech support, including connecting us with a French speaking consultant! Check out the article they published in their recent newsletter, here: Feeling a Little Hungry for more info, and be sure to let them know that you appreciate their contribution!

So over the last few weeks, my ICSA colleague, Mike and I have been working with the librarian, students, and other staff at Bingerville to help them install the M3 sytsem, and begin adding their books and patron records to it. (We're starting with one of the computers in the Tech Lab, but as you'll see in an upcoming post, Bingerville has received additional computers, thanks to the efforts of the the ICSA InfoPros for Peace club, and the library will be getting some of them!)

I have to take a moment here to recognize Mike. He is an authority on Mandarin M3, having used it for many years, including at ICSA. He has also provided a similar service to other schools in Cote d'Ivoire. As a French speaker, knowledgeable of this system, he has been an invaluable resource.

This will be a long and painstaking process, but I am searching for a French language catalog that I can use to help with what we call "copy cataloging" to make it go faster. Since libraries follow certain standards when they catalog materials, much of the information about any particular item may already exist in another online catalog.
Frequently, it is possible to download their records and import them into your own system.

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