An investigation and evaluation of three integrated library systems for the Human Sciences Research Council Information Services

Sani, Cecilia Maria (2006-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is South Africa’s statutory research agency dedicated to the social sciences. Information Services (IS) plays a significant role in advancing social science research through the provision of its proactive desk research and its library service. HSRC IS is looking at implementing a library solution that will better serve its users. The existing library system no longer meets the needs of the HSRC Library staff or the research staff. The functionality and efficiency of an ILS is critical to the smooth operation of IS in fulfilling its mandate within the HSRC, i.e. to provide access to information, in an efficient, useful, and timely manner, the focus being on ease of accessibility to a whole range of library and other online resources. The ILS must be able to handle many formats, accommodate searching on the Internet, provide a variety of functions including manipulating electronic data, working with graphics and expediting resource sharing. IS identified the following three ILS solutions, together with their add-on components 1) Innovative Interfaces’ Millennium solution, 2) SIRSI’s Unicorn solution and 3) Ex Libris’s ALEPH solution. The user and system requirements for ILS at the HSRC are sketched. The unique requirements, as well as the requirements the HSRC shares with other research organisations, are pointed out. The three ILS are evaluated against the criteria established. All three the ILS suppliers specialise exclusively in library automation software and have many years of experience in the provision and support of ILS, Innovative Interfaces Inc and Ex Libris for 25 years each and SIRSI for 15 years. Innovative Interfaces Inc has the largest customer base in South Africa. Ex Libris has one academic consortium as a client (CALICO) and some smaller utilisers, while SIRSI is just breaking into the South African market. All three systems comply fully with all the Cataloguing, Serials and Acquisitions modules requirements, that is, the more traditional library functionalities. When it comes to the more ‘non-traditional’ functionalities, such as full-text searching and discussion forum functionality, these systems still fall short. It is either not supported at all, or additional modules or add-ons are required. The various systems requirements are aligned to the current information technology environment at the HSRC. The conclusion is that the actual differences between the systems are few and far between, but that there are some specific requirements and add-on possibilities which makes Millennium the most attractive choice.

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