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Selecting off-the-shelf software greatly reduces the amount of time required for programming and software testing, but it does not eliminate it. While application programs may not need to be written for the library, planning needs to include an orientation period to learn the capabilities and built-in flexibility of the software. Local procedures may need to be created to make it easier for users to access the IOLS or to print reports.

Getting to Know the IOLS

    In order to make effective decisions when profiling the IOLS and planning for data conversion, you need to be familiar with the software. The DBA may wish to attend training seminars to accomplish this orientation, or you may prefer training on your own. A schedule for reviewing the IOLS follows.

    Week 1 - Get Acquainted

    One way to get to know the IOLS is to step through any tutorials that are provided. These sample sessions will help you become familiar with searching, cataloging, circulation, acquisitions, serials check-in and routing procedures.

    Emphasize searching in the first week. Practice finding information from all record types in the demonstration database.

    Get to know the system and the documentation. Become familiar with the system's capabilities and flexibility.

    Week 2 - Cataloging and Update

    Using the Cataloging screens, enter a variety of catalog records. Select a variety of material types. Be sure to enter the associated copy record(s). Review the newly entered/indexed records to see if they are accessible, as you expect. Identify areas for possible modification.

    Week 3 - Circulation, Serials, Acquisitions and Reports

    Enter some patron records. Review the circulation procedures. Issue to your patrons the materials you cataloged.

    Check-in issues via the serials module in the demonstration database. Enter your own subscriptions and predict issues for check-in. Set up route lists for these subscriptions.

    Enter sample orders and receive materials. Experiment with the different types of orders that may be defined.

    Review the reports that are available with each module.

    Week 4 - Database Design and Evaluation

    Review database profiling and data conversion worksheets. Consider maintenance issues and the utilities available to build and control your database.

    Site Testing

    You should also plan to test the new software for conformity to your organization's current policies and procedures. This orientation process lets you learn about the information (fields and record types) stored in the database and how that information is used by the system. Understanding how the database is designed will make your conversion planning and database creation much easier. The software review also facilitates integrating system functions into library procedures by providing an opportunity to identify policies and procedures that may need to be added and/or changed in your library's policies and procedures manuals.

    Your IOLS may allow you to customize certain features of the system. This process is called profiling. After you define options, test them to see whether the results meet your expectations.

    In some cases, minor adjustments may need to be made to accommodate library policy. If changes need to be made, it is important to know about them early in the project.

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