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Evaluating Library Automation Software: Shelly Warwick Queens College, CUNY National Online Meeting 2001 A View from the Classroom.

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluating Library Automation Software: Shelly Warwick Queens College, CUNY National Online Meeting 2001 A View from the Classroom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluating Library Automation Software: Shelly Warwick Queens College, CUNY National Online Meeting 2001 A View from the Classroom © Shelly Warwick

2 Focus of This Presentation zBenefits and challenges of teaching evaluation methodologies in the class zHow student problems in mastering selection methodology are relevant to practitioners

3 A Change in Learning Environments zEarly selectors of automation systems had to learn on the job and invent the rules and procedures zLater selectors depended on advice of early selectors offered in the literature or in workshops zCurrent library school students can be introduced to selection methods and criteria in the classroom

4 Context of Observations zQueens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies yCourse on selecting appropriate media and technology xLarge unit on selection of automation systems Required course for those in school library media track Many students currently working in elementary school libraries (M.L.S. currently not required in New York State) - some charged with selection an automation package Other students employed or trainees in public libraries or academic libraries Some with no library experience 95% of students have only used public functions of automation system before taking the course

5 Approaches Utilized zDiscussion of history, theory and functions of library automation systems zPresentation of a methodology for evaluating and purchasing automation technology zHands-on exploration and evaluation of automation packages zVendor demonstrations

6 Student Approaches to Evaluation Projects zMinimum Effort yVery little time spent with software yReliance on vendor statements or reviews zSeeking Simplicity yOverwhelmed by large manuals and complex programs yPick systems to evaluated based on smallest amount of instructional materials yFocus on three or four functions - ignore many areas required to be addressed by assignment

7 Student Approaches to Evaluation Projects - II zInvolved yVisits vendor sites yReads reviews yFully explores programs yNotice what is missing as well as what is present yOften those with the least experience question assumptions and business as usual approaches that are not well thought out ySome areas required in assignment still ignored

8 Preferred Method of Learning zVendor Demos! yIn Class (scheduled after evaluation project due) yExhibits zStudents do not question vendor - despite instructions to challenge assumptions and request demonstration of functions that are not part of canned presentation

9 Exceptional Reliance on Demo zPreference of demonstrated system in selection papers zPurchase of demonstrated system yFailure to visit installed site

10 Implications For Libraries zNovice students assigned to select based on the course were able to make a selection that satisfied their administrators ySelection skills can be taught zDespite being informed that canned demonstrations are not to be trusted students were unwilling to ask questions that might make them seem ignorant or rude ySelection teams should meet prior to demos and assign types of questions to individuals zEasier to use programs with less functionality preferred over more difficult programs with more features yUsability prime consideration in system selection

11 Implications For Libraries - Continued zStudents focused on functions and tasks which were relevant in their current position yThe more experienced the selector the more demanding the criteria yIndividuals with different areas of expertise and types of experience should participate in the selection process zNew selectors questioned assumptions ySomeone new to the profession should be in selection group zUnwillingness to explore complex systems ySystems are often adopted that are easy to use but do not meet more advanced needs

12 Implications for Vendors zStudents viewed vendors as “authority” not a salesperson - worked with one they liked the most yVendor personality and presentation skills important zStudents evaluated and/or selected packages from vendors that were easy to contact and readily provided information yPoor pre-sale communication is viewed as an indication of poor after sale support - a good website is a must zDemos were the key to selection yProviding access to full version via demo disks or the web attracts customers

13 Implication for Vendors - Continued zStudents/graduates charged with selecting a system generally selected one they had evaluated in class yWorking with library schools and providing free full versions of automation software or demos with access to administrative functions is a good investment

14 General Recommendation zA professional group of SIG involved in automation should develop test data sets that reflect the volume and structure of data for various size and types of libraries zSuch data could be used to more effectively compare library automation systems

15 Conclusion zTeaching the evaluation of automation software in library school benefits all yStudents xunderstand the selection process xfamiliar with evaluation criteria yVendors xcontact with potential customers yLibraries xnew employees with an understanding of what automation systems can do and capable of participating in next round of selection

16 Discussion - Questions

17 Shelly Warwick Thank you!!!


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