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Help Build a New School Library

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 19, 2009 - 11:03am

Ask and ye shall receive. Not 24 hours after I lamented our challenges in covering school libraries, I received an e-mail from an employee at a private, K-12 school in New Jersey:

I am running a non-profit private school and I need some help in setting up my library. The main help that I need is to find out what kind of software I should be buying to launch the library. What initial things do I need? We have at least 1,500 Books and we want them to circulate to the students.

Initially, I wasn't sure how this question ended up being sent to us. I felt unqualified to answer and wanted to refer the question to someone an "expert". Then something occurred to me--I can ask the several thousand experts who read this blog! If you have questions about setting up a library like this school administrator does, who better to ask than an open forum of librarians?

A bit more information about the situation: the school is equipped with a high-speed Internet connection, and has already ordered furniture for the library. They are working on a small budget (who isn't these days), and want to put most of it towards an ILS and barcode-scanning technology.

TechSource readers, I put to it you--please help build this library! Please send your suggestions via blog comments or Twitter and we will  keep you updated on how things unfold. As the comments pile up, the school administrator in question will be weighing in herself with questions.

We're looking forward to hearing your suggestions and engaging in this Library-building 2.0 project!

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Comments (6)

I try to make of a forum on

I try to make of a forum on cursor SMF electronic library.
Questions to experts - whether it is possible:
1. To learn a SMF-forum to generate indirect links on files (antileech)?
2. To organise system of calculation of downloadings of electronic files?
3. To add possibility of addition of new files on a server users of a forum?

Electronic libraries can be

Electronic libraries can be accessible through the Internet or by direct connection with a server (but not for
Communication through the Internet will be defined by a technical aspect, therefore the audience can increase together with coverage of regions by communication media. Connection differs nothing from an exit on a usual site or the ftp-catalogue. Usually it for money. The Ftp-catalogue is accessible as the catalogue through a Conductor, files being in it and catalogues look just as usual.
Birmingham airport hotels

Go Drupal - it's time

Go Drupal - it's time consuming on the back-end, but super duper for front-end users. Open source software, with great (and friendly) support-groups. It will grow with your library and be supported for many years to come:

It's so nice to read about someone opening a new library rather than closing one. Good luck with your new endeavor.

This comment comes from

This comment comes from Kristen, who commented on Michael Stephens' re-post at Tame the Web. (Original comment here:

I don’t know what the funding options are, but I’m a fan of Follett Destiny. It’s Web-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere, and not only takes care f circulation but also the OPAC, reports, etc. I’m not sure how this library is being staffed, but Follett’s easy interface means it’s easy to train volunteers on how to use it. Another wing of Follett handles library books — our local rep in Michigan is great. I’d suggest finding the NJ rep and getting some help on setting up an account to order future materials, find reviews and reading levels, run collection reports to see where the weak areas of the collection are, etc. Our Follett rep provides many more services to our area than just being a vendor.

I'm working on a similar

I'm working on a similar project. There are some things to consider before choosing an ILS software. First and most important do you have the server space and second will you have someone to be your tech support? If you know these answers then choosing is easy. In my case we had neither. I opted for an ILS that hosts it and provides tech support. We have unlimited access from any computer and there can be multiple users. The system we chose (Library World) requires an annual fee and we then needed to buy a CCD scanner, item barcodes, and patron library cards. Perhaps a similar ILS would be a good option to investigate.

Since the school has a

Since the school has a high-speed Internet connection, no existing ILS, and a very small collection they may wish to consider starting with a hosted version of OPALS-NA, an Open Source system which caters primarily to school and special libraries.

The LIB-WEB-CATS directory lists over 400 OPALS sites currently in operation, including many public and private schools in the northeast, especially New York and New Jersey. All 26 of the NJ sites currently listed have their systems hosted by Media Flex, the company which developed and supports the software.

For a list of these sites, go to, click on "libwebcats" and do an "Advanced Search."

OPALS was one of four open source software products covered by Marshall Breeding in the Nov/Dec. 2008 issue of ALA's LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY REPORTS.

For more information about OPALS, including a link to a demo site, see:

Pat Shufeldt
Greenville, SC