Auckland’s Unitec is aiming to have a new library system running by December this year.
IT librarian Michael Attwood says the institution has already had 10 “serious” replies from vendors in response to its advertisement for a new system, and several inquiries from developers.
However, Attwood says Unitec is not interested in having a system developed from scratch and will only look at established systems. He is not able to discuss the cost of the system at this stage.
Unitec is looking for something that has a graphical user interface, that is simple to use and which will integrate with Unitec’s intranet.
Network computers are one option that will be considered. Attwood says that although people are often polarised in their views about NCs, he believes there would have to be a mix of NCs and PCs.
“NCs could really be appropriate, but not for everyone. They could be quite useful where a computer is being used just as a browser, for instance. We might have a lot of over-spec’d machines and could save ourselves some money by having something smaller and doing what we want it to do.”
Unitec has several 486SX computers that could be turned into NCs, he says.
“But I don’t think I would ever have a network computer on my desktop because it wouldn’t make sense.”
Another factor in deciding whether to go with NCs would be where Unitec is heading in terms of network traffic capacity.
“If we start increasing our network traffic that has implications for the network.”
At the moment there are many points where users go to find information, such as the hard copy catalogue, electronic indexes, CD-ROM indexes or the Web. There is a mix of Internet terminals, network CD-ROM machines, standalone CD-ROM machines and catalogue terminals.
“They’re all individual.”
Attwood says his job is to try and integrate the existing resources.
“The idea is that they [students] learn one interface and that’s the Web browser, and then they can go to the catalogue or all the CD-ROM databases.”
With everything going through the browser, students would not have to keep learning different interfaces.
“It will reduce the learning load here, so they can focus on what they’re here to learn.”
That will also mean staff can focus less on teaching people how to use technology and more on helping them find information.
Attwood says the main reason for the change is customer expectations.
“Some of them [students] have got PCs at home, and multimedia is becoming more accessible. They have very high expectations.”
For remote students, it means they will be able to access the library network, with a PC and a browser.
“At the moment if you’re a remote student you don’t get access to the catalogue.”
The closing date for bids for the library system is the end of May.