Give me an O – P – A -C!

For my OPAC interview I spoke to a middle school librarian located in Southeastern MA. Having only had experience with consortium based OPACs it was interesting for me to hear about all that goes into choosing an OPAC and the inner-workings of one for a school library (or district).  Her school uses Follett’s Destiny for its OPAC.  Her school system actually selected this OPAC based on the research and proposal done for this class in a previous semester (their system at the time – Athena by Follett – was no longer being supported in the way they needed it).  This is something they acquired early in her position; she met with a number of librarians in neighboring school systems and an independent school in order to come up with Destiny Library Manager as her choice.  In addition to Athena she had experience with Concourse Library Automation (from BookSystems) in her district’s high school, but when researching this system it became evident that it is not designed for school libraries and did not fit their needs.  Instead, it had been previously chosen because it cut costs and would sync with the student data management system.  The district-wide change was supported by the head of IT and the hardest part of the change-over was experienced by the high school since it was not using a Follett product already.

Images from Wikimedia Commons

Ultimately she saw Destiny Library Manager as the most student-friendly and made the case that it would streamline the budget since they would be getting multiple services from this one system rather than from a number of vendors. The Destiny subscription includes: a PreK-12 circulation, cataloging, inventory and report function for the district’s school libraries; easier access and fluency in searches; and a free mobile app for users that supports their movement towards BYOD in the district.  She viewed one of the most important features of Destiny to be its direct connection to Follett’s Titlewave (collection development tool) and Titlewise (collection analysis tool).  This would help the district libraries inventory and assess their collections in a more comprehensive way as they look to the future.  Other beneficial features for students, educators and the community include: access to eBook content, more user-friendly search functions, social networking features, and the ability to tie the CCSS standards to the collections.

For the most part books are ordered from Follett and they send the MARC records the minute they ship the books. Destiny (since it is a Follett product) makes importing records relatively easy when you have any new title or copy to add to your collection. Typically a librarian can search by ISBN and it will show if the book is already in the district or has been catalogued somewhere in all of Destiny.  This can be used as a starting point instead of creating the MARC record from scratch.  When asked about creating new records, and how that process goes, she mentioned the library receives Scholastic $Bucks from sales of the PTA’s Scholastic Book Fairs so she will use these to order online.  While Scholastic does send records for many of their titles (as long as you remember to click that option when ordering), she still finds that several records in an order need to be created or the MARC record for one may not be complete.  The same holds true for donations.  In these instances she does her best and locates a copy of the book (if not the exact same ISBN) that is already in Destiny. She will then take that MARC record and change everything to go with their copy of the book and save that adjusted MARC record for it. She says this is not perfect, but it gets most of the information correct.

She has been doing extensive weeding and preparation for a move.  While still using Dewey she has made some changes in the organization of the collection including identifying and prominently displaying “high interest non-fiction” collections resulting in their circulation “going through the roof.”  She talked with many LMSs in the state to decide on an organization for the fiction collections, and she has decided on 12 categories she will organize by genre with color-coded spine labels after the move.  Overall regarding her OPAC she’s very happy with it, however she admits to feeling that she has not had time to explore it to its fullest capacity.  I think every librarian can identify with the time problem…


Image from Justin Grandfield @ Flickr



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