What is School Library Software ? School libraries haven’t been called libraries for several years. These days they are called Media Centers instead, but some habits die hard. Software companies that have created technology to help libraries manage their collections electronically call their products school library software. These companies offer similar features in their software, but they aren’t all exactly alike. That means it’s worth the time school librarians spend looking at each option carefully to compare what different software companies offer, then analyzing each feature to determine how it will work in their own library. With the variety of choices available, this is no easy task. Follett, the company well-known for managing college bookstores, offers school library software called Destiny Library Manager. This software, like all the others on the market, is based on the core technological tools for cataloging the collection, circulation tools for scanning the books and media rather than checking them in and out by hand, electronically inventorying the collection and issuing reports. But even though all school library software incorporates these functions, that does not mean they all work the same way. It’s a good idea to test the demos that most of these companies offer to see exactly how they function and if the software you are considering works well with the way your library and staff operates. Follett’s Destiny Library Manager is browser-based so it can be accessed from any computer anywhere day or night so students can browse the collection from home, as can staff and also parents who want to see what’s available for their children. In addition to these basic features, Follett’s software interfaces with the school’s curriculum so students and teachers can find reference and circulating library materials they need to go along with what they are studying in the curriculum. Follett can also supply e-books in the library’s online catalog that are part of their library’s collection in addition to the print materials and media items. Follett has developed free apps for mobile devices of students and staff for when the students work on individual projects as well as for “bring your own device” situations. One feature of Follett’s school library software called Title Peek allows students (as well as teachers and library staff) to see the covers of books, their tables of contents, a summary of the book, author notes, reviews and sometimes even allows them to read the first few pages of the book or even an entire chapter, similar to features that Amazon offers. This feature is designed into the school library software to encourage students to browse the collection online, become interested in books they might not otherwise notice, and ultimately to read more. School Computer Software, Do You Need One? Learning Of School Management Software India, How? Book Systems has a program called Atriuum which is based entirely on the Internet. In addition to the core functions offered by all the software companies and the different options to choose from within those functions, most offer additional features as well. Book Systems’ school library software allows students to browse the collection, and also manage their library account by renewing books and media, reserving items they can pick up and check out the next time they are in the library, They can add ratings and reviews to the catalog so other students can see what their peers thought of the book, and they can create book bags and watch lists, which are ways of planning for things they want to check out from the library later. Book Systems also offers eBooks and online databases to enhance the library’s print collection. Book System’s Atriuum software is hosted in the cloud, and it uses this as a selling point. ResourceMate and ResourceMate Plus software is another brand to consider. Its basic cataloging function allows school libraries to catalog up to 20,000 items. The ability to catalog each additional 10,000 items can be added on to the basic program for an additional $100. The software has some internal safeguards built into it by recording which staff member has performed each function so there can be accountability and backtracking, if the need ever arises. Different security levels can be set for individual staff members. If a change was made by mistake, not only can you tell who made it, but the software has a built-in feature that allows you to undo the mistake and put the information back the way it was before. Other built-in safeguards protect patron’s circulation records and privacy and allow the school library to implement circulation policies within the system. One example is that if a patron or family has a book that is overdue, criteria can be set in the program so it won’t allow further checkouts by that patron or any family members once a specific number of days has been reached until overdue items are returned. Software generated fines can be structured so that fines aren’t added to anyone’s account if the amount owed is less than a specified amount. The software can be altered so that borrowing privileges can be given or taken away for any specific group, such as a teacher who has left the school district or former students or administrators. The library can also set limits on the maximum number of items each patron or family are allowed to check out, and the number of times that items can be renewed by each person. The library may also want to establish limits on which items can be checked out and which cannot so the system will recognize those that aren’t allowed to be taken out of the library, such as reference books. The software can also be set up so that holidays and dates the library is closed can be exempted when the software calculates fines. This system can generate barcode labels and spine labels (with either the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal call number) for the items in the collection, and print listings by title, author or subject. An operations manual comes with the software along with three free months of technical support, but it also includes a feature that allows someone to click on a “How Do I” function to access frequently asked questions in each given area of the program. Learn more on achieving Internet Protection Users can also customize the font, colors and designs on the pages so it reflects the image and message the school district’s marketing and administration wish to convey. ResourceMate has a function that allows its staff and volunteers to work from remote locations on their own computers, if needed. They can upload ResourceMate onto their computer and add data on patrons or on the collection and save it to a flash drive or a file that can be emailed. Permanent staff can then upload the emailed data or information that is on the flash drive to the primary database. If the school library keeps several copies of each textbook in its collection, the system allows for a grid that keeps them separate from the rest of the collection so they are easier to find and more quickly processed. Certain functions allow for data to be imported and exported from spreadsheets, Microsoft office files and other programs and formats. This school library software also allows for multimedia storage by letting staff link pictures, videos, spreadsheets, audio clips or other documents to each item in the collection. This changes the ResourceMate Plus into a multimedia database that is searchable. Patron photos can be displayed with the student’s circulation records, so librarians know whose records she is working with, or if someone is not using their own name. Library staff from registered school libraries can import all the cataloging data from the Library of Congress, Amazon or a long list of other sources, and will allow cataloging to be done in any language. The status of each item is tracked in this database can be categorized as to be purchased, needs repaired, is lost or if it is circulating and when it is due back. This software even allows the library to print library cards for those that still use card catalogues. It will also track donated and in memory of items that are in the collection along with the names that go with them. ResourceMate is capable of tracking data and issuing different kinds of reports based on each library’s needs. Reports include the history of circulating activity for time periods or specific items including statistics and a year-end inventory report showing library staff what is missing from the collection and who was the last person to check out the items that are missing. Overdue reports can be generated. Librarians can also have the software issue reports that are specific to key words entered in search fields, such as author, subject category or publisher, call number or any other criteria. All reports generated can be exported to other formats and can be first previewed, then emailed or printed. Training DVDs and a year’s support with live chat come with the purchase of this software. Another brand of school library software is School Library Organizer Pro, which offers a free, 45-day trial version of the software that the company says is fully functional. This trial version can be downloaded on to your computer directly from the company’s website. If you are not quite ready to do that yet, you can go to the company’s website and take a “school library software tour.” The free trail may give you a feel for how it works, although you obviously wouldn’t want to catalog the entire collection or enter all the patrons, but you could catalog a small cross-section of items and patrons for testing purposes. From these you could see first-hand whether the software would work for your library or not. You can also see the ease (or not) with which the software issues reports and if the data gathered on them is what you need. The company states it has an interface that allows librarians to quickly catalog and even auto catalog the library’s collections. It says auto cataloging is supported by the software. There are free add-ons to the primary software, which includes the Library Check In/Check Out module, the School Database Designer/ and the school library database Browser Viewer. The software allows repetitive information to be saved into templates so staff members do not need to enter it more than one time. If you have the system issue a customized report, for example, you can save the template in the system so you won’t have to enter the same search fields the next time you wish to run this particular report. A tutorial is on the website about how to start setting up a simple school library management system. If you go ahead and buy the software, you can use it for the days 30-days risk free with the promise of a full refund if you want to return it and get your money back with no questions asked.