A special meeting was held at the Russell Library, with the main focus being a demo of PAC for Windows and WebPac. Before the presentation, Bill Edge announced that 45 WebPac stations are scheduled for installation in fiscal year 1999.
Other announcements before the demo began: Release 2.0 from Ebsco was brought up on Monday, December 15th. Rick Widlansky has been getting many calls from libraries, as it seems to either have some bugs or is just very cumbersome to use. Mark Hewes will contact the Ebsco rep about a possible demo of the new release. It is recommended that libraries that use Ebsco check out their web page, www.epnet.com , which has an updated manual and a list of the magazines included in the product.
The next meeting of the PAC Committee will be in February, scheduled for Wednedsay, February 11th at 9:30 at the Russell Library. At that meeting we hope to have several terminals set up that will display PAC screens from various libraries in LION. This has been requested by LION members in order to get a better understanding of the features of LION, and to view the variety of screen setups that are possible. LION may also be able to demo whatever progress that they have made with accessing the UNIPAC functionality.
To update the response to our earlier recommendation that LION seek alternatives for LAN support, Linda Rusczek of the Russell Library has set up a second LAN meeting for January 21st at the Russell Library, agenda will follow.
The statewide licensing group that is being headed by Tom Geoffino from Fairfield has scheduled a meeting for January 28, 1998. Bill Edge stressed that now is the time for libraries to move forward on this front. Newsbank is one product that is being discussed. They would provide an online newspaper index that potentially could include many of the major newspapers in Connecticut.
Susan Wagoner from Ameritech then began her demo and discussion of Unipac, which is an umbrella product. The two components are Pac for Windows, a Windows 95 based product, and the web based WebPac. As the Dynix product branches out into these different areas, she stressed that you can run our current character based product, plus any of the Unipac products side by side. T o run any graphical based product you do need a network to support it and workstations powerful enough to run the graphical interface. Workstations need at least 16 mgs or RAM, but more is better, (in other words buy the fastest machine with the most memory as possible). An alternative is the network computing environment, centrally managed devices that do not have to be maintained at the library. (However, a lengthy discussion about these devices later on indicated that they do not deliver all that they promise yet, and for WebPAC,printing from a network computer has not yet been done!!!)
Pac for Windows was demonstrated first, and at great length. It was developed first, and is fully in place. (WebPac is only in it’s first phase, time frame is about six more months before it is completely developed):
PAC FOR WINDOWS
- Pac for Windows must be loaded on the PC
- Very much a Windows 95 look, clickable boxes
- Save Bibliography is now called BookLists, with many options
- Product has a timeout, which helps is many windows are left open
- There is a guided search, a tutorial where user can enter a real search
- Cannot dial into this because client software will not be on the home PC
- Desktop may be customized(such as for children’s use) with icons provided
- Lots of set up options, can decide on the page look
- It can be customized, workstation by workstation
- There are hot links to web pages built in
- Dynix WebPac built in java for security
- Look and feel of a web environment
- Need a Web Browser 3.0 or above to run this
- Dynix needs to determine how to control browser functions not related to WebPac
- Community Resources, Best Sellers, other features, not yet ready
- Could be part of an internal LAN set up
- Will users use as a way out to the Web, and not as a card catalog?
- Does not offer full search functionality of current text products
- Who administers the hardware if libraries go with full PC’s
- Cannot print on the java based web product
- Increased cost for libraries to purchase PC’s, and standards for hardware
Although the committee had hoped for clear alternatives and a solid recommendation, that group clarity certainly did not develop during the course of the presentation. The bulk of the demo focused on PAC for Windows–which we DID like because it:
- is available and stable
- offers the best option for customization and linking with CD databases
- offers the most functionality
- offers the most flexibility (for children’s searching, etc.) prints
While the committee did NOT VOTE on a formal recommendation, the reaction among the six die-hards at noon was:
In representing our end-users’ best interests, we urge LION to move ahead to provide an effective graphical PAC product as soon as possible. Even considering the internal complications, we realize our patrons are asking for and deserve this enhancement now. (And there is a possibility that timely implementation might provide enough excitement to “sell” the next phase to local funding agencies….)