Information Today
Volume17, Number 3 • March 2000
Ex Libris Announces ALEPH 500 Support of Linux, Unveils ALEPH Cluster

Ex Libris (USA), Inc. has announced that ALEPH 500 is the first library automation system in North America to support the Linux operating system. Ex Libris has also announced a new product called ALEPH Cluster, which is designed to meet the functional and service needs of today’s modern consortia and multi-site libraries.

Support for Linux
Oren Beit-Arie, Ex Libris’ vice president of development, said: “This announcement is the result of an extensive analysis of market needs and the available technology to meet those needs. We saw that many libraries, while serving a small number of users today with small collections, are clearly planning for a rapidly growing user base, frequently across wide geographic areas. This is the result of initiatives involving consortium creation and distance education. At the same time, the number and type of information resources that will be provided to this growing user base are also exponentially expanding. The result is that scalability and performance become critical considerations.”

Beit-Arie said: “In evaluating the available technology for these types of libraries, we carefully considered both Windows NT and Linux. Our studies, using the current versions of both operating systems, showed that performance, scalability, and affordability could be better addressed by Linux at this point in time. It was also an important consideration that no loss of functionality occurred as a result of using Linux.

“We also considered the trends in hardware in this study and clearly, the trend is that microprocessors will continue to grow in power. Ultimately, the needs of some of the larger libraries will … be met by the combination of these new processor chips and the Linux operating system. In the final analysis, we wanted an operating system where maturity wasn’t something to be had in the future, but that met the needs of libraries today. We will continue to monitor and test the new releases of Windows NT to determine when those same capabilities are available in that operating system.”

Russ McDonald, Ex Libris’ vice president of sales and marketing, said: “This announcement will be of interest to those smaller libraries desiring a functionally rich system with an automation budget of around $100,000. This solution will also appeal to smaller libraries that are part of a consortium or want to become part of a consortium. Today, consortia are increasingly involved in volume purchasing of information resources and systems. Using the powerful consortia capabilities of ALEPH 500, in conjunction with the Linux solution, it opens up opportunities for increased participation by all … libraries. As always in a consortium using ALEPH 500, each member library can truly maintain the unique approaches utilized in servicing their users, while dramatically increasing the resources they make available to that user. Add to this the cost-effectiveness, performance, and scalability of the Linux solution and you have a powerful solution for libraries.”

Initial testing of Linux showed that a Pentium III 500-MHz processor with 500 MB of memory and 9 GB of disk space would support an ALEPH 500 version 14.1 system running Oracle version 8.0.5 and Red Hat version 6.1, and 20 concurrent users. The maximum number of users supported will vary depending upon the specifics of the configuration desired.

ALEPH Cluster
ALEPH Cluster enables organizations that form one unit based on geographic proximity, institutional linkage, subject matter, or any other defined need to share bibliographic data, users’ data, and reader services while preserving the degree of independence required by the local member organizations. By forming a consortium, libraries are able to extend their services to remote users, support initiatives such as distance education, and expand their resource offerings. ALEPH Cluster serves organizations that use ALEPH 500 as their local integrated library system.

The benefits of ALEPH Cluster include the following:

“The ALEPH Cluster is unique in that it supports additional features not found in competing products,” said McDonald. “These include the ability to do automatic multi-catalog updating, allowing the update of patron records from anywhere in the consortium, and the ability to facilitate resource sharing by allowing patrons to request material from one library but pick up and return the material at another library. ALEPH Cluster truly sets a new standard in the services and capabilities that consortia can offer in today’s complex information environment.”

The products marketed by Ex Libris, ALEPH Cluster and ALEPH 500, are part of the company’s offerings called The IQ Solution. ALEPH is now installed in over 500 libraries with more than 17,000 concurrent users in 41 countries.

Source: Ex Libris (USA), Inc., Chicago, 773/404-5527; Fax: 773/404-5601;

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