Information Today
Volume17, Number 2 • February 2000
SIRS Mandarin Premieres New Interface and Databases, Receives Automation Contract

SIRS Mandarin, Inc. has announced that it is adding Visual Catalog, a new graphical interface, to the SIRS Mandarin M3 library automation system, as well as expanding its offering of additional content databases in SIRS Researcher and SIRS Discoverer Deluxe online reference databases. These new additions premiered last month at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The company has also announced that it will provide library automation systems to 120 school and public libraries in Puerto Rico.

Visual Catalog
Visual Catalog is a new graphical interface that will be added to the Standard and Enhanced Search interfaces for the SIRS Mandarin M3 library automation system. Visual Catalog allows patrons to perform searches with visual cues as well as with text. Pre-configured queries are organized into a hierarchy of topics and subtopics that employ graphics, sound, and text. With the click of a button, patrons can launch software applications, link to the Internet, or explore a library’s resources without defining search criteria or worrying about exact spelling. Queries, graphics, sound, animation, captions, and descriptions can be easily modified with this fully customizable interface.

New Content Databases
For students and educators interested in tracking the development of the election campaign and researching current electoral trends, SIRS Researcher will offer the database Campaign 2000. Updated daily, Campaign 2000 provides a wide variety of full-text articles covering the upcoming primary and general elections, and includes articles profiling the candidates vying for the presidency. Articles in this cumulative database are highly relevant, enabling users to quickly find electoral information that is both current and useful for research and assignments.

The SIRS Discoverer database for kids will expand its offering of comprehensive reference information with the addition of Current Events, a database containing full-text articles and graphics with timely information about domestic and international events. Current Events encourages children to research the world in which we live, and promotes awareness of current issues. Current Events is updated daily, and articles remain in the database for 30 days. Articles are also added dynamically to the SIRS Discoverer database.

Automation Contract
SIRS Mandarin has been awarded the library automation contract as part of Project SABER (Electronic Libraries Network Automation Systems), Puerto Rico’s islandwide centralized library automation network. Project SABER, developed and implemented by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, is part of the Department’s efforts to revolutionize the educational process in Puerto Rico by creating a centralized educational network.

According to the announcement, SIRS was awarded the contract because it was the only vendor whose library automation system, SIRS Mandarin M3, fulfilled 13 essential requirements as set forth by the Program Evaluation Committee. A multilingual OPAC, customizable cataloging features, technical support, and wide area network capability were some of the features that led the evaluation committee to select M3.

Project SABER is made possible through the creation of the Department of Education’s Infrastructure Educational Network (EDUNET), an advanced educational telecommunications network funded by Educational Rate Funds (E-Rate). E-Rate funds initially totaling over $40 million have enabled the Department of Education to install a wiring network in 760 Puerto Rico schools. The department plans to use an additional $57 million in funds toward the purchase and installation of a highly advanced wireless network in another 780 schools, according to Maribel Cedeño, special assistant to the director of office information systems and school technology.

Sandra Castro, program director of library and information services for the Department of Education and a member of the team overseeing Project SABER, views the project as an important step toward providing all Puerto Rico students and educators with free universal access to valuable information. “The Department plans a centralized system in which Puerto Rico students from every region and social level have equal access to information from every field of study,” Castro said. “Additionally, the advanced technological infrastructure will soon make it possible to raise educational standards across the board in Puerto Rico by introducing new technologies in the classroom.”

The centralized wireless network will have a profound impact on the entire island of Puerto Rico, according to Victor Rodriquez, general supervisor of electronic libraries and Project SABER team member. “Through Department initiatives like Project SABER, Puerto Rico is being turned into an islandwide virtual library with access to information that is free, immediate, reliable, and useful,” he said.

Source: SIRS Mandarin, Inc., Boca Raton, FL, 561/994-0079; Fax: 561/994-4704;

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