Aurora at the Royal Blind Society of New South Wales

Publication Date01 February 1999
AuthorBarbara Fewtrell
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Aurora at the Royal
Blind Society of New
South Wales
by Barbara Fewtrell, Chief Librarian,
Royal Blind Society of New South
The Royal Blind Society of New South Wales
is a registered charity serving the needs of
blind and vision impaired people throughout
Australia. As a library for the blind RBS Library
has very special system requirements, e.g.
provision for customer profiling, and has
distinctive procedures e.g. random shelving.
The article explains how the Aurora system
met the library's needs.
The Royal Blind Society of New South Wales is a
registered charity serving the needs of blind and
vision impaired people throughout Australia, and
indeed beyond into neighbouring regions. Library
services play an integral part in this process, and
RBS Library supplies 250,000 books to
users annually. Books are defined in terms of this
service as the individual Braille or talking book
which often come in multiple parts; this is
particularly true of
where many volumes
are required in place of
regular print single
Libraries for the Blind differ substantially from
other libraries in that clients are not able in the
majority of cases to physically visit the library and
browse the shelves, and so any service provision to
suit the clients' needs must reflect and support
automated and selective user profiling.
RBS users may choose to receive service in a
number of
by Request, allowing the user to
select titles of interest, which may be delivered
when available; by Profile, in which case the user
selects topics from an RBS defined list, and the
number of items per topic to be delivered; or a
combination of the two. In addition, specific
Reservations may be placed to indicate a wish to
receive a given title as soon as possible. Users are
also able to record preferences with regard to
acceptability of sex, violence and bad language in
the material supplied, the gender of
narrator of
a Talking Book, and the length of the books
supplied. These preferences are reflected in the
bibliographic records by corresponding
As RBS's business is predominantly postal, the
start of the working day is characterised by deliv-
ery of large quantities of returned items.
Day-to-day operations are driven by the need to
process incoming material as quickly as possible,
and turn around incoming returns to supply new
demands. The majority of material being returned
is likely to be in demand from other users in the
form of requests or reservations, and therefore
needs to be immediately despatched to the new
borrower; other material may be allocated to a new
borrower when the profile matching is performed,
and so a dynamic form of shelfmarking is used -
Random Shelving - where each item can be
scanned to a specific shelf location.
RBS's needs therefore place high demands on the
suppliers of library systems. Prior to selection of a
new system, RBS utilised a bespoke system de-
signed and built specifically for
However, this
was growing old, was not providing modern
methods of information retrieval, was not Y2K
compliant, and was increasingly unstable and
costly to support. The opportunity was taken to
reassess the needs of
library and to build a new
Library Management System that would meet
present and future needs. Our main requirements
were: flexibility, ease of
affordability, and
meeting our unique needs in the most efficient way
possible, preferably within a mainstream library
Aurora is a new system which supports interna-
tional standards. We have been impressed by the
degree of parameter control that could be applied
to support our specific needs, while remaining a
mainstream library system. In particular, Aurora
offers a full GUI approach to all modules, and runs
under Windows NT using Microsoft SQLServer as
a database, which provides for a comparatively
low-cost solution.
AIT converted our existing data, using biblio-
graphic records provided in the main from our
National Library holdings. All bibliographic
34— VINE 115

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