Northern Ireland

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



(2004), "Northern Ireland", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Software agreement for Northern Ireland school libraries

C2k (Classroom 2000) has entered into a software licensing agreement that provides that every school in Northern Ireland is licensed to use a core set of the Alice Library Management suite of software from Softlink. Northern Ireland schools are therefore in a position to benefit from access to the latest computerized library management tools and resources as part of an overall programme to establish a new ICT-based learning platform. This initiative is part of C2k’s mission to deliver world-class technology services to enhance teaching and learning in schools in Northern Ireland. C2k is one of the most ambitious and sophisticated programmes across the UK for embedding ICT at the heart of teaching, learning and school management.

Through the C2k programme, 900 primary and 280 post-primary and special schools will benefit from a wide area broadband network along with a managed ICT service and a managed learning environment, complete with pre-loaded software.

Library automation specialist, Softlink Europe Ltd, has entered into the licensing agreement with C2k for the supply of Alice Library Automation software and Book Wizard to automate the school libraries in Northern Ireland schools. Already a major supplier of library applications to schools in Northern Ireland, and the leading supplier to UK schools, Softlink has a strategic alliance with Capita Education Services who also provide the school administration software (SIMS) to C2k. The Alice Library Management software is used by over 10,000 organizations worldwide.

With many primary and post-primary schools already activated and using Alice, the C2k strategy is to work closely with schools and the school library services in an extended programme with the aim to automate all school libraries.

Softlink Alice Junior makes it easy for children to use a computer to search for books and other library resources, from videos to Web sites. Searches can be carried out using eye-catching pictures or text; text searches are “best match” so that if a word is misspelt the system will bring up a list of resources even if there is not an exact match. “Getting children interested in the library and books at an early age is crucial to academic success and enjoyment of their time at school,” commented Alasdair Darroch, managing director of Softlink Europe. “Another popular feature for pupils is that the search results are also mapped in graphical format, letting pupils see where the items are located within the library.”

A more sophisticated version of the system, Alice Secondary, is available for older pupils. “Not only does the computerized resource finder help encourage pupils to use the library, but it also helps save precious money by improving resource tracking and management processes for internal or OFSTED reports,” adds Darroch. “Unlike other systems Alice automatically enters key words, subjects and notes according to AACR rules, saving librarians valuable administrative time.”

Book Wizard is available for Alice Junior and Alice Secondary. Aimed at children who are interested in television and gaming characters, Book Wizard talks to the child and asks a series of questions based on their reading capability and likes/dislikes to present a series of books the child might enjoy and fitting in with the literacy agenda. The results are illustrated by the book jacket and accompanying short write-up.


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