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Review date: 11th December 1997


Basic functions, Acquisitions and catatloguing, OPAC, Serials, Web. Report Update

As far as I know, NOTEbookS is the only Lotus Notes based Library Management system available. There have probably been a number of in house library applications built given the popularity of Notes, but NOTEbookS is the only commercially available system.  It has been around for over a year - I saw it very briefly at the On-Line show in London last year, but it has not been very evident in sales terms.  NOTEbookS comes from the Sudbury Mass. based Robert A. Schless & Co. Inc. and in the UK via Esprit

This product is aimed at the corporate market  and will be particularly useful to geographically distributed companies. If you have Notes in-house then do have a look at NOTEbookS.

This “first look” was via a series of animated demos that can be downloaded from the Web and so I have concentrated here on picking out some of the unusual features.  I could not check out the apparent shortcomings in enough detail to be categorical about them, so for the time being have restrained any criticisms.

Lotus Notes                                        Technical Briefing

Lotus Notes has a database replication feature that enables different copies of databases to be kept updated and synchronised very economically.  Using this feature, allows NOTEbooksS to create “union” catalogues of resources and circulation records. A branch oriented company with separate libraries in different locations will find this a very useful feature  For more details of Lotus Notes see the technical briefing.


For further information information about NOTEbookS contact
Esprit in UK or
Robert A. Schless & Co. Inc in the USA and Canada


NOTEbookS is an adequate, though limited Library Managment System, and may well suit the smaller operation -  especially if you are serving several locations. Be careful about the limitations - I could not check any of the functions in depth and saw nothing of the circulation.

It has some very well thought out features and if you run Notes anywhere - consider it.

A fuller review will re-place this one in time. See update.

Basic functions

It comes as a standard looking Notes application with its own “Navigator” screen for public access with buttons for Research Requests, Browse Research, Browse Catalog, Browse Periodicals. Library functions are behind a “Library Use Only” button.  Other Notes databases can be linked to this opening screen via an “Other Resources” button.

All the main library management functions are here - together with a “Research Database” which enables the information unit to take research or Information requests from users, allocate them to researchers, manage the time spent, and file the results away.  The system is well integrated with e-mail - many of the notifications to users can be achieved directly via e-mail and users can respond directly for functions like requesting new items added.


The OPAC has a browse interface with the terms entered bringing the user to an entry in a sorted list from whence you can look at brief records and full records with holdings etc.  Notes has a full text engine to search complete records but I could not test this.

Once you have records you can request them, or make an acquisitions or ILL requests if not in stock.  Staff can check items out.  When cataloguing, you can choose to include titles in the Union catalogue or not as desired on a title by title basis.

A nice feature is the ability to save catalogue records into a folder for later use. Thus you can do a lot of searches and then come back and examine just the ones you found interesting from the folder in more detail.

The catalogue covers any user defined material types but serials are covered seprately and must be searched for separately. Individual issues can be viewed and their scanned in tables of contents which may be OCRed and searched using the full text engine.

Acquisitions and cataloguing

Acquisitions has budget head, charge code and project code allocation for monies spent but as far as I can see no budget allocations.

Cataloguing can take acquisitions records directly and add holdings details. Spine and even barcode labels can be printed.  There are authority files for Author, Subject and Publisher but not Series title.  The authority files appear to be just look-ups with no global editing or navigation features - see technical briefing.  MARC records can be imported via the loose integration of the BookWhere Z39.50 application. This is a very good, flexible Z-client (see review of Z39.50 clients) and records saved turn up immediately in the “to be acquisitioned” database.   This is a good example of component software can immediately bring a lift to a product. As a result NOTEbookS now has one of the best data importing capabilities of any library management system.


Serials control has adequate cataloguing but would probably struggle with non-standard publication patterns.  It has claiming and displays information about subs and prices pretty well.  What is nice is the routing control which allows global deletion of a name from all lists and “cloning” of a list so that a new person can come into a work group and get on all the standard journal routings with minimum effort.


Lotus Notes is very “Web aware” and so all of the OPAC browse and request features can be delivered via the Intranet and Internet if desired. See technology briefing.

Update 16th January 1998

The suppliers Robert A Schless have informed me that one client, Ernst & Young,  currently has 25 libraries forming a union catalog shared across everyone in the firm (currently 35,000 + documents, many of which have over 100 volumes and multiple copies...).  They are also controlling over 1000 serials with it. This gives an idea of the size of library that can successfully use NotebookS.

The product is currently selling about 3-4 systems per month and so is gaining a healthy share of the corporate library marketplace.

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