LM_NET: Library Media Networking

Previous by DateNext by Date Date Index
Previous by ThreadNext by Thread Thread Index
LM_NET Archive

ubject: HIT:CD ROM towers, etc. (part 1)

In early December I requested information on hardware configurations,etc.,
for CDs and networking.  I got many wonderful responses.

Thank you to all who provided such valuable information on my request. You
touched on so many aspects of the situation that I hadn't even become aware
of yet.  There is really no where else I could have gotten this kind of help
in such a short time!

This is my first attempt at compiling and posting a hit and I realize I have
much to learn.  I tried this last night in two parts and got half bounced
back because it was too long.  Sorry to do that-the part that went through
had no explanation attached.  So I'll try again in THREE parts!

I could use a HIT on this topic of netwoking CD ROMS. From responses to
that question asked on other listservs I'm getting the notion that to
mirror the CD on a harddrive is cheaper and faster. (It could however
encourage unauthorized duplicating) THat may not be possible however if the
CD title requires multiple disks, such as the Laserquest Bibliographic/MARC


The only part of your question I can answer is about CD_ROMs. The fine print
on the package will tell you the limitations. Many of the most common are
one user only. The networkable ones (like encyclopedias) are very expensive
- $1000 for 2-8 users at a time. Some are going to pricing by the number of
students in a school which makes more sense to me.
I have a 7 bay tower with only 3 bays currently used for a magazine index
(InfoTrac). My small network has Follett Unison and InfoTrac running on the
same machines. We are in the process of networking the whole district and
upgrading my network. I understand that Macs can access my network (I have
PCs on Ethernet)if the proper software is installed. Most of the staff wants
I have spent more money on technology than I would like, but I try to keep
up the print collection also. There are some items: fiction, history,
illustrated books which are better in print and don't go out of date too
fast. I try to buy print items which will be useful for a long time.
I am interested in hearing other responses.


Call Diana Pope at Logicraft.  800-678-1692

We use their towers and network to 1,400 computers simultaneously.
Yes, up to 50 users access any of our 70 drives; that means a
potential of 3,500 simultaneous users.  I love it!  Good luck, Phyllis

 IMHO it would be better to buy a multi-gig memory and
load the CDs to the server.  With a tower, it is limited to
just a few disks and switching in and out.  Takes much of your
time.  But once loaded to the hard drive, it's just punch and
run.  Also, IMHO, I like the idea of all items on all
computers.  Provides more access.  Good luck!


You have many decisions to make on this issue.  I too am in the process
of installing a CD ROM tower.  Here are my thoughts.  I would buy the
largest capcity CD ROM tower that you can afford.  I had found a 14
drive tower for $6,000.00 some time ago, but I have been unable to find
the catalog and source in spite of a lot of searching.  I do think that
the use of CD ROMs will grow before it eventually is replaced with
something faster.  We plan on having access to the CD ROM from all
classrooms.  According to what I have heard and read, the capacity of
the tower and sytem should take care of the access use.  I would not
connect the catalog to the same computers as the CD ROMs.  Unless you
are going to have a lot of computers, it might mean that someone would
be unable to access the catalog for quite a while.  As to the number of
computers, I would suggest at least 15-20.  Even more if you can could
be used, but don't give up shelf space for it.  Books are the heart of a
library and will remain so.
good luck.  Sounds exciting.


The first question I have for you is are you using IBM type or MAC type
computers.  We have an IBM Novell network with 50 stations on our
network.  We have a CD Server that has 10 CD's which are available at
any workstation on the network.  We use OPTINET software to run the CD
Server.  The CD Server is not used as a work station.  The students in
our High School love the CD stack and it is the most used item on the
network.  Yes, you should have the CD stack accessable from any station
in the school.  Our Card Catalog (UNison) is also available from any
station and this is very helpful to the students as they can look before
coming to the library to see if what they want is available.

Our school has about 475 students (grades 9 - 12).  We have two labs
that are on the network.  One writing lab and one technology lab.  The
business dept uses stand alone computers right now but will probably
network one of these days.  Our school also uses the OSIRIS attendance
and grade program and it is on our network.

The CD Rom Server that we have is one that I built myself.  By doing it
yourself you can add one drive at a time if you are short on budget.
The SCSI CD drives are kind of expensive--about $350 to $450 each so you
can see if you have 10 drives you have a big investment without the
computer.  The OPTINET software is about $1,000 for a 100 user license.
Novell 4.1 software for schools can be purchased for $995 (100 user


>1.  Is a CD-ROM tower networked to workstations in the library and to
>classrooms the right way to go?

 I believe it is because even though you
>have Internet access, there will be times for various reasons that you can
>not access the Internet and also, because much of the information on the
>Internet is not valid or reliable, students must be able to use documented
>sources such as CD-ROM data bases for research.

>If so, what should the capacity of the tower be?

 We plan on a 7 CD
>capacity with 2000 students but you can go as high as 14.

>Will more than one user be able to access the same program at the same

If you purchase network licenses (many programs don't charge extra
>for networking) then any computer that is on your network can access the
>tower and as many as can access can do so at the same time.

>What is a ballpark figure for the cost of such a tower?



> Yes, this is the direction to move.  We have 170 computers in our
school all networked.  Cost for a tower=$4000

> Combine all... but you will need some standalones.

> The LMC should have 2 workstations for your use and circulation
(one with a barcode scanner) and at least 12-16 workstations for
students (half a class).


I have a CD-ROM tower made by Optinet. It has 7 "garages" and I have 2
CD-ROM drives daisy chained to it as well as using the CD in the server,
for a total of 10 ports going at once.  I'm buying another 7-unit tower
next year.  I have all the CDs AND the automation program in all 6 stations
in the library (that's not NEARLY enough) and the computer lab of 26
computers can also access all the programs at the same time.  Yes, multiple
computers can be using the same program at the same time, and I do like the
system.  If you have everything on every station, people don't line up if
they all need the same thing.

We bought the tower for about $6,000 I think - I'm at home now so I can't
be sure.

As far as what you buy, I can't advise you on that, but good luck.

Mary Helen Fischer, District Librarian
Buckeye Union School District
Shingle Springs CA
Subject: HIT:CD_ROM towers, etc. (part 3)

I can tell you our experience.  WE have a 6 cd tower networked to all our
stations, along with the online catalog.  If it is a networkable CD-ROM,
more than one person can access it at a time.  But if it is multi-media,
it really slows it down.  So we put our most media intensive CD-ROMs on
the hard drive (don't ask me how to do it, our volunteer tech person did
it).  Anyway, it works well.  As for work stations, in our school we
started with 2 for 450 students, and now have 12 for 550 students.  They
can all be busy, but I would think you want at least 6.  Hope this helps.


>1.  Is a CD-ROM tower networked to workstations in the library and to
>classrooms the right way to go?  If so, what should the capacity of the
>tower be?  Will more than one user be able to access the same program at the
>same time?  What is a ballpark figure for the cost of such a tower?
>Recommendations on brand, other variables?  If this is not a good idea,
>what is?
I like a tower because you load the CD's that you have selected and you
don't touch them again (except for updates).  Depending on your license,
multiple users can access the same cd at the same time with no loss of time
or quality.  I am intersted in the possibility of down-loading CD's to a
giant hard drive because I have heard that access from a hard drive is
20-25 times faster.  My tech guys say that the only problem  comes when you
have to clear the HD and reinstall the updates.  You might want to ask
about this especially for a large school.  Towers cost from 2000-5000 for 7
bays.  Most brands are just as good as any other--just don't overbuy-some
towers have much more power built=in than you would ever need.  You also
need linking software from the tower to the server.  I think it's called
SCSI, but am not sure.  At the high school we had 14 CD's available, but I
think 7 would be adequate for a Jr high-
an encyclopedia with atlas and dictionary,
a magazine database,
a SIRS product,
and one for each curriculum area, like
Time Magazine almanac for social science,
Magill's Science or an anatomy CD for science,
a Gale authors product for English.
I wouldn't buy more because you plan to have Internet access and that will
provide access to college info, career stuff, news services, biography,
etc.  (One of my friends now buys on-line access to the Britannica rather
than installing it at the library.  He says it is trouble-free, and the
cost for his school is similar.)
>2.  Should we plan to have our automated catalog on the same workstations as
>our CDs?  Or separate stations for each?  Seems logical to me to combine but
>I've never worked in that situation.  Will we need more or fewer stations if
>we combine?  We can/will have internet access on any or all stations.
Absolutely.  With today's tech solutions there is no reason to reserve one
station for any single dedicated function. Your vendor can set up a menu
screen that shows all the choices, and the student just types the letter or
number of his/her choice.  We included a word processing program, too.
I even had access to every database on the circulation stations because you
just never know what you might be doing when you need an answer.
Naturally, you don't have circ on the student stations.
>3.  How many stations should we have at a minimum?  There will be no card
>catalog and our print collection will necessarily be small to begin with,
>making the demand on electronic resources higher.  Is it cost effective to
>spend for an additional station or turn that same amount into print materials?

My ideal is to have one station for every two students in the average sized
class (17 stations for a class of 34).  I don't think every kid needs to be
conducting research at the same time on the computers if you have designed
a good research project.  Some will be at the computers, some will be using
print, some will be in discussion groups problem-solving with their team.
I had 1 station for every three students, and it was usually enough except
when the stray student bopped in from a class with a research need.  If the
classrooms have access, this won't happen to you.  Remember that the
network version of the CD's are sold with licenses for the number of users.
This cost will influence your decision, too, because you have to pay more
for a multi-user license will take away funds from hardware and vice versa.
The classrooms count as users, too!

You will have to have a core of reference materials.  But I kept mine short
and sweet--about 200 volumes for the high school and four sets of print
encyclopedias (1 in Spanish).

 Best of luck to you.  Again, my strong advice is to hire a vendor who
knows what he is doing and stick with him!


We have a system called MICROTEST DISCPORT PRO.  The software runs off the
fileserver and the ROM drive are attached to a hub. Each hub will support
up to 14 drives I understand.  We have two hubs each with 7 drives
currently.  We will be adding more later and it should be relatively
inexpensive to do so, we hope.

We combined the electronic catalog and the networked ROM drives.  We have
standalone ROM drives in a different area.  I planned our new facility for
6 computer terminals for each class in the media center.  We have 3 pods of
6 computers for the three classes we can seat at the same time.

The 6 units for each class is BARELY adequate because of the amount of
full-text information we subscribe to as a new school.  At my old school we
had MAS but not the full-text.  Here we the the full-text Elite, as well
other full-text ROMs and the seat time really increased.  I suppose if I
were doing it again I would go for more, although all of those computers
take a lot of space.

Thanks again to all of you--hope I have time to digest all of this and make
some informed decisions before the next issue crops up.

Mary Helen

Mary Helen Fischer, District Librarian
Buckeye Union School District
Shingle Springs CA

LM_NET Archive Home