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A big thank you to all those who responded to my request for information on
Follett Alliance. I had several requests for a hit, so here goes. Most
people really liked it, but said it was not worth the cost unless you had a
lot of books to catalog. Several suggested Marcive, one person suggested a
program called BookWhere, and another suggested using Marc Magician. I've
included several of the responses below.

We've had Alliance Plus on-line for the past couple of years. I would not be
able to function without it. I can find most everything - except videos. You
can make labels and everything else you need, although I generally purchase
Follett barcodes. It is an annual subscription, but well worth the cost if
you have a lot of books to be cataloged.

Why not invest in Marc Magician instead? It is compatible with Follett and
very easy to use. You can pull materials in and out of the program (Follett
to Marc Magician and then back to Follett) to correct errors, add records,
delete records, update subject headings, add information, and so on. The
cost is only $129 right now and they now have the MARC database that you can
add to the program for a total of only $169.

We use the Library of Congress records, download them into Marc Magician
(free of charge) and clean them up to fit our catalog. It's too easy. After
doing original cataloging, copy cataloging, Winnebago cataloging, and
Follett cataloging, this is a cinch! We have Follett and use Marc Magician
now to clean up everything and do all the cataloging--copy, original, or

There is a fine service called You can get any title you need
for 27 cents. There is no subscription charge. You pay for only what you
use. Videos cost a more, but they are worth more. Marcive has every title
Alliance has. The service is Marcive Select at Give them a
call. You fill a spec sheet, and you start downloading MARC records. We've
used them for years. Some months we download a few dollars worth, and other
months we get a lot more processing done. If your bookkeeper gets nervous
about fluctuating amounts, just pre-pay a lump sum, and Marcive will send
you a notice every month of how much you have left in your account. It
really is a nice company.

It's great to hear you're concerned about the quality of your MARC records;
too many librarians don't feel competent to judge, or feel they don't have
the time. I've had great success with a quirky little program called
BookWhere 2000,
which is a Z39.50 client that searches the constant stream of Z39.50
Internet traffic whereby libraries share their own MARC records. There is
only a one-time fee for the program, and it allows you to download free MARC
records for at least another ten years or more! (When you first purchase,
BookWhere will ask if you wish to "register" for their "WebClarity Resource
Registry", but in my opinion, you probably don't need it, plus I think they
charge yearly for it. It just keeps your server IP list updated, but you can
do that yourself.) There's a 30 trial and some limited tech support, but I
don't think you'll need any. The only thing to beware is it might take you a
few hours to get used to the search interface, to find a few libraries you
prefer to search for certain materials, and to try the download and import
into your automation system; but once you get past the beginnings, it's all
very simple, and really worthwhile! You'll be able to find records for the
most oddball, hard to find materials, all for free. You'll get many records
returned so you'll usually have the luxury to choose the best records, etc.
It's not a perfect program, but it's pretty good, though its cost has gone
up a bunch over the past three years. many of us feel this is a great tool,
and a lot cheaper than paying a yearly fee for Follett's Alliance Plus or
Brodart's Precision One.

Sharon, my district purchases a subscription to Alliance Plus for all the
libraries in out district. It's the one thing the librarians agree we could
not do without. There's some question about its funding for next year, and
we have all said that we will purchase it from our individual budgets if it
gets cut at district level.  I can't tell you how great it is to be able to
pull down records in a matter of seconds instead of the hours (sometimes) of
agonizing I used to spend trying to create original MARC records. Frequently
books would just sit in my office for months because I just didn't have time
to catalog them. Not any more. I'm not sure of the cost - it is a
subscription - but whatever it is, it's worth it!

I am a new librarian in a small school and we did have a subscription to
Alliance at the beginning of the year. I was very happy with it. For the
most part, the records were complete, it was easy to use with Follett, and
printing labels was a breeze. However, we only get a couple of hundred books
per year and the annual subscription cost was to high for our needs. I was
disappointed in it only a few times when it wouldn't have a specific book
(mostly donated books). I now use Marcive and miss the ease of Alliance but
would only recommend getting it if you can justify the annual cost by the
number of books that you catalog annually.

Again, thank you.

Sharon Hutchinson, Library Media Specialist
Westran Middle School
Clifton Hill, MO 65244

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