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Systems Librarian


Brocade Cipal

Brocade: The face of the future

Golly Odendaal 


Since 1995 the automated PALS library system has been used by KZN Provincial Library Service and the affiliated libraries. The system is maintained by SITA and runs from a central mainframe in Cape Town using OpeNet analogue leased lines. The PALS system is technologically obsolete, because it functions on a DOS interface, and does not have Windows Graphic user interface (GUI), and SITA indicated that they want to phase out support for PALS. OpeNet lines are costly and the uncertainty of the continued support of the old analogue technology by Telkom causes grave concern. In 2007, the different provincial library services, together with SITA, decided to migrate to a new system with updated technology and software. User requirements were submitted, a tender process was followed, and Brocade, a software system developed by the University of Antwerp and used by CiPal in Belgium for their libraries, was chosen. 


KZN Library Service looked at several aspects of the system, keeping affordability, accessibility, inclusivity and fiscal savings in mind in the choice of a new automated management library system. Library automation helps to ease circulation functions, and the ideal is that all the affiliated libraries are automated. Telecommunication costs and infrastructure in the rural areas are a challenge, and KZN Library Service has already made a dent in the digital divide with the inception of the Internet@your library project. 


Computer section staff, together with SITA representatives and other stakeholders, visited Belgium in March this year to meet with the professional Belgium team and to have a closer look at this user friendly system. On the whole, we liked what we saw, and are excited about the new software, and what it can do not only for us as librarians, but also for our users. 


Brocade is a 100% web based application, using an ordinary browser and making use of open source technology where applicable. All the functional modules as used in PALS are available, and due to the web interface, users can search the OPAC with ease from their library (from a public computer) or from their home, via the Internet. 



Implementation plan 

Implementation and conversion of the catalogue for Head office and depots will start this year, followed by affiliated libraries on a rotational basis. Selected affiliated libraries will be informed well in advance. PALS libraries and sections will still receive support and professional training until all the libraries have migrated, and PALS upgrades of hardware will continue as most of the equipment currently used will be used for Brocade as well. 



Computer Section is currently in the process of documenting information for the conversion of Head Office and the Depots, while SITA is working with CiPal converting the Northern Cape Provincial Library Service’s catalogue. We will keep you up to date with the conversion and migration time frames for Head Office and the Depots later in the year, and will share information regarding the migration of the affiliated libraries. 



Differences between the two software Applications 



Dos based 

Windows based 

Text based 

GUI based 

Command driven 

Menu driven 

Client base 

Web based 

Mainly keyboard use 

Mouse use 

Expensive OpenNet lines 

DSL Internet connection 

Can only use one workform at a time 

Tabs within a web browser allow several users to work in several work forms at the same time 

OPAC not available for users in library 

OPAC in library 

No more updates 

Updates every 6 months 

Mainframe in Cape Town 

Server in Cape Town 

Proprietary software

Use both proprietary and Open Source 

Can see only your own province’s catalogue

Use the Web to see other province’s information 

 Date: 24 July 2009


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