In my school system we use Follett’s Destiny system in all the libraries. For all my administrative needs, the program seems quite efficient. I can create barcode and spine labels, I can do quick cataloging changes (maybe even complicated cataloging if I keep my cataloging book handy!), and I can easily add titles through Follett’s listing of book records on TitlePeek. I can figure out library statistics, such as how many graphics were checked out in January or how many books have gone out since September—11,500! I can keep track of patrons, add them, delete them, see what books they have out; I can generate a list of overdues for a whole class to give to a teacher, or I can print up individual notices to pass out to students. Many of our older books still have cards in the pockets with students’ names written in and dates stamped, and I’m so happy not to have to worry about any of that.
At some point I downloaded my book catalog with Follett, so now if I order books from them, I can see if I already have a copy in my collection. When I do order books from Follett, it’s very easy to download the MARC records onto my system. I haven’t ordered from another book company, but I think the downloads would still be effortless—other librarians in my district order books from Permabound and other companies without any problems.
When the system crashes, there’s an offline program, which I learned a while ago; I’ve never had to use it, but it seemed simple enough. I’ve always gotten technical support on the phone without any problem at all. I appreciate that the service people are always nice to me, even when I ask my completely clueless questions.
As an online catalog, the Destiny system is easy for students to use. There’s a friendly interface called Destiny Quest, which, unfortunately, my library computers can’t handle. Destiny Quest seems very easy for young students to use, with lots of visuals like book covers and subject icons. Also, there are easily accessible resource lists and top ten lists; in addition, students can log in and create their own lists of books they’d like to check out. The non-Destiny Quest interface allows all these options for students but in a duller layout. Features like the resource lists are hard to find and so are unlikely to be used except by the most motivated students. But these limitations are school-based technology issues, not problems with Destiny itself. In general, book searching yields good results for students, and the system indicates whether or not the book is already checked. The librarian is able to set up searches to limit results by lexile numbers, which is helpful in guiding students to books at the right level.
I’m not sure if Destiny allows for cataloging websites. Because of time limitations, I would not be able to do this anyway, and due to limited computers students wouldn’t be able to do website research in the library. But I see that, for an additional fee, Destiny offers an interesting service called Webpath Express in which they link age-appropriate, educator-approved websites into the catalog. It’s nice to know that Follett offers this service because as students get more and more used to accessing the library catalog at home, they could get a huge educational benefit from having pre-selected, appropriate websites available to them. Though I would never be able to catalog websites myself, I don’t object to providing information to students in this way. Another service that Follett offers, again at an additional charge, links books and websites to Standards. Teachers would appreciate having this information available, especially since the Standards are set to change soon. A final note on costs—I don’t know how much Destiny costs because our district pays for it. I’ll try to find out.