So there we were, for what seemed like the tenth time in as many days, with one of the kids asking if we had a copy of some book they needed for
school. We knew we had it, but where it was, well, that’s a completely different issue. How I dread the start of the school year.
That’s when we started talking about how there had to be a better way or organizing the hundreds of books in the house. We tried organizing them by
audience age; no help. We tried author – a great help for finding that gardening book on vines! And last, but not least, (as we all have done) we
tried it by genre.
Well, none of those seemed to help in locating Hawkins’ book the night before a physics paper was due. Having worked in the computer industry for almost
thirty years I did the obvious: looked for a PC program that could solve the problem. Surely there must be something available to end these frequent futile
searches and last minute trips to the books store (I should point out here that a missing book always seems to materialize shortly after being replaced.
This is probably a good thing because it is twice as hard to misplace two of them).
For the next few weeks we “googled” ourselves silly. We found every type of library software imaginable, from the very small and limited to the very, very
large and cumbersome. But, nothing we found seemed to fit our needs. We had a lot of books, but not a huge library’s worth. On the other hand, we had enough
books that a simple data base or spreadsheet wouldn’t solve it either. Hemmingway said it the best, “Water, water everywhere…”
As I was grousing around the house my spouse, bless her heart, made one of those brilliant statements with an intent that is never quite clear to me,
“If you don’t like what’s out there, write something you do like.” I still am never sure when she say’s something like that whether it’s a polite way of
telling me to drop it or a sincere expression of faith in my abilities. I took it as the later.
The next day I took our problem to the office, SAGERA
, to see what others thought about it. Sure enough, most of the people I worked with had at one time
or another wanted a product similar to what I was looking for. It was on that day that that the idea of FinderWare was born.
We discussed requirements, wants and issues; we prototyped interfaces and databases; we drew lots of “stuff” on the white boards in the conference room. A
couple of months later we had a pilot program we felt was good enough to be tested by others. My spouse again worked her magic and pulled together
focus groups to do the testing. She found librarians and professors, teachers and doctors, lawyers and pastors and, yes, just good old fashion readers.
Many changes were made and many features were added. The result: FinderWare is the library software that we were all looking for. Loading our books took some
time, but it has proven to be well worth the effort in the end. We now know what books we have, we can find that elusive vine book and best of all, now that
most of the kids are in college, we know who has our books.