ISX/CIRC Technical specifications

Revised 1999-04-11

The ISX/CIRC system extends the capabilities of the CDS/ISIS database management system. Through the addition of special programs, menus, messages and worksheets, ISX/CIRC allows libraries and information centres to control the loan and return of books, documents or files-- in short, any kind of material that can be borrowed.


ISX/CIRC is written in CDS/Pascal, using standard functions supported by CDS/ISIS for DOS. It cannot be used with the Windows version of CDS/ISIS.


Whether you are just starting to build a library database using CDS/ISIS, or whether you have already created a database describing your library holdings, ISX/CIRC can help you to automate your circulation procedures. ISX/CIRC works with any record structure, in existing as well as newly created databases.


Many values that reflect local decisions (such as database names, loan periods, field tags and display formats) can be modified by the user to reflect practices and policies of the local library.

Loan policies

ISX/CIRC supports the loan of different types of material to different types of users. Loan periods can be defined for any combination of up to 10 different material types and 10 different borrower categories. Loans can be for periods up to 99 days or for "indefinite" loan, where the due date is a date in the future fixed by the library. The library can specify a maximum number of items on loan to a patron at any one time. Renewals are processed with the same period as the original loan.


Holds (sometimes called reserve requests) can be placed for patrons on material that is currently out on loan. When the material is returned to the library, the system alerts the staff member checking the item back in that there is a hold. Staff can charge out the material to the person concerned. A number of patrons can place a hold on the same item ; they will be served in the order of their holds.

Overdue notices

Overdue notices or claims are printed as required by the library. Notices can be produced either for all overdue materials, or for different parts of the collection on a regular basis. Notices are printed from standard CDS/ISIS formats and normally include full patron information for easy mailing.


ISX/CIRC uses a unique number to retrieve the record for an individual item such as a copy of a book. This number can be keyed in through the microcomputer keyboard; however if barcodes are attached to items in the collection, the numbers can be read quickly and accurately with a barcode reader such as a light pen or wand.

Similarly ISX/CIRC uses a unique number to identify each patron or client of a library. If staff cards have a barcode, this number can be entered quickly into the computer with a barcode reader. However library staff can always enter the number directly using the keyboard, or search the library catalogue or patron database to determine the number required.

ISX/CIRC will support any PC-compatible barcode reading equipment and any barcode format that can be read by that equipment.


ISX/CIRC assists with library management, by capturing statistics on the volume of use for each item and each patron. You can tell which users borrowed the greatest or fewest number of books in a given period, and which items were borrowed the most and the least, allowing you to manage your collection more efficiently and to market your services more effectively to different groups of clients.


ISX/CIRC will log transactions to another system device, such as a printer, so that records of all loan and returns are not lost, even in the case of the worst systems failure.


All dialogue with the user, including commands and prompts, is stored in CDS/ISIS message files and can be translated into other languages as required. ISX/CIRC currently runs in English and French, but dialogue files could be translated and adapted to run in other languages by those with a thorough knowledge of CDS/ISIS. NO support in translating dialogue into other languages is available.


The ISX/CIRC system comes complete with over 60 pages of installation, user and technical documentation. Documentation is distributed on diskette in WordPerfect and ASCII text format.


ISX/CIRC is ready to use for a single, standalone microcomputer or for use over a local area network (LAN), where several workstations can circulate material, or several users access the circulation databases, at one time.

Minimum system requirements

You may also wish to install an IBM-PC compatible barcode reader and use barcodes to identify documents and/or patrons. The use of barcodes and a barcode reader is recommended for quick and accurate entry of item numbers.

If you will use ISX/CIRC on a local area network, you may wish to have a printer attached to each microcomputer that will be used as a circulation workstation.


To install ISX/CIRC, download the ZIP file to a temporary directory on your hard drive (e.g. c:\isxcirc). Unzip the file into the same directory, keeping path names (-d switch for pkunzip). Then consult the README.1ST file and documentation for further installation instructions.

While ISX/CIRC is as simple to use as any manual circulation system, installation and setup of the ISX/CIRC program does require technical knowledge of CDS/ISIS. You should know how to define a simple database, create print formats, build Field Select Tables, and enter and modify records. If you do not personally have these skills, we suggest you get someone more familiar with CDS/ISIS to assist you with the initial installation of the system. No formal assistance is available with installation of the system.

Overall system capacities

Bibliographic info

As much or as little description of the items in your catalogue as you choose. ISX/CIRC needs only 3 fields to manage circulation transactions. You decide what other information (title, author, publisher, etc.) you need.

Database size

Limited only by CDS/ISIS and disk capacity.

Record size

Item information is stored in the same record as bibliographic information The number of physical items associated with a single bibliographic record is restricted by the limit of 8000 characters on a single record. Item descriptions will normally be less than 100 characters per physical piece. If your bibliographic description takes 1000 characters, you could not have more than 70 (i.e. (8000-1000) / 100) copies or volumes associated with a single title.

Material types

Up to 10 different types of item for loan.

Patron categories

Up to 10 different types of user.

Loan periods

Up to 100 different loan periods, one for each combination of 10 patron categories and 10 material types. Loans can be for up to 99 days or for an "indefinite" period with the due date decided by the library.

Patron information

As much or as little as you choose. ISX/CIRC only needs fields in which to store a client number, patron type and several statistics. Data elements used by most libraries include name, address, phone number and position.