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Systems Librarian


2014 Survey

Brocade (SLIMS)

SLIMS (SITA Library Information Management System), powered by Brocade Library Services (CIPAL)
SLIMS is a Library Management System, distributed in South Africa by SITA (State Information Technology Agency). SLIMS is based on the Brocade Library Management System, distributed by Centre of Informatics in the Province of Antwerpen and Limburg (CIPAL)
 company in Belgium. In December 2008, SITA acquired the Brocade Library Information Management System from CIPAL. SLIMS has replaced most PALS (legacy library system) sites in South Africa.

My rant and concerns with regards to Brocade (SLIMS)
Firstly, please take note that I am not aligned to any Integrated Library System (ILS)/Library Automation system company or software. I have legitimate concerns with the procurement process of Brocade (SLIMS). Maybe Librarian’s in South Africa are not in control over what happens with regards to IT in their libraries or maybe they just do not know better? I had two Librarian’s in South Africa confidentially informed me that they would have rather opted for another ILS, but Brocade (SLIMS) was rolled-out and backed by the Provincial Libraries and SITA without alternative options, is it a case of voluntary arrangement to a compulsory situation!

Questions that need answering:

-Brocade (SLIMS) was designed and developed for use in university libraries environment just as the Millennium  ILS product was designed/developed and used mostly by university/academic libraries (educational institutions) in South Africa. Is Brocade (SLIMS) not originally developed for university/academic library (developed for the University of Antwerp)? However, in South Africa Brocade (SLIMS) is marketed to be used in Public Libraries.

-State IT Agency (SITA)
 has policy on free and open source software use in government, however they procured Brocade (SLIMS) which is not open source software, why?

-It is said that Brocade (SLIMS) is proprietary, but based on Open Source! However, Brocade (SLIMS) is not using the Open Source database management but rather Cache, why?

-Brocade (SLIMS) was chosen/selected by SITA knowing it is one of the smallest and expensive proprietary systems in the world, while many libraries are leaving proprietary for OSS such as Koha and Evergreen internationally, why?

-The cost of Brocade (SLIMS) is prohibitively expensive. It concerns me that Brocade (SLIMS) SaaS licence costs do not follow the format of cloud, but that of inherently expensive traditional proprietary software licenses, why?

-It is rather concerning that many South African public libraries are migrating to Brocade (SLIMS), as for someone that is knowledgeable and aware of other international ILS systems (e.g., Millennium, Inmagic, Amlib, Exlibris, SirsiDynix, etc.), compare support and functionality of Brocade (SLIMS), it raises questions as to what was the evaluation criteria used and were other Integrated Library Systems (ILS)/Library Automation systems considered by SITA/Province?

-Why was Brocade (SLIMS) chosen/selected? Thus far they do not have a software development track record as other larger Integrated Library System (ILS)/Library Automation systems in the world? What was the evaluation criteria used and were other international library (ILS) systems considered? If you go to the 2013 seventh annual Library Automation Perceptions Report (see: there is no mention of the ILS Brocade (SLIMS)!

-Does Brocade (SLIMS) have a functional stocktaking/inventory module for GRAP17 compliance? Why was this not part of the ILS software evaluation criteria?

-Who is actually supporting Brocade (SLIMS) in South Africa? SITA does not give support (or have in-house expertise) needed to support Brocade (SLIMS) users! Are South African libraries currently dealing directly with CiPAL for support?

-What is the relationship with regards to Brocade (SLIMS), CiPAL, SITA, CSN Technologies?

-What is the existing contract/Service Level Agreement (SLA) between SITA and CIPAL with regards to the above mentioned questions?

Additional Reading:
SLA between SITA and the City of Cape Town dated 9 November 2009:

By that time CiPAL already had a foothold in South Africa through a 2002 partnership with its South African counterpart, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), to distribute CiPAL's solutions locally:

There is fraud and corruption in IT purchasing within the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), the institution's acting chief executive said on Monday during the opening of a national conference on the industry:

Date: 8 February 2014


Abaqulusi Municipality; Bessie head public library; Brackenfell Library; Breede Valley Municipality (Library Service); Buffalo City Municipal Library Services; C J Langenhoven Memorial Library (Oudtshoorn); Cape Town City Libraries; Dannhauser Library; Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture; Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture - Eastern Cape Province (Libraries); Drakenstein Library service; Eastwood Public Library; Empangeni Library; Fish Hoek Library; Free State Education Library; Hanover Park Library; Harare Library; Hibiscus Coast Municipality; Hlabisa Library; Hopewell ; Hout Bay Library; Humansdorp Public library; Kimberly Library Services; Knysna Public Library; kwadukuza municipality; KZN Provincial Library Service; Ladysmith Library Services; Langenhoven library; Madibeng Local Municipality; Makana Municipality; Malangeni Library; anguzi Public Library; Maquassi Hills Municipality; Marburg Public Library; Mount Frere Library; Msukaligwa Municipality (Ermelo); North West Provincial Library and Archives; Okhahlamba Municipality (Bergville); Paarl Library; Philippi East Public Library; Port Edward Library; Richmond Local Municipality; Siyabuswa Public Library; Stellenbosch Municipality; Swellendam Public library; Table View Library (City of Cape Town); Thulamela Main Library; Tswaing Local Municipality; Ubuhlebezwe Municipality; Ulundi Library; uMhlathuze Municipality; Underberg Library; Weltevreden Public library; Western Cape Education Department; Western Cape Provincial Library Service 

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