558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Library set to buy new cataloging system
The software will allow users to borrow from neighboring libraries in Deschutes and Jefferson counties
Library Director Camille Wood, left, with project team member Circulation Services Supervisor Cindy York display books with the new barcodes in the top left corner.
October 11, 2012
The Crook County Library last month kicked off a 9-month project that will increase the number of items library users can borrow from 55,000 to more than 400,000.
The dramatic increase is the result of a partnership with neighboring libraries in Deschutes and Jefferson counties, which involves switching to a new cataloging system and making Crook County Library cards usable at any public library in the three counties.
While the words “new cataloging system” might sound dull, the new catalog was the Crook County Library’s primary motivation for undertaking this project.
“Since my first day here in August 2010, the question I heard the most from patrons, community members, and library staff was ‘When are you going to get a more user-friendly computer system?’” says Library Director Camille Wood. “I have been working steadily, together with staff and trustees, to move us toward reaching that goal.”
When the library “goes live” with the new catalog next May, Crook County Library users will be able to order books, movies, and music CDs from libraries in Bend, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine, Sunriver, and Madras to be picked up at the library in Prineville. The items will be delivered by courier, usually within a couple days.
As with the current computer system, library users will be able to do many things from home, such as search the library catalog, request items they want to borrow, log in to their accounts to see what they have checked out, and renew checked-out items.
However, the new software will be much easier to navigate and will have fewer bugs, according to Wood.
“Over the several years I have been here, there have been many problems with patrons being unable to access the system from home, either to do a search or to check their record online,” she said.
The new cataloging system will also allow staff to reduce errors that directly affect patrons. With the current software, the library has problems with items not getting checked in properly if staff scans them too quickly, resulting in erroneous late fees for the patron.
“The current system’s errors and inefficiencies have overall caused a loss of confidence in patrons that the library is capable of accurately tracking materials, and this is equally frustrating for staff,” says Wood.” The new system will eliminate this problem.
For its part, the Deschutes Public Library System is motivated to share resources with Crook County Library by a desire to enhance regional library access.
“We are a regional economy,” says Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg, noting that many people live in one Central Oregon city and work in another. “We have people going back and forth between these communities and we want to take away barriers to library access,” he said. “Sometimes people need to be able to use the library in the town where they work instead of the town where they live.”
Another advantage of the new computer system is that it will allow the library to add self-checkout stations like those at the Deschutes and Jefferson county libraries. The Crook County Library will initially install two self-checkout computers near the circulation desk, with the option of adding a third later.
Making the switch to the new cataloging system is a large undertaking involving many steps, months of effort, extensive cooperation between the libraries, and considerable expense.
The county has budgeted $172,393 for the project. Of that, $66,000 will go towards the cataloging software, called Millennium. The software is made by the California-based software company Innovative Interfaces.
In library jargon, Millennium is an “integrated library system” or ILS, which includes the library’s catalog as well as a database of patron information. It has the capacity to generate automated phone calls or e-mail notices, track holds on items, compile statistics, and much more.
Other expenses include paying an outside vendor to convert the catalog data from the current computer system to Millennium, computer hardware and wiring needed for the new self-checkout stations, paying for Crook County’s share of the courier costs, new barcodes for all library items; new library cards for patrons, and possible temporary staff costs to assist with re-barcoding the collection.
In the long run, the library could see some savings in staff productivity. “We will be adding acquisitions and serials modules which will make our ordering, cataloging, and invoicing processes much more efficient,” said Wood.
Re-barcoding the entire collection will be one of the more time-consuming steps for library staff. Staff will have to take each of the library’s 55,000 items off the shelf, remove or cross out the current barcode, put on a new barcode, and scan the new barcode to save it in the computer catalog.
In order to join up with Deschutes and Jefferson county libraries, the Crook County Library will be required to adopt the same circulation policies as the other libraries, meaning some changes for Crook County Library users. Checkout periods, item limits, and fine rates will be slightly different.
“Most of these policies are generous, so CCL patrons should experience fewer restrictions. One area where patrons might notice a change is in movie checkout, which will be limited to 6 movies per card and for a 7 day checkout period,” says Wood.
Wood welcomes the changes. “I am very excited that the project is engaged and we have a “go live” date. I know it will be a big project, but the library staff is ready and willing to meet this challenge and move the library forward to provide better service to our patrons.”
To try out the Millennium catalog, go to the Deschutes Public Library’s website at http://www.deschuteslibrary.org/ and click on “catalog”. When the project is complete, Crook County Library’s holdings will show up in that catalog and all will be accessible from the Crook County Library website.