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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The New Library Computer System

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 19, 2012

The library system’s new computer system has now been operational for over 60 days, and we are slowly becoming acquainted to its new features.


It is a shared system of 80 library systems in Ohio, operating 1,500 computers involving several hundred public library staff in every corner of the state.


We have found that our system is large in comparison to other library networks, because ours operates all of those libraries with “local control.”


There are other networks in the U.S. that have larger systems, but the participating library facilities are all part of the same organization, and operate with the same rules and regulations.


The State Library of Ohio has announced several steps that will be taken as we move forward with further implementation of the new Symphony system.


Regional meeting will be held around the state to receive feedback on the system, and determine the priorities for the next steps of development.


Staff from the computer center will be contacting local library staff for feedback to see what things can be implemented to address concerns.


The IT staff of the computer center will move quickly to implement the new search and discovery catalog called “Enterprise,” which is a Google-like tool which will bring Facebook and Bookmyne apps to the system.


Reporting software will be activated to allow local libraries to begin running reports of various system functions to improve response to public requests.


The new system uses what are called “Wizards” to help frame workloads, and there are local settings that can be utilized to improve work flows within our libraries.


The shared operations between the new system and Overdrive, our manager of eBooks needs to be adjusted and modified into one network.


Some of this will come in the movement from eLibrary to Enterprise as the front end devise that the public will use to access information.


Add to this the fact that 7 new libraries will be added to the new Symphony system between now and the end of 2012.


We look forward to seeing the collections of libraries in Bluffton, Putnam County-Ottawa, Brown Memorial, Napoleon, McComb, Logan County-Bellefontaine, and my former library in Delphos, Ohio.


As I view this migration to a new computer network, it becomes apparent that this is a move to a new era of information distribution to the public.


This is more than a card catalog online; it is an access point for people to find information in online formats as well as traditional print media.


The move is enormous, and the problems associated with such a move boggle the mind.


It requires education for our library staff, as well as the public who are now direct users of the computer system.


And how exciting for our library system to be part of all of this technology and service!


I must confess to excitement as we installed new scanners to read barcodes and smart phones, and more quickly move the system along with its operations.


I smiled and felt a twitch of satisfaction when the receipt printers began showing the library letter codes to help move books to their correct location without “writing” on the slip with a pen.


Each step moves toward the goal of providing the best library service possible using these new, and indeed complex, tools.


I wonder what the librarian in a 1948 photo, shown standing in the door of our library, would do with handed all of this technology?


She is unidentified, but stands tall, hair rolled into a bun with a pencil protruding from the twist of her hairdo; looking ready to nail the next person that talks too loud in the library.


My guess is that she would be fine with it, as in her time period, she had accepted many changes in technology in a society always evolving.


After all, she must have thought a “smart phone” was when they added a rotary dial to those black phones on the library desk.