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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.

Linking to the Library Catalog online

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Computer Room at the State Library of Ohio’s Southeast Center is about 20 ft. by 30 ft. in size and in 1988 was packed with equipment for the 5 public libraries online with that equipment.

 

Today, there are 92 public library systems with 224 locations in 47 counties of Ohio running on the system.

 

The original Winchester drive units have long been replaced by the fourth generation of equipment that is the size of a small table, humming along quietly.

 

Recently a software upgrade had to be performed on the system which changed the URL required to access the system causing pandemonium for users of the system.

 

In 1988, such a change would require 5 phone calls, but in 2015, such a change impacts up to 100,000 home users and a quarter of a million user accounts; as well as 224 library locations.

 

Before going further, let me tell anyone trying to find our Library Catalog that it is accessible at https://ohio.ent.sirsi.net/client/steor you can go to our Library Website at http://www.steubenvillelibrary.org and bookmark it at “search.”

 

So why do computer people do this to us?   Well, it all started with the new credit cards that are being rolled out this month and the ability of our system to accept them.  About one-third of the overdue fines and lost book payments to the library is done with credit cards these days either in-person at a library, or online.

 

That move requires the system to be upgraded to prevent global security threats, and security continues to be the highest priority of the State Library of Ohio.

 

One wouldn’t consider a library catalog to be vulnerable, but a major firewall and various security measures protect the system.

 

The question relates to how the system is used by the public.  Today, most people search the online catalog and place electronic requests for books; and come to the library to pick up their requests.

 

Your library card is attached to your information account which allows you to do business with the public library online, including payment of fines and fees.

 

Your library card also opens information doors for today’s library system including online databases, online magazines, and e-books that now number over 300,000 in the system.

If you own a device such as almost any tablet, Kindle, or e-Readers, you can download e-books from the Ohio Digital Library.  Online magazines can be downloaded through the Library’s Flipster account.

 

A list of online databases exists that your library card will access for a variety of information needs.

 

But what happens if you aren’t comfortable with all this technology?

 

Don’t worry!  We have classes as well as individual training sessions to help you with your device, or just show you how it all works.

 

Or, you can telephone any of our seven library locations (and the Bookmobile too!) and talk to a real human being, or you can visit in person for assistance.

 

As an institution serving the public, we strive to maintain service to the public while accommodating new technology to provide a better variety of services for the public.

 

I have even fielded phone calls from people that simply don’t know who to call in today’s society for help, so they call the public library.

 

And that is okay!  Librarians are notorious for knowing a whole bunch of stuff about a whole lot of stuff.

 

Librarians can be the most boring lunch partners, or fascinating interesting because of the information and experiences they have encountered over years of working in a library.

 

Oh, and yes, we still do have books with bound paper pages and color illustrations.  Despite technology, they still have a place in the library world.