Collaboration, sharing are in library culture
Regular users of the Mancos Public Library know we've had a longstanding relationship with the Pine River Library District in Bayfield, sharing an Integrated Library System (or ILS), which is a database of all of our holdings integrated with an online catalog used by patrons to look up books, place holds, etc.
We've thoroughly enjoyed this partnership, the ability to share items back and forth has, in a sense, doubled the size of our collection, and we've gotten the opportunity to get to know their staff, working together, collaborating and sharing ideas. However, as in life, our professional relationships change and evolve, creating new opportunities.
On Sept. 24, we will be migrating our data to a new ILS. We started looking into alternative options earlier this year when we received preliminary data about our tax revenue, the word of a continued decline prompted us to dig deeper into the budget to determine areas where we might save costs. After coming up against many dead ends (in most cases, the cost to migrate data from one system to the next was prohibitive), we were pleasantly surprised to discover AspenCat.
AspenCat is an open-source catalog maintained by a public library support organization called the Colorado Library Consortium (or CLiC). CLiC is an innovative collaborative that works hard for Colorado libraries to expedite the discovery, selection and delivery of information and materials to library patrons in Colorado, to provide and support learning opportunities for ongoing professional development resulting in improved services in libraries, and to identify and support initiatives to strengthen the Colorado library community. In other words, their job is to help us succeed!
The AspenCat catalog was a perfect fit - it is a "union" catalog shared with 41 other libraries throughout the state with access to almost 700,000 items, and includes access to a growing downloadable ebook collection (yes, ebooks!) - for a little over half of the cost of our current ILS.
After an initial discussion, the staff at CLiC went right to work to secure grant money to help fund the migration, which sealed the deal.
The only drawback was having to re-barcode the entire collection, but thanks to the diligent help of our dedicated volunteers, we'll be done in no time (and with your help, we'd be done even faster - call the library at 533-7600 if you've got some time you can invest).
Fortunately, only the ILS part of our relationship with Pine River Public Library is ending - collaboration and sharing has become a part of the culture of our organizations, and (like all Colorado libraries) we'll continue to work together to make your library even better. Stay tuned for more!
Lee Hallberg is executive director of the Mancos Public Library, 533-7600.