Thanks to guest blogger Lanita Noland, Technical Coordinator and Cataloger, at Lake Cities Library, Lake Dallas, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth Area) for sharing her insight into how her library meets community needs while keeping costs down by using open source software and sharing resources through a library consortium. - Stephanie Gerding
The Lake Cities Library is a non-profit library serving 4 communities and our county. I guess you could call us a medium size library with, like most other libraries, a bare bones budget. To save on costs and give our patrons a larger collection we have partnered with 13 small municipal libraries to form the North Texas Library Consortium.
We chose to use the Evergreen Open Source ILS and apart from tech support problems in the beginning, we are really benefiting from the consortium. We recently moved our catalog to our own server located in Texas rather than up north.
Our circulation stats are up due to constant interlibrary loan requests now that our patrons can renew, hold, and request items from our consortium or in World Cat through our web-based OPAC. With access to 14 library collections Texas-wide and nationwide borrowing, our courier service makes it easy to borrow and return from any of our libraries. Four of our consortium members are adding Overdrive audio collections to the system but only those libraries with permission from their city will let other library patrons use the downloadable audio books.
While we were learning the Evergreen ILS we trained each other to use the system. Bugs always seem to creep in so we keep in touch with each other through a listserv to report problems and solutions. Those who are tech savvy have done a tremendous amount of work keeping our ILS up and working, generating reports, and creating templates for the rest of us. Our catalogers are teaching staff in all our libraries the functions they need to keep our catalog information consistent and patron friendly. We have established governing, policy, cataloging, technology, and reports committees.
We have really learned to share information, experience, training, and encouragement so that our consortium can function and grow to the benefit of our communities."
The more we streamline fines, checkout dates and other shared items, the more we make our life and patrons lives easier. No matter which library they are using we try to make the information the same.
Technical Coordinator and Cataloger
Lake Cities Library
Lake Dallas, TX