ILS in 3, 2, 1, GO!!
I would LOVE to know how many career college libraries are using an ILS right now?? What are you using? I’ll be honest (and for you traditional academic librarians reading this you should sit first) we have some libraries in our system that are manually tracking circulation with an Excel spreadsheet. I know, I know, I almost fell over too but that is sometimes the case in our libraries. Well, in a fabulous move by our senior level administrators we have made the decision to have all our libraries on one ILS. We have (I believe) 42 campuses so this is a big decision. I thought I would go ahead and chronicle the experience a bit as I am part of the project team getting this set up.
The first thing to say here is that career colleges, because they follow a business model and not an academic one, move really fast. The idea for migrating to one ILS started about three months ago, and this is just throwing informal ideas around. We are going live in about three weeks so they can really move. There are good and bad in moving so quickly. One lesson I will take away from the fast speed is to be sure the librarians in your system really know about the move. In our situation here, there is no good distribution email list for the staff managing libraries at each different campus. As such the communication tends to get passed to that individual via a director of education or campus director. Sometimes the message gets lost in translation and the librarian ends up with no idea what is happening. That can cause some anxiety.
So let’s start with why we wanted an ILS. There are amazing benefits and include; smaller chance of human error in record keeping, easily searchable catalog, report and statistic generation (which helps demonstrate value of the library), seamless cataloging and classification. Many systems also incorporate a serials and acquisitions model that can help streamline other internal processes. For those schools that have multiple campus locations it can make resource sharing easier and more efficient. All in all it’s just better to have one.
Once we decided we wanted one we had to decide which one to get. There is no shortage of places to go when looking at implementing an ILS. Check out some of these places to get more information:
I had been doing some research on ILS for a few months when a colleague mentioned an open source option I hadn’t yet heard about, Evergreen. After passing the idea along to IT we decided that was the best option for us. It integrated nicely with what our IT department was already using, i.e. Moodle and offered lots of customizable options. That’s one of the benefits of open source. One of the down sides is that pesky support issue or rather the total lack of support. There is a “community” that has forum discussions and such but nothing formal. If you are operating with a team that is limited in computer literacy this is a major consideration. It can cause a lot of problems for some systems and we decided to by-pass that with a third-party support provider, Equinox. Adding this support is what causes our free open source option to cost some money but felt it was worth it. And I’m very glad that was the decision made. And they will be doing the initial migration of data which I will get into in another post.
So there is the what and the why behind this process. Over the next few weeks I’ll actually talk about the process and hopefully generate some discussion here. Let me know if there is a specific part of the process you would like to know about or if you have had a similar experience. I would love to trade notes! Till next time…