August is the month that the consortium expands into rural SA - where we have many small communities many of which are served by School Community Libraries. Each week this month will see one more library added to the consortium. (And yes I know that we're already in Strathalbyn and Goolwa - but they're "near country" or almost "outer metro")
This Thursday will see Lameroo and its depot Geranium come online, and coming weeks will see Pinnaroo, Karoonda and East Murray join on the Thursday of their designated week. As 3 of the libraries are currently using Bookmark LMS and the 4th is using Amlib, this series of conversions has allowed us to learn about these two systems. This will stand us in good stead for the many other libraries that are using these systems.
Although these 5 libraries across two councils have been operating stand alone LMSs they have had a unified web based catalogue for some time. They have decided to maintain this level of integration by providing one Enterprise portal to their combined holdings. This can be found here. You will note that they have the logos of both councils and the names of their 5 branches showing.
Also, they have decided to start by setting their default search to only look at the Mallee libraries in the 1st instance. (This is in contrast with other live sites who have set their default search to the complete consortium.) This approach does not stop their customers seeing and reserving items from across the consortium, but makes this a two stage process. Given that all of the libraries are in schools and much of the searching will be done by students this default setting seems to meet their local needs.
The project team has certainly learnt quite a bit about differences in how we need to work with these smaller libraries compared to larger metro ones. It has been a very useful experience & what we have learnt here will be put to good use when working with other smaller rural libraries across the State.
We are now looking forward to seeing what the impact of joining the consortium will have on these libraries and their customers.