Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Progress on enabling non-consortium library access to ILLs

Because 50% of the stock on P2 is now restricted to consortia libraries, material from these libraries cannot be used to fulfil ILL requests via P2.

To remedy this, PLS’ James Kemperman has set up functionality in Enterprise and Staff Web (Symphony) to allow non-consortia libraries to search and place holds on materials held by consortia libraries.

PLS staff will be in touch in the next couple of weeks to provide non-consortia libraries with logins and instructions to place requests.

Unley (a non-consortia library) has been trialling this over the past few weeks with much success. Port Augusta (another non-consortia library) has also used this process over the past few days and has already received some items in their black boxes – excellent results.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

eBooks, audiobooks & other digital content – contract signed

The Libraries Board on behalf of the SA Public Library Network has recently signed a contract with OverDrive for the provision of a state-wide digital content solution that will give library customers access to eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content.

This contract is the culmination of three years of research, consultation, negotiation and project management.

OverDrive is a leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content.

OverDrive currently hosts an extensive range of premium digital titles from a range of publishers including Random House, HarperCollins, AudioGO, Harlequin, and Bloomsbury. OverDrive’s digital distribution services are utilized by more than 19,000 libraries, schools, and colleges worldwide. For two consecutive years, OverDrive has been named to the EContent 100 as a company that matters most in the digital content industry.

With a network of more than 19,000 libraries and millions of readers, OverDrive is a global leader in eBooks for libraries and offers support for all major computers and devices, including iPhone®, iPad®, Nook®, Android™ phones and tablets. OverDrive offers 24/7 access for customers by using an existing library card.

In the coming weeks the team at PLS and network representatives will work closely with OverDrive to deploy the digital content solution. We have our first meeting with OverDrive next week, after which we will have a better understanding of project timelines. 

And what will the service look like to library customers?

One option is to have an interface similar to that used by public libraries in WA - which you can view here.

Teresa Brook
Acting Associate Director
Public Library Services

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Trialing additional courier services

As I've reported earlier, bringing together the holdings of a number of libraries has proved very popular with customers - leading to pallet loads of items being shipped to some libraries.   This level of demand has continued, leading to a few logistics issues for some of the bigger libraries.

As a result of this we have decided to see if there any benefit in getting TOLL (our courier) to deliver directly to some or all of the branches of these multi-branch library services.  This process has included some analysis of the volume of items travelling from library main branches out to various other branches.  We have identified that if we provide direct deliveries to the busiest of these branches then we can assist libraries in not double handling so many items & avoid some of the bottle necks that are currently occurring.

This change will be a trial that will run from 24 September until the end of January, to give us an opportunity to examine whether this meets the needs of libraries & whether this is the model that we roll out to other multi-branch libraries where the volume of items warrants this.
 So, based on the volume of items being shipped we are adding the following direct delivery points to the courier.
  • Mitcham - we are adding Blackwood.
  • Marion - we are adding the Cultural Centre (but not Hallett Cove)
  • Onkaparinga - we are adding Aberfoyle Park, Woodcroft & Seaford (but not Aldinga or Willunga)
  • Pt Adelaide Enfield - we are adding Pt Adelaide & Greenacres (but not the Parks or Semaphore)
  • Salisbury - we are adding Ingle Farm & Salisbury West but not (Mawson Lakes or Para Hills)
I am aware that there are costs associated with this trial, and these will be monitored.  We will use this information to consider how we will operate the full consortium in coming years.
It is perhaps worth noting that while PLS has limited funds to operate the courier we have attempted to arrange the service on a needs basis.  So we have always delivered to multiple sites with council boundaries in a range of country councils (e.g. Millicent & Penola, Bordertown & Keith etc) to meet local needs based on distance.  So extending some additional deliveries based on need (volume not distance) is consistent with previous practise.

While these changes have particularly targeted busy large metro libraries PLS will continue to monitor the impact of the One Card Consortium on deliveries to country locations.  If demand increases significantly then we will look at both the number of crates being delivered as well as the frequency of deliveries, given that some libraries receive 2 deliveries a week & some receive 3.
I should just note that I'm off on a 5 week break from tomorrow, but the One Card consortium project and other PLS network activities will proceed unabated in my absence.  Teresa will be acting in my role & I'm handing over the reins of this blog to Jon who will gather information from others & add posts here when we have information of relevance to post.  I'll be reading with interest from afar while taking a break.  I expect that we will be able to report on:
  1. Signing an eBook / eAudio contract
  2. Progress on enabling non-consortium members access to ILLs
  3. Libraries of the current SWAP network going live

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Transit Slips working - finally

I've written a few times (here & here) about how important it is for us to get the transit slip issue resolved & the process to work properly.

Well finally we're there!  Today is the day when libraries can scan a barcode on a book or DVD or whatever & if the book is destined for a branch in another library service a transit slip will automatically be printed. This mayn't sound like much - but for staff in libraries who have been hand writing on slips since mid-May this is a real red letter day.

And I do need to say thanks to all the staff who have waited (perhaps impatiently) for this to happen & have kept working to deliver books to customers in other libraries.  Your perseverance has been noted & appreciated.

And as I noted here, this is also the next step along the path of providing all libraries with the ability to reserve items from consortium libraries.  This will not happen immediately, but we can now put our energies into getting this part of the puzzle in place within the next month or so.  There is still some setup to be done, along with training etc.  But it will happen as soon as we can achieve it.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

eBooks - its not all "upside"

As I reported a couple of weeks ago (here) we're pressing ahead with the implementation of a State-wide eBook solution. We are on track to have a contract signed within the month.

While I know that eBooks are an important part of the evolution of public libraries I can't help feeling that there are almost as many "downsides" as there are upsides with eBooks as they are currently available to libraries.  Don't get me wrong - we have to provide customers access to them, but I think that we should also be aware of some of the risks.

While I'm not sure I like the analogy used by the Librarian in Black where she equates eBooks to a less than desirable lover, she makes some really good points in her article "I'm breaking up with eBooks (and you can too)". This blog is referenced on the front page of my blog as the author often has some interesting things to say.

The two aspects of the way that suppliers are offering eBooks that I really struggle with are:
  1. That the publishing industry sees libraries as the enemy of their commercial aspirations, rather than potential allies in growing the reading habit, and
  2. The rules about access fundamentally skew some of the foundation principles of free public libraries - thereby weakening our "brand".
Let me expand on point 2: Currently South Australians can join any public library and borrow any item from that library.  They can also request these items through Inter-Library Loan & the items will come to their local library for collection. The new model of eBook availability thrust upon libraries by the commercial providers is that users must be bona fide members of a particular library - with some suppliers attemting to restrict the libraries' membership conditions to say that only residents within the boundaries of the council/borough whatever can access the eBook collection.

Also, with many eBook suppliers (not all) the library only "rents" their collection for as long as they pay an annual subscription.  As soon as they stop paying the subscription they lose access to all eBooks they have "purchased" - i.e. rented!  I am all for commerical providers making a profit, but some of these practices are designed with such self interest that we need to recognise the practices for what they are.

I could say lots about the fact that in South Australia 70% of people over the age of 60 do not have a computer in their home (as reported by the Office for the Aging), let alone eReaders.  And what is the prevalence of eReaders amongst our poorest most vulnerable?  So who are we aiming this collection at?

I wont go on - but I do want us as a profession to be critically aware of the business models being forced upon us and what these may mean for the foundation principles of our profession.  We have always been happy to adopt new business models if the customer benefits, but we need to do so with some caution and hopefully with the ability to choose business models that reinforce our professional principles rather than eroding them.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Library Thing for Libraries working

Many of you would know about and/or used Library Thing for Libraries.  There is a website explaining how it works here.

A few of the libraries in the One Card consortium had a pre-existing subscription to LTFL that they wanted to continue to access once they'd joined the consortium.  Following some work by PLS staff, local library staff and the Library Thing team we've managed to get it working on the Playford and Alexandrina sites.  Below is a screen dump from Playford with the red circle showing how the Library Thing content is integrated into Enterprise.

The LTFL is more than just another list of reviews - there are a range of other very useful features.  These include a "tag cloud" of words used to describe the book, as well as recommended books that are similar to the one being viewed.

For libraries who have come to rely on LTFL this enhancment will allow you to keep this service going once you join the One Card network if you think that this is a feature that you still need.