Lincoln Trail Libraries System
Planning for the future -- Next Generation Catalogs and ILS
The automation marketplace continues to be more in flux. The Open Source Software proponents are looking more and more like traditional ILS vendors. Every ILS vendor has their own version or flavor of a next generation catalog and the cooperation among vendors is almost non-existent. Libraries continue to maintain that local policies need to be very unique which makes the costs of having unique policies more than they need to be. For LTLS staff it is a challenge to keep ahead of the ILS curve and then to assist the member libraries in planning for it. It is essential that LTLS have a plan for next steps in our planning process by the end of FY 2009.
Challenge of Education and Training
Education and training participation is an ongoing identified challenge for LTLS. There are so many education and training needs and librarians express the desire to have programs, however, it is difficult to get consistency in participation among librarians and trustees. Maintaining qualty programming at the system level is also difficult with limited funding. However, marketing the programs to our audience is equally challenging. The best method is to take a very personal educational approach with each of our constituitents to help them choose the best training within their own constraints. LTLS staff has not been able to consisently do this, but when we do, it is rewarding. An example would be our Symposium, that was discussed in Accomplishments. Lots of marketing and promotion assisted in getting a very large audience. Librarians and board members were proud to be associated with us because of this great success.
This is the same description of the challenge as in FY 2007. It has not changed and it remains a vital part of our discussion. Many libraries still provide 20th century service delivery in a 21st century world. There are so many opportunities for our customers to get information and resources that it is really amazing that we continue to have any business at all. However, libraries do have a lot of business, they have so much that they are having trouble keeping up with new opportunities for services that would position them to be relevant in the future. For example many LTLS members do not have a web site or may be a small part of a web site belonging to the administrative institution and not the library. Relevancy in today’s world is having a web site. Only a handful of libraries have entered into the world of digitized content. LTLS has been collaborating with other systems on PLINKIT and offered websites to our members. However, one librarian said that the library board could see no reason to have a web site thus that library could not participate.
Another issue is the digitization of content. There is much local content in libraries that is freely available but there is no time or effort made to digitize it. Few libraries have blogs and many don’t understand the need for these tools. Libraries must explore the new technologies to be where the customers are but they are so burdened with the “day to day” that it is difficult to move forward. If this continues much longer libraries will find it more and more difficult to relate to many of their users. It is a challenge for LTLS to help libraries learn about all the options for meeting new service opportunities.
Time and Money
Time and Money seem to go together when the staff and board consider challenges. There seems never to be enough time to do all the projects and services that would help library staff and boards and the users of library services. The time challenge is often related to money or so it seems. An example of the challenge of time and money is continuing education. There are so many things to learn and librarians want to be able to learn the new things. However, there is not enough time to learn all there is and then to put the learning into practice. One person said, "I would like to blog but I just don’t have time". It is a lower priority than checking out books to students, to getting ILL items for teachers and just doing the everyday challenges of a school librarian. I certainly can relate to that as the Director at LTLS, I started my own blog “Working Together” last year and I have not been very dedicated to posting items and this is something that I am passionate about and believe that all libraries must do a better job of cooperating in order to provide the best library service possible.
The money challenge is a constant. Gas prices have increased this year and the delivery volume has increased by 8 % and our users want resources quickly. However, the funds to pay for the increases are simply not allocated. In other increases systems face the increasing cost of health benefits to employees and the unknown of utility costs. The good news on money is that the cost of telecommunications has not increased in the past few years. For LTLS that means we are spending less on that part of our budget in order to assist with the other rising costs. And due to our participation in an electricity cooperative organized by our Chamber of Commerce, and the installation of more energy efficient lighting fixtures, LTLS saved nearly $4000.00 in electricity costs during FY2008.
Tax caps are a reality for libraries in 2 LTLS counties. This is hurting the ability of schools and public libraries to get sufficient revenue. For schools we continue to see school libraries staffed with non-certified personnel which hurts the educational process for our students. It is a cycle and one that will surely continue for a few more years.