The MCLS has a number of initiatives underway at this time. A key project is a conversion to a new catalog and circulation system, which will greatly impact our customer base and our finances for the better. For approximately ten years, the MCLS has used a reliable software for its online public catalog (what used to be the card catalog) and borrowing activity.
Though the current software has been dependable, it also been very expensive, being built for large entities that employ their own personnel to customize and implement powerful features. The MCLS has been paying for features that have never been fully deployed nor are user-friendly for the public and personnel “right out of the box.”
In short: we have been driving a luxury car, but haven’t been using many of its features. We need to switch to a more economical car with features that we can easily offer to the public without much local customization.
On March 1 the MCLS will launch a new system named Atriuum (this is the correct spelling). The new system will include images of front covers of books; better display of titles in a series; and enhanced information including Table of Contents, Publisher and Professional Reviews, Accelerated Reader Info, and Summaries. Also, customers will be able to rate and review books. Even better, we will be getting all of this for a savings of $12,000 in 2020 and $14,000 in the years following.
As we make the shift to the new system, we are also going to verify/update the information that we have for every customer in our database. It has been quite a few years since the information was verified with a fine-tooth comb. Once we have an accurate record of our customers and how to reach them, we will be using the new software to communicate via email and text messaging. All customers will be required to offer a current driver license or verifiable utility bill at the time their record is updated. We will also require a current email address from all customers; staff will help customers establish an email address with the online service of their choice.
Two significant changes in policy will also take effect. First, all customers will be required to present their new library card to borrow items and to use public computers. Customers will check out a computer just like any other resource.
Second, the MCLS will no longer be charging fines for overdue items. Items will still have particular due dates, and they will be able to be renewed once if they do not have a waiting list. However, after an item has gone one complete borrowing cycle beyond the due date, it will be considered lost and the customer will be charged the retail price of the item as well as a service charge of $5 per item. Customers will not be able to check out items nor use computers until the item(s) are returned or until lost item charges are paid. We are not interested in charging fees; we just want our items to be returned to us.
There will likely be some bumps to navigate as we go live with this new tool in March. However, we are very excited to deploy it, and anticipate that its interface and capabilities will offer a more helpful, enhanced, Amazon-like browsing experience for everyone.