SOLON– It’s time for an upgrade.
The Solon Public Library will be closed Friday, Feb. 8, to allow for training on a new software system that will streamline and update the library experience for patrons and staff.
The current circulation and management software programming is almost a decade old, more like a century in terms of recent technology advances, and its replacement will provide a host of options.
“We’ve got a lot to learn yet,” library director Kris Brown said Friday. “I think overall it will be easier and users can interact more with it.”
The upgrade, a cost of roughly $5,000, will replace the existing card catalog software and the programming used by library employees to check out materials. Funding, Brown said, came from state money set aside for two years, along with private donations earmarked for technology.
“It offers a visual element, so people can look at the book covers when they’re browsing trough card catalogs,” Brown told council members during a Jan. 16 meeting.
It will also allow for notification emails to patrons two days before they have materials due, or to announce that a book they reserved has been returned and is waiting.
“It will be a nice service that people will appreciate,” Brown added, noting several requests for electronic reminders had been received.
Library users will also be able to check their circulation history from their home by connecting with the online version, she said.
But a lot of the improvements will be behind the scenes, making some steps for library employees simplified. The new system will be web-based, eliminating the need for larger servers at the library.
At a Jan. 9 budget meeting, Brown reported a solid 10 percent increase in circulation for 2012.
“We’ve had good steady growth,” she said Friday. “Not huge, but steady and strong.”
Circulation figures show almost doubled use between the 2006 and 2011 fiscal years. In 2006, a total of 45,011 items were checked out, compared to 82.139 in 2011.
Much of the growth seems to be coming from inside the city limits.
The city and Johnson County share costs for the operation of the library based on the percentage of circulation, and 15 years ago, the county assumed two-thirds of the financial responsibility. Now it’s more like even-steven.
“In the last couple of years especially, it’s really shifted,” Brown observed.
For the 2010-2011 budget year, the city contributed 43.2 percent of the library budget, while for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the percentage increased to 52.9 percent.