The construction area next to the Ask Us Desk isn’t the only big change happening at the library right now. Library staff are gearing up for a “behind the scenes” change that you probably won’t notice, but that we hope will help us deliver even better service to all of you.
The software we use to manage library operations—checking books in and out, the library catalog, journal holdings, tracking orders for new books and other materials, etc.—was designed with print materials in mind and outdated for our modern age. With so much of the library collection now being electronic, the time has come to change to a new type of management system. This would be sort of like the university moving its classes off of Blackboard to a totally different course management system.
Because the library management system is used by every department in the library, almost all of the library staff are involved in the project. We are in the early stages right now, getting groups organized and starting to consider setup options. We’ll be doing lots of planning and testing and tweaking over the next few months, and the new system will go live on July 2.
So what does this mean for our users, the students, faculty, and staff of TAMU-CC?
Finding stuff will be easier
First of all, and probably the most visible to you, is that finding library materials will be more efficient. Right now, Quick Search (the search box on the library’s home page) includes our online collection but only part of our print collection; you have to select Find–>Books on the home page to search for print books and other physical materials.
When the new system goes live in July, all our collection–print and online materials alike–will be included in Quick Search.
Greater staff efficiency and faster service
Although we can’t be sure until we start using the new system, we expect it to help streamline workflows within the library. It will help the library manage the collection holistically, rather than having to treat print and electronic materials as two separate collections. Also, while going through the process of setting up and learning the new software, all of the library’s staff are on the lookout for ways to do things differently and improve the library’s service to our users.
Better assessment of the collection
There is one feature of the new software that several librarians are kind of geeking out about—reports. Librarians often have questions about how the collection is being used: Which books are getting checked out? How long does it take a book to go from being ordered to being on the shelf? How many books do we have in a given subject area? etc. In the current system, generating reports to answer questions like these requires specialized knowledge and takes a lot of time and work. The new system includes a reporting module that is much more user friendly. It will be easier for the librarians to get answers to help assess the current collection and make it even better.
Of course, while doing the planning and testing and tweaking to get the new system up and running, the library staff is intent on providing excellent service. So if you see a librarian looking a little frazzled from trying to keep everything afloat, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even with all the work involved in setting up a new system, the top priority is you.
Derrik Hiatt, Director, Resource Management & Discovery