Do More With More

My consulting practice seems to go in phases and lately I’ve been in the consortia phase.  It’s a gratifying place to be.  In each case, I see the power that comes from libraries coming together to do something better than any one library could do on its own.  In some cases, it creates opportunities that would be completely beyond a library’s capability due to lack of resources (be they human or financial or both). 

Initiatives that require costly technology or costly technology experts are particularly good projects to handle at the consortial level.  The integrated library system (ILS) is one of those big, complicated, costly technologies that can be leveraged in many ways. There’s the underlying platform (server and operating system), the application (the ILS itself), and there are the people involved in managing the system (ILS Administrator) plus the staff using the system.  Some, or all, of these components can be shared across libraries.

For example, a group of libraries can use the same server and application yet operate as independent libraries.  That’s what a group of libraries in Northern California is doing.  They are each part of a shared Koha system hosted by a service provider.  Each library administers its own system and has its own patron records and collection. But they save a lot of money by sharing that platform and that vendor contract, and by not having to manage the operating system and deal with backups and software updates.

Feasibility Analysis and Procurement for Central Automated Materials Handling for Couriers

Peninsula Library System (PLS) is a consortium of nine libraries providing. PLS hosts a shared integrated library system (Sierra) and provides delivery services to 41 locations daily. PLS asked Lori Ayre to provide a feasibility analysis for implementing an automated materials handling system to replace the manual sorting done by couriers.  

Ayre evaluated the delivery volume, materials movement patterns, courier sorting, presorting done at the libraries, delivery turnaround times, and other aspects of the operation.  She provided the PLS Council with several options for consideration including adding a smaller sorter that would operate two waves of sorting, a larger sorter for sorting all material in one wave, providing batch check-in of incoming deliveries at the libraries, and adding an additional delivery day on the weekends.

RFID and Automated Materials Handling Consultation for LINCC Consortium

Working with LINCC to assess materials handling processes, systems, and facilities at member library locations as well as LINCC headquarters. Scope of work includes facilitating a process to guide procurement decisions, making recommendations related to implementing RFID and AMH as a cooperative and guiding the procurement process starting with drafting the RFP and concluding with a negotiated contract with vendor(s).

Open Source Opportunities for Consortia

I'm heading off to Colorado today to talk with a library consortium about some of the exciting opportunities for expanding their services by taking advantage of open source technologies.   What I'll be talking about is the openings created when a library migrates to an open source library system product like Koha or Evergreen.

Here's my starter list of the things library consortia can be (okay, I mean should be) doing: