PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
The Tiffin-Seneca County Public Library is the latest addition to our computer system.
Tiffin becomes the 73rd library system to join the computer automation system, since its formation in 1988.
Tiffin and Seneca County has a similar population to Steubenville and Jefferson County, but the library system operates just one Main building.
Records of the holdings of their collection have been moved and merged into our SEO system, a process that has taken several months.
The SEO system of libraries spans across Ohio, from Marietta to Bryan.
Libraries literally span from the Ohio River to the Indiana and Michigan borders with Ohio.
The library collections now total over 6 million items, and 800,000 people using the system.
In these difficult economic times, with libraries unable to purchase the number of new books for our collections, the best thing we can do is work collectively in being able to serve the public’s need for information.
The system allows people to perform searches from home, and electronically request items from any of the libraries in the system.
A daily delivery service moves those items around Ohio to the various libraries in the system.
You may have noticed library staff with carts and canvas bags, processing the mountain of requested items that arrive to fill people’s requests.
We were one of the first four libraries in the system in 1988, joined by Cadiz, St. Clairsville, and Woodsfield.
Those early days were spent linking barcodes to records downloaded on floppy discs, to eventually begin circulating online in those early days of library automation.
It is hard today to remember those huge trays of 3 x 5 cards that were common in libraries a generation ago.
Arranged by Dewey Decimal Number and the date due, we used to flip though those huge trays trying not to flip the tray on the floor.
(I only did that once, and it literally took three days to clean up the mess and get things back in order)
The book would be return to the shelf awaiting its next reader.
Once a book was in circulation and checked out, little information was available until it reached its due date.
Many times working the desk, someone would ask me, “This book isn’t on the shelf, is it checked out to someone?”
We had been instructed to say, “Well, yes it must be out, can I place a Hold on it for you?”
Secretly, we were thinking, “Wow, now I have to sift through 8,000 cards to find that book and clip the card.”
Automation has greatly enhanced that information search, and streamlined the process of circulation of the library’s collection.
The more libraries in the system, the better the service to the public.