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Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County
Serving Jefferson County, Ohio Since 1899
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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

June Will Bring a Change of Computer Systems

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 29, 2005

June means summertime, the end of school. To library staff, this June will bring a change of computer systems, and the end of two years of planning and implementation.

Our library is part of a consortium of 68 libraries around Ohio that are automated by a system owned by the State Library of Ohio. The system was started 20 years ago, with the last major computer upgrade completed in 1993. Although the system is continually improved with software upgrades and hardware replacement, the main computer has not been replaced in 12 years. Planning started in 2003 for this change, and the cutover date is June 9.

For the public, the change will not be noticeable.  The Public Access Catalogs in the library, and on your home computers will not change.  That software was replaced last year. The change will involve the machines that run the software, and the programs that the staff uses in serving the public. The entire automation system will move from a text-based, menu-driven product to a Windows(r) based product. As part of that change, we have trained over 1,200 library staff across Ohio in the operations of the new system.

The Computer Center has been preparing to move 5.2 million electronic records and data to the new system. Part of that preparation involved local libraries editing and "cleaning up" records that dated back to the beginnings of the computer system in the 1980s.  In those early days, the specifications for electronic library records were less demanding than today. Specifications for a new system were written, and placed out for proposal by the State Library of Ohio.

It was found that only a few companies could provide a product that could handle the volume and the number of libraries on our system. Following reviews and approval from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, the Dynix Horizon system was selected.  This is a new product from the same company that we currently use. The process of "migration" to the new Horizon system began in November 2004, and has continued daily since that time.

In April, we began limited some data management functions of the system, and next week we will stop adding new materials to the system. From June 3-8, the public catalog will be off-line as the data is transferred to Horizon.

On June 6-8, our libraries will go to a back-up system for checkout and will hold items being returned to the libraries. On Thursday, June 9, the Toronto, Brilliant, Tiltonsville, Dillonvale, and Adena Libraries will be closed to allow the cutover to the Horizon system.

The Main Library and Schiappa Library will delay opening until 2:00 pm to allow downloading and reshelving of accumulated materials before reopening to the public. Friday, June 10 will bring a new system online, servicing one of the largest library consortiums in the United States. Did you know that as part of this system, you could access and request any of the 5.2 million items from the catalog?

The new system retired the term "Public Access Catalog" and replaces it with "Information Portal." It opens the door to allowing a library catalog to access non-library holdings around the world, combining a traditional library collection with worldwide electronic resources.

Our library staff has completed a lot of work to make this transition possible.  We hope you will enjoy the fruits of their labor.