PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
Last Wednesday morning, the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library in northwestern Ohio joined our automation system.
They became the 68th library system to migrate to our cooperative of libraries sharing one database, making a total of 150 libraries with a collection of 5.4 million items.
The Findlay system has a main library, bookmobile, and a branch library in Arlington to add to our system.
The data transfer has been ongoing over the past month, with the final loading of data taking place during the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Our automation system had its beginnings in southeastern Ohio, when the State Library announced that it was automating its Regional Center in Caldwell in 1985.
We joined with Cadiz, St. Clairsville, and Woodsfield to form a cooperative of libraries and began online services in 1988.
Little did we know that by 2006, one-fourth of Ohio's public libraries would join the southeastern system, today called SEO, "Serving Everyone in Ohio."
Findlay could see the advantage of cooperation with many of its neighboring libraries in Defiance, Celina, and Bowling Green already in the system.
Just down the road from Findlay, even the small Hardin Northern Library in Dunkirk is a member of SEO.
What makes the whole thing work is the spirit of cooperation within SEO. Daily delivery service moves the requested library materials among the 150 libraries.
Many libraries own the same popular titles in their respective collections, but there are many other items owned by only a few.
With the automated system, the public can access the system from computers outside the library, and place their own requests for pick-up at their local library.
Local cooperation has taken another step as local libraries have started standardizing their operating procedures with the automated system.
Recently, public libraries in Belmont, Harrison, Carroll, and Jefferson Counties met to begin the process of standardization.
Common loan periods, the same overdue charges, common renewal policies will reduce differences among the 8 libraries and 24 locations in the four counties.
It only makes sense with the public funding public libraries.
I was recently touring a college campus with my son, and the tour guide mentioned that their library could obtain materials not owned by the library "within 4 to 6 weeks."
We looked at each other, knowing that our public library is online and we can request any item for next day delivery.