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September 26, 2012

Central Ohio libraries combine resources

Central Ohio libraries will combine resources to offer more than 1,000,000 titles for patrons as new library partners join CLC in 2013.

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Libraries, and Southwest Public Libraries have made the strategic decision to join the Central Library Consortium (CLC) in 2013. This partnership results in 11 library systems serving 1.4 million residents across six counties with nearly 1.2 million titles, doubling the number of titles all of those libraries currently offer their customers.

"This will dramatically change the face of public library use in Central Ohio,” said Grandview Heights Public Library Director Mary Ludlum, a CLC founding member and the CLC Administering Library. “It is a thrill to join forces with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Libraries, and Southwest Public Libraries. The sharing of these resources not only helps Ohio public libraries save money, it offers unprecedented access to materials for the public. This is a dream come true.”

The CLC is a 25-year-old partnership among library systems who share materials, resources, servers, licenses, group purchases and even staff while remaining strong, independent library systems. Libraries in the consortium include: Alexandria, Fairfield County, Grandview Heights, Marysville, Pickaway County, Pickerington, Plain City and Wagnalls Memorial.

“We are very excited about this partnership and we think it’s a wonderful opportunity for all of our library systems,” said Ryan McDonnell, CLC Governing Council chair and the Director of Marysville Public Library. “The CLC Governing Council voted unanimously to welcome Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Libraries and Southwest Public Libraries into the consortium. This will open so many doors for our library systems and more importantly, for our customers.”

This opportunity presented itself when Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Libraries, and Southwest Public Library chose to make Polaris Library Systems its new Integrated Library System (ILS) because all of the libraries in the CLC also operate with Polaris. An ILS is the core software that manages library business. It keeps track of items the library purchases, materials that have been borrowed, customer information, fines and fees, everything a library needs to control inventory and communicate with customers. The Columbus Metropolitan Library Board of Trustees voted today to make Polaris Library Systems its new vendor for its ILS. In that same meeting, the Board voted to join the CLC.

“Joining the CLC is a win-win for libraries and our customers throughout central Ohio,” said Patrick Losinski, chief executive officer of Columbus Metropolitan Library. “Polaris will give us the ability to better manage our resources, connect with customers and reduce costs. Our current in-house system has stood the test of time but it is now time to move into the next generation of library service and new technology.  All governments and non-profits have been challenged to look for ways to collaborate, save resources, and offer better services.  Libraries have been and continue to be at the forefront of this movement.”

Put simply, any customer from any of the libraries in the CLC will be able to borrow materials from any library in the consortium. Sharing services and materials will standardize customer experiences within the systems, making them more efficient and less costly. All these library systems appreciate the value of collaboration in a time that funding from the state has been diminishing.

"Polaris has been great for our current members,” said CLC Executive Director of Information Technology Wes Osborn. “We can offer effective resource sharing while allowing each library system to maintain its own identity. The CLC staff looks forward to building on our proven ILS platform by adding these new partners."

Columbus Metropolitan Library, Southwest Public Libraries and Worthington Libraries have been partners in sharing a catalog and materials for over 20 years so they have already seen success with sharing materials.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to advance our goal of increased resource sharing and excited about the possibility of greater collaboration and cooperation among public libraries in central Ohio and beyond,” said Worthington Libraries Director/Chief Executive Officer Chuck Gibson. “It will help us better meet the information demands of the communities we serve in a time of diminished state funding for libraries.

“This partnership demonstrates to our community, legislators and other stakeholders that we understand the need to think differently and collaboratively in a time of diminishing dollars,” Losinski said. “By investing in advances in technology and strategic partnerships, we position ourselves as an organization ready to meet the needs and demands of our customers and communities in every strategic way we can.”

“There is a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time,” said Columbus Metropolitan Library Collection Management Director Robin Nesbitt, ILS project manager. “But in the end we believe this move will save money, make our library systems better and our customers happier.”

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