Automation Services Annual Report

IN TIMES OF PROFOUND CHANGE, THE LEARNERS INHERIT THE EARTH, WHILE THE LEARNED FIND THEMSELVES BEAUTIFULLY EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH A WORLD THAT NO LONGER EXISTS.
cleadot.gif — AL ROGERS, GLOBAL SCHOOLHOUSE NETWORK In a year of change for libraries as well as for all of society, the Automation Services department of the Camden County Library has had to learn a great deal quickly. With a new Supervisor, a relatively new Principal Library Assistant (promoted to Assistant Supervisor May 10), and a new Computer Operator hired in June, only one member of the departmental staff had worked for the department over eighteen months at the start of 1995. Not only were there internal changes in personnel, there were external changes which shaped the year: opportunities for new projects which grants afforded, developments in software and technology which allowed us to reach goals unforeseen at the end of 1994.

To best characterize 1995 in terms of automation at the Camden County Library, we could call it the “Year of the Internet. ” Far sooner than we thought we could, we facilitated graphical access to the Internet for public, staff and school users. Further, we have helped set in motion programs for Internet awareness and training which have fostered great enthusiasm in customers and staff members alike.

Another major focus of 1995 made it the “Year of CamNet.” CamNet really began its full flowering in this year, as we coordinated with Garden State Cable, area schools, EBSCO, and KAPS, Inc. to provide a highly improved access to the Internet and other electronic resources. Over half the school districts in Camden County made commitments to participate in 1995.

1995 was also the “Year of the Grants.” Our department assisted in obtaining four grants and contracts to undertake projects such as upgrading our 56K Internet line to a T1 line, purchasing a new Alpha computer, networking the PCs in the Children’s department, installing community information kiosks in the main library and branches, and offering public Internet access. Together the four grants and contracts totaled $72,284.

On February 10th, I participated in a focus group on the S1RLC technology standards for electronic gateway libraries. It is gratifying to know that we have moved a long way in this past year toward becoming what was defined as an electronic gateway library — the library of the future, adapting to rapid change and accommodating the growing demand for electronic resources of many kinds. The past year, our tenth year as an automated library, has been one long adventure, full of learning, change, opportunities, frustration, and ultimately progress. It has been an exciting privilege to lead a department that has done so much to forward access to automated resources in Camden County.

OUR MISSION, ROLES, AND VISION

Our departmental mission is to provide the best technology and related services we can to help further the library’s mission to meet the recreational, informational and educational needs of our public. Automated services have taken a central place among our library’s resources, in 1995 more than ever as we added five public Internet stations to the main library, launched a library home page on the World Wide Web, and made Netscape available to users of CamNet. We networked the children’s multimedia PCs, got Haddon and Gloucester connected via CamNet, and procured a multitude of new equipment: terminals, printers, barcode readers, modems, and more.

Our departmental roles as providers, teachers, and explorers of technology for our library and our customers are carried out in our vision, which in turn supports the library’s vision. We have striven to adapt our technologies and services to our public’s changing needs and environments by adding Internet capabilities. We have formed the Catalog Access Team to look at ways to smooth the transition to using DRA’s Information Gateway as our default catalog, and to help our public overcome fear of computers.

1995’s expanded Internet capabilities have also furthered our vision of employing the best technology available to improve access to global resources. Modeled on the Internet awareness sessions offered to staff in November, Internet sessions will be scheduled for the public in 1996. These as well as the hands-on training sessions for the Reference staff (coordinated by a training Reference librarian, with assistance from us) have helped foster our vision of educating library staff and the public about new technologies and assisting staff in using them. And while planning and carrying out new projects, we have striven to maintain high quality in existing automation by providing maintenance, troubleshooting, upgrades, reports, backups, and all the routine things necessary in an automated environment

To keep this report coherent, it is organized according to the goals of the library’s Strategic Plan 1994-1998 and the activities or accomplishments of the Automation Department which helped fulfill these goals. Goals of the department’s own 1995 Strategic Plan are also covered.

GOAL 1: MARKETING

We did several things to help market the library (specifically, the library’s automated resources) in 1995. For instance, we conducted a patron survey of “CamCat,” the Gateway access to the online catalog, to find out what people thought of it and what we could do to make it as likable as possible.

We carried out activities of the department’s 1995 Strategic Plan largely by working with the Public Relations Department. Lois and Sue worked on posters, flyers, press releases, and other announcements to publicize improvements and changes in library technology such as the new Internet access and advances in CamNet. Together with Garden State Cable and PR, we coordinated a May 1 groundbreaking” ceremony for CamNet that drew several area school administrators. librarians. and staff as well as the press.

We did informational demonstrations of CamNet for interested staff members, school librarians, and the Library Commission. We also submitted automation information to The Staffer to help keep staff informed of automation events. | Marketing will continue to be a major focus in 1996, as we invite private and \, parochial schools to join CamNet, continue to offer public and CamNet training/awareness ~ sessions, and work to publicize new technological developments. Our work with the Council on Library Resources in 1996 should prove especially fruitful in this regard.

GOAL 2: HIGH QUALITY

The Automation Department helped fulfill objective C, strategy 1 of the library’s long-range plan (formation of a human resource development system) by coordinating WordPerfect training, writing and circulating handouts on the use of email, the World Wide Web, and other resources, and doing one-on-one mini-training sessions with staff when necessary. We helped with programs for training staff in the use of the Internet and made plans to develop programs in use of the Gateway and other resources. All these activities also contributed to the fulfillment of objective C, strategy 3: empowering staff to play an active role in problem solving, by making sure they have the technical skills they need on the job.

Objective E, strategy 1 of the library’s long-range plan (to develop a comprehensive technology plan by January 1995) was not entirely met, but we made great strides by hiring a consultant from Digital Equipment Corporation to help us plan for long-range wiring and equipment needs at both the main library and the branches. We attended workshops and seminars, from the DRA Users’ Conference to a session on the future of networking hosted by Cisco Systems. By these sessions and through reading and networking with other technology professionals, we honed our knowledge of technology developments and trends to assist in the planning process. Also, through developing a 1995 Strategic Plan for the department and by reshaping this plan annually, we hope to take an organized approach to technology development throughout the library system. With technology changing so rapidly it is hard to make comprehensive plans very far in advance.

Participation in committees and teams both inside and outside the library helped further our goals as well as our department’s staff development. Our staff were involved in, among other things, the Building Program Revision Team, SJRLC’s Technology Committee, the SJRLC Technology Fair subcommittee, the Catalog Access Team, the Circle Committee, the Disaster Planning Team, Train the Trainer, and the CamNet Committee (or “CamNettee,” as it became known).

Objective E, strategy 3 of the long-range plan (to make our online catalog more user- friendly) began to be met in 1995 with the formation and labor of the Catalog Access Team. This team will complete its work in 1996, training all staff on the use of the Gateway in March, making the transition to using the Gateway in April, and providing as much one-on- one and regular small-group assistance and training to our customers as possible.

We partially met objectives of the department’s 1995 Strategic Plan to re-organize our department, divide tasks more logically, and train others to take over more routine responsibilities. While we have more to do in this area, especially in tandem with the library’s overall plan for staff development, we have been able to better utilize our Computer Operators by assigning them duties such as software installation, troubleshooting, routine maintenance, and inventorying. This work will continue and extend to training staff outside the Automation Department itself to use computers and do minor troubleshooting independently. When Gani Lescano left in April, we were able to increase his Computer Operator position to 19 hours each week and schedule the hours during the day; this has also helped us deal with our workload.

GOAL 3: ACCESS

Of the four goals, access received the greatest share of our attention in 1995. We helped meet objective F of the library’s long-range plan (to increase use of popular and educational materials and information in a variety of formats) by providing public Internet access to worldwide resources in an electronic format, as well as by improving CamNet access to the Internet. We upgraded our line to the Internet from a 56K to a T1, providing our staff and customers with 24 times the data throughput. With help from Reference and PR, we instituted a homepage on the World Wide Web as a handy guide to resources both in-house and worldwide. We helped CamNet users get started with Netscape, a graphical interface we had not thought would be feasible to use for at least another year or two.

Objective H, strategy 3 (to improve bibliographic instruction to assist users in accessing resources, especially those in electronic format) was met as we gave workshops for CamNet customers on how to use CarnNet resources. We also produced written instructions on searching the World Wide Web, using the Information Gateway, and accessing other resources.

Activities included in our departmental 1995 Strategic Plan also improved access to information for our users. We activated automated telephone renewal and worked with the Catalog Access Team to improve the catalog interface. In 1996 we plan to activate automated telephone notification, sparing our staff a good deal of the notices workload as well as saving money on mailers.

We networked the two children’s multimedia PCs and ordered extra memory, improving both the speed and the amount of access: now two customers can use the same CD-ROM program simultaneously. In 1996 we plan to install the long-awaited CD-ROM LAN for the Reference area.

We installed new terminals such as the one in the Children’s Department workroom, ran regular and special reports, and created Lotus worksheets for the use of various departments. We connected two branch libraries to CarnNet in December, giving them Internet capability as well as a cheaper link to us. In the coming year we plan to put public Internet stations as well as EBSCO terminals in all three branches.

In May, we provided email access to the National Electronic Open Meeting for anyone who wished to make their views on technological development known to the government. Later, we served as a beta test site for EBSCO’s Remote Host software in 1995; we set up direct access to their Remote Host and made it available to CarnNet schools.

In 1995, we upgraded both our VMS and our DRA software, set in motion the bid process to buy a new, speedier Alpha computer to replace our aging VAX, and purchased new modems and extra phone lines to provide improved access to LibraryLink. The Alpha and modems are to be installed in 1996. With about 9,000 connections to LibraryLink in 1995 and about 3.000 to the Remote ILL access the modems have been very popular.

Throughout the year, we worked with Camden County College Library on a joint venture to improve access to resources at both sites: for a fee, the college library will use our DRA software, and we will combine bibliographic and patron databases, allowing cross- borrowing for all our users. In 1996 our catalogs will be merged and the college brought online via CamNet.

Midway through the year, we discovered that a necessary Logicraft upgrade would preclude continued use of new Baker & Taylor CD-ROMs. We helped provide updated B&T access by starting microfiche subscriptions for the branch libraries as well as continuing the CD-ROM subscription for use on two PCs only.

Throughout the year, we continued to resolve automation problems both large and small. Some, such as electronic ordering, have remained intractable, but we will continue to pursue solutions into 1996.

GOAL 4: SUPPORT OF USERS

CamNet’s development helped meet objective J, strategy 3 of the library’s long-range plan (to develop relationships with school administrations) as well as strategy 4 (to develop pilot projects with selected schools). Forty-five schools (including Camden County College) made commitments to join CamNet, and over half of these were hooked up by the end of 1995. We carried out several strategies from our departmental 1995 Strategic Plan which helped CamNet progress: we applied for a grant to fund a new computer and T1 line, added new resources to CamNet in the form of Netscape and our homepage links, and worked with CamNet providers to keep improving and fine-tuning the network. We gave CamNet user seminars and did a demonstration of CamNet for the Camden County Educational Media Association at their 7th annual mini-conference. We also gave an informational demonstration for the Library Commission.

Objective N, strategy 3 of the library’s plan (to develop a coordinated system of community activity information) began to be met with the receipt of a grant to develop Community Information kiosks in the main library and branches, as well as improve the community information database. This work will be ongoing in 1996.

Awareness and training sessions for CamNet users, staff, and the public on Internet resources also contributed to user support and will continue to be a major focus in the year ahead. Finally, by working with staff to troubleshoot a multitude of hardware and software problems, we tried to teach them (when feasible) to do minor troubleshooting of their own, in order to become more self-sufficient. This teaching process will continue and, we hope, be supplemented by formal computer training for key library staff in 1996. We began exploring various training resources in 1995.

IN CONCLUSION

We look forward to continuing the work begun in 1995 towards meeting library goals for greater access, better marketing, more support of users, and higher quality service. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work in a library where there is a common vision, where we strive to provide our customers with the best possible access to informational, educational and recreational resources. In so doing, we not only serve the citizens of Camden County; we also position ourselves as a central player in the ever-advancing information age.

Respectfully submitted,
Lori A. Schwabenbauer, Supervisor
Linda Babli, Assistant Supervisor
Della Stewart, Computer Operator
Harry Buscher, Computer Operator
2 February 1996