Challenges to Mid-Pen and Member Libraries
- Much of the communication among Mid-Pen libraries is done through face-to-face meetings; travel time alone for Mid-Pen staff, member libraries, and the board is 75 work days per year. Although telephone, fax, and e-mail services have enhanced communication among Mid-Pen libraries, there continues to be a need for alternative communications media to conduct the ongoing business of the cooperative.
- Librarians and the public need training to cope with rapidly changing technology. In northern Michigan, isolation compounds the need for information and communication with colleagues. Silver says, “distance education begs to be used in this environment.”
- A community network needs a driving force, usually an individual, to bring a community networked information systems project together. When a community network moves beyond a small group of founders, the project needs a leadership structure and basic rules.
- One community member compared community networking to “cowboys and ranchers on the electronic frontier.” Each partner brings different expectations and values to this new territory. Effective community networking will marry conflict resolution with networking techniques.
- Providing sufficient technical staff to meet the burgeoning requests for technical support challenges libraries.
- “The greater challenge for Mid-Pen will be maintaining the library automation systems,” predicts Silver. At this time, none of the automated systems has an integrated Internet connection. Member institutions share library materials by locating them through an outside vendor’s database (the OCLC – GAC system) rather than through links among their own automated library systems. Setting aside funds now for purchase of second generation systems in the future is a concern.