NEWS ABOUT THE NEW THREE-CITY LIBRARY ALLIANCE
The Public Libraries of Bridgeton, Millville, and Vineland are forming a new alliance in order to assure excellent library service for the residents of the three cities. Forced by recent events to replace the old CLUES system, staff and Trustees of the three libraries took several weeks to study all the modern library computer systems on the market and to compare and explore their many features. Once a front runner was selected, the three library directors negotiated an excellent price.
At the center of the alliance is a brand new software product called Sierra, created by Innovative Interfaces, Incorporated. The three libraries are among the first in the nation to showcase Sierra, which features a more user-friendly format than the system used by CLUES.
Annual costs for Sierra are also less than for the CLUES system, which is being abolished by the Freeholders and the County Library Commission in what they call a “money-saving initiative”. Earlier this year, County officials maintained that abolishing CLUES and moving all the local libraries to a group in Gloucester County known as LOGIN would save the County budget a great deal of money. Because there was no such savings to be had by the municipalities, the three city libraries objected strongly to the abolishment of CLUES, which had provided the basis for reciprocal county-wide borrowing enjoyed by all local residents for over two decades.
Now, it seems, the County Library may not be saving anywhere near what they’d hoped by joining LOGIN. But the three city libraries – after purchasing Sierra - will be definitely spending less than they did for CLUES and also less than they would by following the County Library to LOGIN. They intend to use the money saved in order to purchase more library materials for local residents.
Staff members at the libraries in Bridgeton, Millville, and Vineland are excited about the catalog-searching features of Sierra and expect it to be well received by library users inside the library and from their personal computers at work, school, or home. In addition, Sierra offers many upgraded staff-friendly features that make behind the scene tasks like cataloging books and other materials easier and quicker.
Officials of the three municipal libraries believe that better service will be provided by creating the new alliance than by following the County Library to the Gloucester group. They feel that a locally-based service is a better way to serve the needs of more than 114,000 people who live in the three cities. Maintaining shared service among the three city libraries will improve patrons’ access to locally owned library materials. For most patrons, the changes will look like business as usual, since the three libraries will continue to share many services as they have done for decades. However, during the transition from one system to the other, there will be periodic service interruptions.
Details of the new alliance are being worked out, including choosing a name that describes the level and scope of services being offered. There is work underway now to get ready for the switchover to Sierra. In order to clean up the materials and patron records – the major database used by the new software – the three city libraries will restrict some services for a short period of time. Vineland Library has prepared a FAQ – a list of Frequently Asked Questions – that describes the changes for our patrons. The new system will be fully operational within a few months.