Friday, April 28, 2017

End dates for Link+ borrowing: ILS Update #2

Migrating to a new Integrated Library System (ILS): Update #2

As Shana mentioned in her last post, migrating to a new Integrated Library System (ILS) is a major undertaking for our library, requiring careful planning and collaboration. This complex project has technological, conceptual, educational and philosophical dimensions.

As we learn more about the capabilities of the new systems we're adopting, we are thinking strategically about our goals and values, weighing risks and benefits, and making difficult tradeoffs. 

Last fall, we made the decision to migrate to Ex Libris Alma as our new ILS in order to pursue the benefits that come from a modern system architecture and interface design. We believe that our new system will be more interoperable, functional, and visibly easier to use. 

One of the few drawbacks of the new system is that it is currently incompatible with the popular Link+ borrowing network, to which our library has contributed for the last two years. Link+ is tied to the outdated system we are leaving, and the scope of its collection is decreasing as other libraries decide to make their own migrations. (For example, nine California State University libraries are also leaving Link+ and migrating to Alma - coincidentally on the same day as Armacost Library's move - decreasing its collection by a third)

As soon as we became aware that migrating to a new system might compel us to withdraw from Link+, we began investigating our options for replacing the functionality we'd lose. 
  • Link+ put a prominent request link directly into our catalog's interface, so we could search the holdings of other libraries immediately after an unsuccessful search of our local collection. Our new discovery system (Ex Libris Primo) includes single-click functionality for expanding a search to other libraries and for placing requests for items not found in our local collection. 
  • Link+ made managing requests easier for library staff, by automatically transferring descriptive records between libraries behind the scenes. Libraries with programming know-how are leveraging Ex Libris' advanced technology to create similar interconnections using traditional interlibrary loan. 
  • Another popular Link+ feature was the speedy courier delivery. Typically libraries offer courier service only as part of a formal resource sharing partnership such as Link+ or Rapid. Some libraries set up courier arrangements with each other outside of a formal partnership, but this requires footing the monthly bill for the courier service and negotiating a borrowing arrangement that balances each library's workload. 
Vendors are working to allow libraries running our new system to participate in Link+, and we're following those efforts closely. If the cost and technology lines up for us, we may be able to rejoin Link+ some day in the future. However, for now, we've had to set a timeline for withdrawing from this service, just as the CSUs are doing. The two dates you need to know are:

Friday, May 12 is the last day we will accept Link+ borrowing requests. 
Friday, June 2 is the deadline for getting Link+ items you've borrowed back to Armacost Library. 

We will only have a few weeks to get books back to the libraries from which we borrowed, so we need your cooperation in returning your Link+ books promptly. 

Thanks, and best regards,
Sanjeet Mann
Arts & Systems Librarian
Armacost Library

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