A Conundrum

lssinewThis week my company, Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI), brought a new library online in Simi Valley.  This is great news for California’s Simi Valley because LSSI is a wonderful company to work with, and now our Riverside County Library consortium has become even larger—which will provide more titles, resources,  and copies of books available to our patrons to borrow.

The conundrum comes when in order to bring the new library integrated system online, our system had to be taken offline.  We explained to our patrons that our computers were down because the company is expanding. “So let me get this right, your computers are down because your system is getting bigger?” This happens occasionally, and in the past it was a labor intensive challenge for the existing libraries.  This week, we knew in plenty of time for me to rearrange my staff coverage, ramp up efficiency in the circulation room in anticipation of the down time, and utilizing the new offline circulation mode in our database system, Polaris, we were ready.

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I found it gratifying that in three days, while serving over 800 patrons per day and launching the Summer Reading Program we only had one customer complaint, and were able to reassure all of our telephone patrons that they would not incur any fines because of their inability to renew items online.  My staff worked well together-keeping the library environment positive, and our cardholders barely knew anything was amiss.  At the ends of the week the monstrous backlog of returned books, magazines, DVDs and Audio-books are checked in, returned to their respective shelves, and business has resumed as normal.

As a result, our library family has grown, we have more titles to choose from, and LSSI is exploring ways to serve exisiting libraries even better.  What looked like a conundrum has become a win-win. Advance notice, advance planning and preparation, combined with a knowledgeable staff kept our library operating at peak performance, even in the absence of our online presence.

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