OCLC web-scale management services benefit Simpson library


REDDING, Calif. – Planning for the future has its perks. When Simpson University Library's server crashed on December 13, 2010, its staff were able to go live with OCLC Web-scale Management Services (WMS) within one hour.

The journey leading up to this critical point began in June 2009, when Larry Haight, Director of Library Services, and Eric Wheeler, Reader and Digital Services Librarian, questioned the reliability of their existing server, which was then seven years old. When they investigated costs to replace it, they realized that two-thirds of their costs were for services.

"Prior to becoming a WMS early adopter, we didn't rush the process," said Larry. "We had been watching the progress that OCLC had been making with WMS—and it simply came down to significant cost-savings and features. We presented our case to all of the appropriate groups at our university, all of which agreed with our assessment: WMS was the way to go.

Located in Redding, California, Simpson University is a private Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate and teaching credential programs. With just over 1,300 students, the library owns 150,000 titles and has two full-time librarians, three part-time support staffers, and student workers.

"WMS had features that many integrated library systems couldn't offer," continued Larry, "such as federated live searching, social media capabilities like user-generated lists and individual user accounts. And, WMS offered targeted searches of items available through our local network as well as worldwide searches."

Along with the university's ILS changes, Simpson was also in the process of migrating to a different Web platform supporting extra catalog functions. At one time, these needs were served by Simpson's prior ILS, but like the old catalog, librarians were increasingly convinced that the platform no longer served their Web needs. In coordination with the library's WMS project, the digital services department engaged in a project to integrate this new platform with WorldCat Local functionality.

Throughout the migration process, again Larry emphasized that they did not rush the process. With a small staff of employees, it was important that they maintain the level of customer service that students expected of them. In February 2010, they sent MARC records to OCLC for a batchload reclamation project, which revealed some issues with their control numbers. Once their 001 line issues were resolved in March, they proceeded to implement WorldCat Local 'quick start' and Link Manager.

"In August 2010, we went live with our new library Web page," said Larry, "which provided users with two search options: one using WorldCat Local 'quick start' and the other using our 'classic' catalog. We wanted to transition our users over a nine-month period. Then in October, we worked with the university IT team to migrate to OCLC's EZproxy for streamlined authentication.

"Just a few short weeks later, on December 13, our server crashed. We were on the phone with OCLC immediately and went live with WorldCat Local via WMS within one hour. Throughout the remainder of the semester, we added Knowledge Base and went live with WMS' Circulation and Acquisition modules."

"Overall, we are very pleased with the progression of events. But if we had to do it all over again, we may have done things a little differently," suggested Eric. "We probably would consider reducing the overlap time between our former ILS and the new system. And we could have been better early adopters. By engaging more in the community and self-service resources OCLC has provided, we could have publicized our internal discussions with each other and OCLC and thus contributed more in terms of helping to shape this new cooperative service."

"We have developed good relationships with folks at OCLC, which has allowed us to better direct any questions we might have to the appropriate person," Larry added. "And, having frequent online user group sessions with other early adopters and attending training webinars—these have allowed us to learn from others as well as share what we have learned.

"There is no doubt that there are great benefits to cooperation. For our library to be a participant as a WMS early adopter and to make a contribution to the profession and to the development of WMS in a cloud-based environment has been very profound. As a collective group of libraries, we will save a lot of money as a direct result of our cooperation."


Article courtesy of the OCLC website
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