Today is the one year anniversary of RPL going live as part of the SILS consortium. Hard to believe and definitely deserving of a list (or even two!)
Best Things About SILS
1. Patrons (and staff) can now easily get books from any public library system in the province. Especially for smaller systems with fewer resources, this must be a huge boost. But I’ve also come across a lot of books that weren’t at RPL but that I could bring in from elsewhere. Just last week, it was a children’s book by an author friend of mine from my Alberta days. She’s an Alberta girl through and through but published by a big US publisher so there’s a chance her work wasn’t on the radar of our Collections folks. But somebody up in the Wapiti system bought the book and voila, within a couple days of putting a hold on it, the book was in my hands!
2. The system uses proximity-based logic for holds fulfillment so instead of a book going in chronological order for holds (eg. the first person from La Ronge gets it then the second person in Regina gets it then back up north to Prince Albert or whatever), the system tries to get the book to the person on the holds list who’s next closest. In my experience, this has meant I often get holds much quicker than I did in the past, especially because holds can still be filled from anywhere in the province so we also have a much larger pool of titles to draw from.
3. Our catalogue (which is down as I type this – see list below!) is a lot shinier with book covers, tags, reviews, ratings, book reviews and more.
4. I never tire of telling people that we’re now the largest library consortium in the world – both by geographic size and number of individual sites (we have 300+ whereas the State of Georgia has 280 and Toronto Public, the largest in Canada, has 100 branches.) That’s pretty fricken cool!
5. Cake is being delivered to all our branches today to celebrate this milestone. Hooray for cake! 😉
The “Less Best” Things About SILS
1. I’m getting more and more used to it but because of the proximity fulfillment, patrons aren’t as able to manage their holds as in the past. Before, I could see I was 7th on the list for a title and have a pretty good idea of how long until it came in, possibly suspending a hold until I was ready for it to come in. Now, there is no “list” of who’s next to get a book and if the system decides I’m the next one to get a title, it will come immediately.
2. During our training, I often used the analogy that SILS would be like 10 people moving into a house together after living on the same street as neighbours for most of their lives. That’s what the 10 systems who joined SILS were facing and because of that, we’ve had to come up with a common set of rules (“who does the dishes?” in the analogy might be “who runs the daily reports?” in the real world) for everybody, figure out how to deal with money issues and a unmeasurable number of other issues, major and minor, most of which have now been resolved but some are still pending and with new ones cropping up all the time. Of course, given the massive complexity of the project, I’m also amazed that it went as well as it did!
3. With that said, there are still glitches and weird things that happen to this day and I know that can be frustrating for staff and patrons alike. For example, some staff still report that the system seems slower than it should after scanning a patron barcode. (One joked with me: “You shold have included “small talk skills” as part of our SILS Training!”)
4. As noted in my “best” list, we’ve probably had more outages than you would like – even given the massive complexity of the system. (Of course I’m a believer in the idea that even one outage is one too many. The fact that you’re now reading this on WordPress instead of Blogware will attest! Though to be honest, it did take me three outages before I made the leap.)
5. I’ve got to say – the SILS logo is really sub-optimal. (To use Jessamyn West’s euphemism for “sucks”!)