Selection and Implementation of a Digital Management Software Solution: A Public Library Experience
David Bott and Greg Smith from St. Catharines Public Libary
I hadn’t intended to see this session Friday afternoon, but the convenor was a no-show and therefore I was it by default. This was definitely a how-to session which is good because I think that’s exactly what the audience wanted. What is interesting here too is that David is not a librarian but is the Manager, IT and Networks and Greg is Manager, Systems and Technical Services. So this is a great example of librarian and IT cooperation. Librarians are always asking how to talk to IT folk, maybe they should ask Greg (although he is a systems librarian and took the computer networks course at Niagara College, so maybe he’s not the typical librarian).
Greg walked us through the main things that they had to consider, first of all deciding which collection they were going to digitize and then discussing the factors involved. He also discussed how they were able to receive a grant for this which reminds me – if you are ever offered a grant writing course while doing your Masters, take it (or if you can take a course at a local university or colelge). I’m pretty sure it was covered in the course : Prospect Research and Fundraising at FIMS and I had classmates who took it and learned a lot. I think grant and proposal writing is another area that all librarians should learn because many are going to have to write something eventually!
David then talked a bit more about the techie sides of things. They had certain elements they wanted, like the ability to move their data if they so choose. Basically the idea is to plan well. While the grant pretty much covered the software and most hardware, remember that the this can be used in future projects. They started off with just working on a database for the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta but now are also working on a local names index. Also don’t forget to collaborate! For their Henley database they worked with local Museums and I think even with some rowing organizations. This sort of collaboration is especially good when you are applying for grants.
Another thing to keep in mind too is the use of a consultant. Unless your library already has a lot of extra employee time, when first installing and setting up the software/hardware and training employees, you may consider using a consultant. Since David and Greg were the only two who were really working on this at the start, and of course they had lots of other duties, they did have a consultant who came in and did everything in a few days. David said it was better than him trying to do it himself, and then maybe missing something or making a mistake and having to do it over or spend time on the phone with support. A lot easier just to do it that way.
So these two men pretty clearly outlines the whole process (I wish I took better notes) and they even included the price range for what they were looking at (5 yrs ago) and they broke down financially how much was spent on software, hardware, work time, etc. so it gave delegates an idea of what it really takes.
The session did seem to be well received and there was so much discussion that I had to cut them off because the next speaker wanted to come in to set up and I had to run off to convene for another session!