Thursday, October 04, 2007
New Software, New School Year, New Day
As most everyone knows, we began September without functioning software, and we anxiously awaited installation and training from Auto-Graphics, the company that sold us our new product. On September 6 and 7, we were inspired, cajoled, and tutored, and we “came up” on September 10. The first two weeks were times of frustration and anguish. The staff saw in the training how great the system was, and the public was fascinated by our new look, with the pictures of the book jackets gracing the screens of their chosen titles, and the ability to search books by the Accelerated Reader Program levels. We were also feverishly trying to implement all the behind-the-scenes decisions that must be made, and the staff needed to cope with not only the changes in how things get done, but with the fact that the earlier software degradation caused additional issues. I got an email from Valerie in the wee small hours of the morning (we were both at home, working on the system, evidently!) and she noted that having access 24/7 to the software just might not be such a good idea, after all! It all would have been a lot different if we had been granted some transition time from the old to the new, but we were just extremely lucky that the Commissioners came through on the purchase, and the new vendor charged in to bring us back to the electronic era.
We are now at the end of our first month with Agent Verso. There are still many procedural issues that await answers, there is a lot of tweaking still going on in the administrative end of things, and the webpage interfaces continue to be re-designed and coordinated. But our stress levels are lowering (although Rhonda says the brain cells die with each new change) and our ability to know “about” where a function can be done in the system is getting better. After all these years, I was able to send the County Auditor a report on the value of the collection – our library items, not counting buildings and furniture, total a whopping $1,611,947.01. We think the libraries are priceless, of course, but at least we have some valid arguments for proving that now.
While all of this was going on, the school year began, and teachers and students pushed our already successful year to what looks like a new high. Our basic computer instruction classes began again, our pre-school Story Time programs all cranked up to great success, and our day-to-day operations continued. Staff members made trips to the schools for short talks, and to local day care centers and the Met HeadStart for programs. The meeting rooms continue to get heavy use at Winnie and Anahuac; we lost our bookings module with the old software, and are trying to make use of Google Calendar to ensure that all the organizations who have signed up before are still listed. We updated our Chambers County Clubs and Organizations Flyer in time for GatorFest, and we are currently embarking on a program to feature local “celebrities” on posters in the library. Look for some of your favorite people on our walls the next time you come by!