Unexpected and continuing problems with the transition to the Tacoma Public Library’s new catalog and circulation system has delayed the reopening of Tacoma’s Main Library, library officials announced Wednesday.
“We have been caught by surprise by this latest development,” said library director Susan Odencrantz. According to Odencrantz, all library records were successfully loaded into a testbed server in early September and used for training staff. The test transition was successful, however, “our vendor, Innovative Interfaces, has now twice tried to load the actual records into our primary servers during the final process and both times they were unsuccessful.”
Loading patron and catalog records into the server is a time-consuming process which takes several days and, until the process is completed, the library does not have the ability to check out materials to its patrons, nor can patrons access the online library catalog. At this point, the main library will be closed until 2 p.m. on Mon., Oct. 29. Branch libraries will open as scheduled at noon on Tues., Oct. 30.
“We are as frustrated as our patrons are with this delay,” added Odencrantz.
Library staff are working closely with software engineers at Innovative Interfaces, but as the library director explained, “it is really in their hands at this point. There is not much more we can do until they identify the problem and create a solution that allows them to successfully load our records.” Library staff plan to work with the engineers at Innovative Interfaces throughout the rest of this week and the weekend to get the new system up and running.
Innovative Interfaces, based in California, provides Integrated Library Systems to thousands of libraries of all types in over 50 countries. Work on the migration to the new catalog and circulation system began last year at the Tacoma Public Library.
According to library officials, the new system will allow visitors to find books, movies, articles and more with one search; easily access downloadable AudioBooks and eBooks; refine searches to find exactly what visitors want; search what is currently on the shelf; and place a hold on an item that is currently checked out or on order. It also allows parents to view reading levels for the books their kids read. The new system also allows online library users to find out when items are due back and renew on-line; save reading histories; create lists of titles for research or future reading or listening; sign up for SMS (text) alerts on mobile devices; and make a recommendation that the library purchase an item. Eventually, library patrons will be able to pay library fines online.
More information is available online at tpl.lib.wa.us.