POMONA, Calif., August 28, 1996 -- A long-term project to bring electronic library services to residents of a rural nine-county area of northern Michigan has culminated in a system that enables World Wide Web access to resources of 46 participating libraries, as well as links to statewide and out-of-state networks.
The expanded patron access offered by the Northland Interlibrary System (NILS), Alpena, Michigan, is made possible by the purchase of Impact/ONLINE services from Auto-Graphics, Inc., Pomona, California, a leading supplier of network solutions for libraries.
NILS is the cooperative effort of 19 public libraries, 14 branches, nine schools, two community colleges, two special libraries and a library for blind and physically handicapped patrons. The cooperative serves 160,000 residents of a 5,000 square mile region.
"We have been building a regional database of machine-readable records since 1983, and in 1992 we established a goal of providing our services online," said Rebecca Cawley, executive director of NILS. "However, the telecommunication costs were a seemingly impossible barrier until the recent availability of Internet capabilities."
In 1992, NILS upgraded its catalog of more than 300,000 titles and 470,000 holdings from microfiche to CD-ROM, using Auto-Graphics SharePAC module for providing records via CD-ROM format.
The new Impact/ONLINE family of products from Auto-Graphics that bring the database to full network status with a common user interface include:
- Impact/ONLINE PAC (Patron Access Catalog) for in-library workstations not connected to the World Wide Web.
- Impact/ONLINE ILL (Interlibrary Lending) for automating the initiation, tracking and management of interlibrary loans.
- Impact/ONLINE WebPAC, which enables patrons from their home, school or office to search the NILS union catalog via the World Wide Web. Search strategies range from browsing for author, title or subject to the research level in which Boolean operators link multiple and often complex criteria.
- Impact/ACCESS uses Impact/ONLINE WebPAC as the common user interface for easy access to published information databases.
NILS is an excellent model of how smaller library systems can adopt information age technologies with a limited budget, according to William Kliss, chief operating officer at Auto-Graphics. "They need to leverage their existing resources, while implementing new services where and when it makes the most sense."
NILS, for example, has utilized a series of federal grants from the Library of Michigan to reach its present level of capabilities in several stages. The CD-ROM database can continue to be effective, where appropriate, by linking it to the network access system. The PAC, ILL and WebPAC services can be implemented one module at a time, according to needs and resources of each library in the system.
"We have been determined to provide local call access to the NILS database for every library and citizen in our region," Cawley said. "This is an admittedly difficult task considering the rural nature of our area and the limited resources available."
But, all goals are very close to being achieved with the latest grant that enables World Wide Web facilities for catalog access and interlibrary loans, she added.
Modem pools have been established in eight locations, while a toll-free number is available for access from all other locations. The latest grant also enables access to a full-text magazine database.
Founded in 1950, Auto-Graphics, Inc. (OTC:AUGR) has capitalized on new technology as it becomes available, providing information publishing and database resource sharing systems to the publishing and library communities.