During the spring semester the Lawrence Technological University's library staff will begin what should be a smooth transition from the current Sirsi library system to the all-new cloud computing-based OCLC WorldShare Management Services, sometimes called OCLC WMS.
WorldShare Management Services is a completely new way to deliver library services. The user will not be aware that all transactions are taking place off-campus at the headquarters of OCLC in Columbus, Ohio. When it was founded in 1971, OCLC was originally the Ohio College Library Center, but it has grown to become the world's most influential source of bibliographic information, with over 1.8 billion holdings from 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.
Lawrence Tech has been a contributing member of OCLC since 1977, and nearly all of its cataloging records have been imported from OCLC. These records are also the primary source of sharing books and articles among libraries and are the basis for the library's current interlibrary loan system.
"We have decided to parlay this relationship with OCLC into a stronger one and become the WorldShare Management Services' next new member, among the very first libraries in Michigan and the Midwest to do so," Library Director Gary Cocozzoli explained.
Although the library's Sirsi system is robust, continuing with Sirsi would require an investment in replacement parts for the system, additional payments for new services like mobile apps, and the acquisition of at least one new server. The current TechCat catalog software is no longer being supported and would have to be replaced before any further system upgrades could take place.
With that in mind, the librarians started to consider other systems, including open-source software. Nothing seemed ideal until the newly created WorldShare Management Services became available for libraries in late 2011.
WorldShare Management Services streamlines the entire library process starting with the order of an item, the finding of the item, and the item's checkout and return. It requires little to no campus maintenance, no servers and no special equipment. Lawrence Tech's IT support staff will be free to assist the library with new services rather than slogging through day-to-day backups, dealing with technical issues, and going through the difficult process of upgrading the software at least once a year. All that will be taken care of by OCLC.
As WorldShare Management Services members develop new applications, other members can share these "apps." WorldShare Management Services is standards-based and its members work together to create a library system that is functional and efficient. "The idea of working together with other OCLC WorldShare libraries is an exciting aspect of this move," Cocozzoli said.
OCLC WorldShare Management Services also adds a Discovery platform, a white-hot new concept in the library world.
"Imagine searching one interface and getting all of LTU's books, all of the books from other libraries, and journal articles from the majority of LTU's 100- plus databases all at the same time through a single common interface," Cocozzoli said. "If LTU does not own the book or article, the request can be placed for an interlibrary loan right from the interface."
A Discovery platform as a stand-alone software would be extremely expensive to introduce, but one will be included with LTU's subscription to WorldShare Management Services.
Initially, not all of LTU's 101 databases will be in WorldShare Management Services, but the majority will. All of the current databases will still be searchable through their native interfaces.