Roanoke Valley Libraries (RVL), consisting of libraries in Botetourt County, City of Roanoke, City of Salem, and County of Roanoke, has signed on to implement OCLC Wise, the first community engagement system for public libraries.
"Many people are familiar with the online catalog," notes Ann Tripp, Salem Library Director. "OCLC Wise is that, and so much more." A traditional integrated library system (ILS) keeps records of the libraries' collections and users. In contrast, a community engagement system like Wise makes it easier for users to discover and interact with the many experiences the libraries have to offer.
Formerly storehouses for books, public libraries have become community centers with a broad array of resources and experiences for all ages. "Libraries are more about people than things," states Toni Cox, Acting Director for Roanoke County Public Library. "Our libraries have changed so much over the years that the traditional approach of a collection-focused online catalog is no longer enough to meet our patrons' needs."
Wise is different; it's designed around people, not the collection. It supports libraries' continued shift into dynamic centers of activity and expands the impact libraries have on their communities. A holistic, people-centered system, Wise takes community engagement and collection management to a new level by combining the power of customer relationship management, marketing, and analytics with ILS functionality, such as checking out books.
With Wise, RVL patrons can expect a personalized, easy-to-use online platform and personalized profile to help them discover what they want to read, find, and experience at the library. Wise allows people to identify things they're interested in, from new books to upcoming events, and be automatically notified when something is added that they might like. There's also a mobile app, which allows people to easily search the catalog, manage their account, scan ISBNs, get notifications, share on social media, contact the library, and more from their smartphones.
"We often hear people say, ‘I didn't know you had/did that!' when they talk to our staff," says Sheila Umberger, Roanoke Public Library Director. "OCLC Wise will make it much easier not only to find what you're looking for, but also to discover and take advantage of opportunities you didn't know existed at your library." OCLC Wise is a tried-and-true product in Europe, recently adapted for use in U.S. libraries. "RVL is excited to join some of the most innovative public libraries in the U.S. by adopting OCLC Wise as our new community engagement platform," notes Julie Phillips, Botetourt Library Director. "We're an early adopter, which means we have a big voice in how this product is developed to meet our users' needs." There may be minor glitches along the way as the product develops, but "that puts us on the cutting edge of technology that meets our communities' needs and expectations in a way most libraries can only dream of," states Phillips. "We just ask for a little patience during the transition process!"
RVL plans to implement the new Wise community engagement platform this fall.