The BEACON project is a collaborative effort among school and public libraries in north Iowa to implement an affordable integrated library system and information access consortium.
Participating libraries are entering in phases. Phase I libraries included 21 school libraries from 6 districts: Algona, Fort Dodge, Gilmore City-Bradgate, Newell-Fonda, Southern Cal, and Storm Lake. These libraries received training in early August 2009 and are using their new systems. Twenty-four public libraries are scheduled for Phase II implementation in early January 2010 with an additional twenty-five libraries in Phase III coming on-line four months later in April 2010. Additional school and public libraries will be in Phase IV which is scheduled for August (2010.)
Participation in the project is entirely optional and allows for a streamlined workflow, high quality MARC cataloging records, the potential for sharing resources, and provides efficiency due to elimination of individual servers and server maintenance since all participating libraries have a single NILC-purchased server which is housed and maintained by Prairie Lakes. The library automation system is compatible with most student information systems which allows for an automated system of entering and maintaining updated student and teacher information and elimination of the need to re-keystroke user information.
The project grew out of expressed needs of school and public libraries to have a robust, state-of-the-art automated circulation system that would meet the needs of the participating libraries at an affordable price. Many libraries had outdated systems which were no longer supported and many libraries did not have maintenance agreements which placed their data at risk of loss. Libraries desired a customizable web site and also were interested in a shift from individual to collaborative efforts.
A non-profit cooperative, NILC – North Iowa Libraries Collaborating – provides the administration of this project, as well as other collaborative library projects. The board of directors includes representatives of school and public libraries as well as Barbara Shultz, Administrator of the North Central Library Service Area, and Harriet Adams of Prairie Lakes AEA.
After much time, effort, and research, TLC – The Library Corporation, was selected as the vendor for the BEACON project. TLC has scalability in its library automation products (Classic, LS2, LS2 Kids) with ease of use for smaller participants and also allows for more complex applications for larger organizations.
The BEACON project is shining light into the future of library collaboration. For additional information on this project, please contact Harriet Adams.