The Tampa Bay Library Consortium announced that a virtual ribbon-cutting for the virtual Anywhere-Anytime Library Electronic Catalogue (AAL E-CAT) was held today at the Florida Library Association's 76th Annual Conference. AAL E-CAT (pronounced "alley cat") is a virtual catalogue of materials that are available in west central Florida libraries.
Librarians attending the conference were given a sneak preview of the innovative program and the software that makes it possible. The AAL E-Cat uses Universal Resource Sharing Application (URSA) software, an epixtech product, to create a virtual gateway that opens the doors of libraries to users from anywhere, at anytime. The program makes it possible for people served by the participating 18 libraries to initiate requests for library materials using their home computers.
"The librarians at the FLA Conference were very impressed by what they saw," explains Diane Solomon, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium. "They visited the booth in droves to see how the system works. We're not quite ready for the public, but by May 15th or June 1st, we should be. First we have to train the staffs of all the different libraries. However, so far this training has gone extremely well, and those staff members already trained have been overwhelmingly positive. Even the staff members who were a little insecure about the system to begin with now can't wait to show it to the library's patrons because they can see how much it will improve customer service."
By using the Anywhere-Anytime Library Electronic Catalog, a single search by author title words results in locating books and other materials in libraries in four counties contiguous to Tampa Bay. As the name indicates, anyone, anywhere, at any time can use the on-line, Internet accessible catalogue to locate the library-owned materials they need for school, business or personal use. By mid-May, residents of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties will be able to enter their library card number and be authorized to place electronic requests for library items.
Participating libraries for the initial phase of the program include Tampa Hillsborough County Library, SUNLINE (Clearwater Christian College Library, Dunedin Public Library, Florida Southern College Library, Largo Library, New Port Richey Public Library, Oldsmar Public Library, Safety Harbor Public Library, Seminole Community Library, Southeastern College Library, Tarpon Springs Public Library), Pinellas Park Public Library, Pasco County Library System, SPIN (St. Petersburg Public Library, Gulf Beaches Public Library, Gulfport Public Library, St. Pete Beach Public Library), and Sarasota County Public Library.
These libraries are currently served by seven separate library automation systems and utilize four different library management automation products. Until now, residents could only locate materials in one system at a time and had to ask a librarian to initiate requests for materials not owned by their home library. However, through the use of epixtech's URSA system, all materials will now be available to all patrons—anywhere, anytime.
The Anywhere-Anytime Library Electronic Catalogue was funded by a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the State Library of Florida. Barratt Wilkins, State Librarian, cut the virtual ribbon at the official 1:00 p.m. ceremony on April 26th, after which Lana Porter, epixtech, inc. President and C.E.O. spoke about the URSA product. Diane Solomon, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium, introduced the project and thanked the State Library for funding this innovative pilot program.
About the Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC)
The Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC) was founded in 1979 to enable libraries in west central Florida to share resources. TBLC was the first multi-type cooperative in Florida and is currently the largest. TBLC's membership includes 92 libraries—six community colleges, three state university system libraries, 25 private academic colleges and universities, four public school systems, 39 public, and 15 special libraries. Included in the public library member group are two country-wide and one multi-county library cooperatives. The counties served by TBLC member libraries are Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Okeechobee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota.
Through membership in TBLC, libraries in twelve counties serving over 3.8 million Floridians have succeeded in creating a strong library resource-sharing infrastructure.
For further information, contact:
Diane Solomon, Executive DirectorAbout epixtech, inc.
Tampa Bay Library Consortium, 813-622-8252
epixtech, inc. is the leading provider of automation technologies, solutions and services for more than 7,600 libraries worldwide. epixtech's award-winning library automation systems, ConnectLib solutions for patron self-services, desktop management and interlibrary loan, and its new Web-based solutions and services empower libraries and their patrons. epixtech was formerly Ameritech Library Systems, a subsidiary of Ameritech, and became a private corporation in December 1999. epixtech's automation solutions meet the needs of academic, research, public, corporate, consortia and K-12 school libraries. Headquartered in Utah, epixtech has offices in Evanston, Illinois; Waterloo, Ontario; and throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim. epixtech, inc. is located at 400 West 5050 North, Provo, Utah 84604; Tel.: 1-800-288-8020; fax 801-223-5202; and at www.epixtech.com.