The Michigan Library Exchange (MiLE) has contracted with epixtech, inc. for their Universal Resource Sharing Application (URSA). The project will link over 160 public, academic, school and special library buildings in southeast Michigan using URSA’s Z39.5o based software. MiLE has been funded through a $125,000 Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Library of Michigan. The OWLS Region of Cooperation serves as the grant administrator for the project.
Accessible from any location, the web-based application allows customers to search a virtual union catalog and place online requests directly with member libraries. The project will rely upon delivery vans to transport library materials to the customer’s home library. MiLE libraries have 24 online catalogs from disparate library automation vendors (DRA Classic, Dynix, epixtech Horizon, Endeavor, Innovative Interfaces, and Sirsi). A common circulation procedure manual has been written and participating libraries have agreed to loan circulating books and government documents, but will not loan reference materials, videos, fiche, maps or software. Materials will be loaned for a three- week period with one week allowed for transit. "We want to make sure that library users and staff find this service easy to use, timely and helpful," said Tammy Turgeon, director of the Suburban Library Cooperative and a member of the MiLE Steering Committee.
"MiLE’s project goals are to test ILL policies and procedures, provide rapid delivery and to test this model for resource sharing in Michigan", said Louise Bugg, MiLE Chair. MiLE anticipates that ILL requests will increase, staff time to fill ILLs will decrease, ILL costs will decrease and customers will get materials faster. Evaluation plans include user surveys, staff focus groups, and evaluation of use statistics.
Software is currently being installed and the Phase I libraries (The Library Network, Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy, Macomb Community College, Plymouth District Library and Eastern Michigan University) will be online by January 2002. Phase II libraries (Suburban Library Cooperative, Oakland University, Cromaine Public Library, Orion Township Public Library, University of Michigan - Dearborn, Walsh College, Oakland Community College, and Botsford Hospital) will be online in March
2002. The remaining libraries, Detroit Public Library, Lawrence Technological University, Baldwin Public Library, Wayne County Community College, Marygrove, Henry Ford Museum, DIA, VA, DMC, Oakland County Law Library and Rochester College, should be online by May 2002.