Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alberta Bound

It was great to get out of the office on some customer visits earlier this month. While a colleague who shall remain nameless elected to explore Alberta via the commercial airlines, another colleague and I have a much better sense of the geography between Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Calgary via our many hours in a flex fuel car. We also gained a strong appreciation for daylight until 11 p.m though the return of daylight at 3:30 a.m. was not so welcome.

During our travels we received an excellent history of how Alberta libraries have provided better service across the province via grass roots and increasingly more formal cooperation over many years. Check out The Alberta Library for great examples and thanks to Ernie Ingles, Vice Provost & Chief Librarian at the University of Alberta for the details. Shortly after we left the U of A campus we also heard the good news that Ernie has been appointed President of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries for a two year term ending in 2011.

We headed south to Lethbridge to visit with Chinook Arch and Shortgrass Library Systems. Both provide consortial services to libraries of varying types and sizes across a wide geographical region. Both systems are expanding their public interfaces to provide better access to both the traditional collection and electronic resources. Maggie Macdonald, Chief Executive Officer of Chinook Arch, shared that they have incorporated search of their electronic subscriptions into every catalog search to ensure that their users can easily take advantage of the libraries’ traditional and electronic resources.

Back in Calgary we enjoyed a visit with Calgary Public Library, who recently implemented SirsiDynix Symphony. One of the things that struck me as I walked into the Main Library was how Calgary Public has taken advantage of a few simple technologies to offer extraordinarily efficient services to users who may have just a few minutes to visit the library, check out popular items or pick up holds. Calgary offers a self service hold pickup area and so could you! Calgary prints out hold wrappers that make finding items on hold straightforward while protecting user privacy; self check units stand ready for immediate check out and go.

Now we’re all back home and looking forward to other forays.

-Berit
VP of Product Development

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