Marshall library to offer on-line access for reserving, renewing materials

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The Marshall Public Library is joining the more than 8,000 other libraries using Sirsi software and providing patrons access to the library through the Internet.

iBistro, an Internet library system for public libraries, will allow families and individuals to do virtually everything they would do at the library at home or anywhere else they have Internet access.

In order to train staff, the Marshall Public Library was closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for two days. And although the library is again open during its regular hours, staff members are continuing to learn all they can about the new system.

When their training is finished and the new Unicorn Library Management System is fully installed and ready for use, the library will be accessible to individuals unable to visit the library in person. By about the first week of August, which is when the library hopes to have the system going "live," patrons will only need to go on-line to go to the library.

"They will be able to reserve books, renew books, search the card catalog, make requests and send us comments, all from the comfort of their home," said staff member Priscilla McReynolds.

Receiving training from Sirsi Corporation representative Jane Soehngen, library staff will be able to help patrons adjust to the new system. The library had been using its old system, the Winnebago system, for 10 years, so there will be some differences in operations. However, the library staff is confident users will adapt well and be happy with the new system.

The system was made possible for use at the library through a grant awarded late last year. The state library granted Marshall the choice of a new automation system, and the result was software from Sirsi.

Explaining the system, which has been around for more than 10 years, Soehngen took time to go through the Electronic Library Web site the library will be using. A Kids' Library will help children navigate through the site using pictures, which they can click on to search for various types of books or topics and there are also pages with quick resources such as style manuals and reference materials for students or others doing research. The site is connected with other pages on the World Wide Web and can link to an abundance of information sites.

One section of the site is called My Account. Soehngen explained that users can create their own account and by the click of a mouse find out which books they have checked out from the library, when they are due or which books they have on reserve. The Marshall library's card catalog will also be accessible from this page, with users having access to a search to find out if certain books are available at the library.

Confident that the new system will be a benefit to the Marshall community, Forbes said patrons who normally come to the library will continue to do so. She said the new technology will be a better way to cater to the needs of different people, because those who are unable to get out to renew their books or who simply prefer to do their browsing at home can do so whenever they please.

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