Background

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Last updated September 27, 2014.

The Crawford County Federated Library System (CCFLS) is a federated library system of nine state-aided libraries and two reading centers serving 93,000 patrons in Northwest Pennsylvania 40 miles due south of Lake Erie. Please note that the most important word in our name is “federated”. In Crawford County, “federated” means that all libraries have to agree. The Meadville Public Library is CCFLS’s headquarters and is the largest library in the system: a medium sized public library serving 38,000 patrons in central Crawford County.

Around 2000, the nine member libraries decided it was time to look into acquiring a new ILS. In 1992, CCFLS had originally installed a standalone ILS (Winnebago Circ/Cat) in each of nine member libraries. Though fast, reliable and bulletproof, by the end of the 1990s it became obvious that a text-based ILS or online public access catalog (OPAC) could not compete in a world of graphical and web-based programs. The old ILS architecture was basically a PC in each library running the circulation (circ) station software, along with one OPAC station networked to it. Only the two largest libraries had standalone circulation servers: Meadville and Titusville. Needless to say, not having a centralized catalog made integrating operations across the system very difficult. In addition, Winnebago could not be searched via the web and was difficult to use for the patrons that were used to a graphical point-and-click environment. Also, since it was DOS-based, Winnebago required Windows on staff circulation stations and OPACs.

By 2000, CCFLS had decided to pursue the idea of installing a centralized ILS. The next part of the story was what ILS would we select? The Information Technology Department thought it was important to look only at OSS ILS options while many of the member libraries thought that only a proprietary closed solution was appropriate.