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Notes from the Executive Director – November 2017

Did you know that over 60 percent of MCLS members get some of their electronic resources through MCLS, making it the most popular service that we offer? Did you know that 483 different libraries sent staff to at least one MCLS workshop last year? Did you know that dozens of librarians enhanced their community engagement skills through workshops and roundtables sponsored and organized by MCLS? These are a few nuggets from my annual report to the MCLS Board of Directors. I wanted to share a few highlights from my fiscal year 2017 report, which covers the period from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

The MCLS Board has defined goals and aspirations for the organization. It is up to the staff to design the programs and services that will achieve those ends. We do that through a variety of means, but everything we do is designed to keep us aligned with the Board-defined policies.

One policy states that libraries will have access to the information resources and technological tools they need to meet the education, research, and leisure needs of their users. We interpret this to mean that MCLS will help our members in both states get affordable access to the online databases, eJournals, and eBooks that are necessary for them to serve their patrons well, and we have designed our group licensing program around this policy. We negotiate discounts, keep our overhead as low as possible, and help as many libraries as possible provide these resources to their communities. The number of libraries who use our service and the volume of subscription dollars indicates that we are successful. However, we never take anything for granted and would like to build on our success to make sure that we continue to serve you best. This means that we have expanded into streaming media and are looking for vendors who are willing to work with us on discounts and affordable access.

The Board also directs MCLS to find ways to help libraries collaborate on resources and technologies. Last year, we helped the Library of Michigan transform the MeLCat database of MARC records into a database of BIBFRAME resources. It is a big, complex project and has only begun.

In another collaborative effort, we facilitated the investigation into a new library management system for seven academic libraries. We helped write an RFP, coordinated the evaluation, and guided contract negotiations that culminated in a joint contract with Ex Libris for a shared Alma system. The participating libraries will begin migration from their existing systems in January and will go live in two waves, the first in July 2018 and the second in July 2019.

We intend to keep pushing forward. We will work with the Library of Michigan and their contractor, Zepheira, on the MeLCat project to make the linked data more visible through web searches. In the Alma shared system, we will be talking with other academic libraries who may be interested in becoming part of the project. As these projects mature, they will add more value for our members.

Another aspect of the Board’s policy reflects their commitment to education and networking. We worked hard to build more awareness of, and access to, community engagement tools. In Indiana, we sponsored 15 librarians to attend the ALA/Harwood Institute Public Innovators Lab in Atlanta in October 2016. In Michigan, we worked with the Library of Michigan to offer another 1.5-day workshop that featured certified Harwood coaches. We are starting to see some exciting projects coming from libraries that have attended past Harwood events. For us, that’s the name of the game: find ways that libraries can become hubs of innovation in their communities.

Every year we offer dozens of workshops on a wide variety of topics. FY2017 was no different. We offered 108 workshops, which attracted 1,369 attendees. Topics were diverse, from RDA for Non-catalogers to Here Come the Robots: New Tech & Gadgets for Your Patrons. We sponsored some special programs, too. In September 2016, our Reading Redefined: Deep Reading, Learning, and the Impact of Digitization was a hit. This program, a collaboration with the Cooperative Directors Association, the Library of Michigan, the Michigan Academic Library Association, and the Michigan Library Association, demonstrates our commitment to work across organizations to offer more continuing education.

Our Linked Data Summit in March was one of the highlights of the year. By using videoconferencing tools to offer the program in both Indianapolis and Lansing, we expanded our reach to many more libraries. The program brought everyone up-to-date with the latest on linked data developments and projects in our region. The formation of a linked data users group was an unexpected off-shoot. The users group is just getting off the ground. We invite anyone with an interest in linked data to join the conversation.

These are only a few of the highlights of a very busy and productive year at MCLS. Keep an eye on the MCLS website to stay on top of everything that is happening now.