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The Library is getting an upgrade!

The change of seasons is bringing us the new growth of spring outside, and some exciting changes are happening inside the Orange County Public Library, too!

This month, the library is beginning the transition to a new computer system—called an integrated library system (ILS)—that will allow the library to better serve the county into the future.  The public will see the new library catalog on Tuesday, April 30.

This change-over to a new ILS is part of a larger technology project to provide seamless library services in the county, and includes the installation of the three self-checkout machines in March.

Library circulation has doubled in the last few years!Since moving to its current location in January 2010, Orange County Public Library’s circulation has nearly doubled.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010, patrons checked out 200,000 library items.  In FY 2012-2013, patrons are on track to checkout nearly 400,000 library items.

The self-checkout machines are helping to accommodate this growth in circulation, and the new computer system will provide improved services to patrons, as well as automated collection and circulation management for the library.

What does an integrated library system (ILS) do?

An ILS is a system used to order and acquire, receive and invoice, catalog, circulate, and track library materials.  An ILS is comprised of databases, software, a user interface for library staff, and a public catalog interface for patrons.

What is the new computer system called?

The new system is Sierra by Innovative Interfaces, Inc.   The public catalog is called Encore.


Why did the library decide to make this change?

With the dissolution of the Hyconeechee Regional Library system in 2012, Orange County Public Library could no longer share an ILS system with the libraries in Person and Caswell counties.  A team of OCPL staff from all departments evaluated other systems on the market and determined that the existing system used by Hyconeechee Regional would not serve the library and county into the future.  

The other considerations that factored into the library’s decision to change to a new computer system were:

  • the significant growth in circulation and overall library use, and the need to be responsive to this growth
  • the development of a strategic plan with an emphasis on creating a community-focused library

How was the decision to adopt Sierra/Encore made?

A team of staff from the library, representing all departments, determined the criteria by which the potential systems were judged.  Through a request for proposals (RFP) process, the library solicited proposals from vendors. Five companies responded to the RFP and after a thorough evaluation, the team of library staff invited three firms for extensive hands-on demonstrations.  All library staff participated in the demonstrations.  Once the demonstrations were completed, the team chose Innovative Interface’s Sierra and Encore systems.


What advantages does the new system provide?

The library team selected Sierra for its ability to:

  • allow patrons to use the public catalog as a single search point for the library’s print collections, digital collections, and programs
  • support current operational needs and prepares the library for future growth
  • offer comprehensive, up-to-the-minute reporting that promotes data-driven planning and decision-making for library staff


What new services will be available?

New features in the Sierra/Encore system will be rolled out in multiple phases, starting in the summer and continuing through the remainder of 2013.  Some of these new services will include:

  • Item renewal via text messages
  • Online credit card payments for fees and fines
  • A new events calendar for easier tracking of library programs
  • Find books, programs, magazine and research articles available in the library and online through the public catalog


When will the change take place?

The new system will be available to the public on Tuesday, April 30. Staff will be preparing internally for this transition throughout the month of April.

Will the library be closed?

No, the library will remain open throughout the transition.  However, the library’s services will be limited on April 29, the day before the new system goes into effect.  On April 29, the library will only check out items. Staff will be unable to assist customers with item check in, new hold placement or resolving fines on this day.  Self-checkout will also be unavailable on April 29.

What does this change mean for me during the transition period?

Throughout April, customers may experience delays in receiving new and requested items.   Some processes, such as Interlibrary Loan requests (ILLs), will have to be tracked manually rather than through your library account.  

During the week leading up to this transition, some of the features in our current online catalog will be temporarily disabled, including the ability to update your account information, place holds and renew items.  All of these options will be available when the new catalog comes online on April 30.

In addition, not all data can be transferred from our current system to our new system.  We will not be able to transfer your reading lists, saved searches and usernames.  If you have set up a reading list in the current system, please print or email a copy for yourself by Sunday, April 28.  Your library account, items checked out, active hold requests and outstanding fines will all be transferred to our new system.

Finally, because of the scope of this transition, not all services will be available when we go live on April 30.  A handful of our current services will be temporarily unavailable, including text notifications.  We will be offering this service again by the end of the calendar year.

What does this change mean for me once the new system is in place?

Starting April 30, the online catalog and patron account pages will have a new, streamlined look.  Search results will begin to include online resources that you can access with your library card, as well as hard copies of library materials. Library patrons will be able to rate, review and tag items in the catalog.

Once the new catalog is live, you will be able to request any item available in our system online, and soon you will be able to take care of late fees or other charges online either at home or in the library. 

The way you access the catalog will not change significantly – just enter your library barcode and password as usual to browse and use the catalog.

How can I prepare for this change?

You can return any overdue or lost items fine free from April 14 through May 12.

Review and update your account information if needed. Mailing address, email address and password changes should be completed by April 21.  Also, if you have set up a reading list in the current system, please print a copy as the list will not transfer to the new system.