Benbrook Library: We Own our Future - A Case Study
Library Location: Benbrook, Texas
Library Information: The library provides free services to all residents living within the Benbrook city boundaries, as well as non-residents.
Meet the Staff: https://www.benbrooklibrary.org/meet-the-staff
Library URL: https://www.benbrooklibrary.org/
Discovery URL: https://discovery.benbrooklibrary.org/
Benbrook Public Library is a special purpose district in Benbrook, Texas. There are only 15 other such library districts in Texas. The City of Benbrook has a population of around 22,000 and we share a border with Fort Worth.
Case study with Steve Clegg, Library Director and Erica Richardson, Assistant Director at Benbrook Public Library.
Koha and Aspen Discovery remove intimidations and gives staff the flexibility to try new things. We have ByWater Support to help staff explore new workflows. This allows us to try and do things differently rather than being pigeonholed into the same routines.
When did you make the decision to switch to Open Source?
Until recently, our library was involved with a consortium based on a legacy product that was administered by a larger public library. Over time, this model proved obsolete for our goals and Koha and Bywater Solutions provided a viable remedy. We made the commitment to switch in June 2020.
Why did you decide to move to Koha ILS?
I have been following open source for several years and value the user-focused model that it provides, namely by a global network of user-experts that contribute to its dynamic ability to adapt to so many library environments. The potential for growth is incredible and this earns my confidence to adapt it to our operation.
How has the cost-savings helped your library?
Due to the high costs associated with reassigning ILS vendors, such as exit services from the former ILS and the implementation and training fees for migrating our data and learning a new system, our library has not experienced a cost savings in its first year. However, the pricing for annual support is well below the costs of our former legacy product. Going forward we are confident we could attract new partners on a cooperative model based on Koha and Bywater Solutions. Aside from getting a more user-friendly interface and tech support, we are able to apply cost savings to the purchase of new products and resources that our patrons can use.
How has this provided new ways of working for staff?
Before leaving the legacy product that was administered by another library, our staff had little direct involvement in managing their ILS and therefore limited knowledge in its functionality and potential. They were simply left out of any decision processes. This resulted in our staff deferring so much to a third party who was not looking after our best interest. With Koha and Bywater Solutions, our staff have access to the full features of our ILS and have the training and administrative support to have the confidence to explore and apply the many features of the interface to our approach to serving our clientele.
What challenge(s) was your library addressing by adding a discovery layer?
We postponed for several years adding any new major digital resources, such as e-books since users must apply their searches in a separate interface. Despite aggressive marketing, users can still be unaware of these expensive collections. The discovery layer places many of these digital resources in the catalog enabling our patrons to identify and access them directly. This is a seismic shift in the way we are able to present our content to our community. We already had OverDrive and now we added CloudLibrary and content from both suppliers appear in our catalog along with our physical titles.
What integrations have you tied into Aspen Discovery?
Upon adapting Koha with Aspen Discovery to our library, we added CloudLibrary and NoveList Select. This was for our first year, which has barely begun. We are excited to anticipate what else we can use to grow our library’s potential in the near and distant future.
Lessons learned from the migration?
The more prepared you are for the migration doesn’t mean a thing because something will still go wrong! Since our previous ILS was still live, our patrons would receive notices about holds available that were inaccurate. It took much longer than we would have liked to have fixed that loophole. We had a bigger issue with receipt printers, so make sure those are tested and the settings are changed to what you need them to be. Other than that, if you have a good staff and attend all the helpful training, Bywater does an excellent job in holding your hand through all the intense questions and ups and downs of migration.
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