Public and college library systems work together

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

Hampden-Sydney College and Central Virginia Regional Library (CVRL) (Farmville and Buckingham) have entered into a partnership to share their catalogs, according to Central Virginia Regional Library Director Rick Ewing.

“Pretty soon you’ll be able to go to either online catalog and see what all three of the libraries have to offer,” Ewing said. “Plus, you’ll be able to use your CVRL library card to check out books from H-SC and vice versa.”

“Access to our library collections is being ‘merged’ through a shared integrated library system, and our collections will be cross-searchable, but in no way are we merging library buildings/services/ staff/subscriptions/finances,” Hampden-Sydney Bortz Library Director Shaunna Hunter said in clarification.

There will also be weekly courier services between the regional and college libraries, so you’ll be able to find a book at Hampden-Sydney’s Bortz Library and have it delivered to the Farmville or Buckingham public libraries, Ewing said.

“Right now we’re looking at Sept. 22 as a go-live date,” Ewing said. Courier services will start the following Wednesday.

“To make this possible, CVRL switched to the same catalog system that Hampden- Sydney uses,” Ewing said. The system is known as SirsiDynix. “Brent Roberts, Dean of Longwood’s Greenwood Library, kind of got the ball rolling. This is kind of a big deal in the world of libraries.”

The idea was first raised during the pandemic in a meeting attended by Roberts, Hunter and Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library Manager Morgan Hayes. Technical Services Librarian Maryska Connolly-Brown of the Hampden-Sydney Bortz Library was brought to later meetings about the subject for her technical expertise, Roberts said.

The group was in a meeting “just to compare notes to see how it’s all going in terms of the pandemic,” Ewing said, noting that he himself was absent. “Brent’s a really smart guy. He said, ‘Hey, have y’all ever thought about developing a partnership?’ Everyone was all in. He said, ‘Well great, let’s do it.’”

“As part of that conversation, I suggested a shared catalog, and both Morgan and Shaunna expressed interest,” Roberts said. “We have had several subsequent conversations, and I’m very excited about the public library and Hampden-Sydney College sharing a catalog.”

“The only thing that made sense was to move to Hampden-Sydney’s system,” Ewing said. “We jumped on it. It’s very simple for a small library to migrate. For large academic institutions it’s a lot harder, but it’s a way more complicated thing.”

Ironically, Ewing said, Greenwood Library may not be able to join in right away. “I think there’s some desire to look into joining,” Ewing said. “It’s just a heavier lift for an academic library.”

Hunter credited Roberts with the idea as well, and thanked her staff for their efforts in making the merger possible, especially Connolloy-Brown, “for being instrumental in communicating and aligning policies between Bortz Library and CVRL, assisting CVRL in the migration from their previous library system to the new one, technical set-up of the new system, and many hours of hands-on training.”

Ewing is excited about the shift, he said.

“This is kind of a big deal in the world of libraries,” Ewing said. “It’s a big deal in the library world, but I hope it will also be a big deal to the public to be able to get these materials, especially now.”

Roberts agreed.

“Sharing a catalog just makes great sense,” he said. “Sharing a library catalog is a win for all involved, in terms of greater access to resources, streamlined workflows, and improved resource sharing for university students and faculty, and as well as members of the greater Farmville-Prince Edward community.”

“Isn’t it grand that the public will have easy access? Between our collection and Hampden-Sydney’s collection, there’s very little duplication. They don’t have what we have and vice versa,” Ewing said. “It’s time that we share a lot more and this is the way for us to do it.”