Early next year, residents will see an improvement in how Rock County libraries operate, local library officials say.
After more than a year of research, negotiations and various approvals, the Arrowhead Library System in 2018 will join the SHARE Consortium, a resource-sharing partnership among public libraries, according to a news release.
For library patrons, the biggest changes will include a much larger catalog of materials to borrow and an improved online catalog interface.
Since 2007, the library system has used the outdated online catalog RockCat, which offers more than 750,000 items library users can borrow. Items not available at one library can be shipped from another Arrowhead library, said Steve Platteter, library system director.
“SHARE is a similar thing, but it’s much larger,” he said.
Under SHARE, the catalog balloons to more than 2.15 million items.
“That’s a considerable increase,” Platteter said.
Library systems in Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties use SHARE. That means Rock County residents will be able to borrow and have shipped to their local libraries materials available only in libraries in those other counties, Platteter said.
“It’s a much larger consortium than we currently have with RockCat,” he said.
RockCat lacks a mobile application, so patrons browsing for materials on their phones have to use a cumbersome mobile browser.
SHARE supports a mobile app that will make it easier for residents to find and borrow materials, he said.
“One feature we really think our library lovers are going to adore is the improved search function. Results will include titles in our digital libraries—Hoopla and Overdrive—in addition to the traditional library collection,” library system spokesperson Tovah Anderson said in the release.
SHARE also will allow patrons to “favorite” authors. Residents will be alerted when their chosen authors publish new books so they can easily borrow them, Platteter said.
SHARE has benefits for librarians, too. Staffers will be able to use mobile devices to help patrons from anywhere in the library instead of having to bring them to the circulation desk to look up items, he said.
“There’s a lot of enhancements that we’re really looking forward to,” Platteter said.
SHARE also will cost less than continuing to use RockCat, making it a win-win, he said.
“Our libraries were really excited with what we saw with SHARE,” he said.
Platteter believes Rock County library patrons will be just as excited about the changes.