Original Date: 01/22/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Watauga Regional Library Network
The Watauga Regional Library partnered with East Tennessee State University to develop a regional library cooperative network to deliver state-of-the-art library management technology to the ten public library systems in the region. The network and its services were implemented in 20 months, a relatively short period of time given the major, simultaneous changes required to enhance the libraries, many of which were being automated for the first time.
The Watauga Regional Library (WRL) is an agency of the Tennessee State Library and Archives of the State of Tennessee. Its mission is to enhance the ten public library systems in the northeast Tennessee counties of Carter, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington. Prior to 1998, the scope of services provided by these ten public library systems ranged from minimal to state-of-the-art. Most were small, underfunded operations with minimal staff and no automated capabilities. Other obstacles included difficulty in obtaining collection materials among library systems; no source of regional collection information for the public; separate library catalogs with few online; and barriers that hindered library systems from networking and employing cooperative enterprises. In 1998, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) obtained the state-of-the-art Voyager library management system which provided the ideal partnering opportunity for the WRL to re-engineer its role in support of its mission.
The servers installed at ETSU for Endeavor Voyager were large enough to support the library automation needs for the WRL’s members. The Library immediately focused on developing a collaborative structure among the public libraries to transform them into a cooperative system of interconnected resources. The resulting network maximized the resources of each library system so that everyone acquired state-of-the-art capabilities and online real-time access to collections and resources available throughout the system. By refocusing its operation, WRL doubled the amount of staff time it devoted to working directly with the public library systems and initiated a courier service that delivers interlibrary loans.
The network and resulting services were implemented over a 20-month period, a relatively short period of time given the major, simultaneous changes required to enhance ten public library systems. WRL became the system provider of communication networks and services including systems administration, web page editing, training, and catalog coordination. Each library’s local computer network is connected via T1 lines to a central router at WRL. This router, in turn, is connected via T1 lines to ETSU’s server which contains the library management system software and database.
By facilitating local library cooperation, the WRL Network enables cost savings particularly in the area of library management automation. The cost of a comparable, stand-alone system with the same services would have been approximately $107,772, while the actual first-year, shared startup cost was $9,260. The main reason for the large difference is cost sharing. The WRL Network also takes advantage of Federal discounts in telecommunications equipment, lines, and Internet access, allowing the public library systems to direct their resources elsewhere.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.