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February 11, 2000

UW System "Library of the 21st Century" Links all Campus Libraries

MADISON -- The University of Wisconsin System's 21st century library made its debut at the Board of Regents meeting this Friday, Feb. 11, when a "virtual ribbon cutting" officially opened the new, systemwide automated library system.

Sen. Alice Clausing D-Menomonie, joined Board of Regents President San Orr, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall and others at the event.

"Senator Clausing made higher education a priority last year in the Senate majority caucus, and we are grateful for that show of support," said Regent President Orr.

The automated system allows all students and faculty throughout the UW System's 13 universities and 13 two-year colleges to access the vast cumulative resources available in all the institutions' libraries, regardless of their location.

"Four years ago, we envisioned a 'One System, One Library' catalog for the UW System, an electronic gateway to the more than 20 million books, journals, maps and other documents housed in campus libraries statewide," said Orr. "Today, I'm pleased to report, that vision is fulfilled."

Students and faculty can use the web based "Voyager" system to view the card catalog, remotely check out books from other campuses and have them delivered to their home campus by delivery trucks that operate between the campuses. Access to the card catalog is available via the web at any time, accommodating both on-campus and distance learners. Wisconsin residents who are not students can work with their local campus to check out materials.

"The Voyager library system means that students and residents throughout this area now have the same library resources available to them that are available to students in Madison or throughout the UW System," said Clausing.

"That means, for instance, that students at UW-River Falls and UW-Stout will be able to select from over 8 million books and 71,300 periodicals. This greatly expands on the 223,000 books and 1,300 periodicals that are on the UW-River Falls campus and the 211,650 books and 1,890 periodicals available on the UW-Stout campus," said Clausing.

Others joining in the virtual ribbon cutting for the new library system were Sen. Mary Panzer, R-West Bend, Rep. John Gard of R-Peshtigo and Rep. Julie Lassa, D-Plover. Also present was a representative of Gov. Tommy Thompson, who Orr said was a strong proponent of the library initiative.

"Calling this a phenomenal success is not an overstatement," said Edward Meachen, UW System associate vice president for learning and information technology.

"Good planning and hard work by the librarians coupled with financial and political support from the State, the Board of Regents, the System and campus leaders enabled this project to be completed on time and on budget," said Meachen.

The local campus libraries come together electronically to form a collective resource of more than 20 million books, journals, government documents, maps, sound recordings, films and other resources.

The Library Automation Task Force began its work in 1996, establishing goals that the system make library resources "accessible, available and affordable," said Kathy Pletcher, associate provost for information services at UW-Green Bay and co-chair of the task force.

The task force worked with the Endeavor Company's product called "Voyager" because it had an easy-to-use web interface, was highly rated, and had a track record of satisfied customers, said Pletcher.

"The ongoing hardware and software maintenance was less than the current automated system, producing an annual savings systemwide of $700,000," said Pletcher. The implementation process, which began 13 months ago, included:

-Database conversion for bibliographic, patron and fine records

-Mapping data across systems

-Integrating third party software

-Upgrading staff and patron client workstations

-Training staff and end userS -Determining new workflows, and

-Creating governance structures for dealing with consortium issues.

Ed Van Gemert, assistant director at UW-Madison's Memorial Library, coordinated the implementation process, and each campus has a library automation manager who guided the effort on campus, working with catalogers, circulation staff and reference librarians to build local systems.

Pletcher said the Board of Regents, Thompson and the Legislature deserve thanks for approving $7.3 million for UW libraries in the last biennial budget.

"This represents the first increase that the UW libraries have received in 10 years," said Pletcher. "We are buying more books, we have acquired new digital resources, and we are implementing five day a week delivery for resource sharing. The greatest library automation system in the world cannot make up for a lack of current library materials," said Pletcher.

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