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Now you can check out books online at Shelby County Public Library

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By Spencer Jenkins

Using the Dewey Decimal System at the Shelby County Public Library won’t happen much anymore now that the library has upgraded to a new and more convenient online system.

Customers now can submit an order online for a book at any time, and a library staff member will have it ready for pick up the following the morning, Library Director Pam Federspiel said.

“The public wants more and more things they can do online,” she said. “It gives more functions for the public.”

Library patrons also will be able to access books that the library normally wouldn’t have on its shelves  through “interlibrary loans,” Federspiel said. In this program, requested books are borrowed from another library in a network to be checked out.

This is all the byproduct of an upgrade that closed the library two days last week.

The library’s entire catalog system was required to go through a broad overhaul because The Library Corporation, which is a company providing automation solutions for all types of libraries, had changed all of its systems and no longer supported the hardware and software at the Shelby County, Technical Services Librarian Joyce Lancaster said.

“You just have to keep up with the technology, really,” Lancaster said.

The upgrade included two new data servers costing the library around $12,500, onsite staff training for another $500, software upgrades and a switch to Insight Cable for more band width and data transfer speed.

“Our equipment didn’t support the new upgrades,” she said. “We had no choice.”

Circulation Staff member Nancy Kovach said the new system is going to be fine.

“It may be easier that the old one, once we get used to it,” she said. “It probably gives us more information that the old system.”

Costs of previous upgrades have been offset by grants, but because none were offered this time, the library planned within its budget, Federspiel said.

The library also will add six new public computers in July, adding on Freegal, an online music database, to its online remote database for about $1,700 a year, and it is contracting with a collection agency to assist in recovering overdue library material and unpaid fines, officials said.

After 10 weeks overdue, a patron would be sent to collections, and $10 also would be tacked on to the fine to cover collection costs.