The big news is 71 people attended the annual SPARK Users Group Meeting in State College last Thursday. This is a record! Attendees got to travel in the SPARK Time Machine to hear about the recent past and the future, receive an introduction to Evergreen 2.10, hear reports on the Evergreen International Conference, and learn about tips and tricks for Cataloging, Circulation, the SPARK Catalog, and Reports. Let’s not forget the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues in other SPARK libraries. Can we break 100 next year?
A lot of great things are happening with SPARK, and I feel it is important that everyone is kept up-to-date. To that end I am going to be posting regular updates to www.sparkpa.org. My first post has a spring theme. With another Pennsylvania winter well behind us, everyone is having meetings and gatherings. I had the pleasure of speaking at the District Library Center Meeting in Hershey on April 25th. On May 13th I presented “Open Source ILS: Is it right for my library?” at the PaLA Juniata Conemaugh Chapter Spring Workshop in Bellefonte and, on Monday, May 16th, I co-presented with Mina Edmondson of the York County Library System at the PaLA South Central Chapter Workshop in Harrisburg. Our topic was “Open Source ILS: Making the Transition.” It is great getting out and meeting everyone in the PA library community.
If you feel baffled by SPARK reports, give this video a try. It gives a great overview of the basics:
Thank you to Elizabeth Davis and Christina Thomas at the Scranton Public Library for putting it together.
PaILS / SPARK is now on Facebook:
Please “Like” us. Also, feel free to send us your SPARK-related content (Photos, Anecdotes, Favorite Features etc.). This would be much appreciated!
SPARK’s first 2016 quarterly update to Pennsylvania’s AccessPA SHAREiT database has been completed. PaILS provides this service at no additional cost to our member libraries.
- Evergreen now supports placing blanket orders, allowing staff to invoice an encumbered amount multiple times, paying off the charge over a period of time.
- There is now better reporting of progress when a purchase order is activated.
- The Acquisitions Administration menu in the staff client is now directly accessible from the main “Admin” menu.
- There is now an action/trigger event definition for sending alerts to users before their accounts are scheduled to expire.
- When registering a new user, the duplicate record search now includes inactive users.
- Evergreen now offers more options for controlling whether and when users can carry negative balances on their account.
- The web-based self-check interface now warns the user if their session is about to expire.
- The “Manage Authorities” results list now displays the thesaurus associated with each authority record.
- Item statistical categories can now be set during record import.
- The web staff interface preview now includes cataloging functionality, including a new MARC editor, Z39.50 record import, and a new volume/copy editor.
- The account expiration date is now displayed on the user’s “My Account” page in the public catalog.
- Users can now sort their lists of items checked out, check out history, and holds when logged into the public catalog.
- The bibliographic record source is now available for use by public catalog templates.
- The public catalog can now cache Template Toolkit templates, improving its speed.
- On the catalog’s record summary page, there is now a link to allow staff to to forcibly clear the cache of added content for that record.
- Google Analytics (if enabled at all) is now disabled in the staff client.
- Several deprecated parts of the code have been removed, including script-based circulation policies, the open-ils.penalty service, the legacy self-check interface, and the old “JSPAC” public catalog interface.
Lugene Shelly, SPARK Coordinator and Director of Williamsburg Public Library begins full time as SPARK System Services Coordinator on August 1. Lugene will continue to provide support to PaILS member libraries only better; she will be available full time! In her expanded leadership role, Lugene will coordinate the development, implementation, management and maintenance of the SPARK Evergreen Open-source Integrated Library System to ensure optimal performance and use for member libraries and their customers. She will draw on experience as member of the greater Evergreen community, to provide technical expertise in the decision-making and planning processes for PaILS as well as coordinating implementation of new services and projects developed with and delivered to Pennsylvania libraries. Congratulations, Lugene!
Tamaqua Public Library, Shamokin and Coal Township Public Library & Schuylkill Haven Free Public Library signed PaILS membership agreements in January.
The PaILS cooperative will grow to 64 libraries in 2015! York County Libraries went live on SPARK in January, Lackawanna County Library System will “Go Live” in March and Pottsville Free Public Library, Minersville Public Library, Tamaqua Public Library, Shamokin and Coal Township Public Library & Schuylkill Haven Free Public Library will migrate later in the year.
It’s no secret that libraries are frustrated with their traditional ILS vendors. Dissatisfaction ranges from loss of control over development direction to surprise costs for new features and improvements. That’s why libraries large and small across Pennsylvania are joining the PaILS* cooperative and using SPARK, the open source ILS running Evergreen software hosted and supported by its developers at Equinox.
SPARK offers intelligent and library-centered design with remarkable levels of adaptability and customization. And membership in PaILS offers the opportunity for you to be directly involved in software development and setting the direction for the future of the ILS and the PaILS cooperative. PaILS is an organization of, by and for Pennsylvania libraries.
The ILS is one of your library’s most significant investments. Shouldn’t you love it and the relationship you have with its developers? Now you can…by participating in PaILS and SPARK to enrich the library experience for patrons and staff.
PaILS is now queuing libraries for 2016 migrations. If you are considering an automation change for your library and want to find out about PaILS and SPARK contact Lew Maurer, PaILS Executive Director Lew.Maurer@SparkPA.org.
Recent comments from Pennsylvania librarians:
The PaILS vision for a collaborative, participatory ILS for Pennsylvania libraries can result in better access to collections and more effective use of resources across the Commonwealth. We are excited to be among the early adopters of SPARK, and we encourage other libraries to take a closer look at this product.
Mary Garm, System Administrator
Lackawanna County Library System
An open source ILS can be intimidating for libraries that have limited technical staff. SPARK allows LCLS to step into the open source world by collaborating with other libraries in Pennsylvania. You can tell that it is an ILS designed by library staff because it supports what really happens at a library circulation desk or when a patron uses the catalog. Community, openness, functionality—everything we were looking for in an ILS.
Scott Thomas,Head of Information Technologies and Technical Services
Lackawanna County Library System
The OPAC looks great, and the staff is enjoying the new experience. I am very happy with our decision to move to SPARK.
Elaine Mykolayko, Director
Frackville Public Library
We are pleased to be able to join SPARK, the statewide, open-source ILS. We look forward to collaborating with other Pennsylvania libraries and be a part of its continuing growth and development.
Nancy J. Smink, Library Director
Pottsville Free Public Library
*This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Thomas W. Wolf, Governor.
Over the past 12 months, PaILS has gone through a stunning turnaround and during that time the SPARK ILS has proven remarkably reliable and robust. Our members are happy and so far in 2014, PaILS has signed 6 agreements adding 21 libraries to the consortium; Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, Ringtown Area Library, Frackville Free Public Library, Orwigsburg Area Free Public Library, Ashland Public Library and the 16 libraries in the York County Libraries system. When new migrations are complete there will be over 50 Pennsylvania libraries enjoying the benefits of SPARK, the freedom of the open-source model for development and the satisfaction of having their voices heard and needs addressed in the PaILS cooperative.
Here is what Pennsylvania librarians are saying:
“I’m really happy with the ILS and it meets our needs well. I’ve worked with the system in three separate libraries and it’s been a good fit at each one.” – Ashley N. Flynn, Director Highland Community Library
“Our testing team “looked under the hood”, “kicked all the tires” and “took it for a spin”. Each team member was impressed with the functionality SPARK provided in the areas they tested. The standard modules met our basic needs and we frequently had WOW moments when we realized the scope of SPARK functions. We look forward to being the first system to use some of the recently developed areas of SPARK and to build relationships with other SPARK libraries.” – Mina C. Edmondson, District Library Consultant York-Adams District
“The Equinox folks are very responsive to our support needs. We really appreciate this, especially as a smaller library.” – Jayne Blackledge, Director North Wales Area Library
“Open source systems have come a long way from the early days. We experience virtually no downtime and appreciate that there are no hidden costs with PaILS.” – Lyn Meek, System Director Cambria County Library System
“SPARK delivers a stronger system than we would have been able to afford on our own. As libraries change, it is great to be part of an organization that is responsive to our changing needs.” – Brady Clemens, Director Juniata County Library
To find out more, visit: Join / Benefits.