By the Numbers

Scott ThomasUncategorized

Here are some impressive SPARK numbers:

Population Served by SPARK Libraries: 1,512,639

Titles: 1,287,992  (100 percent increase over last year!)

Copies: 2,727,846

Circulation:  (May 15-April 16): 3,831,881 (48 percent increase over last year!)

Patrons: 559,669 (Increase of almost 60,000 over last year!)

Library Service OutByTheNumberslets (Live, Migrating, or Committed): 105

Scott ThomasBy the Numbers

SPARK Users Group

Scott ThomasUncategorized

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?

Mina Edmondson from the York County Library System talks to attendees about open source.

Mina Edmondson from the York County Library System talks to attendees about open source.

Scott ThomasSPARK Users Group

New Feature: Update from the Executive Director

Scott ThomasUncategorized

ScottA 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 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.


Presenting at PaLA Chapter Meeting in Bellefonte.

Scott ThomasNew Feature: Update from the Executive Director

Stumped by Reports? Try this video.

Scott ThomasUncategorized

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.

Scott ThomasStumped by Reports? Try this video.

SHAREiT Update Completed


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.

lugeneSHAREiT Update Completed

Scott Thomas Named New PaILS Executive Director


The Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Integrated Library System (PaILS) has selected Scott Thomas as the Executive Director replacing Lewis Maurer upon his retirement. PaILS is a non-profit corporation that oversees SPARK, an open source, Evergreen-based ILS shared by over 80 Pennsylvania libraries.
Thomas comes to PaILS from he Scranton Public Library (Lackawanna County Library System) where he has served as Head of Information Technologies / Technical Services. He holds a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Columbia University and a Master’s in English from the University of Scranton. He was the recipient of a PaLA Certificate of Merit in 2013 and is an adjunct faculty member at Northampton Community College.  Thomas has been involved in efforts to establish a shared ILS in Pennsylvania since 2009 when he was tapped to serve on the “Statewide ILS Task Force” convened by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.
Bill Schell, President PaILS Board of Directors, York County Library System and Martin Library Association, “The PaILS Board is delighted to have Scott Thomas as our new Executive Director, following a nationwide search.  As a charter member of Commonwealth Libraries’ task force, Scott was instrumental in the origination of an open source ILS for Pennsylvania. Scott has been instrumental in the growth of PaILS, leading the migration of more than 40 libraries to the SPARK platform. His will be an important voice in the software development of Evergreen!
Mr. Thomas assumes leadership of PaILS on December 16th.


lugeneScott Thomas Named New PaILS Executive Director

Upgrade to Evergreen v2.9 Scheduled


PaILS is happy to announce that we will be upgrading SPARK to Evergreen version 2.9 later this year. The test environment will be upgraded on Nov. 11 and the production server will be upgraded on December 17. I will be in touch with more information about webinars and other information pertaining to the upgrade. Here’s the description of the improvements and enhancements that will come with v2.9
  • 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.


lugeneUpgrade to Evergreen v2.9 Scheduled

Full Time SPARK System Services Coordinator


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!

lugeneFull Time SPARK System Services Coordinator

SPARK Migrations Booked for 2015 – Queuing 2016 Migrations

Spark AdminNews

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

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.

Spark AdminSPARK Migrations Booked for 2015 – Queuing 2016 Migrations