Part of the process

I am ever so glad to add my congratulations to Pillsbury Baptist College, Crossroads College and SELCO/SELS on their Go-Live Day. See the SELCO/SELS website for the story and photos.

This project has been a long time in the making . . . perhaps longer than even I am aware of. Getting 2 academic libraries online is a pretty substantial task. Even getting to the point where they were ready was not an over-night process. Implementation of a collaborative automation project began with several visionaries.

About 8 years ago when I was working at SELCO, I got a call from the Dean at then Minnesota Bible College (MBC), now Crossroads College, inquiring about getting their library online with a larger entity. I met with the librarian Dr. Mahan about the possibility. Along with other staff colleagues, we talked about possibilities, and had another meeting with the college’s technology staff. Their network infrastructure could not handle the demands an integrated library system required. Furthermore, SELCO was then in the midst of selection and ultimate migration to a new library automation system. Certainly not a good time for anyone to think about such a formidable venture. And soon it appeared that the dreams for a connected college library were not going to happen when the college was sold.

Meanwhile, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (PBBC) was also looking to enhance and expand library service to its students through joining the regional and state library catalog. With the leadership of new librarian and visionary, Nancy McGuire, this library also was preparing to join the broader library network. PBBC had the foresight to affiliate itself with OCLC and coordinate through MINITEX a barcode schema that would eventually readily integrate into the MnLINK network. When I first met Nancy at a SELS annual meeting, she shared her wishes for the library to be integrated into a larger network, although tempered her remarks with caution that the time was not yet right for such a big step.

Over the next few years, the lines of communication stayed open and librarians from both colleges participated in regional library events. The region supplemented their interlibrary loan service and the colleges and the region collected data to use to substantiate the benefits of network integration for both libraries.

I like the biblical term “in the fullness of time” which is particularly appropriate with these religious colleges. So, in the fullness of time everything came together that the college library catalogs would be incorporated into the regional catalog, and through that into the statewide MnLINK catalog.

Jim Godsey became the new Crossroads College librarian. Through his previous experience with consortial catalogs, Jim knew the benefits his students would receive, so he made the initial phone calls to meet with SELCO Executive Director Ann Hutton and me to get the ball rolling in the summer of 2006. I had also been talking with Nancy recently, and she too had indicated that PBBC was ready for the next step in library service.

So, we submitted a grant application in early 2007 to bring the 2 college libraries into the SELCO catalog. I, along with Nancy and Jim and everyone else who had been involved were elated when the project was approved. I was really pumped and looking forward to the next year’s hard work.

And then came another career opportunity. I agonized over the possibility of not personally seeing the project to completion. In the end, I knew the plan and structure of the project was laid and strong enough to carry it through successfully. And that’s where my part of the story ended, but all went off well!

I guess the point of all this reminiscence is that all my career efforts are links in something much bigger. While I don’t always feel that ideas are going anywhere quickly enough if at all, some projects need to percolate through time and often several vestiges of leadership. I can’t bring everything to fruition, but I am honored to be part of the process. And sometimes, life moves on and somebody else gets all the fun of accomplishment – and that’s good. A military NCO I once knew used to say “one monkey doesn’t stop the circus.” But the show indeed does go on.