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Director's Blog: Atkins Unveils Its New ILS

A library’s choice of an Integrated Library System (ILS) is momentous to a degree that folks outside the library can’t begin to appreciate. What the public sees is the online interface that provides access to the library’s collections, and the ILS certainly does that. 

But the interface is only the last domino in a long chain that includes the acquisition, purchase, and internal management of every aspect of every element of scholarship. It also manages the constantly shifting patron database of approved users, the financial controls relating to library transactions, and the facility to produce management reports on it all. This software has a direct impact on the daily work of nearly everyone who works in the library.
Today marks the first day of our new ILS, and I am in a state of awed gratefulness that Atkins Library managed to bring this system up quickly, on-time-and-on-budget, and even managed to provide important areas of new value to our system that will save other libraries enormous effort. Our community and our vendor now have a product that is transformationally better, and every bit of this falls to the efforts of our talented and imaginative staff.
I won’t lie; this process has been an enormous exercise in sausage-making, full of messy tradeoffs, workarounds, cleanup, and educated guesses, to say nothing of thousands of hours of grueling work. It included vastly changed workflows, and forced us to confront a long list of library functions that are simply disappearing. Our staff have been obliged to document and re-design work that otherwise happened efficiently in a blissfully un-bureaucratic way. Perhaps more to the point today: I recognize that we have vast areas of work that remain to be done to make this system what it must be to serve this campus.
The enormity of this undertaking leaves me today with a sense of admiration that has nothing to do with the system itself. This project is a brilliant illustration of what we already knew, that Atkins Library is staffed by a group of committed, intelligent individuals who have just set a standard that many research libraries can only aspire to. I can think of no better evidence of the extent to which our staff love and understand their work, and that they understand its importance to the teaching and research at our institution. Each is a leader, and I am so proud to count them as colleagues.

Stanley Wilder
University Librarian

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