A virtual time bomb is ticking at the Durango Public Library, an unpredictable threat to the backbone of local library services, staff said.
All records of books and borrowers and every catalog in the collection could be lost at any time because the company that supported the library’s Integrated Library System no longer supports the service, said Sandy Irwin, library director.
If the server fails, the best-case scenario would leave the library out of operation for at least a week as backup tapes are used to rebuild the system, a complex and expensive process, Irwin said. Worst-case scenario, the library loses everything. Every book would have to be recataloged. Every patron would have to re-register
“It would be so overwhelming, it’s unfathomable how much time and effort that would take (to re-enter data),” Irwin said. “I don’t even want to think about it.”
The company that serviced the system has been pushing the libraries it serves to upgrade to a cloud-based system for a few years, Irwin said, but library staff didn’t learn the current server-based system is no longer supported until this year.
Library advisory board chairman Bill LeMaire said the current ILS “is becoming a dinosaur.” Parts of the service aren’t being kept up, and other records aren’t being backed up, LeMaire said. More than 200,000 patron records could be lost, he said.
The library has what LeMaire called “perennial” needs, he said, but the potential implosion of the ILS “would imperil the library operations.”
“Staffing is a perennial concern; it’s a shame that the library of the size and importance to this area is not open on Sundays,” LeMaire said. “But right now, this is our pre-eminent need.”
Durango Public Library adopted its ILS at least two decades ago, Irwin said. Library staff knew the server was old, but when one of the library’s backup tapes stopped working this year, staff members learned the company was no longer servicing the server-based system and library staff “really struggled to get a replacement tape,” Irwin wrote in an email to the Herald.
The backup tapes are the only means library staff have of accessing data if the server-based system fails, and if a backup tape is unreadable, “we would have to go through every item in our collection to recatalog it, and every patron library card would need to be re-entered,” Irwin wrote to the Herald. “It would be catastrophic.”
And library staff members are getting nervous, LeMaire said. The physical server at the library has been making unusual noises, he said. It’s serviced daily by two employees, he said.
An ILS could cost $25,000 to $59,000, Irwin wrote, depending on the vendor and features available. The new system “will need to integrate with some of our other systems, such as our self-check computers and automated return system, (and) will need to have an ADA accessible and mobile-friendly catalog, and will need to be cloud-based,” she wrote.
But the library doesn’t have the budget for it, Irwin said in a presentation to Durango City Council weeks ago.
“We lose this, we lose everything,” Irwin told councilors. “The amount of work we’d have to do if this fails is unfathomable.”
The library advisory board, in a report to City Council, requested a capital appropriation for a new ILS. It’s now up to City Council to decide whether to fund a new ILS.
“The library advisory board has been dispersing money for a lot of things that could be considered capital projects,” LeMaire said. “It’s time for council to step up to the plate and take care of this very important need.”
email@example.comAn earlier version of this story misspelled Library advisory board chairman Bill LeMaire’s last name.