A day of reckoning arrived Thursday for the Durango Public Library, as an overnight surprise severed the center’s virtual information backbone.
A hard drive in the library’s Integrated Library System went kaput Wednesday night, a mechanical failure that handicapped a server containing the digital card catalogue with thousands of book titles, patron records and all digital databases, said library Director Sandy Irwin.
While the building remains open, library members must bring their library card or key card with a bar code to borrow books. Staff cannot accept other forms of identification while the server is shot. No new library cards can be issued, and patrons are limited to borrowing five items until a replacement hard drive is shipped and installed, expected to be on Friday.
“The thing we always feared would happen, happened,” Irwin said, referring to a revelation this summer that the Integrated Library System could crash at any moment.
Staff feared at the time – since the company that services the systems stopped making hard drives that fit the Durango Public Library’s old servers – that if a hard drive failed, the library’s server would be down for at least a week. But Irwin said she ordered a backup hard drive Thursday that will be sent overnight to Durango.
The last time the library’s server failed was in the 1990s, when Irwin said a roof collapsed on a server building used by the regional library. The library’s digital infrastructure was down for a week, Irwin said.
Library staff are using a cloud-based spreadsheet to account for what patrons borrow, she said. Staff is relying on catalogs from other libraries to provide more detailed information about books that patrons may want to check out.
A new, cloud-based server for the library catalog is on its way – the city signed a contract for the system Wednesday. But it could be months before it is installed. Until then, library staff must rely on a server that just failed them.
“Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, there was a full moon, it’s all coming together; I don’t know if Mercury is in retrograde,” Irwin said.
“We are really excited about our new system.”