About OWLSnet

About OWLSnet

Our Mission

The Outagamie Waupaca Library System's shared automation network (OWLSnet) provides a shared, integrated library automation system to OWLS member libraries, Nicolet Federated Library System (NFLS) member libraries, and such other area libraries as may participate for the purposes of

  1. facilitating resource sharing among network participants and
  2. increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of participant library operations and services.

As a service program of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System, the network is established, operated, and maintained under the legal authority of the OWLS Board of Trustees; and administered by OWLS director and staff.

Our Purpose

The Outagamie Waupaca Library System shared automation network (OWLSnet) is established to provide a shared, integrated library automation system to OWLS member libraries, Nicolet Federated Library System (NFLS) member libraries, and such other area libraries as may participate, for the purposes of

  1. facilitating resource sharing among network participants and
  2. increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of participant library operations and services.

Structure

OWLSnet is a service program of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System. As a program of OWLS, the shared automation network is established, operated, and maintained under the legal authority of the OWLS Board of Trustees.

OWLSnet is administered by OWLS director and staff. An Administrative Advisory Committee (AAC), which includes representation from all participating libraries, makes recommendations to the Board and staff regarding the administration of OWLSnet.

The AAC may establish ad hoc technical advisory committees for the purpose of considering technical operational issues and making recommendations to the full Administrative Advisory Committee.

The AAC attempts to arrive at its recommendations by consensus. If consensus cannot be achieved, action can be taken by vote. All actions shall require a two-thirds majority of OWLSnet participants and a two-thirds majority of annual membership fee shares for approval.

History

In 1989, OWLS assumed management of Appleton Public Library's CLSI automation system. Additional OWLS libraries came online over the next few years. All sixteen OWLS member libraries are members of OWLSnet.

In 1995, OWLS formed a partnership with the Nicolet Federated Library System to extend automation services to NFLS member libraries. NFLS acts as an agent for member libraries in negotiating the terms of their participation in OWLSnet, and the systems cooperate in providing staff and financial support. All NFLS member libraries, except Brown County Library, are members of OWLSnet.

Philosophy

From its beginning, OWLSnet has attempted to meet the needs of libraries of all sizes. Given the level of commitment needed by libraries to participate and the difficulty in financing automation, OWLSnet has tried to accommodate a variety of differing local library needs. For example, libraries have been allowed to phase-in their participation over several years, and libraries have been allowed to pay their startup costs over two or three years regardless of their implementation schedules.

Raising funds to implement automation has not been difficult in most communities, but because securing funding for ongoing participation has been difficult OWLSnet has made every effort to keep annual operating costs as low as possible.

OWLSnet's philosophy is that when libraries become members they are making a one-time purchase of a service to be provided by the network, not a particular hardware or software project. Therefore, OWLSnet has never required its online libraries to provide additional "startup" funds for hardware or software upgrades.

Members

OWLS libraries in Appleton, Black Creek, Clintonville, Fremont, Hortonville, Iola, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Manawa, Marion, New London, Scandinavia, Seymour, Shiocton, Waupaca, and Weyauwega are members.

NFLS libraries in Algoma, Aurora, Baileys Harbor, Birnamwood, Bonduel, Coleman, Crivitz, Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Fish Creek, Florence (2 sites), Forestville, Gillett, Kewaunee, Lakewood, Lena, Marinette, Mattoon, Niagara, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Oneida, Oneida Green Earth Branch, Peshtigo, Shawano, Sister Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Suring, Tigerton, Washington Island, Wausaukee, and Wittenberg participate.

The OWLS and NFLS offices are also members.

Services

OWLSnet uses Innovative Interfaces, Inc. library automation software to provide circulation control, central bibliographic database, central patron database, management reports, online public access catalog, interlibrary loan, overdue and reserve notices to patrons via email, resource sharing, and acquisitions functions to members.

The network also provides member libraries with training, technical support, a network library card program, WISCAT updating, e-mail service, antivirus and security software, and Internet access. OWLS and Appleton Public Library work cooperatively with other member libraries to provide technical services operations for the network.

Finances

Costs for joining OWLSnet vary depending on a library's level of participation. Each member library is responsible for the one-time costs of local hardware, barcode labels, initial database work, and access the central computer.

In addition, each library is responsible for any internal wiring necessary, any furnishings needed, and the labor required to add local holdings to the OWLSnet database. One-time startup costs have been relatively stable for libraries joining OWLSnet. Exact costs are specified at the time each new library enters into an OWLSnet membership agreement.

On an annual basis, each member library pays a membership fee that contributes toward the costs of telecommunications, cataloging, hardware and software maintenance, supplies, training, troubleshooting, and automation staff. The amount of a library's annual membership fee depends upon the library's level of participation.

Staffing

The OWLSnet staff consists of the OWLS Assistant Director, Library Services Manager, Computer Network Manager, Cataloger, two Automation Specialists, and a Cataloging Assistant. OWLS Director and other staff members also provide support to OWLSnet. In addition, the NFLS staff provides some support for OWLSnet.

Future

OWLSnet will continue to develop and expand the services provided to member libraries. We plan to focus on offering streamlined reporting, more electronic services and resources, and cooperative projects with other Wisconsin library public systems.