For the Public
MINERVA USERS COUNCIL MEETING
May 30, 2012
Centrall Maie Community College, Auburn, ME
- James Jackson Sanborn, Director of Maine InfoNet:
- The Future of Maine InfoNet—Changes are still in the formative stages, and even within a 3-5 year time frame, that’s going to take a lot of time to organize. James has been talking in many venues regarding the system’s current status and why we need to make some changes.
- Slideshow: The MaineCat Environment: Present and Possible Futures, Minerva Users Council, May 30, 2012
- The MaineCat Environment operates within Innovative Interfaces (III)’s Inn-Reach software. MaineCat really only feeds directly from the underlying systems and doesn’t exist as one huge system; it exists as a place where information is exchanged between systems. Below that are the URSUS and Minerva systems, which are among those operating within this environment. URSUS runs the seven university library sites, along with Bangor Public Library, Maine State Library, and Maine Law & Legislative Library. Minerva consists of 58 public, school, & hospital libraries. There are then the colleges running Millennium software independently on their own servers: Portland Public Library, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, University of New England, Maine Maritime Academy, and Maine College of Art. These are all using Millennium software. Others have their own systems which require the SOLAR interface. There are then more than 200 libraries across the state that are not represented directly. An important long-term goal is to incorporate more of them. Staff working with James manage all of these systems and others.
- Strengths: The breadth of coverage among different types of libraries that we have is rather unique in the U.S. More than 7 million items from around 100 institutions across the state. We also have an unparalleled integration of multiple systems: collection, patron, and circulation workflow integration. The 200 libraries not in MaineCat do benefit through Area Reference and Resource Centers (ARRCs). Minerva participation is not always the best fit for a library; however, SOLAR participation is very time-intensive due to the need to operate multiple software packages. The Minerva system won’t fully grow to meet all of the state’s demands—it doesn’t scale; certain system elements are finite (for example, “scopes”). Furthermore, adding another system would require more staff. The Minerva system has really been designed for one library with branches, not for independent libraries. Not all libraries have staffing, technology and funding that would allow them to participate.
- Challenges: Millennium is an aging system with aging architecture and aging use cases—current online technology features can’t be incorporated into the software. III uses Modules, Maintenance and Money. For instance, Camden is moving to RFID. In order to do that, you need access to two APIs. Patron self-check and access. The cost is $18,000 for an individual library and would be $60,000+ for all. Self-check would be about $3,000 plus $30,000, plus annual maintenance costs thereafter.
- Sierra: Innovative Interfaces (III)’s replacement for Millennium would provide similar functionality, proprietary system on modern open-source architecture, and keeps the same business model. Maine InfoNet libraries are rejecting Sierra en masse because of its limitations, hence this is not perceived to be a strong possibility.
- The future: Two possible paths seem likely--
- Virtual & cloud-based path: Many libraries move to cloud-based/web-scale systems; MaineCat becomes a virtual layer in WorldCat; others move to heterogeneous systems with mix of proprietary, open-source and cloud-based components – about managing relationships; depends on cost structures with OCLC
- Open-Source and centralized path: Many libraries move to Evergreen-based system(s); MaineCat runs on Fulf-ILL-ment system (being developed to federate Evergreen systems); others could move to WMS (OCLC), Evergreen, Koha or proprietary systems. Would still be managing relationships, but services would be scalable and there would be a different relationship with vendors.
- Our solution will probably be some mix of both. James shared some schematics. While we’ve already waited too long, none of the imagined/promised systems are fully functional, and none of the imagined/promised systems are cheap or will easily meet all of our needs.
- SOLAR is expanding; 2 to 4 libraries to be added this summer; future rounds probable; patron loading being tested. Minerva may expand. A Maine Library Commission and InfoNet joint committee is working.
- In the meantime: Massachusetts Virtual Library RFP: Similar to MaineCat; asking for functionality beyond simple union catalog and lending systm. Orbis Cascade, Oregon: Looking for shared system (like URSUS or Minerva), already using WorldCat for union and lending. Vendor and open source solutions are being developed. OCLC is considering different pricing models.
- Discussion: What’s the current price for WorldCat: Based on their traditional pricing model, to recreate just the MaineCat piece it was $130,000 more annually.
- The Agreement to Participate is now a Memorandum of Participation. Steve Norman explained some of the history and the changes. Shortly after this Users Council meeting, there will be a virtual vote to approve or reject this new document.
- History: Before 2008, Minerva money was kept in state coffers and was considered vulnerable there. It was subsequently transferred to a special Nelinet account. In about 2008, it was recognized that Minerva’s bylaws needed to be revised. Following that, the Agreement to Participate also needed to be revised because many things had changed and it was no longer valid. Libraries had also signed different versions. In order for new libraries to join Minerva, we needed some kind of new document for them to sign. During that time, there was a transition with financial officers and a conversation about how for much they should be bonded. An attorney was consulted, some questions came back that made us question where the money should be residing; it was determined that it should go back to the State. Steve Norman worked with a committee for whom he is very thankful (Nancy Crowell, James Jackson Sanborn, Jay Scherma, Pam Turner, Judy Frost, Linda Lord, Kevin Davis and Pam Turner). When a draft document had finally been created, they consulted with the state’s attorney general office, which asserted that the Agreement to Participate shouldn’t be signed. The committee reassembled, and after another long process, the Memorandum of Participation was developed. The Maine State Library is no longer a signed party to the agreement. The members of the committee are comfortable that the MSL obligations will continue to be fulfilled.
- Some highlights of the new document: It is vendor-neutral, and does not specify III Millennium software, so will still be valid should Minerva move to a new environment. Minerva is not defined in the document as software; it is clearly defined as a consortium—a partnership of libraries. Open borrowing is explicitly part of the memorandum of participation. It’s basically an agreement of members—participating libraries of Minerva—to cooperate with each other, and there is a mechanism spelled out for enforcing rules that the consortium has agreed upon.
- Discussion: Will adoption of this memorandum bring everyone up to the same level, or will it accommodate grandfathered practices? It is a new agreement, and will replace the old. However, the new agreement does refer to the bylaws, which address that. What does it mean that libraries will provide a data file. If a library wants to withdraw from the consortium, it will get a file, but if they haven’t followed step 10, there may be a fee, and depending upon the situation, there may be some limits. Do the current standards continue to exist as they’ve been developed? Yes. There is also a process for appeals. Could unanticipated costs arise from a group decision? Not from a module purchased by an individual library (although group decisions could impact fees for all, in which case if they increased too much, a library might decide it needed to withdraw). Making the memorandum not vendor-specific provides flexibility; the consortial relationship would continue. It is intended to define us as a working group rather than as a software package.
- Minerva Executive Board—now bimonthly, works much better. Have been focusing on the memorandum quite a bit, gave blessing to the draft and thanks to the committee. Way behind on Minerva elections—two seats, a public library and an academic library opening.
- James Jackson Sanborn: Much of what’s been happening with Maine InfoNet has already been mentioned. There are two news items of mention: Anticipate contracting ($3-4,000) with Library AnyWhere for a mobile interface for the catalog. The Minerva contingency budget should cover this. Related to web site, but not solely Minerva: Contracting with a company to develop a new web site, pulls information both from the state and the university web sites for a more integrated look. One of the things that will be nice about that is that will have the ability to have distributed content maintenance. Based on WordPress and will be very flexible. About a month ago now, received final word from the IRS that the Maine InfoNet Collaborative is a 501c3. Is now a legal entity. The Download Library now has 209 members, now almost 20,000 checkouts per month, collections are being used very heavily and most popular items have long wait times. Have been spending a lot of consortial money rapidly, now paying $75-$85 per copy from certain publishers. However, there’s nothing that’s fully ready to compete with OverDrive, and it’s not OverDrive’s fault, it’s the publishers. Keeping eyes open, but nothing for the near future to replace it. There’s a national letter-writing campaign to publishers to say why publishers should support libraries in the new medium. Have been receiving pledges of funds from member libraries to help with additional funding. Some who have stepped up: Camden, Rockland, University of Maine. Is there any possibility there’ll be music or video collection availability? James doesn’t think that we have the resources to purchase an effective collection in new formats at this time. Could we do fund-raising for this in our libraries with a handout to individuals? To contribute, please contact James—for now, checks are written to Bangor Public Library c/o the Maine InfoNet Download Library.
- Judy Frost, Maine InfoNet Liaison: If you have issues you’d like addressed, please get them to Judy by mid-June so that they can be incorporated into discussions. Approval of the memorandum will be vital to possibly opening up to new libraries; she urges everyone to sign and support it. Money might be able to be sent to the 501c3, which would make it cleaner. There has been some concern in the Maine Library Commission that some libraries aren’t involved, and there’s a committee formed to consider what could be done to include more Maine libraries in MaineCat. This will probably be educational for them. We may want to publicize ourselves better. They will continue to have focus group meetings so that we can get to know one another better. Question: At what point will it become necessary for us to sign the new Memorandum? The Executive Board will be meeting to determine details as soon as possible. Question: Is there a percentage attached to #1 in the Memorandum, commitment to local collection development? The committee drafting the agreement realized that in the current library environment, it is difficult to make such a commitment, so rather than specify a number, this document instead simply states that commitment to local collections is important, and that collaboration will not work unless individual institutions continue to build their own collections. In other words, we’ve moved from an amount to a principle. Question: What are the sanctions? We need to assert that everyone will play nicely together—in the event that one member is negatively impacting the rest, the consortium must be able to take action to protect the rest if necessary.
- Alisia Revitt, Statistical Update: After initial upgrade glitches were worked through, things have been fairly uneventful. Overdrive: About ½ epub books; small percentage of pdfs; about 49,000 were Kindle ebooks, about 61,000 were other types. Kindle Fire users have driven a big increase in usage and new users. About 6,296 titles, of which there are about 8,000 items available for checkout. About 3,000 are audiobooks, about 6,000 are ebooks, which are being hit much harder. Trying to keep the ratio of items to holds is 4 to 1. Alisia shared Minerva borrowing statistics on the screen and also emailed them to everyone. She also discussed the borrowing/lending ratios and load balancing. Please be prepared to use offline circ Sunday June 3rd during system downtime due to maintenance.
- Nikki Maounis, Financials: Sent reports out yesterday. Budget: Have surplus, but there are some invoices not accounted for in the report. Proposed Minerva budget: No big changes. Continuing to put aside money for a contingency. Again, van delivery at 1 day per week. There is an RFP out for that. Some of us have received our most recent invoice for $4,000, but there is a very slight increase.
- Meeting adjourned at 12 noon.
Present: Charlotte Arredondo, Linda Barnes, Laura Bean, Janet Blood, Chris Boynton, Jeff Cabral, Laurie Carpenter, Ellen Conway, Nancy Crowell, Kevin Davis, Carin Dunay, Valerie Frechette, Judith G. Frost, Pam Gormley, James Jackson Sanborn, Cindy Jennings, Beth Kane, Molly Larson, Robin Lowell, Debbie Lozito, Laurie McQuarriee, Judi Moreno, Marie Morey, Katherine Morgan, Kristen Murphy, Melora Norman, Steve Norman, Martha Ott, Jake Paris, Lee Perkins, Betsy Pohl, Susan Preece, Liz Reisz, Alisia Revitt, Anne Romans, Cindy Schilling, Sarah Schultz-Nielsen, Lyn Smith, Courtney Sparks, Suzanne Sullivan, Amber Tatnall, Robert Waldman.