Merger keeps people reading

By on February 15, 2011

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Every day, three to five large canvas bags arrive at the Elburn Town and Country Library. They are filled with books that patrons have ordered through interlibrary loan. As part of the DuPage Library System, Elburn has access to many more books, videos and other materials than it could possible afford to stock on its own shelves.

As of July 1, 2011, the DuPage system will merge with four other northern and central Illinois library systems to form a single library system. The new system will provide services to more than 1,500 public, private, university and school library members. The consolidation of the five systems is hoped to reduce administrative costs, streamline operations and improve the coordination of resource sharing services.

“We don’t know right now what will happen,” said Mary Lynn Alms, Elburn Town and Country Library director. “We’re not sure how it will work.”

At this time, the DuPage system coordinates van delivery of books five days a week. According to a survey of member libraries, the number-one priority for the system is to coordinate the statewide delivery service. Since July 1 in Elburn, 8,838 books and materials have gone in and out of the library.

“The volume is huge,” said Circulation Manager Kathy Semrick. “We’ve had 6,300 requests (to borrow from other libraries) and 2,500 (requests to lend books to other libraries) that we have filled.”

The library system also provides consulting services for questions that come up regarding policy and procedures. They offered continuing education for the staff on topics such as interlibrary loan, customer service and reference.

“We’ve already seen some effect (of the impending merger). They have let a lot of staff go that provided us with consulting services,” Alms said. “They used to host a lot of free and low-cost classes, but now there are none at all.”

On June 30 the switch-over will take place. Everyone is counting on it being smooth.

“They say there will be no lag time; that it will be seamless. We’ll see,” Semrick said.