Emma S. Clark catalog system shift saves cash

Emma S. Clark catalog system shift saves cash

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Michael Ruiz

Setauket’s own Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is making strides to save money just in time for budget season.

The library announced this week it would be migrating its catalog system to be part of the Partnership of Automated Libraries in Suffolk, which runs library services with 49 other libraries across the county. The shared product, according to library Director Ted Gutmann, should increase efficiency and ease of use for both patrons and library employees while also saving money.

“The cost of ongoing maintenance is going to be shared across 50 libraries,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense for us to join this network.”

A spokeswoman for the library said patrons will now be able to create their own usernames rather than remembering long library card barcode numbers and will also have the option to pay fines online and receive text alerts.

“It will be much faster to borrow items from other Suffolk County libraries,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “In just one click, the request is automatically put into other libraries, without the patron having to specifically request an interlibrary loan. The item is then delivered to Emma Clark Library for pickup or can be delivered to other Suffolk libraries as well.”

The cost-saving move comes just in time for the Sept. 16 budget vote at the library, which projected a 0.30 percent change in the tax levy from $5,177,684 last year to $5,192,968 this year. The proposed 2016 library budget saw an increase in employee salary expenditures and material and program expenditures, but a slight decline in costs related to mandated benefits, building and operations funding and estimated income.

Voting on the 2016 library budget is scheduled for Sept. 16 at the library from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the periodical room.

The new system is also more cost effective, both up front and ongoing, the spokeswoman said. The move to PALS should result in an annual 61 percent savings for the library catalog operation costs and will help the library in complying with the New York State tax freeze program. Under the tax freeze program, New York State requires shared services in order to reduce costs and save money — under the tax relief program, if the library complies with the tax cap and shows cost savings through shared resources, qualifying homeowners are reimbursed for increases in their local property taxes on their primary residences.

It is also important to note that during this migration, from Sept. 16 to Nov. 2, patrons will not be able to use the online catalog to request interlibrary loans. They will, however, be able to pick up books themselves at other libraries or they may contact our reference librarians who can place requests on the patron’s behalf. Starting in early November, when the new system is live online, interlibrary loan requests will resume. The library appreciates the understanding of the community — this small inconvenience while the catalog is under transition will lead to more improved services by November.

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