The Millstone asked Mississippi Mills Chief Librarian Peter Nelson to give us an update on the new library circulation software. He provided this information to the Millstone for our readers.
Things patrons can do with the new system (L4U) that they couldn't do with the old one (Athena): Come into the Library and select a PIN, setting up your own personal account. This allows you to search the catalogs of both branches from any remote computer. You can also renew your items yourself. (I renewed my books the other day while I was on the train! Pretty cool, eh?) You can look at your borrowing history. You can reserve a book.
Implementation was a long, uphill climb. The company's tech support worked hard to help us get going, but it was a real struggle. The new system has dozens of wonderful new features, but those features make every screen considerably more complicated, so people who aren't comfortable with computers can find L4U more difficult to use. Most of the bugs are now worked out. Athena could tell patrons where they were on a reserve list — good to know if you're next or have 12 people ahead of you. L4U doesn't have this feature.
The system cost about $6,000, but that includes remote maintenance of our database at the company's headquarters. The Library Board's Facilities Committee and Library staff previewed about 8 different systems before choosing L4U. We had a lengthy, live demonstration of L4U here at the Almonte Branch, but have never seen it at another institution. The system works at both Library branches, and connects us live. With Athena, our databases were relatively current with each other, but were maintained separately. Now, we in the Almonte Branch know immediately when a book is checked out of the Pakenham Branch.
My biggest complaint about the new system is its name! Athena was the goddess of wisdom. How cool is that? L4U sounds like something you take for an intestinal disorder.