The impending expansion of the Central Library Consortium next month will interrupt some services at 14 central Ohio libraries, but is expected to yield substantially more resources for patrons.
At 9 p.m. April 3, work will begin to expand the Central Library Consortium to include the Bexley, Upper Arlington and London public libraries.
The effort will cause a variety of services to be unavailable at branches of each of the additional library systems and at the 11 libraries that currently are part of the CLC.
Current members include the Alexandria Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Fairfield County District Library, Grandview Heights Public Library, Marysville Public Library, Pickaway County District Public Library, Pickerington Public Library, Plain City Public Library, Southwest Public Library, Wagnalls Memorial Library and Worthington Libraries.
Through 9 a.m. April 9, account information and item holds through each of the libraries' catalogs will be unavailable, and patrons at each library will need their library cards to check out items at their respective branches.
Additionally, patrons of those libraries will not be able to check in items, place holds, renew items or pay fines, and delivery of items reserved at other libraries through the consortium may be delayed.
However, throughout the project, the libraries' Wi-Fi services and Internet computers will be available and no items will be due.
Despite the temporary inconvenience, library officials said the work will result in several benefits.
"Once we get up and running on April 9, our customers are going to be able to access 4.5 million items throughout our 14-library consortium," said Ben Zenitsky, a Columbus Metropolitan Library spokesman. "This is just about getting more items to the customers.
"As we grow, it just benefits our customers more," he said. "If one library doesn't have an item a customer has requested, they can have it delivered through the consortium."
In the case of the Upper Arlington Public Library, joining the consortium will increase the local catalog from 440,000 items to 4.5 million.
"They have to merge the existing catalog records from our system into the shared system," UAPL Director Chris Taylor said. "It will provide 10 times the items we offer now."
Taylor noted that throughout the expansion project, local patrons won't have access to self-checkout services, but items still can be checked out by staff members at the UAPL's three branches, as long as patrons present their library cards.
"Our programs will still be going on," Taylor said. "(Customers) will still be able to come to the building and check out materials."
In addition to providing access to materials at each of the 14 member libraries, which will result in faster delivery of requested materials, CLC membership also allows libraries to share costs for certain equipment and software.
"The buying power of the 14 libraries will allow us to negotiate discounts on better technology products," Taylor said.
Established by the Grandview Public Library in 1988, the CLC serves more than 1.1 million cardholders in central Ohio and circulates more than 20 million items each year, according to www.clcohio.org.