The Upper Arlington Public Library system may soon join a consortium that officials said would expand the resources and materials available to local residents.
On Thursday, Nov. 14, UAPL officials will host a public information session at 7 p.m. at the main library, 2800 Tremont Road, regarding preliminary plans to join the Central Library Consortium (CLC).
According to UAPL Director Chris Taylor, the CLC was established by the Grandview Heights Public Library in 1988, and now includes 11 library systems in central Ohio.
The UAPL is considering CLC membership, in part, because the local library system soon must upgrade expiring network software and outdated computer hardware.
UA library officials are faced with a decision to go it alone and to replace that equipment with a new network server and other hardware specific to the local library's three branches, or it can join the CLC's integrated library system, Taylor said.
Although she didn't have final cost analyses, Taylor said library officials believe they could join the CLC and connect to updated software and hardware systems at roughly the same annual price as buying new, independent software and hardware.
Additionally, Taylor said, CLC membership would exponentially expand the catalog of materials available to UAPL users because they could access and reserve items maintained at each of the other 11 libraries in the consortium.
"The majority of Franklin County libraries now belong to the CLC," Taylor said. "By joining the consortium, our catalog would join those current consortium members.
"(The CLC catalog) is 10 times the collection size available in one search. We would go from our catalog of about 44,000 (items) to almost 4.4 million."
The UAPL board of trustees must authorize joining the CLC, and library staffers are prepared to recommend that action at a future board meeting.
However, library officials first want to hear from the public, Taylor said.
"We do want to have an opportunity for people to come in here and have input (Nov. 14)," she said. "We'll have a presentation that talks about the consortium in general and what that would mean to the Upper Arlington Public Library, and then we would take questions."
According to www.clcohio.org, the Columbus Metropolitan Library, as well as public libraries in Grandview, Pickerington, Alexandria, Plain City and Worthington are CLC members.
Southwest Public Libraries, the Marysville Public Library, Pickaway County District Library, Fairfield County Public Library and Wagnalls Memorial Library also belong to the CLC.
The website states the CLC members serve more than 1.1 million cardholders in central Ohio and circulate more than 20 million items each year.
Should the UAPL join, Taylor said, library cardholders could reserve materials from other member libraries. Those items then would be sent to local libraries, where they could be checked out and returned.
"Every one of the 11 libraries has some items that are unique," she said. "It just makes everything more convenient.
"We would continue to have our own checkout rules and we would continue to buy the materials we think the Upper Arlington citizens want. We would continue to have control of our collection."
Although library staff members support joining the CLC, they will discuss alternative options at the Nov. 14 meeting, as well, Taylor said.
Additional information about the Nov. 14 public information session is available at ualibrary.org.