Living Columns & Blogs

From the Beacon: Far-reaching lending system enhances libraries

About a year ago, you may have noticed that the Beaufort County Public Library System joined a new library consortium called SCLENDS. This acronym stands for South Carolina Library Evergreen Network Delivery System and is modeled after Georgia's revolutionary Georgia PINES library consortium. SCLENDS consists of 10 library systems around the state (with more counties joining soon) who share resources with one another. Together, these libraries share more than 2 million items to at least 1 million customers.

So how does SCLENDS work? On the technology end, all SCLENDS libraries use the same online catalog because we have implemented an "open-source" integrated library system. This system costs significantly less than other ILS programs. Open source also allows the libraries more control over its functionality.

If you were to take a peek inside our staff workrooms, you would see dozens of stacked bins from other county libraries used to receive/send materials to fill hold requests. Likewise, every day Beaufort County staff hunts through the library shelves, retrieving items that SCLENDS customers have placed on hold. Those items go to their appropriate bins and are delivered to other SCLENDS libraries for their customers to enjoy. When that customer returns our item to their library, it starts its journey back to our main Beaufort Branch Library, where it is then distributed to its appropriate local branch. (Whew! Quite a process, huh?)

Resource sharing truly is a valuable practice. If one library is missing an item, it can be borrowed from another SCLENDS library. New items, however, pose a catch: They won't circulate around the consortium until they are six months old. This protects our new best-sellers from leaving our system to fill holds in other counties and vice versa. If our Beaufort County system doesn't own a new book, but a different county does, it might be a few months before our customers can borrow the item.

Now that the Beaufort County Public Library system has joined SCLENDS, there are millions of items available to our customers. Borrowing materials from other counties is as easy as placing a hold. Then the item will be sent to your "home" branch and an e-mail will be automatically sent, notifying you of the item's availability. (If you enjoy road trips, an added perk of SCLENDS is that our customers can use their library cards to check out materials at any SCLENDS library.)

Large consortiums such as SCLENDS reflect the future of library resource sharing, and we hope that you enjoy and fully take advantage of the Beaufort County Public Library's enhanced resource-sharing system.

Traci Cox is a reference librarian at the Bluffton Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, at 120 Palmetto Way, Bluffton.