The County Library Co-operative provides a variety of services to member libraries. The major services are listed below:
- Delivery Van
- Rotations of Special Collections
- Digital Collections
- Electronic Online Databases
- Reference and Local History Collection
- Library Journals
- Large Print and Video Pools
- Consortium Purchasing
- Wireless Public Internet Access
- Library Automation and Systems Administration
The County of Simcoe Library Co-operative delivery van is our most visible service. It delivers boxes of pre-selected material that are assembled into blocks by County Library staff and rotated to members of the Co-operative. The van visits member libraries two, three or four times a year depending on the library's needs, for an average of eighty rotations per year. A typical rotation consists of approximately 390 items in various formats: DVD's, CD's, CD-ROM's, videos, audio books, read alongs, etc.
Rotations of Special Collections
The County Library Co-operative selects, acquires and processes material to circulate in blocks to member libraries of the Co-operative. At present, the County Library has twelve special collections for block rotation comprising almost 34,000 items.
- Music compact disks
- Books on tape
- Books on compact disks
- Books on MP3
- Video games
- Large print books
These materials are assembled into two or three different sizes of blocks for each type of material. Blocks are rotated two, three or four times a year, depending on the requirements of individual libraries. The blocks are delivered to and retrieved from member libraries via the library delivery van. In 2009, the Co-operative conducted seventy-eight rotations and circulated 41,702 items.
The provision of these special collections has allowed member libraries to focus their budgets on print materials while ensuring that their patrons have access to the more expensive formats.
In 2007, the County Library Co-operative added a new service - electronic audiobooks. Electronic audiobooks are in digital format and are accessed via the Internet.
The Co-operative contracted with Digital Library Reserve, the provider of Overdrive, to purchase its digital technology and services. Overdrive allows all County residents, with a valid library card and an Internet connection, to download digital audiobooks to their computers, MP3 players and other handheld devices for free. Remote patron authentication software ensures that anyone accessing the collection is a patron, in good standing, of a member library. The audiobook collection is accessed through the PULSE (Public Libraries Sharing E-Media) website at pulse.simcoe.ca. The digital collection is funded by the County Library with additional contributions from member libraries. It is being developed in consultation with the Chief Librarians' Committee and presently consist of over 1,600 titles. In 2009, 6,738 titles were downloaded from the PULSE website.
Electronic audiobooks are a cost effective alternative to books on compact disk since they are cheaper to purchase, require no processing, no maintenance, no shelf space, and cannot be damaged or stolen.
In May of 2010, electronic books were added to the digital collection and are also available through the PULSE website. These e-books can be downloaded to a computer and then transferred to a compatible e-book reader. These electronic books are accessed through the same website as the e-audiobooks, patrons are required to authenticate with their library barcode, prior to dowloading titles. The collection currently consists of 294 titles. The demand for e-books is growing exponentially, and will continue to increase into the foreseeable future. Electronic Online Databases
The County Library Co-operative purchases annual subscriptions to a variety of commercial electronic databases that can be accessed via the Internet. These databases provide remote access to the full-text of hundreds of newspapers, periodicals and reference books and can be used by an unlimited number of people simultaneously. The databases cover a wide spectrum of subject areas from current events to history, and from science to literature. Free remote access is provided to the library patrons of all member libraries. Currently, the County Co-operative has subscriptions to sixteen different databases:
- A-Z Maps
- Auto Repair Reference Center
- Canadian Points of View
- Canadian Reference Center
- Career Cruising
- Computer Tutorials
- Consumer Health Complete
- Global Road Warrior
- Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center
- Home Improvement Reference Center
- Mango Languages
- NoveList Plus
- NoveList K-8
- Science Reference Center
- Small Engine Repair Reference Center
The subscriptions are chosen in consultation with the Chief Librarians' Committee and are selected to ensure that they do not duplicate products purchased by local library boards. These subscriptions are quite expensive, but the Co-operative and its members can achieve economies of scale by centralizing their purchase. Moreover, they allow small libraries to provide enhanced reference service at no direct cost to their operating budget.
Reference and Local History Collection
The County Library Co-operative has a substantial reference and local history collection comprising over 1500 items. Titles are available on limited loan to member libraries.
The County Library Co-operative purchases subscriptions to a variety of library journals. These journals provide professional advice in library specific fields such as collection development. The journals are read by County Library staff and then routed to the staff of member libraries. The routing lists are updated annually based on the response to questionnaires that are sent to member libraries each January.
Large Print and Video Pools
The County Library Co-operative is responsible for the acquisition, processing, maintenance and rotation schedules for the Large Print and Video Pools. The Pools are owned and funded by those members of the Co-operative who have decided to join the Pools. Membership is voluntary and each Pool has its own committee and terms of reference.
Originally the Pool members administered the Pools themselves; however, the libraries found they did not have the time or expertise to effectively operate the Pools and asked the Co-operative to assume responsibility.
New material is ordered and processed semi-annually and the collections are rotated three or four times a year. Currently, there are nine libraries or branches that belong to the Large Print Pool and nine that belong to the Video Pool
The County Library Co-operative purchases a variety of library supplies in bulk and sells them to member libraries at cost. The County Library also negotiates the bulk purchasing of computer software, such as virus protection. The County Library is able to negotiate much cheaper prices on these types of items than can be obtained by individual library boards.
Wireless Public Internet Access
In co-operation with the Simcoe County Information Technology Department, the County Library provides free wireless public Internet service in all member libraries and branches. This service allows library patrons to access high-speed Internet in their local libraries. Patrons and visitors can bring their own laptops or other wireless devices into the library and connect to the Internet. The wireless system requires users to login using their library barcode and password. Visitors may obtain a temporary barcode from library staff. In 2009, there were 13,192 uses of the wireless system.
The two County Library Co-operative servers host the databases of ten member libraries:
- New Tecumseth
- Wasaga Beach
as well as the County Library Catalogue. County Library staff administer the Symphony library software program, provide training to the staff of member libraries and troubleshoot any problems encountered with the software.