South Dakota’s school and public libraries are looking for new vendors for their online catalog services. Since before the Internet, the South Dakota Library Network provided that service. But the Board of Regents decided in June 2014 to kick most libraries off SDLN and use that network solely for the university libraries.
The South Dakota Library Network facilitated 52,000 interlibrary loans in South Dakota in 2014. Now, thanks to the decision to make SDLN exclusive to Regental libraries,
The loss of the shared ILS via SDLN will make impossible the libraries’ ability to search multiple library catalogs simultaneously. Because of the loss of the shared catalog, locating and requesting materials to borrow (ILL) will become more difficult [state library board, “Nebraska Model—Proposal ‘A’ for a South Dakota Libraries’ Networked System,” January 2015].
Aberdeen library director Shirley Arment says Aberdeen will eventually enjoy some cost savings from the switch from SDLN to a private vendor:
After the initial cost of migrating the library’s records into the new system, the ongoing cost for the Polaris system will be less than the $26,000 paid for support from South Dakota Library Network, she said [Elisa Sand, “Aberdeen Library Eyes New Management System,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.16].
Vermillion library director Jane Larson is having a harder time seeing the fiscal sense of dropping most libraries from SDLN:
The libraries covered the cost to keep this system running, so the state wasn’t paying which makes this decision even more confusing.
“We each paid a pro-rate fee for 70 databases which, for our small library, is like getting 50 more than we normally could because of the price.”
The Department of Education is responsible for making the final decision of cutting these resources and has yet to provide an explanation for the change.
“We weren’t given any real reason except the fact that they don’t want to offer it to anybody else in the state, even though we were self-supporting, all of us were.
“We paid our own way so it wasn’t like the state was spending any dollars, so I’m not really sure what the real reason was,” Larson said [Elyse Brightman, “Library Affected by Statewide Changes,” Vermillion Plain Talk, 2015.04.14].
And whatever the dollar figures involved, Larson says South Dakota students will lose access to resources:
This system allowed anyone with a Vermillion Public Library, or other towns, card to search a consolidated database of all the libraries in the state. That person would then be able to borrow what they find using their card. Without that system, patrons will need to search each individually library websites and won’t be able to borrow using their card.
“So, if I want to see what Sioux Falls Public (Library) has, I won’t be able to do it. I can go to their website, but I can’t borrow it from them, so it cuts out a lot of resources,” Larson said.
The database was accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
This change also affects the public school libraries meaning students won’t have the same number of resources to work on class assignments.
“I just think it’s a bigger impact than they think because libraries are part of the education circle and they just cut out a big chunk there and it’ll take years to get back to where we were,” Larson said. “We’ve been on since 1990, that’s 25 years, and some of the libraries have been on 30 years” [Brightman, 2015.04.14].
I’ve used SDLN throughout its existence to track down books in libraries around the state. Having moved from town to town, it’s been nice to know that I cold rely on the same familiar interface at each library for looking up books. Kicking most libraries off SDLN and leaving local libraries to patch together their own coordinated book searching systems makes reading and scholarship a little harder for South Dakotans.