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Public library pulling plug on its old computer system

April 02, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library implements new software, patrons will be able to check their accounts on-line, see what books are available and possibly renew and request books.

"It's going to be a lot more interactive," said library employee Jane Levitan, who handles public relations for the library, among other duties.

Because new bar codes must be placed on every book in the collection, the library at the intersection of King and Queen streets will be closed on April 18, April 25, May 2 and May 9-18 to allow for the changeover. The new system should launch on May 19.

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Partner libraries in Inwood, Marlowe and Hedgesville, W.Va., also will be converted, Levitan said.

Library patrons will receive a personal identification number, which can be entered to access one's account on the library's Web site, which will be re-done, Levitan said.

New library cards, smaller ones that attach to key chains, also may be dispersed to patrons who want one.

An Inwood, W.Va.-based company, The Library Corp., is supplying the software. The project is expected to cost around $200,000 and will be paid for with a grant from the West Virginia Library Commission, Levitan said.

Library Commission members eventually want every library in the state to have such online capabilities, Levitan said. Leading the way is the Eastern Panhandle, where a few libraries have already switched over. Those include the public libraries in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Once inside the library, the average patron will notice little or no difference, Levitan said, although public relations campaigns will be done about the new system. Employees must be trained on how to use the new software, she said.

The library's current computer system was in place when Levitan started working at the library 10 years ago, she said.

Early Tuesday evening, library users of all ages were using the public computers, which will not be changed under the new system, Levitan said.

Also, the library has no plans to start collecting late fees, Levitan said. Currently no fees are charged for books returned after the due date.

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