Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

NExpress expands library offerings

November 29, 2007

Basehor residents can now browse the Basehor Community Library -- and 30 other libraries -- without ever leaving home.

NExpress, which provides access to the collections of about 30 Kansas and Missouri libraries in the Northeast Kansas Library System and the Kansas City Library Consortium, was launched Nov. 14 and patrons are beginning to reap the benefits.

"It allows people to see pretty much any material that libraries own," library director Carla Kaiser said.

Guests can search the online catalog for more than 2.7 million items including books, DVDs, CDs, book reviews, summaries and bestseller lists.

NExpress cardholders also can type in their card number and PIN number and access their personal account.

"Instead of calling us and asking us what you have checked out and when it's due, it will show you that information online," Kaiser said.

Cardholders also can renew books and place holds on items they wish to check out in any of the libraries listed and request to pick them up at the Basehor Community Library. Kaiser said a courier service visits the library about three times a week to deliver "holds" from different libraries to be picked up in Basehor. Patrons will either receive a phone call or e-mail when their request is ready to be picked up.

"What I'm seeing as a real benefit is you can search just our library or the NExpress library, but when you find what you're looking for, no matter where it is, you can place a hold on it and choose the Basehor library as the place where you want to pick it up," she said.

Library employees attended a two-day training session prior to launching the program to go over typical transactions and frequently asked questions.

Kaiser said the biggest challenge so far is that the library still has two systems that employees have to keep up to date because all library accounts have not been transferred to the new system. Hopefully in the next month or two, all old holds will be exhausted and the library can transition into using just the new system, Kaiser said.

In the meantime, only Basehor Community Library account holders will have access to the materials in the Basehor library, but they will still have access to materials in all the other libraries.

"The only holds that can be placed on our materials is for cardholders," Kaiser said. "Once we get settled in and get things transferred over, then it will open up and we'll start getting requests from all those other libraries."

With all those libraries to choose from, patrons are more likely to find what they're looking for and while there is still a wait time on new materials or books that are in high demand, it is now shorter because of the system. And, once the Basehor Community Library is fully transitioned into NExpress and starts allowing other libraries to access its materials, Basehor cardholders will still have first pick on new materials.

"Say that James Patterson comes out with a new book and we buy five copies," Kaiser said. "We can limit those to just Basehor cardholders for a period of time. It's nice in the fact that we're still giving priority to our cardholders first if we get something that we know is going to be in high demand by our patrons."

It's easy to receive a card and get started on NExpress as well. Those interested must visit the library in person, show photo identification and fill out an application. A card will then be issued and it can be used immediately.

NExpress can be accessed from the Basehor Community Library homepage, basehorlibrary.org, from any computer, whether it be from home, the office or at the library.

Kaiser reminds those wishing to check out materials to bring their card or a photo ID with them.

"We're requiring people to have their cards with them or a photo ID just to make sure we bring up the correct account," she said. "Before maybe we had 50 Smiths and now there are 5,000. It's really for their (the patron's) protection so something doesn't get mistakenly put on the wrong account."

Kaiser also said the system was set up for the community's convenience and many people have already started using it, but if patrons prefer to place a hold or renewal the old-fashioned way, they can still do that as well.

"I really think that it is a service that people are going to find valuable if they haven't already," she said. "It makes it so much easier for them to take care of things without being constrained to our open hours."

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