History of the Valley Library Consortium

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The Valley Library Consortium was formed as a non-profit corporation in 1980 by Delta College, Saginaw Valley State College, and the Public Libraries of Saginaw to automate library circulation using a CLSI LIBS 100 system. The system served the members well for a number of years, but by the mid-1980's it became evident that a replacement system was needed. At the same time the members decided to pursue expanding the membership.

After meeting with other libraries in the area, in 1991, the VLC expanded by adding the following libraries: Bay City Schools (two high schools and two intermediate schools), Bay County Library System, Bridgeport Public, Chesaning Public, Gladwin County, Grace A. Dow Memorial, Harrison Community, Mid-Michigan Community College, Northwood University, St. Charles District, and the White Pine Library Cooperative. In the late 1990’s the Consortium added the Marlette District and West Branch District libraries as members. The first special library, the Michigan Molecular Institute, joined the consortium in 2003. In 2004 the VLC added public libraries in Caro, Dryden, Imlay City, Iosco-Arenac, Lapeer, North Branch, and Pigeon. In 2006, the Community District Library in Corruna became the twenty-fourth member. At the time the Consortium expanded in 1991, it went from using a CLSI, Inc. library automation system to a Dynix system. Since 2004, the VLC has been using the Horizon software developed by SirsiDynix, Inc.

In 1997, Saginaw Valley State University decided to end its participation in the Consortium and purchase its own library automation system. At that time the VLC severed its relationship with SVSU and moved to a building that it purchased in Saginaw. Currently the VLC enjoys modern offices with an environmentally controlled computer room, a meeting room, and a computer-training lab. The White Pine Library Consortium leases space in the building, which allows for mutually beneficial arrangements between the two organizations.

One of the many advantages of the Consortium is that the members have access to a shared bibliographic database of over 826,000 titles and over 1.9 million copies. Over the years the members have spent many hours developing standards and procedures that govern the use of the database. Any new records added to the system must be in MARC format. This is crucial in maintaining a consistent and easily portable database when the VLC migrates to a new system. The shared database also facilitates interlibrary loan of materials among the VLC members.

Over the years, with the SirsiDynix software, the Consortium has added a number of features and services that were not part of the original configuration that consisted of cataloging, public access, community resources and circulation. Some of the newer services include: serials management, acquisitions, and remote patron authentication. The VLC is also the Internet service provider for its members that are directly connected with leased data circuits. In 1995 the VLC began providing on-going authority control work for the shared bibliographic database. In recent years, with the development of the Mel (Michigan elibrary) program, the VLC has worked to provide direct access for members’ patrons to databases from inside the library and from home or office.

In August 2004 the Consortium upgraded its central site computer hardware. Several of the members with direct connections to the VLC have upgraded their connections over the years so that now all have a 1.544Mbps or higher connection.

The annual operating budget of the Consortium is funded through a combination of a flat annual membership fee and fees based on the members’ use of the system. The VLC also receives some Federal money through the Universal Service discount program. The Consortium assigns part of the annual fees to a capital account intended to finance the next generation system. The Consortium also has other funds that are dedicated to building maintenance and improvement needs.

The VLC looks forward to continuing its service to libraries interested in working together to reduce costs and share resources through the cooperative use of an integrated library management system.