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Professional Development Opportunity: Recollection Wisconsin Digital Projects Toolkit

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Recollection Wisconsin Digital Projects Toolkit and other professional development opportunities for digitization projects

The Recollection Wisconsin Digital Projects Toolkit is a free online course covering the basics of digitization projects. There are 5 modules -- project planning, copyright, scanning, metadata, and storage -- that each take around 30 minutes to complete. The course was created by Recollection Wisconsin in 2016 with support from WPLC, and updated in 2019 to go along with the DPI-funded digitization kits for public library systems.

The Digital Stewardship Curriculum from the Sustainable Heritage Network (Washington State University) covers all aspects of the Digital Stewardship Lifecycle - bringing materials in, managing and organizing materials, preserving materials, and providing access to materials. The curriculum is intended for cultural heritage professionals working in or with Indigenous communities but many of the topics are also replicable for small, non-Indigenous institutions.

The DPLA Service Hubs in Minnesota and Pennsylvania have created great resources for understanding copyright issues and assigning standardized rights statements for digitized cultural heritage materials. The Minnesota Digital Library’s video training sessions offer helpful steps for choosing standardized rights statements. PA Digital’s recorded webinars include a general overview of copyright as well as specific rights issues for oral histories and newspapers.

The Connecting To Collections Care Community (Foundation for Advancement in Conservation) addresses digital preservation in a series of five recorded webinars called “Caring for Digital Materials: Preventing a Digital Dark Age.”

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has an archive of free recorded webinars on topics like grant writing for audiovisual digitization projects. They also regularly offer fee-based live and on-demand webinars on preservation and access for both digital and physical archives..

Questions, suggestions? Please contact guest blogger Emily Pfotenhauer at   Posted by Cindy Fesemyer.


Now Available: 2019 WISCAT Statistics

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

WISCAT staff have recently compiled 2019 WISCAT statistics for public libraries, and have shared them with library system staff. For most library systems, these statistics reports will provide numbers that can be included in the Annual Report in fields “Items Loaned to Other Libraries – WISCAT” and “Items Borrowed from Other Libraries – WISCAT” if reporting “Categorized ILL Transactions, ” or incorporated into your “Total ILL Transactions.” The reports also include Unique Requests Sent, Fill Rate, Patron Initiated, and Staff Initiated counts on the borrowing end, and Requests Received and Fill Rate on the lending end. These additional figures are for system and library staff reference and are not required on the annual report.

You may wonder why these statistics are being generated several weeks after the year's end. Interlibrary loan statistics are essentially a snapshot of a moment in time, and the later statistics are run, the closer they will be to being accurate. As an example, a library may have placed 10 requests on 12/31/2019. Until those requests are all marked as Shipped by lenders, they will be seen by the system as not yet filled. Activity & Request Reports in WISCAT are based on request origination date, so statistics pulled on 1/1/2020 for 12/31/2019 may have shown the fill rate for those 10 requests to be 0/10, while a later snapshot would show them closer to 10/10, depending on how many are ultimately filled.

Please see WISCAT Documentation for more details on statistics, and please Contact Us with your questions.

Written by Gail Murray, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning


Perspectives on Resource Sharing Costs

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Note:  This was originally written by Josh Steans and posted in April, 2016.  Recently libraries have been asking for ideas on ways to show the value of their ILL programs. This article is a good place to start.

For all libraries, the push of user expectations counters the pull of rising costs, budget gaps, and an aggressively shifting information technology landscape. Strategic decisions emerge from this scrum with the objective of providing as many relevant resources to as many patrons as possible, and to do so as often, and as simply as possible.

Flying books

Resource Sharing is no exception. In fact, more than perhaps any library service, Resource Sharing is remarkably transparent, with each transaction offering a microcosm of the whole library enterprise: acquisitions and metadata for holdings and discovery; reference to help patrons find and request an item; ILL to quickly, cost-effectively, and compliantly source it; lending ILL to screen, pull, update, and ship the item (plus their own Circ staff to keep it in the right place); ILL to receive it, connect loose ends of the transaction and plug the business end of it all into the Circ department; and then Circ to hand the item to the patron. Quite some effort to get one item for one patron.

And what does all that effort cost? First, one caveat: Resource Sharing is the only library service that has periodically undergone thorough cost studies. The anecdotal estimates for some other library services—$95 to add a book to the collection (after purchase); $105 for a reference question; $10 to simply store an item for one year—outpace even the highest estimates for Resource Sharing.

As for those Resource Sharing costs, another caveat: there’s no clear answer. Great variability exists between loans and articles, in-consortium and out-of-consortium transactions, lending and borrowing, academic and public, true Resource Sharing and commercial services. There are at least 10 cost categories, each with a different benchmark. Estimates range from a low of about $3-$4 per transaction to a high of $9-$17. The highest end of this spectrum comes from out of date research: ARL studies from 1993 and 2003 that were conducted at large research universities. In addition to skewing heavily toward high-budget university libraries, these studies predate modern Resource Sharing tools, workflow efficiencies, and hiring/staffing practices. More recent research, published in 2012, benchmarks the average cost of transactions at about $4-$9. For the most meaningful cost picture, each library should run its own numbers. 

Regardless of exact numbers, there are universally accepted trends: consortium transactions and lending articles cost the least, borrowing articles are in the middle, and the undisputed heavyweight high cost champion (notwithstanding commercial document services) is out-of-network borrowing loans. But ranges trend higher and lower according staffing levels (ft/pt, librarian, assistant, clerk, page/student, etc.), policies, workflow efficiencies, and request volume at individual libraries.

Here’s one fact we can nail down: staffing is the biggest cost factor, and there’s no close second. But this is true of all library services and should come as no surprise. After staff, the other standard costs are: request systems, management tools, lender fees, shipping, equipment, and supplies. As mentioned above, the objective should be to get the most out of what you have. We know that when the number of transactions increases, the average cost declines. Implementing sustainable policies and workflows that encourage increased volume will lower the cost of each transaction and add value for users.

Posted by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning


PLSR Update: Internal Work Continues, Planning for Implementation Summit

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Public Library System Redesign (PLSR) was a multi-year process resulting in a Recommendation Report that was delivered to DPI in 2019. As DPI works internally and with stakeholders to make recommended improvements, we want to be as transparent and open as possible. Watch for regular updates on the Wisconsin Libraries for Everyone Blog and be sure to reach out with any questions or comments to us at Thanks!

DPI staff continue to work internally to set the stage for future success in implementing PLSR recommendations. Read below for updates on PLSR-related activities.

We are currently recruiting for a Project Coordinator. This position will help keep PLSR projects on track and connect disparate threads of work that overlap recommendation areas. This role will also help implement business process improvements and provide project management guidance to our staff. This position is primarily focused on PLSR, but will also assist with other library projects and processes, such as LSTA administration. We anticipate filling this role in March.

We have also been busy planning an Implementation Summit to be held during the first week of June. This will be a “point-in-time” check-in, facilitated by an outside consultant, to ensure the implementation process is moving in the right direction. We are working with system staff to build a representative list of attendees from libraries across the state. More details to come!

In order to ensure progress is being made on specific recommendations from the Final Report, we are reviewing recommendations and workgroup reports internally and completing further analysis that will help with implementation. Here are some brief updates on particular efforts:

Analyze the Current Funding Formula

Before his retirement, John DeBacher completed a draft of an issue paper that describes Public Library System funding. This is being reviewed and finalized. Additionally, we are preparing calculations of the existing state aid formula as well as a calculation of the alternate state aid formula that is described in statute, but not applied. This is groundwork for a larger study of the funding formula.

Professional Development

Our staff is working on defining the functionality of a statewide professional development tool. What problems would it solve, what would it make easier, and how would it enable librarians in the state, our most important asset, to do their jobs more effectively? We are also learning about the functionality of Learning Management Systems, both those currently licensed by DPI as well as those in use in other states or fields. In addition, we are engaging in conversation with colleagues from other state libraries to find out what solutions are working or not working for professional development nationally.

Enhance Collaboration by Creating Incentives and Removing Barriers

Library System Directors created an inventory of existing collaborations that are already happening in the state. We are reviewing that inventory and looking at other collaborations throughout the state to identify successes on which to build as well as start a gap analysis process to see where collaborations might be needed. We are also paying attention to other recommendation areas to identify potential barriers that might need to be addressed.

Initiate Delivery Service Pilot Projects

We are working to hire an external consultant to review the Delivery Workgroup report and the Final Report and define parameters and make recommendations for locations to host a delivery pilot project or projects.

Discovery Layer

To ensure we are speaking the same language when we talk about the potential for a State-scale Discovery Layer, we are developing a document to chart the features of various library technology platforms, such as ILS, ILL Management Platforms, Discovery Layers, etc. This information will serve as the basis for an upcoming issue paper. We have submitted a program proposal to discuss our findings at WAPL.

For more information on PLSR, visit the COLAND PLSR website.

Written by Ben Miller, Division for Libraries and Technology


ILL/WISCAT Quarterly User Group Meetings Scheduled for 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

We have scheduled the quarterly ILL/WISCAT User Group meetings for 2020. Please save the dates. We have chosen different days of the week and meeting times in an effort to cover different library staff schedules. Agendas and log on information will be sent two weeks before the scheduled date.

  • Wednesday, February 12, 10-11am                                                              
  • Thursday, May 7, 11-12am
  • Tuesday, August 4, 1-2pm
  • Tuesday, November 10, 10-11am

If there are topics you would like included in these sessions please let us know. At this time, possible topics include:

  • ILL best practices
  • Searching
  • Request creation
  • Lending responsibilities
  • Request manager
  • Participant record

The sessions will be recorded if you are unable to attend. Watch for more information on the WISCAT ILL listserv. If you do not subscribe to the list, please send a blank email to

Written by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning


It's not too late to order your 2020 WISCAT license!

Monday, January 6, 2020

It's not too late to order a 2020 WISCAT license! A license remains $200 per calendar year per library code for access to all WISCAT functionality. To learn more about WISCAT, visit our WISCAT Licensing page. To place an order, please use the online order form.

Please make note of the following:

  • The WISCAT licensing form auto-populates some information for you. Begin typing your library code or library name and select the correct library that appears, and the form should auto-populate your library’s address if you’ve previously had a WISCAT license.
  • The form auto-generates an invoice for you and sends it to the email address you provide. Please print your invoice and remit it with payment to the DPI address on the invoice. Invoices will not be mailed to individual libraries.
  • If you are purchasing multiple licenses at once, you will need to submit the form for each individual license. However, you may use one single check to cover all licenses.
  • Entities representing a legally constituted county library AND acting as an ILL Clearinghouse qualify for alternative pricing, as in past years. If this applies to you, please contact us directly via email to place your order.
  • As in previous years, purchase orders cannot be accepted on DPI’s end, but if your business office requires one you may enter your purchase order number in the form for the convenience of your local business office.

Contact us if you have any questions regarding WISCAT licensing at or 888.542.5543.


Supporting Child Care Providers and Maximizing Maker Efforts

Thursday, January 9, 2020

I had the opportunity to participate in an advisory capacity on two separate projects supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2019. Both projects have recently published the results, and I feel the content is high-quality and valuable. Regardless of the size of your library or scope of service, I hope you will consider these tools. 

TToddler reading bookhe Growing Providers Tool Kit includes lots of ideas and program models for how libraries can support child care. It also includes a Child Care Provider Resource Guide. 

Reaching young children and their families where they are means connecting child care providers. By 2021, there will be an estimated 856,238 U.S. child care operators, but there are still many areas of the country with child care deserts. Supporting child care providers is one of the key ways libraries can support children, families, communities, and small businesses. This tool kit is part of Brooklyn Public Library's Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded Growing Providers initiative and includes resources and descriptions of model programs from two model BPL programs: Growing Providers and Nanny & Me.

Lego buildingOpportunities and Vignettes for Library Makerspaces

This white paper was informed by the participants of the National Forum on Research and Assessment in Library Makerspaces, held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on August 6–7, 2019, generously supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and co-led by Maker Ed and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The forum brought together 47 individuals, each of whom are leading efforts in and/or informing maker-centered learning, from various areas of library practice and research, including informal and formal educational institutions adjacent to the field. The paper is organized around four main themes: Defining Making and Libraries; Shared Considerations; Demonstrating Value and Making the Case; Recommendations for the Future. 

Concerning the focus on equity in Wisconsin, take a look at Consideration #1: Access and Equity in regard to who we serve (or not) and how.

Written By:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt
Public Library Development

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Final PLSR Report: COLAND Invites Input in Public Listening Sessions

Friday, March 15, 2019

Guest Post from COLAND Chair, Bryan McCormick

The Public Library System Redesign (PLSR) Steering Committee recently turned in the Final Recommendation Report to the State Superintendent, Ms. Carolyn Stanford Taylor, completing the work that so many individuals throughout the state participated in and helped make possible. This was a huge undertaking and everyone involved in the process should be very proud of this achievement. To my knowledge no one else nationally has been successful with a statewide effort such as this; front line staff providing the information to help make decisions that will benefit our library patrons. It was not the legislature or government officials deciding on best courses of action, it was those of us in the library community.

Upon receiving the report, COLAND (the Council on Library and Network Development) has been informed that the Superintendent would like for there to be one final round of comments and has asked that several listening sessions be held across the state. COLAND is setting up four in-person listening sessions, to be held regionally throughout the state. The four sites and dates, as well as a link to the final report, can be found on the COLAND page here. One call in session for those unable to make it to one of the regional sessions will be scheduled and announced later in the process. I would encourage anyone with comments about the report to attend one of those meetings and provide feedback. COLAND will then compile and share feedback with the Superintendent.
Thank you again to all who have participated in this project, and to the future implementation of ideas that will further support and strengthen the programs, services and resources that Wisconsin’s public libraries provide to their patrons.

Bryan J. McCormick


Virtual COLAND listening session on the PLSR Steering Committee Final Report

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Register to Connect on Tuesday, April 30 from 2 to 3:30 pm, via Skype


The Public Library System Redesign (PLSR) Steering Committee recently submitted the final Recommendation Report to the State Superintendent, Carolyn Stanford Taylor. In response to the report, Ms. Stanford Taylor requested a final opportunity for community input. To fulfill this request the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) scheduled four listening sessions throughout the state, which were completed last week. COLAND will also conduct a "virtual" listening session, hosted through DPI's Skype. The session will be conducted next Tuesday, April 30, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. Registration is required for this session in order to maintain an orderly progression of responses. To register for the session, complete this form with your email address, full name, and your library and system affiliation. You will then receive an email response with the link to the Skype session, along with a reminder message next Tuesday morning. During the session, an online form will be provided for those who do not have a microphone or prefer to submit their comments in writing, as was the case at the in-person sessions.

Please feel free to share this information and the registration link with anyone who was unable to attend one of the in-person listening sessions, including trustees, other librarians, or interested public. The feedback, both from the in-person sessions and the virtual sessions, will be compiled and made available to COLAND members for their next regular meeting on May 10 at the Tomahawk School District. 

Written by John DeBacher, Public Library Development


Resource Sharing Helps the Department of Children and Families

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Guest Post Written By:  Glenna Carter, Librarian, Child Care Information Center, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Division of Early Care and Education

It is well known that Wisconsin’s resource sharing system serves public and academic libraries, K-12 schools and technical colleges, but it also serves state agencies that support a multitude of state services. One of these agencies is the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families  (DCF). Childcare providers all over Wisconsin look to DCF for guidance. 

DCF Logo

Many providers learned about Interlibrary Loan (ILL) from the Child Care Information Center (CCIC), a small special library in DCF, Division of Early Care and Education. CCIC is a lending library and information clearinghouse specifically for Wisconsin child care providers and trainers. They encourage providers to take advantage of their local library’s ILL service to conveniently access books and DVDs they could never afford to purchase.

On the flip side of the coin, DCF employees depend upon interlibrary loan for research articles that are not available to them online or on the UW-Madison campus. The federal government encourages states, in addition to universities and think tanks, to conduct and use research to find ways to improve their childcare subsidy programs (Wisconsin Shares), childcare quality rating and improvement systems (YoungStar), and other programs that make a significant positive difference in the lives of children and families. Some of the articles needed by DCF researchers and policymakers are hard to find in full text but, when the CCIC librarian runs out of ideas, the ILL experts at Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning always find a way!

Posted by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning