TLC Blog


Cybersecurity Hygiene for Your Library

Cyber hygiene is a reference to the practices and steps that users of computers and other devices take to maintain system health and improve online security. These practices are often part of a routine to ensure the safety of identity and other details that could be stolen or corrupted. Much like physical hygiene, cyber hygiene is regularly conducted to ward off natural deterioration and common threats. Think of your system as… well… you!

TLC strongly believes in taking a proactive approach to application security for our customers, so much so that we’ve built it into our routine processes; it’s not an afterthought. Part of our development cycle includes continuously assessing the security of our own application and remediating issues as they are found.

Our level of assurance is built into the development cycle for every major release and applicable patch releases, using industry-leading vulnerability analysis tools. We also deploy a DHS CISA check frequently for external testing. In addition to securing our own applications, our hosting and corporate infrastructure are protected by world-class endpoint security.

TLC has teamed up with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to create TLC•Cloud Services, a state-of-the-art cloud-based hosting platform that you and your library can trust to keep your information safe.

Because security is not a one-time event, TLC support is prepared when customers report concerns to replicate with our internal processes and respond as needed with application updates or guidance on local practices to mitigate risk. Please see our case study on the ransomware attack that threatened to cripple TLC customer, Butler County Federated Library System, and the risk-reduction mindset we used to diligently restore data and further protect the library.

Download the Infographic

Check your system’s health: or 1.800.325.7759





Why we RDAize records

Garbage in, garbage out. It’s a phrase many of us may be familiar with. But for the Data Services, Implementation, and Client Services teams at TLC, it’s a phrase that characterizes some of the larger hurdles they’ve encountered with a library’s implementation and ongoing support. Data. Specifically, bad data. Incorrect characters, missing fields, and outdated formatting have caused some pretty big problems for customers over the years and some of our team’s most time-consuming challenges.

When LibrarySolution™ made the generational jump from versions 4.x to 5.x, TLC created utilities and enhanced existing processes to better address the “bad data” issue during the database build process. This led to the invention of the Purify process and the incorporation of RDAExpress™ into the build process. However, building a database is not the only time when records are added to a database. What happens to the records that are imported, merged, and searched for on a day-to-day basis? LS2 Cataloging  addresses every record as they are added, regardless of the timing.

The Purify process contains two parts: “pre-rinse” and “scrub,” which occur during the implementation of a LibrarySolution™ 5.x database and every time a title record is saved to the database after implementation. 

“Pre-rinse” looks at a number of structural components in the MARC record, such as fields, subfields, leaders, and control numbers. This is a step that focuses on a record’s structure, not its content.

The “scrub” step focuses on content enrichment of certain fields. An example of this would be genre consolidation. More details on both of these proprietary steps are provided to the customer during the implementation or upgrade process.

TLC identified the fields and missing characters that were the consistent culprits in registering as errors while building a database. The fields and characteristics that are addressed during the purify process were identified by product management, subject matter experts, and data analysts after an extensive audit of the implementation process.

RDA-ification via RDAExpress™ is a process separate from Purify, which is also applied to every record that is added to the LibrarySolution™ database.

RDAExpress™ adds up to 20 fields, depending on format. RDA standards provide controlled terms for information previously found only in fixed and notes fields. RDAExpress™ inputs these controlled terms in the “characteristics fields” (34x, 38x), enhancing consistency for search and discovery in library catalogs. RDAExpress™ adds additional enriched content such as MPAA ratings and video game ratings. RDAExpress™ adds relator terms to name fields for greater discovery.

It’s important to reiterate that these processes are not only at the database building level (upgrading from versions 4.x to 5.x or a new LibrarySolution™ implementation) but EVERY time a record is added and saved to the database — every imported record brought into a TitleSpace.

For more information on implementing LibrarySolution™, upgrading from version 4.x to 5.x or having RDAExpress™ clean up your data, please visit or call 800.325.7759.

Download the Infographic





New Year, New Inventory Workflows

January at the library is traditionally a quiet time of year when staff can catch up on projects and begin thinking toward future initiatives. During these less busy times and to kick off the new year, inventory projects are a great way for libraries to start the year with an accurate collection and to ensure everything is in place. January is the perfect time to begin putting the chaos of 2020 in our collective rearview mirror.

With libraries quarantining returned materials, fluctuating between periods of partial and full closures to the public, and the constant stress that many staff faced throughout the year, we are reminded how turbulent a year it was and the importance of a reset that the new year can provide. Plus, an increase in holds-based services (such as curbside pickup), means more demand for items to have a correct availability status in the online catalog when patrons are searching and to be in their correct locations when staff are searching the shelves.

One of the ways TLC can help your library achieve its shelf management goals is through the latest LS2 Inventory features offered in the 5.6 release of LibrarySolution®. We streamlined shelf management and inventory workflows for operational efficiency, so that library staff can spend more time with customers and less time ensuring the statuses of library resources are accurate.

LS2 Inventory allows library staff to scan the items on your shelves, update the date inventoried in the item’s record and the last-seen-date of the material on the shelf, and get alerts to any exceptions in real time while the item is in hand. The count of items in the inventory process are available with greater clarity, and users can collaborate on collections with access to detailed reporting.

In addition to this streamlined workflow and in collaboration with our partners at Tech Logic, TLC developed functionality to incorporate Tech Logic’s award-winning circTRAK Shelf Management RFID scanner into LS2 Inventory workflows. Now LibrarySolution® customers can quickly scan through their shelves with an RFID wand to complete a real time inventory project at a faster pace.

The RFID option also allows for a minimum-contact method to complete an inventory project quickly. Although we didn’t plan this development to coincide with the pandemic, we are proud to be able to offer this solution to our LibrarySolution® customers with similar development on the roadmap for our CARLConnect customers too.


📣 Don’t forget the AV carts and scanners from TLC•SmartTECH and the award-winning circTrak wand from Tech Logic to make a completely portable Inventory station!
📣 Interested in a demo? Contact a sales representative today.
📣 Ready to upgrade to the latest version of LibrarySolution®? Contact support to learn more.





Three Benefits of eBiblioFile
All RBdigital Customers Should Consider

TLC’s eBiblioFile MARC record service just became available to a new cohort of libraries and media centers with OverDrive’s recent acquisition of RBdigital. This extension of service is timely, as we all grapple with the effects the pandemic is having on libraries. Libraries need their borrowers to have the best discovery tools available in order to find content. That means having good data, and eBiblioFile will help.

eBiblioFile is an on-demand service that creates and delivers MARC records with enhanced RDA fields for eBooks and other downloadable library titles.

Automatic Ready-to-Load Records
When a library places an order with OverDrive (including former RBdigital customers), eBiblioFile automatically receives that information and delivers ready-to-load records for each title directly to the library. Records are RDA-ified, authority controlled, contain the library’s predefined custom fields, and have a URL link to the title on the eResource vendor website.

In addition to Overdrive, this service works with cloudLibrary™ by bibliotheca, as well.

Full Records in Less Than Two Days
Unlike other MARC services, the library receives a record for every title within two days of eBiblioFile receiving an order from the library’s eResource vendor. When there is not enough metadata to create a full record, a minimal RDA MARC record is created with all the standard fields except topical subject headings. Libraries then have the option to get full replacement records for minimal records if they become available.

Cheaper than the Competition

Full records are $1; minimal records are free of charge.
With full coverage of each order and a 48-hour turnaround time, it’s no longer necessary for a library to load the minimal “on order” placeholder records from their eResource vendor.

RDA-ified Print Titles

Additionally, libraries can use eBiblioFile to receive RDA MARC records for previously ordered eResource titles, and can utilize the optional RDAExpress service to convert MARC records for traditional print titles to the RDA cataloging standard.

For more information, visit





The Next Generation of Innovation

About this time last month, The Library Corporation (TLC) hosted a webinar on their recurring Webinar Wednesday series to bring awareness to the new TLCCloud Services platform powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and to discuss the benefits this new hosting environment brings to both the company as a whole and their library customers.

The webinar was hosted by TLC’s Director of Marketing, Jamison Reynolds, featuring Chief Operating Officer, John Burns, and Chief Technology Officer, Justin Duewel-Zahniser, as expert panelists.

The following includes the highlights from the webinar. Some content has been edited and adjusted for clarity and length. To watch the webinar in its entirety, you can find the recording at the TLC Webinar Wednesday archive at

Meet the COO and CTO

To kick off the webinar, Reynolds introduces TLC•Cloud Services, an improved hosting platform:

TLC has teamed up with Oracle to redefine hosting library services. TLC•Cloud Services utilizes Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to provide our customers with unmatched control, security, and predictability to deliver high-performance, Cloud-based infrastructure services. OCI is a deep and broad platform of cloud services that enables TLC to design and build our applications in a scalable, secure, highly available, fault-tolerant, and high-performance environment.

He shares that TLC’s current products offering TLC•Cloud Services include CARLX™, LibrarySolution®, and LibrarySolution® for Schools. TLC offers ILS hosting in multiple regions of North America and globally, providing support for regions and countries who prefer or require local data residency.

Reynolds then introduces the panelists.

John Burns, Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Burns has over 20+ years of experience with TLC, having built his career in a range of roles within the organization: primarily within sales and marketing capacities. He was recently promoted to the role of COO as of January 2020. Prior to that, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing.

He shares anecdotally that his mother was a librarian in the K-12 and Public Library systems. “As irony has it … technology forced my mother into early retirement in the library industry … and here her son is 30 years later doing a webinar on OCI and technology in libraries.”

Justin Duewel-Zahniser (DZ), Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

DZ originally worked for TLC from 2003 to 2006, as one of his early technology jobs. With his computer science background, he started as a software trainer for LibrarySolution® before moving into technical product management. In 2006, he left TLC and spent a little over a decade working on global supply change and reverse supply chain solutions, in a technical product management capacity.

He rejoined the TLC team in 2017 as the Chief Technology Officer. In that time, one of his focuses has been the Cloud platform migration and transition, directly relevant to the topic of the webinar.

A Long History of Innovation

TLC’s history with hosting does not begin with the OCI initiative. Burns elaborates on the 46+ years of innovation that came out of TLC within the library technology space, following this general decade-at-a-glance timeline. Interspersed here are high-level descriptions of major generations of data hosting models from DZ.

  • TLC was founded in 1974 by the family that still owns and operates the company today.
  • In 1985, TLC introduced the original data platform, BiblioFile, which started on microfiche. Later, TLC was the first company to use CD-ROMs for data.
  • In 1995, TLC was the first vendor in the world to build their ILS platform natively from the ground up for the Microsoft Server operating system, beginning the initial partnership with Oracle for the underlying RDBMS structure. Soon after, TLC introduced its first data hosting platform, ITSMARC.

This time in TLC’s history corresponds with our Gen 1 data hosting model. DZ elaborates on the data center built out of the TLC Headquarters office in Inwood, West Virginia and defines an on-premise (or library-hosted) solution. The library provides the hardware locally and TLC installs the software and supports it. Libraries still have this option today.

  • In 2005, TLC began hosting their first customers from the corporate internal hosting facility

  • Within five years (2010), demand for hosting increased and TLC moved to a Tier 3 hosting service, co-located in Ashburn, VA for LibrarySolution® customers and around the Denver area for CARL customers.

This corresponds with our Gen 2 data hosting model, the co-location (or co-lo) model. DZ outlines the responsibilities of each facility and highlights the main difference from Gen 1 is the move to virtualization. Both the software installation and the database (part of that software install) run on the virtualized hardware in the data center.

  • Fast-forward to today, 2020, TLC partners once more with Oracle to leverage the power and scalability of cloud hosting.

This corresponds with our Gen 3 data hosting model: the Cloud model, expanding the virtualization model.

Leveraging the Power of Oracle

Reynolds poses the question: Why did TLC choose to move to OCI as opposed to someone else in that space, like AWS or Azure?

DZ addresses the value proposition for using Oracle to provide cloud hosting: If you’re using Oracle as your back-end database, who better to provide hosting and cloud solutions than the database provider? “Really no one is ever going to beat Oracle [as] the most performant, most secure, most integrated operating environment for Oracle-based products.”

Burns recognizes the cognizant choice to make an objective decision during the marketplace assessment and how Oracle’s performance and costs compare to other platforms: “It just made sense for both of our ILSs.” With the move to cloud hosting, TLC can focus less on the hardware and apply resources more toward its expertise — library software and technology.

Choosing OCI over competitors in the market was also acutely observed with one of TLC’s CARL customers, who had the option of going from an on-premise solution to a city managed hosting model provided by AWS. This customer selected to move forward with TLCCloud Services provided by OCI.

See additional comparison information in the Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers section below.

In addition to the benefits to TLC customers, described below, TLC will be a customer of its own TLCCloud Services platform. DZ explains how TLC uses Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for its internal development environments and the operational benefits that it provides.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers

“How does this directly affect TLC Customers?” Reynolds asks before expounding, “Many times people think to parse that out, whether we’re speaking about LibrarySolution®, LibrarySolution® for Schools, or CARLX™. How does this affect everyone?”

DZ and Burns lay it out with these primary benefits to TLC Customers:

Geographic Redundancy and Improved Latency

By moving to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, TLC immediately gains access to all the data regions offered with no difference in implementation. Rather than managing a number of co-location hosting facilities in multiple locations, TLC gets the exact same configuration, deployment model, network and hardware performance — in all regions, globally — from one service provider.

Customers, historically, would have needed to connect to either the Denver, CO or Ashburn, VA hosting facilities respective of their ILS product, and had the potential to experience some network latency depending on their physical distance from that location. Now, TLC can provide its customers with a closer network endpoint, supporting decreased network latency.

Improved Application Performance

TLC developers can take advantage of the scalability and improved client performance, based on the Oracle expertise and how that platform is developed, in order to improve application performance.

DZ references these side-by-side speed tests from the marketplace evaluation.

Latest Hardware, Newest Software: Effective Budgeting

With TLC•Cloud Services, TLC customers will always be using and leveraging the latest and greatest in their hardware capabilities: Solid State Drives (SSD), storage, processing, and computing power.

In comparing the on-premise model to the TLC•Cloud Services hosting model, elaborated more later, Burns expresses that libraries can spend more time doing the things libraries want to do, and less time tending to on-premise servers. “The efficiencies libraries gain through this and the mental relief they gain,” he thinks is well worth the cost.

Burns keys in on the fact that customers will no longer need to go through the budgetary refresh cycle of hardware. The cost is spread out over time through a small increase yearly — more effective than the larger cost required in the typical 5-8 year rolling budgetary schedule to replace hardware.

Upgraded hardware has a direct impact on budgets, as well as the capability of the software itself. “We can develop software now faster than your hardware can keep up with.” On-premise libraries get locked into their budgetary cycles and are unable to afford newer hardware and are, therefore, unable to upgrade to the newest versions of software.

TLC takes into context these older, antiquated systems while developing new features. DZ reassures the audience that TLC does work to maintain that backwards compatibility with the on-premise deployment.

Disaster Recovery, Backups, and Data Security

Burns shares that TLC•Cloud Services provides customers with data-at-rest encryption capabilities, multiple levels of disaster recovery options, and improved data backup across multiple domains. OCI gives TLC more flexibility and options for its customers’ needs.

DZ elaborates on the inherent level of security as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is being used by enterprise-level clients with demanding security requirements. TLC customers benefit indirectly from this, as TLC is able to take its own secure application environment and deploy it into a platform managed by the security requirements Oracle instills as a baseline for everyone who uses that infrastructure.

Reynolds asks DZ about data privacy concerns. With Oracle’s strong database encryption and data separation built into the platform, customers deployed into that environment automatically benefit from data-at-rest and database-layer encryption.

Additionally, TLC is already intentional with its logical and security separation between any given customer instances, from both a privacy and security standpoint; this level of separation is built into the underlying infrastructure of the Cloud platform.

Migrating to a New Platform

From On-Premise to Hosted

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, Reynolds asks: What difference can library customers see when switching from an on-premise solution to a hosted solution with TLC•Cloud Services?

Burns spotlights the library’s relationship with their on-premise IT support: “You offload that responsibility for all of the hardware, all of the OS maintenance, all of the updating.” He reiterates the budgetary cycle and the benefit of disaster recovery mentioned earlier in this article.

“When you’re on-prem, even though we provide full services here through our client services, there’s still a level of liability that you hold in housing that hardware in your facility.” He shares an anecdote of how TLC has worked with customers who had to use stacks of books to elevate server equipment off the floor during hurricane flooding.

DZ elaborates, stating that customers in the cloud platform would only be responsible for maintaining a sufficient internet connection — and that’s it — from a simplified IT infrastructure standpoint.

He further explains keeping up with data security standards in the library industry and shares TLC’s role on occasion during times of data crisis, such as when customers over-commit to their on-premise infrastructure. He also references this case study, where TLC moved a customer quickly and diligently into a hosted environment, restoring data following a severe ransomware attack on their local system.

Reynolds expounds on the thought, adding a sentiment from a customer who moved from an on-premise environment into TLC•Cloud Services at the start of the year. In the era of COVID-19 with patrons accessing more digital content like ebooks and e-resources, the customer felt it was nice knowing that traffic was going through a dedicated OCI network, rather than hitting the library’s network and network resources.

Reynolds takes a question from the audience: “Does this mean that the on-premise model will be phased out? At what point will TLC clients be required to move to Cloud?” Burns responds with a resounding, “We will never tell our client when they have to move from on-prem to hosted. We don’t force our customers to upgrade.”

However, Burns emphasizes that being in a cloud environment means faster upgrades with fewer hours of downtime. He references comments made by TLC Customer Matthew Mattson of Los Angeles Public Library from this interview.

From TLC’s Co-Location Hosted Model to TLC•Cloud Services

Reynolds takes a multipart audience question: Are you migrating all hosted clients to the new hosted platform? Any expected downtime? How will this affect pricing for renewals?

Burns states that TLC’s longtail plan is to migrate customers out of the current co-location facility into Oracle cloud, but that there is no end-of-life deadline. TLC will reach out to clients during their renewal and upgrade processes and initiate a conversation at that time regarding the library’s needs. “This isn’t just a mass exodus… This will be a strategic type of process.”

Downtime would be no more than what a library can anticipate for a large system upgrade. DZ answers first from the context of a customer already using TLC’s co-location hosted services: the transition is a standard maintenance window. Downtime is required as TLC performs a transformation of the library’s current transactional data state.

Transitioning from an on-premise environment into a co-location hosted environment is not very different from transitioning into the cloud hosted environment. Which is to say that both transitions require a more complex data migration project. For those considering this option, TLC has a very high success rate for data migration as well as additional data services.

Another audience question comes in: Are you required to have the latest software version in order to go into the Cloud? DZ confirms that TLC will be supporting both versions of the Library•Solution® product — 4.x and 5.x — but that there may be a minimum version within each major product line. For a more tailored response based on your own version, please reach out directly to your TLC Support team.

Future Implications for TLC

To close out the conversation, Reynolds asks Burns what potential future implications may be for TLC moving forward with TLCCloud Services. Burns reiterates that TLC does more than integrated library systems — the first 25 years of the company were predicated upon data services. As TLC continues to evolve more innovative products, they want to take advantage of Oracle’s scalability.

His final sentiment sums up TLC’s excitement for the future:

Be on the lookout for new products coming from TLC based on Oracle Cloud. Be on the lookout for existing products to be modernized in that environment — like our ITSMARC data service. … As an organization at large, we’re going to benefit from this and our consumers and clients are going to benefit from this in meaningful ways. … We’re very excited about this big, strategic intent for the company. It will deliver meaningful benefits to our end users and our internal workforce.

For more information, visit or email us anytime at The unedited version of this webinar can be viewed in its entirety from our Webinar Wednesday archive.





The Librarian’s Guide to Cloud Hosting

What is TLC•Cloud Services?
TLC has teamed up with Oracle to redefine your experience with hosting library services: introducing TLC•Cloud Services, an improved hosting platform.

TLC•Cloud Services are powered by the highly trusted Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and managed by data and library experts at TLC, to ensure that your library servers have high performance with the latest, next-gen hardware and your network and data remain secure.

Comparing an On-Premise Solution to TLC•Cloud Services
Some libraries choose to utilize an on-premise solution for their library network and data needs, and TLC continues to support that model as we always have.

For libraries looking to move to a hosted solution, TLC•Cloud Services provide the newest hardware with annual next-generation upgrades, giving your library the fastest performance. By using TLC•Cloud Services, our customers can expect the latest CPUs, GPUs, off-box networking, and NVMe SSD based storage services.

With TLC managing the firewall and day-to-day server responsibilities, as well as secure daily backups, the need for constant server repairs, upgrades, and purchases is eliminated, and threats to cybersecurity are minimized.

This is what they do. That’s their business. As good as any library is in its IT department, they’re not going to compete with a professional hosting service.”Matthew Mattson, Los Angeles Public Library

“Just do it. Don’t wait. I think it will be amazing how much kind of hidden time you spend on server related stuff that you don’t realize you’re spending that time on until all of a sudden it goes away.”Lynn Hoffman, Somerset County

Comparing TLC’s non-Cloud hosting model to TLC•Cloud Services
TLC has been a leader in data hosting services for over 20 years, and our hosted customers know and expect the outstanding and high level of service that we provide. By partnering with Oracle, TLC is able to expand on its already exceptional service offerings to provide an unmatched and highly efficient cloud hosting environment.

Employing an OCI environment for our TLC•Cloud Services results in an optimized solution for our customers and company, allowing TLC to focus on projects and innovation which make a positive impact for our customers.

TLC utilizes the same Oracle Cloud-based infrastructure for its own internal development environments, relying on Oracle’s RDBMS capabilities and leadership to power its library management and data services products since 1995. OCI is the premier platform for managing the Oracle Database, and a logical choice for continuing to power Oracle-based products into the future.

“The entire concept of having a hosted ILS makes me very happy. I do not enjoy being in the business of the care and feeding of servers.” Lynn Hoffman, Somerset County

“We’re about to embark on a project to move our servers to an OCI environment and we’ve been able to go into that with confidence because of previous TLC projects on that kind of scale.” Kathleen Lockett, Wellington City Libraries

For Libraries Ready to Migrate
TLC is very excited about the opportunities that OCI will bring to our customers. For additional information or to begin planning your migration to the new TLC•Cloud Services, please contact your Project Manager, or reach out today to speak with a representative. We are in the process of migrating customers now, and look forward to chatting with you further about what TLC•Cloud Services can mean for you.

For more information, visit





You Don’t Have To Be a Hero

During this Global Pandemic many jokes have been made using dystopian and apocalyptic books and movies, like Hunger Games and living in the Thunderdome.  It made me think of the theme song from Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome

“We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome”

They all just wanted a life without the struggles of survival.

Librarians have taken on the mantle of Superhero in the last couple of decades. There are T-shirts, comics, pins, even ribbons at conferences depicting librarians as flying in, to the rescue!  In 2010 Marilyn Johnson’s book, This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, was published by HarperCollins with a cape-wearing librarian flying to the rescue.  Last year the Nancy Pearl Librarian action figure got an upgrade to a full-on superhero with When an age of darkness comes a hero must rise! printed in bold letters on the packaging.

Lately, we have all been struggling to be superheroes in a true age of darkness.  Libraries are shuttered, schools are closed, we are sheltered in our homes.  Librarians are struggling with how to be a superhero in their community when they don’t have a place to be, let alone capes and superpowers.  Libraries have advocated as essential services.  Libraries are community centers where we go when there is a crisis.  Now what do we do?  The worst thing a library can be right now is a gathering place. Yet the pressure to succeed and be what the community needs is still there.  Many librarians are grappling with how to be innovative and dynamic in a pandemic.

Have we lost our capes?

Well, what is a hero? A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

What is more courageous than making a hard decision to keep your community safe? What is a more outstanding achievement than having your community still want the library to be open in their time of need? What is nobler than caring enough about your community and fellow staff members to keep them safe in a pandemic?

Yes, we all could have been more prepared; however, we don’t really have a TARDIS, and no matter how awesome we are (or how often we dress like him/her) we are not The Doctor, so we lack the ability to travel through time to see what the future might bring.  In the best of times it is hard for a lot of people to just get through the day under normal circumstances.  These are not normal circumstances.  There is no contest to see who can be the best library in a pandemic. 

So, pack away the cape and just keep being the awesome, courageous, outstanding, and caring movers and shakers that you are. You don’t have to be a hero.  You already are one.   #youbeyou2020  #thankyoulibrarians  #thankyouteachers

Melissa Powell, MLIS
Customer Success Manager

Melissa Powell, MLIS
Customer Success Manager
TLC • The Library Corporation


Libraries are Proving they are more than just a Physical Space

Librarians have spent the better part of the last 30 years fighting to prove the necessity of the library in every community and school.  As the economy changed libraries were targets for closure, deemed unnecessary by many with the advent of the internet and digital resources.  When we tell people what we do they say, “We still have libraries?” or the ever-popular, “why do we need libraries? We have the internet!” 

When COVID-19 showed up on our shores there was a dilemma: we have spent years telling people we are essential yet now we are closing our doors.  Many communities kept the libraries open because they are the place for communities to “gather in times of emergency.” Of course, this emergency meant we SHOULDN’T be gathering, so what do we do? How do libraries still serve their communities if they can’t open their buildings?

That has never been more obvious until now. Libraries around the country are opening their digital doors and reaching out to the community where they are, at home. 

Some libraries did (and are still doing) curbside service for physical items.  However, all libraries are focusing on eResources; buying and giving access to more eBooks, promoting digital learning tools, taking advantage of many of the vendors who are offering free and discounted products and services to libraries to pass along to their patrons.  

As we enter the second month of social distancing and stay-at-home orders libraries are just entering their stride. Storytimes on Facebook and Instagram have become regular programs for the littles who miss their “library ladies (and guys)”. Libraries are supporting online learning mandates by providing digital materials. Online book groups and electronic reference services are extremely popular.  Libraries are sharing links to the numerous authors who are reading their books online. They are streaming concerts, virtual museum tours, sharing local history and photos from their historical collections, posting instructional videos on sewing face masks from materials you have on hand, crafts for the whole family, and downloadable coloring pages, games, and puzzles.  

Some libraries are using their MakerSpaces with their 3D printers to print respirators and face shields for the hospitals and their sewing machines to make cloth masks for their community.

Librarians and library staff ARE essential.

Students perform better with school librarians on campus and literacy rates are higher where communities have active literacy programs. A space is generally necessary; however, these past weeks have proven that it is the people who staff those spaces that are essential. 

Melissa Powell, MLIS
Customer Success Manager
TLC • The Library Corporation


Tips and Tricks For Successfully Working From Home

Although TLC has recently rolled out a requirement for staff who are nonessential for facilities to work from home, many of TLC’s employees already telecommuted.  TLC’s staff as a whole are not the only ones due to the COVID-19 Pandemic to adjust to telecommuting full time. Many of TLC’s customers and their populations are also making the same adjustments.  

Here are tips and tricks from TLC’s full-time telecommuting staff to make this situation as productive and enjoyable as possible.

Have a dedicated space.  Having a desk with all the tools, supplies, and personal touches to make it feel like your “office” can go a long way.  Try to create a space that is separated from the distractions of daily life, if possible, such as a guest room away from the dishes and a place that signals to your family that when you are there, you are working. 

Create rituals around going to work.  It is easier to prevent burnout and be productive if you try to create more separation between your work and your personal lives. Set schedules for your work time and try to stick to those.  Get dressed in the morning. It doesn’t have to be fancy like you were going to a traditional office, but staying in your pajamas all day, although it sounds great, usually doesn’t help you feel accomplished. 

Isolation can be a wonderful work partner, especially if you do the type of work that requires you to work through difficult user flow. However, don’t work so long that your legs go numb and your back is permanently bent.  Just like working in an office, you want to schedule breaks and more interactive time with your colleagues.

When you find that you need to work with others, to think out loud and be questioned about the elements of your process, Slack is a great way to communicate both by text and by calling directly through the app.  Google Hangouts are an easy way to set up an impromptu meeting, especially if you need to see a human face or hear a human (adult) voice. 

Speaking of meetings, be aware of your surroundings.  If you are going to be on camera, make sure that the background isn’t overly distracting, or near a bright window, a lamp, or even a ceiling fan.  Check to see that you are centered on the screen and the audience is not seeing a screen of the wall with your head at the bottom. Establish boundaries – close the door if possible and educate other members of the home that you are ‘at work’; the education process may take some time for both you and your household. Be disciplined and think ‘you are at work’.


Things they did not prepare me for in Graduate School

Things they did not prepare me for in Graduate School
Megan Fisher, Bee Cave Public Library

  1. The intricacies of trying to build a walk through Sneetch-bot from scratch.
  2. How much I would overuse 586 field (it’s my favorite) or how many times I would yell at my computer screen because I totally fixed the problem in the record and why won’t it just save already.
  3. How to deal with a global pandemic.

I’m writing this blog from a makeshift standing desk. It’s made up of a cafe table, a small decorative trunk and a bunch of halloween light boxes. My at home coworkers keep trying to attack the images of glow in the dark spiders and won’t stop laying on my keyboard demanding attention. They are also fluffy, have tails and have no useful opinions with regards to how to increase digital literacy.

I’m one of the lucky ones: my director and city manager have been more than accommodating in making sure we can all work from home; I have fast wifi at my current location; and I was able to outfit my personal laptop with everything i needed make sure I could function during the duration of the shelter at home policy.

My job as a cataloguer should make working from home nearly impossible. I have several colleagues from around the country lamenting about how they don’t have a viable way to work from home right now, due to the nature of their ILS system and the need to have the books physically on hand. But like most of you out there, my job has many hats, some of those hats are amazingly suitable for working from home and can be worn with fuzzy slippers.

I’m taking frantic calls from patrons that have never used our OverDrive system before but need to find books to distract them or their family because they already read all 20 books they checked out before we closed.

I’m working on collection development, despite not knowing when the items I am listing will go on the shelves. This also seemed like the perfect time to really dig into the LibrarySolution cataloging system and prepare for migration. If I mess up now, there will be plenty of time to fix things. There are all kinds of continuing education classes in Excel that I am moving off my “to-do” list. Ya’ll, I can do very fancy spreadsheets now.

After trying to coax my coworkers into using Teams for the past year, now finally seems like the right time to really start to use the program. I’m thrilled mostly because now I can send them endless gifs of Fiona the Hippo… but also so we can hold conference calls and I can teach everyone what I am learning about the new TLC system even though we aren’t face to face.

During these online meetings with coworkers, these calls with patrons, and the messages sent back and forth with the TLC team as we work towards migration, I’ve noticed something…. no one wants to stop the conversation. We want to talk to someone because we’re all feeling the strain of not being able to go anywhere or see other people outside of our bubble. We want to know how other people are doing, WHAT they are doing. No one knows how long this will last, or what’s going to change day by day. It’s fair to say it’s a bit scary out there right now.

Asking someone “Are you OK?” at the start of a call and ending it with “Stay safe” are the new Hello and Goodbye. Asking if someone’s local store has restocked on toilet paper and pepperoni is the new “do you need anything else?”.

I don’t think anyone was prepared in grad school for the day when we would have to debate how we protect our staff and the public and still serve them all. No one could have the foresight to stop in the middle of a lecture on the organization of information and say “by the way, if all the libraries have to close because of a pandemic here is the universal list of do’s and don’ts”. After all of this is over, I’m not even sure we could compile  that list. There is no one-size-fits-all. There is no RDA manual to tell us where to put the comma and how long to stay closed.

So for now we muddle through and do what we can. We hope that the powers that be remember how bleak things were without us when it comes to next year’s funding. We binge watch continuing education videos so we can come back with a new skill (sorry, I don’t think binge watching “the walking dead” counts as continuing education…yet.). We contact coworkers and friends to check on them. And in return our nonliterary related friends probably ask us how the heck they can access digital items and send us that picture of the library cake (you know the one). We carry on as best we can, like we did that one time we got a shipment where all our preprocessed books came in with the wrong spine labels. We got through that catastrophe and we can get through this pandemic.

This is our current normal. And we are prepared to adapt as best we can. We may not have a manual for how exactly to get through this, but we will because just like how we build entire candy lands out of cardboard, or how we can plan programs based on whatever we have on hand, we can duct tape this thing together from our living rooms.

So maybe Grad School did prepare me for this in some ways.

  1. It taught me to be flexible, because things don’t always work out the way you intended and unexpected obstacles are just part of the job.
  2. It taught me that sometimes you have to take what you have and figure out how to make it work.
  3. It helped me develop a “I don’t know that now, but I will figure it out”

But seriously, if anyone knows of where I can get some pepperoni, let me know because my store is empty and my at-home co-workers are totally unsympathetic.

Megan Fisher
Bee Cave Public Library
Bee Cave, TX