Minutes of the Merlin Consortium
May 11, 2017
Northern Waters Library Service
I. Call to Order
Chair Teresa Schmidt called the meeting to order at 10:01 a.m.
II. Quorum Determination/Recognition of Proxies
Quorum (of 21 members) was determined with the following attendees: Sherry Machones, Michelle Gostomski, Mike Sheehan, Marsha Sorensen, and Mike Sauvola (NWLS); Shirley Miller (Vaughn); Blair Nelson (Bayfield); Cherie Sanderson (Boulder Jct.); Kristine Lendved (Cable); Nan Andrews (Eagle River); Molly Lank-Jones (Hayward); Courtney Dietsche (Iron River); Julie Zelten (Land o’ Lakes); Connie Ross (Madeline Island); Jennie Thewis (Mellen ~ online); Teresa Schmidt (Mercer); Cari Hutton (Phelps); Shelly Knaack (Presque Isle); Emile Braunel (Sayner); Amy Stormberg (Shell Lake); Angie Bodzislaw (Spooner); Sue Heskin (Superior); Darrell Pendergrass (Washburn); Patti Meyer (Webster); Donna Knuckey (Winter ~ online).
There were no proxies.
Since there were new directors for this in-person meeting, Teresa asked for introductions.
III. Approval of the February 16, 2017 Consortium Meeting Minutes
Nan Andrews moved to approve the minutes. Seconded by Shirley Miller. There were no comments. Passed unanimously.
IV. Approval of Financial Reports
Michelle Gostomski presented the Merlin financial statements. She remarked that she provided numbers next to the Consortium Operations lines under both receipts and expenditures so the balance of the Fund would equal the bank account. Also, the expenditure line was higher because she had recently paid for the Collection Agency product. What the Consortium is seeing with the statement are actual, up-to-date numbers. Cherie Sanderson moved to accept the financial statements as presented. Seconded by Kristine Lendved. Passed unanimously.
V. Reports from NWLS Staff
IUG User Conference Report:
Mike Sheehan discussed some of the highlights from the annual IUG Conference he attended in early April:
• A sales representative is working on our contract restructure, our products owned and bundle/tier comparison, and an account plan.
• A beta version of a Sierra Application accessible from a Chrome web browser is being tested by libraries finding both pros and cons of the web app.
• A representative of the Suburban Chicago public libraries gave a presentation of their experiences with eliminating late return fines.
• The IUG enhancement process of voting with ballots will be replaced with a more collaborative and community-driven platform, similar to a wiki, called Spigit. NWLS staff will develop a workflow with the consortium.
• The next Sierra upgrade (release 3.1) is expected to include the new holdshelf architecture to fix problems with items dropping off the holdshelf. There will also be the first phase of expanding limitations with fields affecting item and patron records. Notes on other future enhancements can be found from the handout that was attached with the meeting documents.
Mike Sauvola explained the relationship between the networking services of Badgernet (the contract service that provides the connections between libraries and NWLS) and WiscNet (the entity that provides NWLS’s connection to the Internet.)
There is no longer a delay of Badgernet’s contract renewal and restructure with AT&T for another 7 years. There is also no longer a delay in approving WiscNet to provide the Internet connection in the Badgernet network, although the costs are yet to be determined, causing further delay in moving the servers to Eau Claire.
The Sierra servers (database and application) are scheduled to be replaced and last year the Consortium approved the most cost effective option of utilizing space at the Regional Data Center (RDC) in Eau Claire for a virtualized Sierra server environment rather than a replacement of the physical Sierra servers in NWLS server room. Detailed costs of the project are still pending.
Regarding the Badgernet upgrades, Mike mentioned the contract delays also caused the network upgrades to be delayed. The first phase of this project, with site visits, has just begun and libraries were given a schedule of site visits with Mike and an AT&T technician to plan for actual installation of new equipment. This will be a limited-impact process for the library. Since the state has designated schools to be upgraded first during the summer, public libraries will follow. With bandwidth increases, most libraries will increase from 10 to 50Mbps; larger libraries may see increases to 100Mbps. The state determines capacity based on usages. Libraries increasing bandwidth beyond 25 Mbps. (the current router limit) will need to purchase a new router.
Mike Sheehan presented information about Innovative replacing support for their telephone notification system from Teleforms to iTiva, a new and improved product. The consortium can choose to continue with Teleforms which is no longer supported by Innovative. Mike explained the notification process and compared the costs of using the two products. Teleforms was a one-time purchase paid by LSTA funds and iTiva is a subscription service. It is uncertain whether III will ever include SMS text messaging with iTiva. NWLS can explore other SMS text messaging options. NWLS did include iTiva in the draft of the 2018 Merlin Budget as an option for consideration.
Marsha Sorensen reminded libraries that Superior began using the Collection Agency module and a $10 service fee will be added to records sent to collection services. Libraries collecting the $10 fee should forward it to Superior. While only Superior patrons will be submitted to Unique Management, the charges may be included on bills for items borrowed from other libraries. Sue Heskin clarified that Superior staff have been deciding which patrons are sent to collections (it is not an automated process) and, so far, they have not sent patrons that have charges for items belonging to other libraries. However, this will change in the near future. An account of the collection agency fees will be visible in the patron record with a new field and the Fines Paid Table as a Collection Agency fee. Sue explained that the $10 fee is in place to pay for ongoing expenses with the collection agency and asked it not be waived.
VI. Other Business
Review of Merlin Compliance Document
Teresa Schmidt asked for suggestions on areas needing modification. Suggestions for changes came from the Circulation Standards portion of the Compliance Document:
• Page 1 – “the library will print notices…” is changed to “the library will process notices” to reflect the understanding that not every library physically prints notices, but all libraries should take care of their notices and paging lists each day the library is open.
• Page 2, item 4 – “Libraries will not waive fines and bills…” was changed to state “Libraries will not waive bills owed to other libraries.” This allows library staff to work out options with patrons blocked from services due to late return fines.
• Page 2, item 8 – Libraries should use institution cards when checking out to patrons through teachers, schools, libraries, daycares, and senior centers. These accounts need the associated status (i.e. Teacher). Marsha Sorensen from NWLS will sent out instructions for creating and using institutional cards.
Motion by Kristine Lendved to approve the revised Merlin Compliance document. Seconded by Shelly Knaack. Passed unanimously. Revised copies of the Compliance Document will be printed and sent out for new signatures.
Recommendation for Purchase of New Inventory Scanners
Mike Sheehan reported that the current inventory equipment purchased in 2009 has begun to fail. The devices have been replaced with a Symbol CS3000 series scanner from Motorola. Mike provided an overview of the new scanning process:
• The battery charges faster.
• The scanner battery holds the charge longer.
• The internal flash memory capacity is far greater.
• The cost per scanner is 60% cheaper ($200 versus $700).
Julie Zelten moved for NWLS to purchase 5 of the Motorola Symbol CS3000 series scanners for the inventory kit to be paid from the Merlin Operations (General) fund. Seconded by Amy Stormberg. Passed unanimously. Once the devices are purchased, arrive, are configured, and procedure manuals are updated, Mike will resume scheduling inventories for libraries.
Discussion of Draft 2018 Merlin Budget
Teresa Schmidt introduced the 2018 draft budget options noting that NWLS has shown four versions:
1) A base cost for 2018 with no add-ons
2) A base cost with Boopsie (Merlin app) only added
3) A base cost with iTiva (new telephone notification system) only added
4) A base cost with both Boopsie and iTiva added
Teresa remarked that from the February meeting discussion, there was general consensus Boopsie was a desirable service but there were concerns about affordability due to the uncertainty of costs involved in replacing the server, about whether it would be paid from the Capital and/or General funds, and about when to start a Boospie subscription.
Michelle Gostomski and Mike Sheehan explained some of the increases that make up the base cost in the proposed Merlin budgets. While increases to the automation software and Cloud Backup are estimates based on past experience, the increases to the NWLS Merlin Team, IUG Conference contribution and travel line are based on actual costs from 2016/2017.
Sherry Machones reminded members that if we do not follow the plan to move the servers to the RDC in Eau Claire, the Consortium will need to have a difficult conversation on increasing the Capital fund line since there are currently not enough funds to pay for a replacement of our current turnkey solution or for an Innovative hosted option. (The turnkey solution was over $60,000 on a three-year replacement schedule and the hosting was just as bad with a three-year price tag of over $90,000.) The RDC move would entail a one-time $8,200 migration fee plus an annual $5,000 service charge.
The base cost with the Boospie app add-on includes the first-year subscription cost for features demonstrated at the February meeting. It also includes the one-time $6,995 implementation fee paid via the Merlin Capital or Operations Funds. Mike Sheehan will ask for a quote for separate customization costs the members could pay for on their own.
The base cost with the iTiva add-on showed the first-year cost higher in the quote for implementation and the remaining subscription costs being less money.
The last version of the budget shows the base with both Boopsie and iTiva added in.
Showing all the versions of the budget provides members with a range of what to expect in 2018 for Merlin costs. Teresa asked if the Consortium wanted to make decisions now or accept the ranges and vote at the August meeting. Consensus was that the group would have to wait until a decision can be made about the server move and its impact on the 2018 budget, and that the 2018 budget should be brought before them in August.
Teresa Schmidt declared the meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
The next meeting will be August 17, 2017 at NWLS.
Michael G. Sheehan
Merlin Meeting 2017.05.11
Minutes of the Merlin Consortium