Murray Shepherd, on left, University Librarian at UW since 1973; Michael Ridley, Chief Librarian at UG since 1995; and Virginia Gillham, University Librarian at WLU since 1992.
"... Strategic goals will yield economic efficiency and maximise the information resources available to the students, faculty, and staff of the Universities. ..."
These words were included in the agreement signed by the Presidents of the University of Guelph (UG), Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), and the University of Waterloo (UW) on February 22, 1995. These words established focus for my two colleagues, Mike Ridley and Virginia Gillham, and me. From that day, much of our time has been dedicated to developing a vision of bringing together three distinct university libraries, staffs, and cultures. TriUniversity Group of Libraries, the official name of our partnership, represents 339 library staff and serves 45,000 students and 1,600 faculty members. Our combined holdings are more than 7.5 million items. Soon we will be sharing a state-of-the-art, automated library system. Together we have accomplished a great deal in three short years.
I am pleased to have this issue of the Friends of the Library Newsletter focus on our most challenging and most visible project to date - TRELLIS. While you are reading this issue, we will be taking a unique step in our library's history as TRELLIS, our new integrated library system, goes "live." As this collaborative project is the first of its nature in Canada, the eyes of the academic library world are upon us!
It seems only a few years ago that we bid farewell to that old favourite, the card catalogue; now, we are mounting a powerful, flexible, friendly system that will provide access to a much wider range of resources. These resources include computer-based indexes, information at other World Wide Web sites, and databases around the country and the world - all of this material from a computer terminal in one of our library locations or through the Web from your home or office.
Inside this issue, allow me to introduce three individuals from UW - Mark Haslett, Jay Black, and Susan Routliffe. They are representatives of the many individuals who have spent more time on the TRELLIS project than they could ever have imagined. Their involvement illustrates the collaborative spirit that provides the foundation for TRELLIS.
University Librarian, UW
I am writing this note on Monday, March 23 - the day the TriUniversity Group of Libraries has officially started to use the cataloguing module of TRELLIS. I've been down to UW's Cataloguing Department and things actually appear quite relaxed. Betty Graf, the Coordinator of the Cataloguing Department, tells me though that there is a new issue to deal with every ten minutes.
Although this is an exciting day for library staff, I am sure the level of excitement will be surpassed when the TRELLIS public access catalogue is released later next month. When that happens, the results of several years of labour will become obvious to library users.
The TRELLIS project has been a significant technical undertaking. Perhaps what defines it even more, however, is the level of cooperation and collaboration that is occurring. More than forty staff members from the three university libraries have been actively involved in the project for over two years. They also have worked with staff from their respective computer centres, especially UW's. In fact, Dave Kibble, a Strategic Consultant from IST, has served as Project Manager. Although we have faced many challenges, the willingness to work together has been quite remarkable. As the final release date draws near, all library staff are involved in learning to use the new system.
As a relative newcomer to UW and the TriUniversity Group, I feel privileged to be a part of this project and to be associated with the people involved. The project has been very "teams-based." To a great extent, my role as Project Sponsor has been to encourage collaboration, develop consensus, and provide support as needed, but in general has been to let the "teams" do their work. The work of the team members, particularly their level of good will, dedication, and simple desire to get it right for our users, has impressed me. It all bodes well for the success of TRELLIS.
From the technical perspective, the TRELLIS project achieves a number of objectives: replacement of old and unmaintainable computer systems; transition into important current technologies like the World Wide Web and three-tier client-server architectures; and the use of commercial "off-the-shelf" hardware and software.
By purchasing software from Endeavor, we became part of a larger user community of major academic, research libraries that co-operate to further enhance and develop the application, resulting in long-term benefits at lower cost to all the users. The current technologies allow us to provide easy access to TRELLIS from around the campus, as well as over the Internet. The architecture allows us to tune the hardware and its performance piece by piece, rather than as a single, massive system. Using commercial "off-the-shelf" hardware and software means that existing technical skills can be used to their best advantage to support the system.
Just how different can three university libraries be? In particular, how different can the libraries at the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier be from one another? On the surface, the libraries appear to be pretty much alike - they all have books, they all lend books, they all want books returned by the due date. They all have staff working hard to provide friendly, efficient service. But scratch a bit beneath the surface and numerous differences start to emerge. And scratching beneath the surface is what three of us have been doing since 1996 as we've worked to develop a harmonized lending policy so that borrowers can access the libraries at all three universities without needing to be familiar with three different sets of policies and regulations.
In July 1996, Vera Fesnak (WLU), Donna Sartori (UG), and I met for the first time to begin the work associated with harmonizing our lending policies. It quickly became clear that the first challenge for each of us was simply to understand the policies and practices of the other two libraries, why they had evolved as they had, and how they differed from those of our home library. Once we had a detailed list of specific points of policy for all three libraries, we were able to consider ways to harmonize in order to make access to the collections simpler and smoother for our borrowers. After extensive consultation with staff throughout all three libraries, we now have a provisional harmonized lending policy that we will introduce when TRELLIS is implemented. In the upcoming year, we will monitor the impact of the provisional policies and meet with various groups to find out how well they think things are working.
Trellis is also easy to say: it is short, simple, and a strong word. Our users will remember it. If you are not already a library user, you might want to consider getting to know TRELLIS. We have worked hard to make it work for you.
If you have any questions about TRELLIS, you can contact Mary Stanley, Library Office, by telephone at 888-4567 extension 6019 or by e-mail at email@example.com. You also can visit the "About TRELLIS" link on our Electronic Library at: http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca
A public talk in celebration of the creative process
six impossible things before breakfast
Friends of the Library Newsletter is a publication of the University of Waterloo Library. It is scheduled to be published twice yearly and is supported by the University of Waterloo Friends of the Library association.
Editor: Sharon Lamont
Assistant Editor: Esther Millar
Contributors: Jay Black, Mark Haslett, Susan Routliffe, Murray Shepherd, Mary Stanley
Photography: (unless otherwise noted) Photo/Imaging, University of Waterloo
Printed: Graphics, University of Waterloo
April 29, 1998