Business & Economy

Florida college and university libraries adopt next-generation technology

New cloud-based system will improve access for students and operations for librarians

The Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative, a division of the University of West Florida Innovation Institute, finalized an agreement with Innovative Interfaces, Inc. to upgrade the technology used to manage and share millions of books, journals and other educational resources across the state’s public colleges and universities.

The new system will expand access to material and improve the user experience for today’s tech-savvy students. The upgrade will also allow librarians to establish and adopt world-class standards for acquisition, management and customer service.

The Florida Legislature provided $1.5 million this year to implement the next-generation system. “Florida is investing in technology to provide college and university libraries with the resources to help students succeed in school and earn a degree,” said Dr. Pam Northrup, senior associate provost and chief executive officer for the UWF Innovation Institute. “I am grateful to the Board of Governors, the Florida Legislature and the college and university library academic deans and directors for their commitment to innovation. Because of their support, Florida is leveraging the power of technology to graduate more students every year.”

Under the agreement, Innovative Interfaces, Inc. will provide off-the-shelf software, cloud hosting and service. The comprehensive system has three primary components.

• The Sierra Services Platform provides an integrated management system to organize, track and share physical and electronic resources across all 40 colleges and universities. The system also allows librarians to manage their work within one system, from start to finish, and from any device.

• The EBSCO Index, which uses a rich and robust system metadata to catalog material, provides better search results.

• The Encore Duet Discovery Tool provides powerful, single search functionality that streamlines access to physical and digital resources.

“This contract opens the door for statewide collaboration that offers expansive services and resources to students and faculty, interoperability of functionality for staff, and sets Florida apart as a leader in the next generation of library service,” said Janice Henderson, director of learning resources for Northwest Florida State College.

With the new system, professors and instructors will be able to integrate high-quality library content into their learning management systems. The tool, called the Curriculum Builder, allows instructors to access and add content from the libraries to the course reading list in their curriculum – all with a single click.

“A successful implementation of the new system is mission-critical to all of the public colleges and universities across Florida,” said Anne Prestamo, dean of university libraries at Florida International University. “Librarians and staff from all 40 libraries will work with the FALSC on the migration to insure that the new system is configured to meet the needs of the libraries and our campus communities.”

Florida law requires all public college and university libraries to use the same system for managing a range of material, including print publications, photos and videos, and digital content and collections. The current system was implemented in 2004 using site-based servers managed by the state. The new system will be hosted by a third-party vendor in a cloud environment, which will better meet spikes in demand for bandwidth. A new responsive website design will allow students to access material from any device, anywhere and anytime. New features for librarians will improve the ability to find, track and share material, process new acquisitions, and analyze usage.

“Innovative understands how transformative this initiative will be for students and faculty of state-funded higher education institutions,” said Bill Schickling, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Innovative Interfaces, Inc. “We are very excited to partner with FALSC to provide an extensible solution that meets their needs today and serves their strategic goals of the future.”