Some changes are in store for patrons of six local library districts.
The six districts have split from the larger PrairieCat Consortium to form the new group.
Fountaindale Executive Director Paul Mills, chairman of the Pinnacle governing board, said the primary motivation of the new cooperative is to provide better service to patrons.
"(The six libraries) have a shared history of collaboration, so we're looking to build on that history with Pinnacle," Mills said.
Plainfield Library Director Julie Milavec said the smaller catalog group hopes to increase efficiency and give libraries more local control over policies and technology.
“It really took a lot of time to make any decisions and get things moving,” she said of the 76-library PrairieCat system.
Those 76 include various types of libraries, from public libraries to academic libraries and school libraries, according to Scott Pointon, director of the White Oak Library District, which serves Romeoville, Crest Hill and Lockport.
“It just makes things more cumbersome,” he said. “It made for some inefficiencies.”
The change will mean interlibrary loan items will spend less time in transit, Milavec said, and resources will be shared more equally.
The new database will have an enhanced search feature, she added. Patrons will also have the ability to create usernames, rather than having to remember their 14-digit library card number.
“One of the best features for me as a library patron is the ability to keep your reading history,” Milavec said. “[There are] all sorts of cool things that will enhance the patron experience.”
The online catalog will be available by June 14, according to Pointon, who said the shift to a smaller system will also save the districts money.
“We’re paying $5,000 less [per year] to get the same level of service for our patrons and, we think, a better catalog,” he said.
Scott Pointon's wife, Sandra Pointon, is the director of the Lemont Public Library. She called Pinnacle "a proactive measure to ensure the continued availability of resources for taxpayers."
"One of the things we've been concerned about is that the state will reduce or eliminate the delivery of certain materials," Sandra Pointon said. "The new cooperative will give us more control over our resources, and in many cases patrons will have better access to popular items."
While the pool of libraries is smaller, Milavec doesn’t anticipate a negative impact on selection.
The six member libraries have a combined catalog of 1.3 million items, which made up about one-third of the PrairieCat catalog, Scott Pointon said.
“Unless you’re looking for something very unique, you should be able to find it,” Milavec said.
While patrons can no longer place items on hold from all 76 PrairieCat members, they can still use their library cards at any of the libraries in the new Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) “mega-system.”
“Our patrons will still have access to other materials,” Milavec said. “It will just be a different process.”
The six Pinnacle libraries are not the first to leave PrairieCat, Mills said. Late last year, 19 libraries in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois joined to form a cooperative called RiverShare Libraries.
"Libraries across the state are struggling, so they are looking at ways to cut costs and be more efficient while still providing the best possible service to their patrons," Mills said. "That's certainly our goal with Pinnacle."