Grant-funded service platform brings smiles to library staff, patrons

If students, faculty and other patrons of Fresno Pacific University’s Hiebert Library soon see more smiles than before on the faces of the always friendly library staff, it’s because this summer their lives are getting easier.

Thanks to a six-figure grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation, the library purchased a new service platform to handle acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, serial management and the online library catalog. The new system, called Sierra, is the latest from Innovative Interfaces, the software company that produced Millennium, the system that had been in use. “This is going to be a very simple switchover, the public is not going to see much difference,” said Kevin Enns-Rempel, library director and author of the grant.

The Encore discovery service will continue to be the program patrons see, while the new Sierra service platform runs in the background. Encore brings together the catalog and the databases to which the library subscribes so that customers can find articles, books or whatever else they need.

What will change is that staff will no longer need to leave one function, such as cataloging, to use another, such as acquisitions. “Sierra is designed to break down those silos,” Enns-Rempel said. Sierra will also allow staff to use tablets and other wireless devices to access the system, and will expand the kinds of statistics and other data staff can gather. “It’s a more open source system,” he added.

This Fletcher Jones grant will pay for everything from hardware to training. Ongoing costs of the new system are the same as those for Millennium, so there is no increase to the university budget. “So this is one shot and paid for,” Enns-Rempel said. The conversion is to be complete by the time classes begin in August.

A Fletcher Jones grant paid for the library’s first service platform, called Advance, in 1994. In all, Hiebert Library has gotten three Fletcher Jones grants and Enns-Rempel is aware of at least two more that have come to FPU. “Fletcher Jones has been good to us,” he said.

This grant is special to Enns-Rempel because it’s the first he’s applied for. He was inspired by a grant writing course he took as part of his studies for a Master’s in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. “It’s definitely a confidence booster to get a grant in the six figures the first time,” he said in an interview with SJSU (ischool.sjsu.edu/people/community-profile/enns-rempel).

Fletcher Roseberry Jones was a mathematician, businessman and pioneer in the field of computer science in the 1950s. He and partner Roy Nutt launched Computer Sciences Corporation in 1959. The Fletcher Jones Foundation, based in Pasadena, was incorporated in the State of California in 1969. After Jones died in 1972, the trustees made the support of private colleges and universities in California the foundation’s primary emphasis.