ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke Valley Libraries (RVL) has signed on to implement OCLC Wise, an online engagement system, for their public libraries.

According to RVL, this is the first community engagement software for public libraries. The software will be implemented in the libraries within the following areas:

  • Botetourt County
  • City of Roanoke
  • City of Salem
  • County of Roanoke

Unlike a traditional integrated library system (ILS) — which keeps records of libraries collection and users — OCLC Wiss will make it easier for users to discover and interact with what the libraries have to offer.

“Many people are familiar with the online catalog,” notes Ann Tripp, Salem Library Director. “OCLC Wise is that, and so much more.”

Public libraries, which were formerly storehouses for books, have become community centers with many resources and experiences for all ages.

“Libraries are more about people than things,” states Toni Cox, Acting Director for Roanoke County Public Library. “Our libraries have changed so much over the years that the traditional approach of a collection-focused online catalog is no longer enough to meet our patrons’ needs.”

RVL says Wise is designed around people and takes community engagement and collection management to a new level by combining customer relationship management, marketing, and analytics with ILS functionality (checking out books). It allows people to do what they could with the older system, while also supporting the libraries’ mission to have an impact in their communities.

According to RVL, patrons can expect an easy-to-use online platform, personalized to their profile to help uncover what they want to read, find, and experience in the library. More specifically, it will allow them to identify what they are interested in and immediately notify them when something they like is added.

“We often hear people say, ‘I didn’t know you had/did that!’ when they talk to our staff,” says Sheila Umberger, Roanoke Public Library Director. “OCLC Wise will make it much easier not only to find what you’re looking for but also to discover and take advantage of opportunities you didn’t know existed at your library.”

There is also a mobile app, which allows the following from their smartphone:

  • search the libraries’ catalog
  • manage their account
  • scan ISBNs
  • get notifications
  • share on social media
  • contact the library

“RVL is excited to join some of the most innovative public libraries in the U.S. by adopting OCLC Wise as our new community engagement platform,” notes Julie Phillips, Botetourt Library Director. “We’re an early adopter, which means we have a big voice in how this product is developed to meet our users’ needs.”

RVL says that OCLC Wise is a successfully tried product in Europe and has recently been adapted for use in U.S. libraries.

“…That puts us on the cutting edge of technology that meets our communities’ needs and expectations in a way most libraries can only dream of, states Phillips on the possible minor glitches that the product may develop along the way. “We just ask for a little patience during the transition process!”

Roanoke Valley libraries plan to implement this new community engagement platform this fall.