COOPERATIVE COMPUTER SERVICES:
CCS is an Illinois Intergovernmental Instrumentality under the state’s 1970 Constitution, formed to administer certain jointly held assets, namely the Integrated Library System. The 24 libraries (plus four branches) which make up the organization collectively own the hardware and data and license the software and content enrichment. Initially established under the management of the North Suburban Library System, it started in 1974 with six libraries (Cook Memorial, Glencoe, Indian Trails, Northbrook, Warren-Newport and Zion-Benton), under the name CCCS (Cooperative Computer Circulation Service). The original platform was the CLSI LIBS100 system on a minicomputer. (This was before the PC Era; the rise of minicomputers made library automation relatively affordable.) The CLSI system began as a circulation system only and was housed at the Northbrook Public Library, but as more functionality became available from CLSI, both cataloging and an online public catalog were added to the available CCS services. More libraries were added through the 1970s and a second “cluster” was formed. In the early 1980s the two groups merged, and the physical operayion was relocated to the NSLS headquarters in Wheeling. Eventually it was decided to separate amicably from NSLS and make the group an autonomous entity, and in 1987 all participating libraries agreed to support the establishment of CCS as an Illinois Intergovernmental Instrumentality (after a proposal to become a nonprofit as CCCS Ltd. was rejected). At that time an Administrator, Richard Shurman, was hired to manage the operations, and CCS was officially constituted on February 29, 1988. Also in 1988, Roger Anderson was hired as Database Manager to take responsibility for maintaining the integrity and utility of the database, Lynda Brewer was hired as Administrative Secretary, and Leah Stothoff replaced the retiring Marion Moranetz as the overseer of the Computer Room.
In 1991 CLSI was purchased by GEAC. In 1993 CCS moved to its current Arlington Heights location. That same year, CCS upgraded to LIBSplus, but complete comfort with that platform was never achieved, particularly with their online catalog and lack of backup tape verification. Half a dozen of the then-25 CCS libraries departed to go standalone, and in September, 2000 the Governing Board voted to license Sirsi’s Unicorn system. CCS went live with Unicorn on December 12, 2001. Among other improvements, the new vendor made it possible to provide a graphical, web-based online public access catalog (OPAC) called iBistro. Since then, no library has left CCS, but five have joined, making the total 24. In 2011, CCS went live with BiblioCommons as its Discovery Layer (the new term for user interfaces which go beyond the library catalog).
CCS is guided by the Governing Board, Executive Committee, committees, Task Forces and Technical Groups. CCS governance is based on an Intergovernmental Agreement and Ordinance Of Authorization, By-Laws, and policies and procedures. A representative from each member library (usually the Director) sits on the Governing Board, which meets bi-monthly to make decisions about the budget, operating procedures and policies of the cooperative. In addition, seven elected Governing Board members serve as the Executive Committee, which meets monthly to approve financial reports and bills for payments, receive committee recommendations, and convey recommendations to the Governing Board for final action. The committees, composed of Directors, include Budget and Finance, Bylaws and Policy, Long Range Planning and Nominating; the Database Management Task Force consists of representatives from the Governing Board, Catalogers and Public Services staff. The five Technical Groups, composed of library staff working in various departments, propose day-to-day operational guidelines and policy changes for the ultimate approval of the Governing Board. The Technical Groups include Catalogers, Circulation, Interlibrary Loan, Maintenance Coordinators and Patron Access Services. There are also less formal discussion groups for Acquisitions, Serials and the Director’s Station reporting tool (due to become Analytics Station in 2013). Other ad hoc groups are formed to meet as needed for a specific time.
Costs of membership are determined in part by the size of each library’s collection, materials budget, legal service population, registered patrons or number of simultaneous staff user licenses needed, but many expenses are divided equally among CCS members. Each spring the Governing Board approves the budget for recommendation to membership (each library must act individually but may do so passively under the By-Laws), using the Three Year Plan as a backdrop. By belonging to CCS, each library has the benefit of a large bibliographic database, a shared patron database, discounted group licenses to other sources of data, the associated hardware and software, the expertise of the CCS staff, and the opportunity to network with the other member libraries. This cooperative structure has proven to be more efficient and cost-effective than operating independently for libraries