TLC Blog

Employee Spotlight: Brian Crosen, Senior Engineer

In honor of TLC’s 50th Anniversary, we are highlighting our employees that have dedicated their time and talents to the success of our libraries. 

Today’s spotlight features Brian Crosen, a Senior Engineer who has been at TLC for 26 years. Brian’s journey at TLC began as a Developer, and he has since progressed to the role of Senior Engineer, playing an integral role in the company’s progression of products and services.

Brian’s favorite aspect of his job is the opportunity to upgrade TLC’s products continually. “Improving security and taking advantage of newer technologies is incredibly rewarding,” Brian shares. His dedication to enhancing TLC’s offerings reflects his commitment to providing customers with the best possible solutions. For Brian, joining TLC was an opportunity to pursue his passion close to home. “Starting out early in my career, TLC was one of the few locally hiring companies where I could find a position in my field without having to drive a long distance into the city,” he explains.

One of Brian’s proudest accomplishments is his role in developing Online Selection & Acquisitions (OSA). “I’m the original author of most of the code for this product,” Brian explains. “OSA has been serving our customers virtually non-stop since the year 2000, and we continue to improve on it to make it stronger and more secure over time.”

With a variety of features to choose from, Brian highlights the Inventory component as a personal favorite. “I was heavily involved in developing it,” he says, emphasizing his hands-on contribution to its creation. Through his years at TLC, Brian has learned invaluable lessons. “Don’t rush things,” he advises. “Take the time needed to plan designs, communicate effectively, write clean code, and test thoroughly. This saves everyone more time in the long run.”

Outside of work, Brian enjoys a diverse range of hobbies. “Playing Xbox games, repairing things that break, and spending time with family,” he shares, offering a glimpse into his life outside the office. Brian’s favorite genre is science fiction, reflecting his fascination with imaginative storytelling and futuristic concepts.

Brian’s advice to TLC’s customers is: “If you have ideas for improvements or enhancements, don’t keep them to yourself. Contact TLC and tell us! We’re always improving, and your ideas are a large part of what makes those improvements happen.”

The Library Corporation celebrates Brian Crosen for his unwavering dedication, his innovative spirit, and his commitment to the company’s shared vision. His contributions have been instrumental in shaping TLC’s success.

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Employee Spotlight: Valerie Gainer, Accounts Receivable Analyst

In honor of TLC’s 50th Anniversary, we are highlighting our employees that have dedicated their time and talents to the success of our libraries. 

Valerie Gainer has been a part of The Library Corporation (TLC) family for over three decades, bringing dedication and expertise to her role as an Accounts Receivable Analyst. Her journey with TLC began 32 years ago, starting in the Order Entry department, where she quickly displayed her knack for customer service and attention to detail.

Currently, Valerie holds the position of Accounts Receivable Analyst, a role she has excelled in due to her strong work ethic and interpersonal skills. One of Valerie’s favorite aspects of her job is the opportunity to collaborate closely with customers and co-workers, fostering relationships and ensuring smooth operations.

Valerie was drawn to TLC because of its family-oriented environment, which resonated with her values and made her feel at home within the organization. Over the years, she has experienced numerous professional successes, but one that stands out is her instrumental role in streamlining accounts receivable processes, enhancing efficiency, and maintaining strong customer relationships.

When asked about her favorite feature of TLC’s products, Valerie highlights the comprehensive support and service provided to customers, emphasizing TLC’s commitment to always being there when needed.

Throughout her tenure at TLC, Valerie has learned the importance of teamwork in achieving collective goals and ensuring seamless operations. She believes that every team member plays a crucial role in the organization’s success.

Outside of work, Valerie enjoys indulging in hobbies such as going to the movies and shopping, which offer her relaxation and enjoyment. She is an avid reader, particularly fond of love stories, naming Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook” as one of her favorites.

Valerie’s advice to TLC’s customers is: “The Library Corporation strives to always be there for our customers, so don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you need assistance.”

TLC appreciates Valerie Gainer’s enduring commitment and positive contributions to the spirit of dedication that defines the organization.

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Employee Spotlight: Calvin Whittington, Director of Finance

In honor of TLC’s 50th Anniversary, we are highlighting our employees that have dedicated their time and talents to the success of our libraries. 

As the Director of Finance of The Library Corporation (TLC), Calvin Whittington has spent an impressive 37 years shaping the financial landscape of TLC. 

Calvin joined the company as a Controller. Over the years, his responsibilities expanded, leading him to his current role as Director of Finance. When asked about his favorite aspect of working at TLC, Calvin responded, “The people.” It’s clear his passion for his job is deeply intertwined with the relationships he’s cultivated over nearly four decades. Additionally, when asked about his favorite product feature, Calvin didn’t hesitate to mention, “We do what it takes to make Librarians happy.” 

Reflecting on his career, Calvin recounts the reason he decided to join the staff at TLC. “I was inspired by the owners,” he shares. This sentiment underscores the importance of leadership and vision in fostering a workplace culture where employees feel valued and motivated. 

Outside of his professional life, Calvin enjoys hitting the greens. Golf serves as a beloved hobby, offering a chance to unwind and recharge.

Calvin Whittington’s journey at The Library Corporation exemplifies the rewards of dedication, passion, and a people-first approach to business. Calvin’s impact at TLC extends far beyond the balance sheets, leaving a lasting mark on both the company and the communities it serves.

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50th Anniversary Spotlight: Annette H. Murphy

Celebrating 50 Years of TLC: An Ode to our Co-founder, Annette H. Murphy

As we look back on the last 50 years of The Library Corporation, it’s only natural to reflect on the visionary behind it all: Annette H. Murphy. Her unwavering dedication, pioneering spirit, and profound love for libraries have left an indelible mark on not only TLC, but the entire library profession.

In an era where change is the only constant, TLC has stood steadfast in its commitment to libraries. From its inception in 1974, the company’s mission has been clear: to provide unparalleled services and products tailored exclusively for the library community. This dedication to libraries remains the top priority, even as the world around us evolves.

Central to TLC’s ethos is its emphasis on superior customer service. Mrs. Murphy’s vision of fostering a familial atmosphere within the company has ensured that TLC remains more than just a vendor; it’s a trusted partner. Libraries know they can rely on TLC for both cutting-edge technology and for the unwavering support of a dedicated team.

Over the past five decades, TLC has been at the forefront of library innovation, constantly adapting to emerging trends and technologies. From pioneering the use of CD-ROMs for record searching to offering the first online public access catalog (PAC), TLC has consistently pushed the boundaries to empower libraries and the communities they serve.

When asked about her proudest moments, Mrs. Murphy’s response reflects the breadth of TLC’s contributions to the library profession. The company began its tenure in the industry with milestones like MARCfiche and BiblioFile, and progressed to the revolutionary integrated library systems (ILS) and online PAC. Each product represents the transformative leap forward for libraries worldwide.

TLC has embarked on a year-long celebration of its achievements, marked by sparkling cider toasts, the launch of a new online merchandise store, a reception at PLA, and a variety of events that serve as a testament to TLC’s enduring commitment to its employees, customers, and the broader library community. Yet, it’s clear that Mrs. Murphy’s vision extends far beyond just the festivities. 

Looking ahead to the next 50 years, Mrs. Murphy’s boundless ambition and belief in the power of imagination offer a glimpse into what the future may hold. Her prediction: “What you will see in the next 50 years depends on whether or not we listen to the dreamers and people with great imaginations.” In a world where the imaginings of far-out dreamers become reality, TLC’s role as a catalyst for change and innovation is more distinct than ever. Annette H. Murphy is a true trailblazer in the world of libraries.

Remaining a change agent is vital to staying ahead of the technology curve. In Mrs. Murphy’s own words: “If you don’t have enough confidence, you let others intimidate you.” TLC remains unintimidated as we celebrate our extraordinary 50-year journey and confidently continue to provide stability, excellence, and unparalleled service. 

Cheers to the next 50 years of innovation, collaboration, and unwavering dedication to libraries everywhere. Happy anniversary, TLC!

About The Library Corporation
TLC has operated continuously under the same ownership since 1974 and employs over 200 people dedicated to delivering enterprise software and hardware solutions to public, school, academic, and special libraries worldwide. TLC’s cumulative products are deployed in more than 1,100 organizations, representing over 5,500 locations in North America and worldwide. TLC is certified by the U.S. General Services Administration, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program. TLC’s Headquarters is based in Inwood, W.Va., and has additional offices in Colorado, Minnesota, and Singapore.

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Rochester (NY) City School District Pioneers RFID in the School Library Setting

Never shy about taking on a challenge, Rochester (NY) City School District tackled a migration of their Integrated Library System (ILS) and implementation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in the same year.

Under the leadership of Dr. Colleen Sadowski (Executive Director Library & Media Services) and Dr. Melissa Frost (Systems Librarian) the district migrated 43 school libraries in 2022-2023 from the Follett Destiny ILS to The Library Corporation’s LibrarySolution for Schools Integrated Library System.

“One of the key factors in our decision to change from Follett Destiny to TLC’s LibrarySolution for Schools was the vast selection of ready-made reports available to us,” said Dr. Sadowski. “If we find we need something different, TLC will build reports specifically for us.”

Also in 2023, Rochester City School District implemented RFID in their school libraries with Tech Logic.

While thousands of public libraries have implemented RFID for efficiencies in circulation workflow, school libraries have been slower to adopt it due to conversion costs. However, Dr. Frost and Dr. Sadowski developed a successful case for moving to RFID based first and foremost on more efficient inventories and fewer repetitive motion injuries.

Finding missing materials using RFID also meant money saved on replacement costs. In addition, some of the district’s high schools will adopt RFID for self-checkout.

“The primary goal for our RFID project was faster, less cumbersome inventories to meet the requirements for annual inventories in school libraries in New York state,” Dr. Sadowski explained.

Their libraries were struggling to complete inventories because manual scanning required days of effort. Staff also suffered repetitive motion injuries from triggers on the barcode scanners and crawling to access books on low shelves. Inventory was a necessary evil, but an unpopular task that was difficult or impossible for all libraries to complete each year.

Through her research, Dr. Frost learned about the benefits of using RFID for inventory and ongoing shelf management.

Earlier in the year, at FETC 2023, Rochester described their motivations for pioneering RFID in the school library setting (see the full FETC 2023 presentation, below).

Rochester City School District selected Tech Logic for their RFID project because of the sister-company relationship between TLC and Tech Logic. Collaboration between the companies ensures system compatibility and combined customer support and problem solving.

“The Tech Logic tagging software was easy to train and use at the shelves or at circulation desks,” said Dr. Frost, “an important consideration for a large multi-site system and librarians with a wide range of technology skills.”

Library staff were responsible for tagging each collection with the addition of extra hours, teachers fulfilling professional development hours, volunteers, substitutes, and students doing service projects. During tagging, the condition of each item was assessed for damage and weeded as necessary.

Whether working in teams of two or as individuals, tagging worked best for the schools in four-hour blocks. Collection size for each district library averaged around 6,000 items and tagging was usually completed in 40 hours depending on other demands.

After RFID tagging was completed, the libraries were ready for streamlined inventory using staffCIRC TRAK, Tech Logic’s multi-function handheld RFID scanner. Tech Logic’s staffCIRC TRAK software supports four types of RFID shelf scanning:

– Gathering barcode numbers for inventory (and, with TLC’s ILS solutions, automatically relaying the barcode data to the inventory module)

– Checking individual item statuses against the ILS in real time and flagging exception statuses

– Locating specific lists of items

– Verifying active RFID tag security

Staff members used staffCIRC TRAK to gather barcode numbers quickly from shelved items, which automatically relayed the barcode data to the LS2 Inventory module in LibrarySolution for Schools.

 

Tech Logic’s staffCIRC TRAK wand communicates wirelessly in real time with the library’s ILS, notifying the user immediately when it detects a shelved item that has an exception status.

 

In the past, gathering barcode numbers for inventory took Rochester’s staff several full workdays because they had to pull and scan each item barcode manually. Now, with RFID and staffCIRC TRAK, inventory scanning is done in a few hours. After a quick scan of the shelves with staffCIRC TRAK, LS2 Inventory updates in real time and produces a “Missing Item” report for the inventoried collection.

This process also serves to help staff identify items that have been missed during tagging. After tagging those missed items, the  items that are truly missing are deleted and considered for replacement by school librarians.

“We have found that we have more accurate inventories, and it is easier to find books on our shelves that may have wandered back in after being deleted or loaned elsewhere,” said Dr. Frost.

Challenges for Rochester on this project came in two areas—barcode symbology used in their previous ILS and inaccurate RFID tag encoding by a book jobber. TLC solved the barcode symbology problem with database customization during migration. Inaccurate RFID tag encoding by a book jobber created problems that delayed inventory in some locations until Tech Logic developed a customized solution.

Dr. Frost recommends spot checking new acquisitions arriving from book jobbers with an antenna to verify the correct RFID tag encoding.

Dr. Frost also offers other suggestions for school libraries following in their path. “Check to make sure that volunteers who tag materials are encoding and adhering the tags correctly in each item. Don’t worry about weeding for condition before the tagging project, because you’ll handle each item as you tag.”

The results of Rochester’s RFID project are completely tagged and weeded collections that satisfy the school district’s requirements. The collections are also ready for ongoing inventories and shelf management with staffCIRC TRAK to locate missing or lost materials. Students and faculty further appreciate using an up-to-date catalog.

“The staffCIRC TRAK wands are very popular,” said Dr. Frost, “and each library would now like to have their own.”

Congratulations to Rochester City School District for spearheading RFID in the school library setting!

Before RFID, inventories took several full workdays and lots of repetitive motion as each item was pulled from the shelf and scanned manually with a barcode scanner (left). Now, with RFID and staffCIRC TRAK, inventories are done in a few hours with the sweep of staffCIRC TRAK wand across the shelved items (right).

 

Tech Logic connects libraries with their communities through dynamic, innovative, and efficient workflow technologies—delivering unparalleled service and outstanding patron experience. Since 1997, we have worked exclusively with libraries to develop solutions that empower library patrons and staff.

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hygiene

Cybersecurity Hygiene for Your Library

Cyber hygiene is a reference to the practices and steps that users of computers and other devices take to maintain system health and improve online security. These practices are often part of a routine to ensure the safety of identity and other details that could be stolen or corrupted. Much like physical hygiene, cyber hygiene is regularly conducted to ward off natural deterioration and common threats. Think of your system as… well… you!

TLC strongly believes in taking a proactive approach to application security for our customers, so much so that we’ve built it into our routine processes; it’s not an afterthought. Part of our development cycle includes continuously assessing the security of our own application and remediating issues as they are found.

Our level of assurance is built into the development cycle for every major release and applicable patch releases, using industry-leading vulnerability analysis tools. We also deploy a DHS CISA check frequently for external testing. In addition to securing our own applications, our hosting and corporate infrastructure are protected by world-class endpoint security.

TLC has teamed up with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to create TLC•Cloud Services, a state-of-the-art cloud-based hosting platform that you and your library can trust to keep your information safe.

Because security is not a one-time event, TLC support is prepared when customers report concerns to replicate with our internal processes and respond as needed with application updates or guidance on local practices to mitigate risk. Please see our case study on the ransomware attack that threatened to cripple TLC customer, Butler County Federated Library System, and the risk-reduction mindset we used to diligently restore data and further protect the library.

Download the Infographic

Check your system’s health: info@TLCdelivers.com or 1.800.325.7759

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Why we RDAize records

Garbage in, garbage out. It’s a phrase many of us may be familiar with. But for the Data Services, Implementation, and Client Services teams at TLC, it’s a phrase that characterizes some of the larger hurdles they’ve encountered with a library’s implementation and ongoing support. Data. Specifically, bad data. Incorrect characters, missing fields, and outdated formatting have caused some pretty big problems for customers over the years and some of our team’s most time-consuming challenges.

When LibrarySolution™ made the generational jump from versions 4.x to 5.x, TLC created utilities and enhanced existing processes to better address the “bad data” issue during the database build process. This led to the invention of the Purify process and the incorporation of RDAExpress™ into the build process. However, building a database is not the only time when records are added to a database. What happens to the records that are imported, merged, and searched for on a day-to-day basis? LS2 Cataloging  addresses every record as they are added, regardless of the timing.

Purify
The Purify process contains two parts: “pre-rinse” and “scrub,” which occur during the implementation of a LibrarySolution™ 5.x database and every time a title record is saved to the database after implementation. 

“Pre-rinse” looks at a number of structural components in the MARC record, such as fields, subfields, leaders, and control numbers. This is a step that focuses on a record’s structure, not its content.

The “scrub” step focuses on content enrichment of certain fields. An example of this would be genre consolidation. More details on both of these proprietary steps are provided to the customer during the implementation or upgrade process.

TLC identified the fields and missing characters that were the consistent culprits in registering as errors while building a database. The fields and characteristics that are addressed during the purify process were identified by product management, subject matter experts, and data analysts after an extensive audit of the implementation process.


RDA
Express
RDA-ification via RDAExpress™ is a process separate from Purify, which is also applied to every record that is added to the LibrarySolution™ database.

RDAExpress™ adds up to 20 fields, depending on format. RDA standards provide controlled terms for information previously found only in fixed and notes fields. RDAExpress™ inputs these controlled terms in the “characteristics fields” (34x, 38x), enhancing consistency for search and discovery in library catalogs. RDAExpress™ adds additional enriched content such as MPAA ratings and video game ratings. RDAExpress™ adds relator terms to name fields for greater discovery.

It’s important to reiterate that these processes are not only at the database building level (upgrading from versions 4.x to 5.x or a new LibrarySolution™ implementation) but EVERY time a record is added and saved to the database — every imported record brought into a TitleSpace.

For more information on implementing LibrarySolution™, upgrading from version 4.x to 5.x or having RDAExpress™ clean up your data, please visit https://tlcdelivers.com/ or call 800.325.7759.

Download the Infographic

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New Year, New Inventory Workflows

January at the library is traditionally a quiet time of year when staff can catch up on projects and begin thinking toward future initiatives. During these less busy times and to kick off the new year, inventory projects are a great way for libraries to start the year with an accurate collection and to ensure everything is in place. January is the perfect time to begin putting the chaos of 2020 in our collective rearview mirror.

With libraries quarantining returned materials, fluctuating between periods of partial and full closures to the public, and the constant stress that many staff faced throughout the year, we are reminded how turbulent a year it was and the importance of a reset that the new year can provide. Plus, an increase in holds-based services (such as curbside pickup), means more demand for items to have a correct availability status in the online catalog when patrons are searching and to be in their correct locations when staff are searching the shelves.

One of the ways TLC can help your library achieve its shelf management goals is through the latest LS2 Inventory features offered in the 5.6 release of LibrarySolution®. We streamlined shelf management and inventory workflows for operational efficiency, so that library staff can spend more time with customers and less time ensuring the statuses of library resources are accurate.

LS2 Inventory allows library staff to scan the items on your shelves, update the date inventoried in the item’s record and the last-seen-date of the material on the shelf, and get alerts to any exceptions in real time while the item is in hand. The count of items in the inventory process are available with greater clarity, and users can collaborate on collections with access to detailed reporting.

In addition to this streamlined workflow and in collaboration with our partners at Tech Logic, TLC developed functionality to incorporate Tech Logic’s award-winning circTRAK Shelf Management RFID scanner into LS2 Inventory workflows. Now LibrarySolution® customers can quickly scan through their shelves with an RFID wand to complete a real time inventory project at a faster pace.

The RFID option also allows for a minimum-contact method to complete an inventory project quickly. Although we didn’t plan this development to coincide with the pandemic, we are proud to be able to offer this solution to our LibrarySolution® customers with similar development on the roadmap for our CARLConnect customers too.

circTRAK

📣 Don’t forget the AV carts and scanners from TLC•SmartTECH and the award-winning circTrak wand from Tech Logic to make a completely portable Inventory station!
📣 Interested in a demo? Contact a sales representative today.
📣 Ready to upgrade to the latest version of LibrarySolution®? Contact support to learn more.

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Three Benefits of eBiblioFile
All RBdigital Customers Should Consider


TLC’s eBiblioFile MARC record service just became available to a new cohort of libraries and media centers with OverDrive’s recent acquisition of RBdigital. This extension of service is timely, as we all grapple with the effects the pandemic is having on libraries. Libraries need their borrowers to have the best discovery tools available in order to find content. That means having good data, and eBiblioFile will help.

eBiblioFile is an on-demand service that creates and delivers MARC records with enhanced RDA fields for eBooks and other downloadable library titles.

Automatic Ready-to-Load Records
When a library places an order with OverDrive (including former RBdigital customers), eBiblioFile automatically receives that information and delivers ready-to-load records for each title directly to the library. Records are RDA-ified, authority controlled, contain the library’s predefined custom fields, and have a URL link to the title on the eResource vendor website.

In addition to Overdrive, this service works with cloudLibrary™ by bibliotheca, as well.

Full Records in Less Than Two Days
Unlike other MARC services, the library receives a record for every title within two days of eBiblioFile receiving an order from the library’s eResource vendor. When there is not enough metadata to create a full record, a minimal RDA MARC record is created with all the standard fields except topical subject headings. Libraries then have the option to get full replacement records for minimal records if they become available.

Cheaper than the Competition

Full records are $1; minimal records are free of charge.
With full coverage of each order and a 48-hour turnaround time, it’s no longer necessary for a library to load the minimal “on order” placeholder records from their eResource vendor.

RDA-ified Print Titles

Additionally, libraries can use eBiblioFile to receive RDA MARC records for previously ordered eResource titles, and can utilize the optional RDAExpress service to convert MARC records for traditional print titles to the RDA cataloging standard.

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/data-services.

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The Next Generation of Innovation



About this time last month, The Library Corporation (TLC) hosted a webinar on their recurring Webinar Wednesday series to bring awareness to the new TLCCloud Services platform powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and to discuss the benefits this new hosting environment brings to both the company as a whole and their library customers.

The webinar was hosted by TLC’s Director of Marketing, Jamison Reynolds, featuring Chief Operating Officer, John Burns, and Chief Technology Officer, Justin Duewel-Zahniser, as expert panelists.

The following includes the highlights from the webinar. Some content has been edited and adjusted for clarity and length. To watch the webinar in its entirety, you can find the recording at the TLC Webinar Wednesday archive at TLCdelivers.com/webinars.

Meet the COO and CTO

To kick off the webinar, Reynolds introduces TLC•Cloud Services, an improved hosting platform:

TLC has teamed up with Oracle to redefine hosting library services. TLC•Cloud Services utilizes Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to provide our customers with unmatched control, security, and predictability to deliver high-performance, Cloud-based infrastructure services. OCI is a deep and broad platform of cloud services that enables TLC to design and build our applications in a scalable, secure, highly available, fault-tolerant, and high-performance environment.

He shares that TLC’s current products offering TLC•Cloud Services include CARLX™, LibrarySolution®, and LibrarySolution® for Schools. TLC offers ILS hosting in multiple regions of North America and globally, providing support for regions and countries who prefer or require local data residency.

Reynolds then introduces the panelists.

John Burns, Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Burns has over 20+ years of experience with TLC, having built his career in a range of roles within the organization: primarily within sales and marketing capacities. He was recently promoted to the role of COO as of January 2020. Prior to that, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing.

He shares anecdotally that his mother was a librarian in the K-12 and Public Library systems. “As irony has it … technology forced my mother into early retirement in the library industry … and here her son is 30 years later doing a webinar on OCI and technology in libraries.”

Justin Duewel-Zahniser (DZ), Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

DZ originally worked for TLC from 2003 to 2006, as one of his early technology jobs. With his computer science background, he started as a software trainer for LibrarySolution® before moving into technical product management. In 2006, he left TLC and spent a little over a decade working on global supply change and reverse supply chain solutions, in a technical product management capacity.

He rejoined the TLC team in 2017 as the Chief Technology Officer. In that time, one of his focuses has been the Cloud platform migration and transition, directly relevant to the topic of the webinar.

A Long History of Innovation

TLC’s history with hosting does not begin with the OCI initiative. Burns elaborates on the 46+ years of innovation that came out of TLC within the library technology space, following this general decade-at-a-glance timeline. Interspersed here are high-level descriptions of major generations of data hosting models from DZ.

  • TLC was founded in 1974 by the family that still owns and operates the company today.
  • In 1985, TLC introduced the original data platform, BiblioFile, which started on microfiche. Later, TLC was the first company to use CD-ROMs for data.
  • In 1995, TLC was the first vendor in the world to build their ILS platform natively from the ground up for the Microsoft Server operating system, beginning the initial partnership with Oracle for the underlying RDBMS structure. Soon after, TLC introduced its first data hosting platform, ITSMARC.

This time in TLC’s history corresponds with our Gen 1 data hosting model. DZ elaborates on the data center built out of the TLC Headquarters office in Inwood, West Virginia and defines an on-premise (or library-hosted) solution. The library provides the hardware locally and TLC installs the software and supports it. Libraries still have this option today.

  • In 2005, TLC began hosting their first customers from the corporate internal hosting facility

  • Within five years (2010), demand for hosting increased and TLC moved to a Tier 3 hosting service, co-located in Ashburn, VA for LibrarySolution® customers and around the Denver area for CARL customers.

This corresponds with our Gen 2 data hosting model, the co-location (or co-lo) model. DZ outlines the responsibilities of each facility and highlights the main difference from Gen 1 is the move to virtualization. Both the software installation and the database (part of that software install) run on the virtualized hardware in the data center.

  • Fast-forward to today, 2020, TLC partners once more with Oracle to leverage the power and scalability of cloud hosting.

This corresponds with our Gen 3 data hosting model: the Cloud model, expanding the virtualization model.

Leveraging the Power of Oracle

Reynolds poses the question: Why did TLC choose to move to OCI as opposed to someone else in that space, like AWS or Azure?

DZ addresses the value proposition for using Oracle to provide cloud hosting: If you’re using Oracle as your back-end database, who better to provide hosting and cloud solutions than the database provider? “Really no one is ever going to beat Oracle [as] the most performant, most secure, most integrated operating environment for Oracle-based products.”

Burns recognizes the cognizant choice to make an objective decision during the marketplace assessment and how Oracle’s performance and costs compare to other platforms: “It just made sense for both of our ILSs.” With the move to cloud hosting, TLC can focus less on the hardware and apply resources more toward its expertise — library software and technology.

Choosing OCI over competitors in the market was also acutely observed with one of TLC’s CARL customers, who had the option of going from an on-premise solution to a city managed hosting model provided by AWS. This customer selected to move forward with TLCCloud Services provided by OCI.

See additional comparison information in the Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers section below.

In addition to the benefits to TLC customers, described below, TLC will be a customer of its own TLCCloud Services platform. DZ explains how TLC uses Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for its internal development environments and the operational benefits that it provides.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers

“How does this directly affect TLC Customers?” Reynolds asks before expounding, “Many times people think to parse that out, whether we’re speaking about LibrarySolution®, LibrarySolution® for Schools, or CARLX™. How does this affect everyone?”

DZ and Burns lay it out with these primary benefits to TLC Customers:

Geographic Redundancy and Improved Latency

By moving to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, TLC immediately gains access to all the data regions offered with no difference in implementation. Rather than managing a number of co-location hosting facilities in multiple locations, TLC gets the exact same configuration, deployment model, network and hardware performance — in all regions, globally — from one service provider.

Customers, historically, would have needed to connect to either the Denver, CO or Ashburn, VA hosting facilities respective of their ILS product, and had the potential to experience some network latency depending on their physical distance from that location. Now, TLC can provide its customers with a closer network endpoint, supporting decreased network latency.

Improved Application Performance

TLC developers can take advantage of the scalability and improved client performance, based on the Oracle expertise and how that platform is developed, in order to improve application performance.

DZ references these side-by-side speed tests from the marketplace evaluation.


Latest Hardware, Newest Software: Effective Budgeting

With TLC•Cloud Services, TLC customers will always be using and leveraging the latest and greatest in their hardware capabilities: Solid State Drives (SSD), storage, processing, and computing power.

In comparing the on-premise model to the TLC•Cloud Services hosting model, elaborated more later, Burns expresses that libraries can spend more time doing the things libraries want to do, and less time tending to on-premise servers. “The efficiencies libraries gain through this and the mental relief they gain,” he thinks is well worth the cost.

Burns keys in on the fact that customers will no longer need to go through the budgetary refresh cycle of hardware. The cost is spread out over time through a small increase yearly — more effective than the larger cost required in the typical 5-8 year rolling budgetary schedule to replace hardware.

Upgraded hardware has a direct impact on budgets, as well as the capability of the software itself. “We can develop software now faster than your hardware can keep up with.” On-premise libraries get locked into their budgetary cycles and are unable to afford newer hardware and are, therefore, unable to upgrade to the newest versions of software.

TLC takes into context these older, antiquated systems while developing new features. DZ reassures the audience that TLC does work to maintain that backwards compatibility with the on-premise deployment.

Disaster Recovery, Backups, and Data Security

Burns shares that TLC•Cloud Services provides customers with data-at-rest encryption capabilities, multiple levels of disaster recovery options, and improved data backup across multiple domains. OCI gives TLC more flexibility and options for its customers’ needs.

DZ elaborates on the inherent level of security as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is being used by enterprise-level clients with demanding security requirements. TLC customers benefit indirectly from this, as TLC is able to take its own secure application environment and deploy it into a platform managed by the security requirements Oracle instills as a baseline for everyone who uses that infrastructure.

Reynolds asks DZ about data privacy concerns. With Oracle’s strong database encryption and data separation built into the platform, customers deployed into that environment automatically benefit from data-at-rest and database-layer encryption.

Additionally, TLC is already intentional with its logical and security separation between any given customer instances, from both a privacy and security standpoint; this level of separation is built into the underlying infrastructure of the Cloud platform.

Migrating to a New Platform

From On-Premise to Hosted

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, Reynolds asks: What difference can library customers see when switching from an on-premise solution to a hosted solution with TLC•Cloud Services?

Burns spotlights the library’s relationship with their on-premise IT support: “You offload that responsibility for all of the hardware, all of the OS maintenance, all of the updating.” He reiterates the budgetary cycle and the benefit of disaster recovery mentioned earlier in this article.

“When you’re on-prem, even though we provide full services here through our client services, there’s still a level of liability that you hold in housing that hardware in your facility.” He shares an anecdote of how TLC has worked with customers who had to use stacks of books to elevate server equipment off the floor during hurricane flooding.

DZ elaborates, stating that customers in the cloud platform would only be responsible for maintaining a sufficient internet connection — and that’s it — from a simplified IT infrastructure standpoint.

He further explains keeping up with data security standards in the library industry and shares TLC’s role on occasion during times of data crisis, such as when customers over-commit to their on-premise infrastructure. He also references this case study, where TLC moved a customer quickly and diligently into a hosted environment, restoring data following a severe ransomware attack on their local system.

Reynolds expounds on the thought, adding a sentiment from a customer who moved from an on-premise environment into TLC•Cloud Services at the start of the year. In the era of COVID-19 with patrons accessing more digital content like ebooks and e-resources, the customer felt it was nice knowing that traffic was going through a dedicated OCI network, rather than hitting the library’s network and network resources.

Reynolds takes a question from the audience: “Does this mean that the on-premise model will be phased out? At what point will TLC clients be required to move to Cloud?” Burns responds with a resounding, “We will never tell our client when they have to move from on-prem to hosted. We don’t force our customers to upgrade.”

However, Burns emphasizes that being in a cloud environment means faster upgrades with fewer hours of downtime. He references comments made by TLC Customer Matthew Mattson of Los Angeles Public Library from this interview.

From TLC’s Co-Location Hosted Model to TLC•Cloud Services

Reynolds takes a multipart audience question: Are you migrating all hosted clients to the new hosted platform? Any expected downtime? How will this affect pricing for renewals?

Burns states that TLC’s longtail plan is to migrate customers out of the current co-location facility into Oracle cloud, but that there is no end-of-life deadline. TLC will reach out to clients during their renewal and upgrade processes and initiate a conversation at that time regarding the library’s needs. “This isn’t just a mass exodus… This will be a strategic type of process.”

Downtime would be no more than what a library can anticipate for a large system upgrade. DZ answers first from the context of a customer already using TLC’s co-location hosted services: the transition is a standard maintenance window. Downtime is required as TLC performs a transformation of the library’s current transactional data state.

Transitioning from an on-premise environment into a co-location hosted environment is not very different from transitioning into the cloud hosted environment. Which is to say that both transitions require a more complex data migration project. For those considering this option, TLC has a very high success rate for data migration as well as additional data services.

Another audience question comes in: Are you required to have the latest software version in order to go into the Cloud? DZ confirms that TLC will be supporting both versions of the Library•Solution® product — 4.x and 5.x — but that there may be a minimum version within each major product line. For a more tailored response based on your own version, please reach out directly to your TLC Support team.

Future Implications for TLC

To close out the conversation, Reynolds asks Burns what potential future implications may be for TLC moving forward with TLCCloud Services. Burns reiterates that TLC does more than integrated library systems — the first 25 years of the company were predicated upon data services. As TLC continues to evolve more innovative products, they want to take advantage of Oracle’s scalability.

His final sentiment sums up TLC’s excitement for the future:

Be on the lookout for new products coming from TLC based on Oracle Cloud. Be on the lookout for existing products to be modernized in that environment — like our ITSMARC data service. … As an organization at large, we’re going to benefit from this and our consumers and clients are going to benefit from this in meaningful ways. … We’re very excited about this big, strategic intent for the company. It will deliver meaningful benefits to our end users and our internal workforce.

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/TLC-Cloud-Services or email us anytime at info@TLCdelivers.com. The unedited version of this webinar can be viewed in its entirety from our Webinar Wednesday archive.

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