by Steven Bachman, Executive Director of 4CLS
The Four County Library System (4CLS) is located in south-central New York and covers Broome, Chenango, Delaware, and Otsego County. 4CLS’s 4,000 square mile service area includes 42 member libraries. The largest library in the system is the Broome County Public Library, situated in Binghamton and chartered to serve to the entire county’s population. On the other end of the spectrum, there are six member libraries that serve communities with less than a thousand people. The smallest is Skene Memorial Library in Fleischmanns. That library has a chartered to serve area has a population of 351. Like most systems, 4CLS contains a mix of municipal public, association, and school district libraries. Recently, several libraries in the system secured stable funding through propositions on their local school district ballots.
4CLS’s services to the member libraries include automation from Sirsi/Dynix, web hosting, consolidated ordering, central processing, delivery of interlibrary loan materials, and several circuit programs. The system has also underwritten online and digital initiatives including a suite of online resources called the Research Center and digital content through Overdrive. Some time ago the system implemented Blue Cloud Commerce, a program through Sirsi/Dynix whereby patrons can pay their fines through the online catalog with a credit card. To date it has seen a total of over $8,500 collected & distributed to member libraries.
Most recently, 4CLS has been working to address the need for improved bandwidth in our libraries. Broadband opportunities are quite limited in certain areas of upstate New York. Recent changes in the E-Rate program opened the door for a major upgrade in the networking equipment employed at our member libraries. At the beginning of this project only a handful of libraries could offer connection speeds above 10 mbps. As we are wrapping up the first year and planning for Year 2, 26 libraries have been upgraded to 50 mbps and several fiber connections have been installed. The added speed will help our libraries continue to be critical points of access in their communities.