Making Connections and Finding Community at IUG


This guest blog post comes to us from Beth Juhl, librarian at University of Arkansas Libraries, and Secretary/Treasurer for the IUG Steering Committee.

I’ve attended the Innovative Users Group (IUG) conference for many years, though still not quite at Crystal Award status. After every conference, I return to Fayetteville, Arkansas with more ideas than I could ever dream of implementing – and new friends from around the globe. Every module of our Sierra (formerly Millennium, formerly INNOPAC) system has been made better by suggestions and solutions from our IUG community. When it comes to maximizing Sierra’s potential, problem-solving, or just plain hacking together a workable print template, IUG colleagues are my first recourse and my second brain.

One example of how the IUG community has helped our library stems from a chance, after-the-session hallway conversation at IUG 2017. I mentioned an upcoming project at our library: construction of a high-density offsite library annex into which we planned to transfer more than a million items.

Just reading that, even now, makes me a little shaky.

Until that point, my concept of “high-density storage” was getting one more pair of shoes into my closet. With just twelve months until construction was complete, I was dumbfoundingly ignorant about how a high-density inventory system works and how I was going to get Sierra to talk to it.

The chance hallway encounter offered this suggestion: “You should talk to Paivi Rentz at Texas State University. They are doing exactly the same thing.”

Reader, I did. And Paivi and her colleagues patiently walked us through their processes and even provided us with sample scripts. They gave us a model we could adapt to our system.

And away we went. We built on Texas State’s great foundation with SQL query tips from the IUG Clearinghouse, discussion forums, and previous IUG conference presentations. We found procedures for scanning item barcodes into create lists so that we could keep the system current with the movers who were relocating up to 30,000 items a day. We reviewed best practices for setting up new locations, combining old ones, and revising loan rules. We tweaked our holds and requesting processes and settings to accommodate 4 delivery runs a day. And we used WebBridge to make item and scan requests from the public catalog a simple button-click.

Every change we made to our system, we made based on IUG community suggestions, presentations, and resources.

Over the summer 2018, we worked with movers to transfer almost 1.4 million items to our new Library Annex. Thanks to IUG, we felt like heroes, not zeros.

I can’t wait to find out what I’ll learn – and what friends I’ll make – at IUG 2020.


You can read more about the IUG conference in these posts:


About IUG:

The Innovative Users Group was founded in 1991 as an international organization of member libraries who used the Innovative Interfaces, Inc integrated library software. It is an independent organization from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. The IUG is led by the Steering Committee whose members are elected by the general membership. It consists of a Chair, Vice Chair/Chair Elect, Past Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, and five Members at Large. All members of the Steering Committee volunteer their services to the organization.