MADISON — The University of Wisconsin System’s 21st century library made its debut at the Board of Regents meeting this Friday, February 11, when a “virtual ribbon cutting” officially opened the new, systemwide automated library system.

Board of Regents President San Orr and UW System President Katharine C. Lyall were joined by four state legislators at the event.

The automated system allows all students and faculty throughout the UW System’s 13 universities and 13 two-year colleges to access the vast cumulative resources available in all the institutions’ libraries, regardless of their location.

“Four years ago, we envisioned a ‘One System, One Library’ catalog for the UW System, an electronic gateway to the more than 20 million books, journals, maps and other documents housed in campus libraries,” said Regent President Orr. “Today, I’m pleased to report, that vision is fulfilled.”

Students and faculty can use the web based “Voyager” system to view the card catalog, remotely check out books from other campuses and have them delivered to their home campus by delivery trucks that operate between the campuses.

Access to the card catalog is available via the web at anytime, accommodating both on-campus and distance learners. Wisconsin residents who are not students can work with their local campus to check out materials.

Joining Orr and Lyall at the virtual ribbon cutting for the new library system were four legislators who Orr said “helped make this vision a reality.” They are:

  • New Senate Republican Leader Mary Panzer of West Bend who Orr said was “an advocate for the UW Colleges, emphasizing the need to ensure both catalog access and prompt and regular delivery of library materials to campuses such as UW-Washington County.”
  • Senator Alice Clausing of Menomonie who Orr said made higher education a priority last year in the Senate majority caucus, a show of support for which the Regents are grateful.
  • Representative John Gard of Peshtigo, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, who Orr said “was a champion for the $7.3 million in new state funding for UW System library resources that was enacted as part of the biennial budget.”
  • Representative Julie Lassa of Plover, a new member of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, whose support Orr said was “greatly appreciated.”

Also present was a representative of Governor Tommy Thompson, who Orr said was a strong proponent of the library initiative.

“Calling this a phenomenal success is not an overstatement,” said Edward Meachen, UW System associate vice president for learning and information technology.

“Good planning and hard work by the librarians coupled with financial and political support from the State, the Board of Regents, the System and campus leaders enabled this project to be completed on time and on budget,” said Meachen.

The local campus libraries come together electronically to form a collective resource of more than 20 million books, journals, government documents, maps, sound recordings, films and other resources.

The Library Automation Task Force began its work in 1996, establishing goals that the system make library resources “accessible, available and affordable,” said Kathy Pletcher, associate provost for information services at UW-Green Bay and co-chair of the task force.

The task force worked with the Endeavor Company’s product called “Voyager” because it had an easy to use web interface, was highly rated, and had a track record of satisfied customers, said Pletcher.

“The ongoing hardware and software maintenance was less than the current automated system, producing an annual savings systemwide of $700,000,” said Pletcher.

The implementation process, which began 13 months ago, included:

  • Database conversion for bibliographic, patron and fine records
  • Mapping data across systems
  • Integrating third party software
  • Upgrading staff and patron client workstations
  • Training staff and end users
  • Determining new workflows, and
  • Creating governance structures for dealing with consortium issues.

Ed Van Gemert, assistant director at UW-Madison’s Memorial Library, coordinated the implementation process, and each campus has a library automation manager who guided the effort on campus, working with catalogers, circulation staff and reference librarians to build local systems.

Pletcher said the Board of Regents, Governor Thompson and the Legislature deserve thanks for approving $7.3 million for UW libraries in the last biennial budget. “This represents the first increase that the UW libraries have received in 10 years,” said Pletcher. “We are buying more books, we have acquired new digital resources, and we are implementing five day a week delivery for resource sharing. The greatest library automation system in the world cannot make up for a lack of current library materials,” said Pletcher.


Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System
(608) 262-6448

Media Contact

Sharyn Wisniewski UW System 608-262-6448