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Updated: August 2, 2007

About OWLSnet

Our Mission

The Outagamie Waupaca Library System's shared automation network (OWLSnet) provides a shared, integrated library automation system to OWLS and Nicolet Federated Library System (NFLS) member libraries, and such other area libraries as may participate for the purposes of

As a service program of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System, the network is established, operated, and maintained under the legal authority of the OWLS Board of Trustees; and administered by OWLS director and staff.


OWLSnet is a service program of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System. As a program of OWLS, the shared automation network is established, operated, and maintained under the lega authority of the OWLS Board of Trustees. (Read our Bylaws [pdf].)

OWLSnet is administered by OWLS director and staff. An Administrative Advisory Committee (AAC), which includes representation from all participating libraries, makes recommendations to the Board and staff regarding the administration of OWLSnet.

The AAC may establish ad hoc technical advisory committees for the purpose of considering technical operational issues and making recommendations to the full Administrative Advisory Committee.

The AAC attempts to arrive at its recommendations by consensus. If consensus cannot be achieved, action can be taken by vote. All actions shall require a two-thirds majority of OWLSnet participants and a two-thirds majority of annual membership fee shares for approval.


In 1989, OWLS assumed management of Appleton Public Library's CLSI automation system. Additional OWLS libraries came online over the next few years. All sixteen OWLS member libraries are members of OWLSnet.

In 1995, OWLS formed a partnership with the Nicolet Federated Library System to extend automation services to NFLS member libraries. NFLS acts as an agent for member libraries in negotiating the terms of their participation in OWLSnet, and the systems cooperate in providing staff and financial support. All NFLS member libraries, except Brown County Library, are members of OWLSnet.


From its beginning, OWLSnet has attempted to meet the needs of libraries of all sizes. Given the level of commitment needed by libraries to participate and the difficulty in financing automation, OWLSnet has tried to accommodate a variety of differing local library needs.

Raising funds to implement automation has not been difficult in most communities, but because securing funding for ongoing participation has been difficult OWLSnet has made every effort to keep annual operating costs as low as possible.

OWLSnet's philosophy is that when libraries become members they are making a one-time purchase of a service to be provided by the network, not a particular hardware or software project. Therefore, OWLSnet has never required its online libraries to provide additional "startup" funds for hardware or software upgrades.


OWLS libraries in Appleton, Black Creek, Clintonville, Fremont, Hortonville, Iola, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Manawa, Marion, New London, Scandinavia, Seymour, Shiocton, Waupaca, and Weyauwega are members.

NFLS libraries in Algoma, Baileys Harbor, Birnamwood, Bonduel, Coleman, Crivitz, Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Fish Creek, Florence (2 sites), Forestville, Gillett, Keshena, Kewaunee, Lakewood, Lena, Marinette, Mattoon, Niagara, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Oneida, Oneida Green Earth Branch, Peshtigo, Shawano, Sister Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Suring, Tigerton, Washington Island, Wausaukee, and Wittenberg participate.

The OWLS and NFLS offices are also members.


OWLSnet uses Innovative Interfaces, Inc. library automation software to provide circulation control, central bibliographic database, central patron database, management reports, online public access catalog (InfoSoup), interlibrary loan, overdue and reserve notices to patrons via email, resource sharing, and acquisitions functions to members. OWLSnet libraries are currently connected through the BadgerNet Converged Network, and telecommunications costs are subsidized by the TEACH Wisconsin program.

The network also provides member libraries with training, technical support, a network library card program, subscription-based electronic resources, e-mail service, antivirus and security software, web hosting services, and Internet access. OWLSnet is a member of OCLC, which is a national bibliographic utility, and OWLS and Appleton Public Library work cooperatively with other member libraries to provide technical services operations for the network.


Costs for joining OWLSnet vary depending on a library's level of participation. Each library is responsible for any internal wiring necessary, any furnishings needed, and the labor required to add local holdings to the OWLSnet database. Exact costs are specified at the time each new library enters into an OWLSnet membership agreement.

On an annual basis, each member library pays a membership fee that contributes toward the costs of telecommunications, cataloging, hardware and software maintenance, supplies, training, troubleshooting, and automation staff. The amount of a library's annual membership fee depends upon the library's level of participation.

The total annual OWLSnet budget is over $900,000. Approximately half of the budget comes from local library membership fees, and the other half comes from the two systems.


The OWLSnet staff consists of Library Automation Manager, Computer Network Manager, Cataloger, Circulation Librarian, Library Support Specialist, and a Cataloging Assistant. OWLS Director, Library Services Manager, Electronic Resources Librarian, and Computer Technician also provide support to OWLSnet. The total staffing level is 6.40 FTE.


OWLSnet will continue to develop and expand the services provided to member libraries. Planned enhancements include further development of InfoSoup, providing additional databases, offering more Web-based services and resources, and cooperative projects with other Wisconsin library public systems.

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