We've come a long way in the past 18 months, and I am pleased to write that the Library is steadily improving. There is still some way to go; it is now possible to see a clear path toward a library that serves observers at all levels, from beginner to home observatory owner. I want to discuss our progress, and how far we have to go, as we build infrastructure to support a really good library service for all of RCA. Also, I'd like to answer some questions about the library.
Our Two Locations
The Telescope Library has two locations where it normally operates: OMSI, before and after our monthly general meeting, and the Telescope Workshop, which currently convenes monthly at TMS on Swan Island. We work fairly hard to make sure that we honor reservations; the locations for each item you see on the website are accurate and timely, and making sure that any telescopes reserved to go out are at that location when they are to be checked out.
I've heard many "rules" about the division of our collection among these two locations. The collections are different, and that difference is intentional. In general, the telescopes at OMSI are somewhat smaller and less complex, but there are exceptions and there is some overlap; that's intentional. There is more time and space at the Workshop to set up large, more complex telescopes and instruct borrowers (and librarians!) on their use; we tend to locate those at TMS. You'll find most types of telescopes at both locations, with are a couple of exceptions. The location of telescopes is generally driven by demand and available space. Elements of the collection are sometimes shifted to make sure we have gear in place where people ask for it, but this is actually a rather slow process; We do not move a lot of of gear around at once, and it does not take place often. We do not perform mass moves of telescopes by any category, and we do not plan any in the future.
When something is moved, the equipment profile on the website is updated. The website itself is actually the publicly visible part of a computer application that tracks the entire collection; every equipment move goes through the system. If we move anything, updating the tracking system is part of that process and the website reflects that immediately. We try not to move reserved items, but when we have to, we notify anyone who had reserved that telescope, and we offer sometthing equivalent. In several hundred loans, these situations have occured less than 10 times.
We've had a good deal of growth in the collection over the last 18 months, and as items are added, location is one important consideration. Where should the next telescope go? it is decided on a case-by-case basis. We also evaluate how often the telescope loans out from that location. If it does not, we may consider consider is moving it, but it's not our first thought. The task of tailoring and curating this collection is ongoing, as we get new donations, continue to diversify, and sell off or dismantle older scopes to make way for a newer collection. The evolution continues, while you can count on your reservation.