Success Stories

Red River Church

Ms. Cynthia Birdwell
Librarian and Administrative Coordinator
Nestled among the tree-lined streets and century-old buildings in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, you will find the Red River Church. There you will find Cynthia Birdwell, a librarian and administrative coordinator who is passionate about keeping things organized so that the elders and staff have the tools they need to serve people well.

Red River Sepia Cynthia BirdwellThe Red River Church library holds approximately 2,500 items, mostly books and a steadily-growing number of DVDs. Before automating the library, the church had a complicated in-house system that was frustrating to use and even harder to find support for. In 2011, they implemented Surpass CL Edition (created exclusively for libraries in places of worship) and have no regrets.

The library is the fourth one that Cynthia has automated in her 12-year career as a librarian, so she knew exactly what she was looking for. “I have researched and used several Library Information Systems in my years,” she says. “Surpass offers software that meets my needs and wants better than any other system out there. The customer support is great; I have no complaints!”

At the top of Cynthia’s “must-have” list was the ability to access the system online without physically having to be at the church. Surpass allows her to do just that, by hosting the entire collection on its servers. She appreciates the flexibility and freedom to be able to work from home, where she can enter books and perform other administrative tasks without interruption.

Cynthia also loves being able to print her own barcodes with Surpass CL. “With other systems, I’d have to order and purchase special barcodes. This process is so much easier, and we can get the books into circulation right away. It works great!”

Being a Surpass client also gives Cynthia access to the listserv, a lively online community where users can discuss their experiences and issues, as well as request items on their wish list. “It’s amazing – someone comes up with an idea or asks for a specific feature, and the Surpass team takes the feedback and implements it. They really listen!”

The church also chose to add Safari Selections, an inexpensive option that automatically uploads book jacket cover images, tables of contents, excerpts, author notes and other content. “It looks very professional and has a lot of visual interest,” Cynthia states. In addition to library journal reviews, patrons are also invited to submit their own book reviews and provide star ratings for each item.

Some may ask whether automation makes sense for a relatively small library that is only open a few hours a week. “Absolutely!” asserts Cynthia. “It allows for a very simple and straightforward self-checkout process: patrons use a barcode scanner to scan their library cards and the barcodes of the items they wish to borrow – and that’s about all there is to it!” Having an automated self-checkout system also allows people to use the library at their convenience, whether or not a staff member is present. The library even keeps an index file of library cards for members who do not wish to carry their cards.

The Red River Church appreciates that Surpass is so reasonably priced, full-featured, and easy to use for both staff and patrons.

“It seems there are many people who don’t take the time to read anymore,” says Cynthia. “Anything we can do to make it easier is well worth it.”