April 19, 2018

Brenda Bailey-Hainer | Movers & Shakers 2002

Dream It and They Will Build It

Networking across the Rocky Mountains

Colorado’s mountainous terrain is beautiful, but it isolates communities from each other. That’s why Brenda Bailey-Hainer, who spent years working for CARL, UnCover, and OCLC, was sure when she came to the Colorado State Library that an Internet-based delivery system was the key to sharing library resources to serve all the citizens of Colorado better, even if the existing technology wasn’t quite there yet.

ACLIN (Access Colorado Library and Information Network) had already helped create the necessary telecommunications infrastructure, but a common interface was needed that would work on all the different platforms in libraries throughout the state. Bailey-Hainer, who had directed an OCLC unit that developed and supported Z39.50 gateway and database creation tools, was a logical choice to implement the web-based Colorado Virtual Library. She knew what the system could deliver, in theory–the twin holy grails of a unified library catalog for all the libraries of Colorado, and an interface that allowed the simultaneous retrieval of books, documents, and web resources–and she set out to make it happen.

By then, ACLIN’s goal included delivering web resources as well as library catalogs, which meant upgrading the network infrastructure to support radical increases in users, selecting search and database software, and training librarians in its use. Asked how long it would take to build the web site, Bailey-Hainer gulped and said, “Six months.”


Current position: Director of Networking and Resource Sharing, Colorado State Library

Degree: MLS, Kent State University, 1983, MM in Music Literature, University of South Dakota, 1988, Ph.D. Public Affairs, University of Colorado, in progress

Active in: ALA, PLA, ACRL, LITA, and Colorado Library Association

Colorado Virtual Library: www.aclin.org

And in six months it was up and running, providing Z39.50 access to approximately 100 library catalogs in Colorado and making the next project, the statewide interlibrary loan system (SWIFT) possible.

Another component of the Colorado Virtual Library was digitizing Colorado historical and scientific collections, putting them on the web site, and making them searchable on the same interface with library catalogs and Colorado documents. Bailey-Hainer and a committee of librarians selected a variety of quality web resources for the virtual library. Then they were mandated to seek out web sites that would help students and teachers access material supporting new education benchmarks.

One of Bailey-Hainer’s challenges in creating the Colorado Virtual Library for Kids was providing metadata identifying not only the subject matter of web sites but also the grade levels and specific educational standards the sites supported. She worked a deal with the librarians who created KidsClick! at the Ramapo Catskill Library System in New York, using their database of web sites, with its existing metadata, and adding to it. Bailey-Hainer was able to return the favor in 2001, when the Colorado State Library took over administrative responsibility for KidsClick!

People might think Bailey-Hainer’s job is about technology, and it’s true that she spends a great deal of her life dealing with vendors and specs and RFPs. But her people skills are even more important.

It’s not true that if you build it they will come. You have to build it, and then tell and tell and tell people you’ve built it. You have to go to libraries, schools, and preschools and talk to principals and school boards and PTA groups. You have to show off the Virtual Library at teacher and librarian conferences all over the state. You have to provide training and technical support to librarians so that they can contribute to the database. You have to attend state government meetings about the Internet, e-learning, telecommunications, and digital government and make sure none of them proceed without discussing libraries, the Colorado Virtual Library, and funding. You have to give speeches and write articles and send letters, to make the value of your work known to taxpayers, legislators, and the governor.

Bailey-Hainer has done all that, but she’s not finished yet. Her next goal is to make the Colorado Virtual Library more accessible by adding both a Spanish-language interface and a graphic interface for children. She has also been negotiating statewide licenses for full-text databases, which will soon be offered through local libraries.

Bailey-Hainer is a firm believer that if you create a network with sufficient flexibility, anything is possible. Dream big enough, and the technology will follow.