Thursday, 17 November 2011

Customer Experience using the new LMS

In my post of 14 November I mentioned that the LMS User Experience Group was meeting to look at the LMS from the customer side & consider whether this meets our needs or whether there are other functions that we need to enhance the user experience.  We noted during the evaluation phase that all vendors' products had strengths and weaknesses & that all could probably be improved by deploying the functionality of 3rd party product providers.

James Kemperman is leading this Group which includes a range of staff from public libraries.  The expectation is that the group will report back to the Steering Committee in March next year. The group commenced its deliberations by creating a list of features that members thought would be ideal to have in an LMS Discovery Layer.  The specification that the group came up with, and the response from SirsiDynix is loaded onto the Intranet as a .pdf here.  The really good news from this is that a significant number of the features that the group wanted are already available within Enterprise (the discovery layer).

Below is part of an email from James to library managers and others who have expressed an interest in the work of the group.  It gives you an idea of the range of additional products that the group is looking at in terms of additional functionality.  You can click on the links to go & see what these products do.

From James's email:
The LMS User Experience Group has been tasked to recommend to the LMS Steering Committee which 3rd party products the consortium should consider purchasing to add further value to our customers through the new LMS. The LMS User Experience Group has met several times now and have put together the attached list of functionality and information. After analysing the functionality of the new LMS products (Bowker Syndetics, Sirsi Dynix BookMyne, Sirsi Dynix Enterprise, Sirsi Dynix Facebook application, Sirsi Dynix Portfolio, Sirsi Dynix Symphony with e-library) and comparing this to the attached list we have determined that we need to consider the following 3rd party products under the remit of this group:
Products being considered by the LMS User Experience Group:
Over the coming 4-6 weeks the group will analyse these products in order to determine the best products to recommend to the LMS Steering Committee.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Only in a library context could we talk about ILL without thinking about sickness!  That is just a quirky aside that has stuck me during my long library career!

After my post on Monday someone added a comment which read in part,  
 "... can the public place their own ILL requests? Will the loan period still be two weeks? Is there a limit on how many ILLs you can have at time? Even though there will be an increase in ILLs I think it will be a great improvement for our customers. Especially those with special needs who currently have a small collection to access."

I know that so many of us are keen to learn more about exactly how the consortium will impact on every aspect of our jobs.  And I am keen to provide that certainty to you.  However it will take some time for the whole network to go from establishing the broad principles to then articulating what this will mean for specific rules within the system.  The Transitional User Group is working on behalf of the network to set the broad parameters first, and then it will look at some of the specifics like loan periods & limits etc.  The group may recommend that some of these detailed rules be set at the local level, or they may recommend that these become standardised.

So at the moment I cannot tell you whether ILLs will have a 2 week loan period or whether there will be a limit to how many requests each customer can make.  This will be something to be considered by the User Group at some stage.  

However I can tell you that customers will be able to directly place their own ILL requests.  They will be able to do this both in the library and also remotely 24/7.

Yes - it is likely that there will be a significant increase in ILLs, but the staff workload to satisfy each request will be significantly reduced.  Imagine - no more P2 requests and answering these requests.  No more adding short bib records to circulate the ILLs to customers. The process will be  part of normal daily work - retrieving items from the daily "pick list" and placing some on your local "holds" shelf while others go in the black boxes destined for customers in other libraries.  And when the black box arrives, items will be "wanded" onto the LMS which will trigger an SMS to the customer to say the item is available, with no further work by library staff such as creating short bib records to circulate the item etc.

Oh - and I wonder if these transfers will really be thought of as an ILL i.e. an Inter-Library Loan.  Or will they just be a "hold" or "reservation" of any copy within the system.  Many "holds" will be filled by stock within the local library's collection, with other requests going off to other libraries.  The customer wont mind where it comes from, but will be delighted to receive it.
So with these changes we wont need a specialised P2 ILL role, as customers will place their own "holds" - or any staff member can do this for customers.  And many staff can share the load of finding items on the shelves, sending them to requesting libraries, and putting them on the "holds" shelf ready for the customers.

I should also point out one piece of functionality that I know is in the "holds" area is the ability to put an end date on reservations.  i.e. if this hold cannot be satisfied by XX date please cancel the hold.  I think that this will be feature that we will need to heavily promote & it may cut down on many many unwanted items being shipped around the State.

And speaking of SMS alerts - as I was a few paras earlier, for those of you who are sending printed notifications of holds being available this will change both your business processes and your costs. A TXT message is instant, and alerts the customer who may be in the vicinity, rather than them having to wait for the post to arrive in a couple of days.  And TXTs cost less than 20c compared to a 50c stamp and then the stationery costs. 

The system also provides for email alerts too.  Each library can decide the method of notification for each individual customer whether the alert will be TXT, email or snail mail.

And yes - think of those with specific interests.  They will be able to search for, and access items in their area of interest from collections across the State. This may relate to a personal hobby, or searching for all the books written in Polish in the collection.

Instant customer access to over 4M items will be one of the changes which will both transform the customer experience and also ensure that libraries continue to be valuable and valued by the community. And then there is the instant access to online content through the LMS - but I will save this for another discussion!

Bringing it all together

Back in June I wrote a post called Consortium, franchise, branch network or what? in which I attempted to articulate a philosophy for the consortium which both encompassed some degree of consistency while also encouraging local responses to local conditions.  Interestingly this post attracted the most number of comments (13) of any post to date.

Since then we have moved towards turning this into a reality.  Over a few posts on the 18th & 26th of October I laid out our governance and decision making processes.  I would like to comment on how these processes are working to date to achieve that balance of some universal consistency modified by localism.  Our Transitional User Group has been working to identify those areas where we need to have consistency, while also affirming those areas which will have local characteristics.  This process has seen issues considered by the User Group, which have then been put out in a paper for consultation to all across the network. 

The response to the first paper has been great, with comments and questions filling more than 7 pages.  Many of the responses confirmed the general direction the User Group was heading, with many also raising some points for consideration or clarification.  This feedback was considered by the User Group today & their deliberations will be considered for ratification by the PLS Standing Committee in early December.  As soon as we have ratification of the decisions we will be posting them for all to be aware of.  I will not pre-empt the Committee's decisions by discussing them here, but will talk about them later.

So - we're moving forward, with the long-standing philosophy of the network being challenged, and in some cases re-affirmed & in others modified to take advantage of new 21st Century technologies.  And we are ensuring that local autonomy is retained where it can be, while some consistency is included where required & for the customer's benefit.

One of the ways we propose to achieve this is to set some minimum standards which all will be expected to meet, while also allowing freedom for others to exceed these minimum requirements.  So - whether it is the minimum number of fields required in a borrower record, the minimum ID required to join up a new customer, the minimum standard for cataloguing or the minimum number of overdue notices we need to send we will all know what is the basic expectation of all libraries will be.  This will give us confidence that a customer from another library can borrow our items & we know where to send an overdue notice if required, or we can be assured that if I add my holding to a bibliographic record it is the correct one, etc.

Through this whole process the most important thing is that everyone has the opportunity to have a say in the process to ensure that the outcomes take account of the diverse views within our network.  This is a classic "wisdom of the crowds" situation where everyone has something valuable to add to the dialogue.  No-one will get everything that they want, but they need to be assured that their input is valued and considered as decisions are made.

Today's User Group deliberations will be out for consultation later this week.  I would encourage everyone to read the paper and provide responses to Jo.  This will ensure that the wisdom of the crowd gets the best outcome for the customer and library staff!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

The work goes on

I've not posted anything for a few weeks - more from lack of time than lack of activity!  Things have been fairly busy on a number of fronts, so I thought I'd give you a quick precis of what people have been up to.

Although we don't have a contract with SirsiDynix yet we've been ploughing forward with system configuration stuff whilst paralleling our contract discussions.  Staff from the likely first 9 libraries underwent three intensive workshops in preparation for looking at their system configuration.  These people are now all working on their data translation charts etc.

The Transitional User Group has also been meeting & the outcome of their meeting went out to libraries for consultation. Thanks to those of you who found the time to provide feedback.  Your feedback will be considered by the Group tomorrow.  And at their meeting tomorrow the Group will also consider another range of issues, which will then lead to another consultation paper which will come out later this week.

We've (finally) got approval to create a new position as the library technical specialist to join our project team.  We now need to get permission to advertise the position & the sooner this happens the better!  I know that there are people eagerly awaiting this & I apologise for the delay.  I can tell you that the stress on the team not having this person is considerable.  To this end we have asked Kathy Haese from Onkaparinga to work with us a couple of days a week to provide technical expertise and project support.  This is certainly proving a real boost to progress.

We are also about to advertise for private sector project management support.  We're hopeful of having additional project resources on deck before the year is out.

The User Functionality group met last Thursday to consider what additional features we may want to include in the system through buying additional functionality from 3rd party providers.  They have already looked at the functionality of ChiliFresh & have more work to do looking at other options.  Likewise the Library IT group met today and had a presentation from DirectComms regarding how SMS and email messaging will work in a consortium environment.

In the meantime I have been to WA to meet with some public librarians, people from their local LGA and State Library as they wanted to hear more about our project.  Who knows where that may lead. I have also added a few appointments to my diary in response from councils who would like me to meet with and address either their senior staff team or their Council. I have attended a couple of session & I look forward to attending more in coming weeks.  I am happy to accept invitations from anyone else who would like me to come and talk to their staff or Council.

Lyal and Jo attended the SirsiDynix user conference in Melbourne to gather more information about how the system works and get a better understanding of interacting with the company.  One of the pieces of good news that came from this meeting is that the SirsiDynix user conference will be held in Adelaide in 2012. So there will be ample opportunities for local public library staff to attend and learn more in this forum. 

We've also organised for the system administrator of the SWIFT network to come to Adelaide and spend a day working with us on system set up etc.

We have started more detailed mapping of what the impact of this project will be on the courier system.  We have mapped current usage and are looking at how to have a smooth phase in of increased ILL traffic in the new environment.  This project has two parts: the Macro part of how many boxes and deliveries will be needed, and how much additional resource will be needed to sort the increased volume every night, and the Micro part - what it means for each library if they get more boxes or more deliveries per week.  Mel will be in touch with early adopting libraries in coming months to work this through. 

So, as you can see there is lots on - all focused on ensuring timely, smooth transitions for all involved in the project.  I look forward to seeing quite a few of you at the SCL meeting on Sunday 27 November and many more at the PLSA Quarterly meeting on Monday 28th.