Sunday, 26 February 2012

A single database - how will it work? Part 2

Following on from part 1 of this topic I thought I'd add some information regarding how we will manage a range of issues related to a single customer database & what this means.  Rather than re-writing information that is already available, can I point you here? This is the information that has been considered by the Transitional User Group and approved by the PLS Standing Committee. It covers the following areas:
  • Single membership
  • Assigning membership
  • Library cards
  • Joining requirements
  • Minimum standards regarding communicating with customers
  • Borrowing rules - consistency and local flexibility
  • Exceptions to making collections available to State-wide access
  • Placing holds/reservation - State-wide access with local prioritisation
  • Administration of the customer database.
I believe that this is a comprehensive list that will answer most questions.  However if there are still issues that you consider need decisions or further explanation please let me know.

Also - I would like to bring to your attention something that was posted in the comments section of my previous post.  I was talking about how a single bibliographic database would work & Tania Paull posted a link to one of the SWIFT libraries which she had previously managed.  I'm re posting the link to the site here, but would also say take a look at Tania's comments about being able to set the search to default to see local collections, but allow customers to see and search other individual libraries or the whole consortium.  The link is

Monday, 20 February 2012

A single database - how will it work? Part 1

A number of people have asked about how we will create a single database for all items and another for all customers.  This "part 1" post is to give a high level overview of how things will work regarding the items or "bibliographic database".

Our network has had an agreed cataloguing standard for many years.  This standard gets updated from time to time through consultation with cataloguers across the network.  We then provide this standard to our suppliers who catalogue to this standard. This standard is primarily based on international and national cataloguing rules, standards & conventions, with some agreed local state-wide variations.

Over years of having standalone databases libraries will inevitably have created some additional local variants to our agreed standard.

The challenge is now to merge these databases, attempt to keep local information which adds value, to strip out some of the variants that add no value, and continue to use agreed standards where possible.  To achieve this we have developed a process which we are in the process of implementing.

We will purchase the Libraries Australia authority headings to load into the database.  We will also add the SCIS subject authority headings as they are used by a number of libraries.  Having these embedded into the system will hopefully keep us on track to keep developing a consistent database.

Mapping for consistency:  We are currently working with the first two groups of libraries to ensure that where libraries have used MARC tags in unique ways that we either map the data in these fields to the correct locations or ignore it when we harvest records.  In some cases where libraries have added unique information such as additional local history information we will endeavour to retain this information.  To improve the probability that this occurs it may require that this data is mapped to new data fields in the conversion.

As the first two groups of libraries include a number of large libraries with sizable collections we expect to have a very large database by the end of June.  From there, as libraries join the consortium their Item records will be added to existing Bib records wherever there is a match.  And where there are unique titles these will be added as new Bib records.

We do have the ability to match records, keep all of the original record, but also add data from specific fields where they need to be retained.  We will use this feature when adding some of the local history and other data I mentioned earlier. 

I can also add that each Item record (i.e. the unique record for each item) will have that item's DDC call number.  This means that if some libraries want to include 1 or 3 or 6 numbers after the decimal point then each library can choose their option and it will be displayed that way locally.

I know that many people will want much greater detail regarding the match & merge process.  This blog is not the place to go into the finer details of why we will be using specific MARC tags etc.  This information will be posted on the network's Intranet site in the near future. 

In the meantime please feel free to ask questions or make comments.  Depending on how detailed the answers need to be they may be answered here, or posted as part of the Intranet paper.

And look out for Part 2 of this post where I will tackle what it means to have a single customer database!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

National Year of Reading Launch

South Australian public libraries hosted the local launch of the NYR today.  This post is a bit of a photo montage of the day.

While the weather threatened to be too hot we got away with a slightly warm event under the canopy of the Rundle Mall.  Here is the stage as people are setting up.  You can see the West Torrens Mobile Library in the background behind the stage.

The Giggly Kids entertained us all and got us moving

We had the wonderful and very supportive Keith Conlon of 5AA as our MC.  Keith is also an NYR ambassador as he is passionate about libraries and reading.  We look forward to working with him during the year. 

We also had the Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood on stage talking to us about the importance of reading and literacy.  Stephen referred to the ABS study which found that 46% of Australians struggling to have the literacy skills to get through the day.  He also talked about his English teacher mother who introduced him to the joys of reading - which started with Tin Tin, went through Asterix and Obelix, talked about "choose your own adventure stories" & then on to the world of reading as a necessity as the Lord Mayor.

We had a great crowd of student from the Sturt Street Primary School....

and Mem Fox was there to read Where is the Green Sheep?

...before she drew the winning tickets for the onsite raffle.

Both prizes - a pack of signed Mem Fox books and a bookcase of books were won by Sturt Street students...

Mem then mixed with the Giggly Kids who had provided two brackets of songs

There were some well known library people there...

That wrapped up the Mall event - but a number of us went off to the Mortlock wing of the State Library for the announcement of the SA book chosen for One Country Reads - Our Story.  Stephen Orr's book Time's Long Ruin was the winner.  

Stephen gave us a great tour of a number of SA authors from Colin Thiele to Sean Williams who have written about or evoked South Australia.  Here is Stephen making his speech.

I'll add some more photos of local events as well as any that come through from the National Launch in Canberra.

I will also post the list of authors and their contribution that Stephen referred to in his speech.

It was a very busy day & I want to thank the PLS Staff who worked so hard to make two events go off so successfully on one day.

Here's to a great 2012.  And if you want to keep up with all that will be happening go to 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Ratification of User Group policies

The PLS Standing Committee met on Tuesday and ratified the latest decisions of the LMS User Group.  The Committee commented on the thoroughness of both the consideration of the issues as well as the consultation process.  They were very clear that this level of engagement will contribute to the success of the project.

These decisions are now available on the intranet here .  These decisions provide a degree of consistency around a range of library policies.  However it needs to be reinforced that while we are looking to provide some consistency in customer experience there will always be scope for local variations which are required to meet local needs.  This balance of overarching consistency combined with local variations will become more evident as the LMS is deployed.

Some examples of the variations include the need to accommodate the policies of some libraries which have a "fines" regime and those that don't.  And of course, the fines policies of each council is different, so different rules for this need to be accommodated.

A couple of other issues currently occurring within the project include:
  • Training for start up libraries
  • Project Managers to support system roll out
  • Communication with all councils about the roll out.  This will include a service contract, a timetable, a list of the suite of services and products included in the offer, and other relevant information

I will comment on these issues in coming days as we finalise the details of these and other matters.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A quick update

PLS continues to push ahead with LMS system configuration etc.  We are using the "rules" and parameters as agreed and lodged here, as well as other work being done by the Transitional User Group.  The most recent work of the User Group will go to the Standing Committee for consideration next Tuesday & it will be posted on the Intranet after that meeting.

We have handed over the configuration of the 1st 4 libraries to SirsiDynix, so that they can begin building the hardware and configuring the software to meet our specifications.  The system will be housed in a data centre Melbourne.  These libraries have been assigned a project manager, and are powering ahead locally, getting ready for implementation.

Training:  PLS will be hosting 10 days of training starting on Monday, with more scheduled in late February, March and May.  This training will ensure that staff will have a good understanding of the system, be able to train others at their libraries and also  be ready to test their data when we go through the data conversion process.

Telecommunications:  One of the necessities for the larger metro libraries is that we provide additional bandwidth to run the LMS rather than have the LMS traffic competing with the existing already choked public traffic line.  PLS has ordered an additional line for each of the metro libraries to ensure that LMS performance will be as required

Publicity & promotion: We continue to develop publicity information which will accompany both the awareness raising and launch of the LMS in libraries.  Some of what has been created can be found here.

Product development: We've also been encouraged to see that SirsiDynix continues to push ahead with its e-Resource Central platform.  The latest information about this product can be found here.  While the network is pushing ahead with the consideration of stand-alone digital content platform, we're keeping an eye on this development, as it is planned to seamlessly integrate both discovery and digital rights management (DRM) for all downloads to diverse devices.

And speaking of new and other software options, the "User Experience Group" is winding up its deliberations of a range of alternative "plug-ins" that may be useful for us.  Their report is due in March.  We will look at their findings and then need to do a cost benefit analysis of the various options and consider how to progress this.

That's about it for now.  I know that there are a few more things in the pipeline, but I can't announce them just yet.  But as soon as I can I will let you know of other progress.