Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Forward IT - great for libraries & their customers

I caught up with some very positive, practical people in the Digital Economy & Technology section of DFEEST the other day to look at their new program Forward IT.  I was impressed both with the content of the programs that they have organised, and their recognition of libraries as key players in engaging the community in digital literacy.

Forward IT provides small, short and easy to use tutorials in a whole range of online topics from Facebook, Skype & email through to blogs, podcasts, booking travel & shopping online.  The mini tutorials have some introductory information and many have short 3 minute "plain english" videos.  In some areas there are step by step instructions to do things & if you follow them they actually work.  I used the "upload to flickr" step by step instructions as I had not done this before. 

One of the things I really love about the site is that you can jump right into the section that you're interested in without having to do a series of earlier sessions.

I also love that the team continues to add new content as new issues emerge & they have plans for more to come.

Why am I telling you about this?  Well obviously libraries are at the heart of helping our communities maintain and expand their literacy skills.  And today that means new literacy skills in getting and sharing information in an online world.  Here we have a website that you can steer customers to so that they can explore their online options  & learn how to do online stuff in a very easy to use format.

Also - what is really valuable to libraries is that the Forward IT team wants to support libraries to use their site.  Library staff can register to become facilitators. If you do this you will have access to additional information which you can use to support your library customers.

The Forward IT team has worked with the staff at the Willunga Library as part of the NBN roll out.  Their staff are keen to work with other libraries in a variety of ways.  They have great publicity material that is available for you to use & they're prepared to meet with libraries to discuss how to spread the digital literacy message.

So I'd encourage all libraries to take a look at the site, get some publicity material and promote the site to your community, put a link on your website to the Forward IT site, talk to the team at Forward IT about opportunities & maximise this great resource. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

LMS Travelling Roadshow

We’ve just finished an intense 4 weeks of training, with SirsiDynix trainer Cathy Cusack running daily sessions in the PLS offices.  We filled 200 training slots and had over 90 different people attend various training sessions on aspects of the LMS – from configuring Enterprise to training in circulation.  We’ve also had a few “Web-ex” sessions where the trainer is remote & talks on the phone while controlling the screen and demonstrating system features. 

I am sure you can imagine the excitement that people are feeling now that they’re finally getting their hands on the system – albeit in a training environment.  We’ve also been able to provide access to a training database so people can leave their training & go back to work and continue their familiarisation with the system & show it to work colleagues.

As well as office based training we’re out covering the State at the request of various libraries to either meet with councils to discuss the business case for next year or to run awareness raising and training sessions. 

I’m currently in Woomera to meet with staff from 7 libraries in the mid to far North – all of whom are scheduled to join the LMS consortium later this year.   Staff from Woomera, Roxby Downs, Andamooka, Leigh Creek, Hawker, Quorn & Coober Pedy are all here with us.

The reason for the gathering is that teachers from a range of schools were having a regional T&D day & we’re here to run a “getting ready” workshop and answering a whole range of questions.  We are running through the high level project plan, doing an overview of the various components that we have purchased, and helping libraries with whatever they need to know.  We’re also handing out copies of the FAQ sheets that Jo Freeman has been working on.  These should be up on the website by early next week.  I’ll let you know when they’re published.

I say “we” because I’m travelling with JoAnne Rivers of PLS and Domenic Novia – one of our KDN project managers.  Part of the reason for this is that Dom is one of our 2 KDN project managers & we plan for him to show and step people through a project plan and answer all the questions about the responsibilities of libraries in the project from his perspective.  And Jo has great skills in library management systems, conversion from one system to another and general library operations, so she will answer all the technical questions that people have.

Also it will be an opportunity for Jo & Dom get to see a couple of remote libraries (Roxby Downs & Woomera) as well as meet staff, so that they have an understanding of local library resourcing levels and the skills of the people that they will be supporting remotely.

We will take a few pictures of the day & I will load them up soon.

As well as this Woomera trip I am booked to travel to a range of places including Streaky Bay (flying in through Ceduna) & Mt Gambier in the next few weeks.   The Libraries Board will also be touring the Mallee & Riverland in late April & I am sure there will be lots of LMS questions while on tour.  If you look on a map then Ceduna, Roxby Downs (where we flew in & out of today), Renmark and Mt Gambier pretty much covers the extremities of the State where there are public libraries.  Along with these places on the edge I’m also slated to meet with staff or councillors in various metro and near metro councils in coming weeks.

So – libraries are currently stretched out along a continuum everywhere from 2 months away from going live & currently flat out training, testing data etc, some are getting ready for coming on board later this year & so are doing awareness raising with staff, some are preparing budget bids for the 12/13 year while some have said, “We’ve already got lots on for next year, so we will be putting in budget bid to our council for the 13/14 year.

Wherever you are along this continuum, if you need support whether just by phone or email, or you need someone to attend a staff workshop or a Council meeting give us a call & we’ll see what we can arrange.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Going Live

We're now at the stage where we can talk publicly about the network's plans for the first group of libraries which will go live on the LMS.  We're delighted to announce that we have 8 libraries organised, with planned "go live" dates, training well under way and much of their circulation mapping completed.  We still have work to do around data conversion aspects, but all of this is progressing according to our project schedule.

It is planned that a southern metro/country group will go live in May and then a northern metro group will go live in June.  The southern group of councils are Alexandrina, Onkaparinga, Marion and Mitcham, with Mitcham being the 1st library going live on May 3.  The northern group of libraries are Playford, Salisbury, Tea Tree Gully and Port Adelaide Enfield. We will be adding 1 library per week over these two months.

You will note that each of these groups form a geographic region, so customers in these libraries will be able to access some of their neighbouring libraries soon after their own library joins the consortium.

We also have a long queue of libraries who we are currently working with to slot them into an achievable timeline.  Amongst these libraries are: 
  • a group in the Mallee - Pinnaroo, Lameroo, Karoonda & East Murray, 
  • a group in the Far North - Coober Pedy, Roxby Downs, Andamooka, Leigh Creek & Woomera, 
  • a few on the Eyre Peninsula: Ceduna, Kimba and Cummins
  • And various others (apologies for refering to you this way - you're just not in a natural geographic cluster) the Flinders Mobile Library & Kingston

We do have a few libraries where we have already firm dates & these are Campbelltown in September and Adelaide in November. 

We also have a number of libraries that have told us unofficially that they either "have got council approval" or are "...about to submit a business case to council and things look good".  So we're expecting that we will have our diaries full well into 2013.

As you can imagine this is a considerable workload for our 2 project managers and our technical lead, along with our change manager (who is also currently our training coordinator) and the rest of the team.  We will therefore need to work with libraries to ensure that local plans and adequate local staff resources are in place so that that each library will join the consortium in an orderly and professional manner.

We're excited at the level of commitment and note that by the time we get to Christmas we expect to have councils that represent approximately 55% of the State's population participating in the consortium.  This will see a database of over 2M items available for direct public access.

As we firm up dates for the country libraries listed above I will provide updates.