Monday, 30 July 2012

De-duplication weekend

I have outlined in some detail earlier that once we had the 1st 8 libraries onto the system we would undertake a de-duplication process of the bibliographic records in Symphony.  This process occurred over the weekend. 

Given the time required to both de-duplicate records and also re-index the complete database SirsiDynix required quite a lengthy time to carry out this work.  After the last library closed on Saturday afternoon the process commenced, and ran through until early Sunday.  We had anticipated that it may run into Sunday opening times so took a conservative approach and asked libraries to work offline on Sunday afternoon.  This meant that items could be circulated but holds could not be placed through Enterprise of Symphony.  While this is a slight inconvenience and not ideal, the de-duplication process has been worth it for the benefits that customers and staff will receive.

We have learned from this 1st major database clean-up, and will apply this learning to any future work of this type that we need to carry out.

The de-duplication process managed to merge just over 100,000 bibliographic records with other existing records.  This means that there are more items are now attached to fewer bib records.  The benefits in terms of both uncluttering the catalogue and streamlining the holds process should be there for all to see.  Amongst the number of records merged we managed to do approximately 15,000 DVDs, which is a great outcome. 

We took a fairly conservative approach to this 1st de-duplication process, and we will learn from it to see whether we can tweak the rules a bit more precisely to get even more records to merge.  The cataloguing / database maintenance group from libraries will examine the results we have obtained and assist us in improving our processes.

Also, staff can now start merging records where there are obvious duplicates that the de-duplication process did not detect.  Any merging needs to be done according to the agreed process and by authorised staff.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Housebound / Outreach

A number of libraries which run "housebound" services met in Strathalbyn today to discuss how they operate their services. Of particular interest to the group is the functionality of the "Outreach" module in Symphony.

The Outreach module is specifically designed to streamline and mainstream services to housebound customers. It works in the following manner:
1.  As happens now with manual or semi-manual systems, each customer has an interest profile which outlines what they like to read - genres, subjects, favourite authors, material type (large print or ordinary print) etc. These interests are entered into their profile in the Outreach module.
2.   When it comes time to select items for the customers (usually a day before delivery) the Outreach module reads each customer's profile and then identifies items which match the interests and have not been read by the customer previously.
3.  It then gives the staff member the option to accept, reject or ignore the suggestion. If the item is rejected it will be noted in the borrower’s history and not suggested again. An acceptance for an item currently checked out will place the item on hold for the customer. These items will go onto the normal "pull list" for items on hold
4.   A staff member who runs the pull list for all items will then collect the items that are identified for the customer from the shelves and deliver them to whoever is responsible for checking items out and arranging the delivery route for the next day.

This approach means that there is no need to have a separate "housebound" collection in the library, or for staff to keep manual records of what customers have previously borrowed or their profiles. It also means that the customers will have access to the library's full collection. And the streamlining of workflows is a significant time saver for staff.
PLS staff are currently setting up a range of Interest templates that will be able to be applied to customer’s profiles across the consortium with input and suggestions from staff working in Home Library services.

I am aware that Onkaparinga is currently implementing this module, so it will be interesting to hear from them at some stage about the benefits and challenges of changing work practises. Obviously one of the challenges during the change over to the new system will be that for some libraries the borrowers' histories will not be in the system. However, hopefully this will be rectified over time.

It will be interesting to hear from others as they explore how this module is used to support service delivery to this unique and valued customer group.

More information about the Outreach module can also be found on the SirsiDynix site here.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Children's author and librarian dies

News has just come through that Margaret Mahey - prolific New Zealand childrens' & teens author passed away in Christchurch after a short illness.  I wont list all of Margaret's achievements - you can see many of them here at Wikipedia.  I should also point you to a tribute from a New Zealand librarians' blog which has a more local tribute to Mahey. I am sure that this blog will accrue a range of comments and tributes in coming days.

Perhaps what is less known about Margaret Mahey is that she was a qualified librarian who commenced her career at Petone just outside Wellington, worked for the School Library Service in Christchurch, and also worked as Children's Librarian at Canterbury Public Library from 1976.

During all of this time she was publishing stories and books, with her 1st book A Lion in the Meadow published in 1969.  She left her work in libraries in 1980 to write full time.  Her published works amount to over 120 books - amazingly prolific.  She will be long remembered and celebrated through her works.  Perhaps it is time for some of her works to be re-visited as many of the themes in her works are timeless.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Enfield's LMS experience

Enfield is the delivery point for the Port Adelaide Enfield Library Service, so the staff there are seeing the biggest change in their daily work.  They've sent me some photos of these changes & I have included a few of these below.

Here are the black boxes that have arrived to be distributed to the Pt Adelaide Enfield branches to satisfy customer reservations. 

Below is a photo of 4 new customers joining the library - with a "One Card" banner in the background.

The team was really excited about their contribution to the network, so recorded the moment when the 1st book was checked out to be sent on to another library service.

And after a long day sorting boxes to meet customer needs and getting used to Symphony, team members are still smiling!  Note their L plate sign - explaining the changes & asking customers for a little patience as staff adjusted to their new system.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

ALIA National Conference

I'm at the ALIA National Conference which is a great opportunity to hear some inspiring presentations, catch up with our current suppliers, look at new products & services either being developed or already in the market and catch up with colleagues.

I've been really impressed with the presentation by the State Library of Queensland about their Libraries for Literacy: every day, every way.  Their full report is here too.  When I 1st saw these documents some time ago I thought that they were really good.  However what really got me was part of the presentation done by SLQ staff.  They showed a DVD about a reading program which was helping illiterate prisoners to learn to read stories which were burnt to CD and sent home so that their children could hear their father read to them at night.  And this was matched by the children coming to public libraries and reading sorties that were recorded and sent to their fathers.  It was "lump in the throat" stuff - about how love and family connections are powerful motivators.  I will see if I can find the DVD online and put up a link to it.  And there are so many other innovative partnerships they have made to get the reading message "out there".  

We can all learn from the innovative ways that they are going about their literacy programs.  So I am interested in looking at how PLS may be able to do something about this. 

As well as sitting in sessions I have attended an "invite only" workshop over a lunch break on using a computer program to assist in deep analysis of collection utilisation - leading to better informed purchasing and weeding practises.  I'm really excited about the product, but have not idea about cost yet. Also, I am not sure how it will work in a consortium environment.  So - something to follow up once I get home.

I have also been talking to key e-book and digital audiobook suppliers as PLS works towards putting an e-book/digital audiobook solution in place.  And I've had an opportunity to talk to a range of suppliers about how selections and acquisitions would work post-P2.

So - a very stimulating few days, which will keep all who attend fired up for some time to come.

Friday, 6 July 2012

So what's next?

I mentioned yesterday that Port Adelaide Enfield was the last of our pilot sites.  We set ourselves a task to get the first 8 libraries live by 30 June & almost made that date. So congratulations to all staff in the participating libraries & a huge shout out to the PLS project team who have worked really hard to get to this point!!

We built a bit of time into the project plan to allow us to review what we've done, do any tweaking that is required and then move forward with confidence.  So while there are no plans for any more libraries to join the consortium this month there are all sorts of activities still going on.  I thought I'd give you a brief run down of these.

In terms of getting ready for more libraries to join the consortium project managers and the PLS team are currently working with the following libraries to go live during August to October:
  • August:  Karoonda, East Murray, Lameroo & Pinnaroo
  • September: Prospect, Walkerville, Campbelltown and Norwood Payneham & St Peters
  • October: Wattle Range (Millicent & Penola) Robe, Kingston, Naracoorte and Tatiara (Keith  & Bordertown)
So that's another 15 library services to do in that 3 month window!

We also have Adelaide and the Flinders Mobile on our books for November and December, but we haven't formally started working with them yet.  And following the decision by Roxby Downs to dissolve their joint use library partnership and start a stand alone public library we're now working with them to support this change, and get them started on Symphony - albeit in a slightly different manner than libraries who are converting existing data.  I'll say more about this once we know a bit more about the process.

I also know that there are many staff in a range of libraries currently weeding their collections, adding C0 barcodes as required and adding ISBNs to their records.  So there is all sorts of work happening across almost all libraries!

As well as working with the 18 libraries we're busy working on the de-duplication process as mentioned here. And an update on this - it looks like we will be able to merge over 80,000 records, and there is some hope that we will be able to do some merging on DVDs - which is contrary to our earlier advice. This is all very good news! We're very keen to see how much of this can be done automatically, but we will proceed with caution.  I'll provide an update when we know more.

And the really exciting news is that we have just signed off on our enhancement request to get the transit slip routing process working correctly.  Why is this so exciting?  For 2 reasons:
  1. At present the 8 participating libraries are having to manually produce routing slips - which is unsustainable.  So to get them being produced correctly and by the system will be fantastic for the currently participating libraries.
  2. Also - this change is the enabler which will allow us to add all libraries in the State, and provide ILL access for all libraries to the holdings of the consortium libraries.  I am sure that this news will be greeted with considerable joy by all who are struggling with ILL requests at present.
It took us a while to get SirsiDynx to understand our needs, but once they "got it" the process has been quite quick.  SirisDynix aim to have this fix included in their "Service Pack" of changes to the standard way the software operates. This is great as it means that as the system keeps changing our needs will be met by the normal functionality, rather than us having some special customisation on our system.  The service pack is due for release in late July.  We will need to test its functionality to ensure it has no bugs, and then we will install it in our production version of Symphony - hopefully by early August.

We will then need to add all the libraries to Symphony, and this will enable the ILL process for all libraries to commence.  While this is a little later than I had hoped, I can accept that this is as quickly as large complex systems can be changed.

So - the team at PLS will be really busy & people in at least 20 libraries will also be working hard, getting ready for the next major group of additions starting in coming months.  We'll keep you informed of progress on all of these issues in coming weeks.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Port Adelaide Enfield go live

Port Adelaide Enfield - the last of our "pilot sites" is in the process of going live today. This conversion has not been without its minor hiccups! Like Playford, PAE had a key staff member leave during their project.  They were unable to replace this person, so existing staff stepped up to fill the role, including the library manager Bill Roche stepping in as project lead.  Given this minor wrinkle it was agreed to shift the PAE go-live date out from early June to early July.  This allowed the team to get on top of issues and ensure an orderly migration.

The benefits of this approach were felt internally at PAE as well as in the Public Library Services and SirsiDynix project teams.  The results are also seen in the PAE data which includes a significant collection of local history files, digital photos, maps and other unique local content.  Given the effort over the years to create these unique local history files it is important that access to them is maintained through the migration process.  

The records for much of this information are not the prettiest things around, so it will be interesting to see how various libraries use Portfolio (the digital asset management system) to manage and provide access to their digitised photo & other objects collections.  Hopefully this new tool will assist in a more streamlined approach to managing, displaying and discovering digital objects.

The PAE version of Enterprise can be found here. This site has a photo collage of library activities across the top and the library's (rather than the council's) really interesting logo on it.  It  provides a number of direct links into relevant sections of the existing council web site with information about a range of library offerings, details about library locations and opening hours etc.  Like other sites it also provides links to online databases & other key sites as well as promoting access to the mobile phone App for the library catalogue called BookMyne.  

The background colours used by various sites are interesting.  Colour is a very personal thing, so there is no right or wrong, but personally I really like the interesting blue/purple background colour.  I say blue/purple because on my work computer it is quite purple, but on my Mac at home it is more bluish with a hint of purple.

You will notice that we have not merged the PAE catalogue records into the existing catalogue.  I mentioned this in my post of 26 June when talking about the data de-duplication process.  We're doing this to give us a better outcome in the final records that we keep.  This slightly confusing outcome for the customers will last a few weeks, but will then be resolved with a much cleaner set of records than we have now.

One consequence of not merging the records is that the "holds queues" of the various libraries will not automatically flow onto the PAE collection, and likewise the PAE holds queue will not be served by other libraries just yet.  However once the merge takes place we will have an even greater ability to fill customer requests than we do at present.  I will be interested to see the the level of hold fulfilment once we merge the records.  I will say more about this soon.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

LMS software updates - SirsiDynix roadshow

Last Friday SirsiDynix held their annual "Roadshow" briefings where staff explain the recent and forthcoming updates to a range of products & any relevant changes in company direction or staffing etc.  It was great to get updates on changes to almost everything in the range.

A couple of points to note were that the planned release of eResource Central is still on track for later this year, and SD is in the process of moving their whole Symphony product into a web based product.  This web based approach will mean that libraries will not need to have a client loaded on their PCs that has to be updated regularly. It also has a range of other benefits.  This process will commence with a rewriting of the cataloguing module and progressively work through all modules over a number of years. 

I noticed that there were a few public libraries at the roadshow who are not current Sirsi-Dynix customers.  They said that while they're not coming into the consortium for over 12 months, they're very keen to begin their product familiarisation now. 

This got me thinking that it was way back in December last year, not long after we signed the contract that I wrote about the range of products that we had purchased.  So for those of you who were not too engaged last year, but are now more interested in the specifics of products, their names and what they do you can check out my 14 December post here.