Thursday, 30 August 2012

Progress of sorts

The LMS team here is working on a number of fronts at present & a number of issues are being progressed, however we're impatient about getting some things beyond "progressing" and into completion.

The 1st bit of "completion" news is that East Murray has gone live today.  East Murray is one of our smallest public libraries & it has been quite a challenge for their small staff to get everything done.  But perseverance and hard work, along with support from PLS staff means that they've made it!  Congratulations to them.  As mentioned in earlier posts, they're sharing their discovery layer with other libraries & they can be found here.

While we have nothing to show for it yet we are working on providing ILL access for all non-consortium libraries.  I posted about this on 15 August & Unley has also posted about it on their Blog on 14 and 17 August.  Unley has been trialling this for us. As you will see from their posts - it is working successfully for them - which is great news.  Yesterday we got the "transit slips" working for Staff Web - the product that the non-consortium libraries will use. (This will mean that when a non-consortium library "wands in" the item the system will produce a transit slip with the destination of the owning library showing.)  

James Kemperman is gradually setting up all other libraries on the system so that they will be able to reserve items from the collections of the consortium libraries.  He tells me that each one takes quite a bit of time & he has got 25 done so far - with stacks still to do.  But as soon as the transit slip issue for consortium libraries is resolved (see below) then we will release this to all libraries.

The final hurdle to providing ILL access to consortium collections is the need to get "transit slips" working properly for consortium libraries.  I wrote about this topic (as well as the ILL issues) on 15 August.  Since then we have made unacceptably slow progress - but this has been beyond our control.  However yesterday we did get a transit slip to work as required, but also the system did not print one when it was not required - i.e. between library services it prints, but between local library branches it doesn't!  This did happen in our test system, and there were a whole lot of issues about installing a new "client" on a PC to make it work.  Hooray for this slight progress - but it still not quite there.

We're champing at the bit to get this fixed for the libraries who are still hand writing transit slips.  Hopefully success is days away now!

We're also looking at increasing the number of libraries that the courier will deliver to.  At present we are delivering all items to a council's designated single delivery site.  And then where libraries have multiple branches the library needs to sort the items for their various branches and use their local courier to deliver them.  And the same happens in reverse when items need to be returned.  For some libraries like Mitcham, they may receive 15 or 20 black boxes of items, but half of the items need to then be sorted and sent to their Blackwood branch. This double handling is causing additional stress on the libraries. 

We are therefore working with TOLL (our courier contractor) to evaluate the costs and advantages of setting up deliveries to additional branches in some of the very busy councils.  We will report on the outcomes of our investigations regarding this.

Beautiful new book

I've just been leafing through a beautiful new book about the City of Adelaide which has been produced by Wakefield Press.  It is called City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 years on.  The text is by Lance Campbell & the new photos are by Mick Bradley.

I wouldn't normally use this blog to talk about one particular book, but I think this is such a gem.  I think what really struck me about it is that many pages have a set of photos of a particular street as it was in Adelaide's centenary year 1936, and then below this streetscape are photos of the same street in 2010. I could say lots more about it, but seeing is better than reading my views.  So you can see sample pages on the Wakefield Press site here.  I am sure that after you've had a look you'll agree that this is a book that should be included in the collections of most of the public libraries in SA.

Also, I am aware that Wakefield Press is holding a "book fair" at Norwood Town Hall next weekend (7 - 9 September).  You can see a bit more information about the fair here. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

3D Printing in Libraries

I couldn't make a really interesting event in the city last Friday night, but Teresa and Jon were able to attend.  Jon has provided us with some information about the event:

Last Friday night at Adelaide City's Grote St Library a great evening event was held, showcasing the Council's new Innovation Lab, which includes 2 state-of-the-art 3D printers.
The launch (officially opened by Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood) was attended by over sixty people including councillors, the general public, media, Adelaide City Council staff members, library staff from the Network and PLS’ Teresa Brook and Jon Bentick.

The Lab includes laptops loaded with digital design software that communicate with the state-of-the-art MakerBot Replicator 3D printer and the UP Plus 3D printer. The MakerBot and the UP Plus can be fed rolls of plastic and can turn designs into actual three dimensional objects.
The pictures below show children & adults examining the intricate plastic shapes that can be produced by the Lab’s 3D printers.

Based on the already successful program at Fayetteville FreeLibrary in New York, the new Innovation Lab provides a safe and accessible space where everyone in the community can interact, understand, develop and create through technology.
We'll have more info about the launch in the next issue of Connect
To take a look at the Innovation Lab, head to the Grote Street Library at 18 Grote Street or visit their website.

3D printers are shaping up to have a big impact on industry and manufacturing, as can be seen in THIS article in The Age newspaper today. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Karoonda & Lameroo go live

Karoonda has gone live today.  This is our 1st Amlib library to join the consortium & so it has been a good learning opportunity which will inform our work with future Amlib sites.  As I have posted before, the two libraries in the Karoonda East Murray Council have joined with the two libraries in the Southern Mallee Council (Lameroo & Pinnaroo) to provide a single shared Enterprise site.  It can be viewed here.

East Murray will be the 4th library in the group to go live next week.

When Pinnaroo went live last week they decided celebrated their opening with a special One Card cake and some decorations - as shown below.   

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

e-Books - where are we up to?

Following a number of enquiries I thought that I would provide you with an update as to where PLS is up to on the path to providing State-wide access to e-Books.  The short answer is that we're nearly there, but I wanted to give you a bit more information about the process & outcome.

A working party in 2011 identified what the ideal solution would be for the network & PLS used this as the basis for considering what was available in the marketplace at the time.  The reality was that no company provided everything that the working party was looking for, and only one company provided the bare minimum expectation of having a mix of e-books and e-audio content from a single platform. In February PLS reported this to the PLSA Executive and gained the Executive's approval for PLS to pursue a contract with this single supplier. 

Given the decision to pursue a single supplier PLS needed to go through an approval process inside our Department. This process took several months, &  in May PLS gained the necessary approvals  to adopt this procurement approach.  Since that time we have actively pursued a contract with provider to deliver as much of what the working party was looking for as is currently possible. This has necessitated engaging lawyers to work on the contract with us to ensure that the best interests of the Libraries Board (the contract signatory on libraries' behalf) were protected. However, as you can imagine, the company also has its minimum expectations and also has contracts in place with publishers that it has to honour. 

After several contract iterations we have closed the gap between our position and the company's to the point where I am confident that we will have a contract signed in the near future.  The company tells us that from contract signing to product availability takes up to 3 months.  And while this seems quite a time, there is work to do in designing a delivery website and setting everything in place.

The next big question is; How will e-content be delivered?
At this stage the e-content will be available from a stand-alone website, that will require people to log in and download their e-content.

In the medium term we will be looking to deliver e-content through the One Card LMS, using the e-Resource Central product that SirsiDynix is developing.  This will provide authentication against the LMS customer database and also manage many of the download and Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues that seem to make e-content access complex.

As well as managing DRM this product will also show all e-content records in the discovery layer Enterprise.  And with the faceted searching customers can select to just search for e-books or to include them in a more general search.

It is likely that we will have e-Resource Central in place before all libraries are on the One Card system, so it is likely that we will have to run a hybrid access model, with some customers gaining access through their One Card membership, while others will still need to go to the stand alone e-content website.

As soon as we have a signed contract we will be delighted to provide more details regarding the company, the product, the range of titles that will be available & how the public will access the system etc.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Moving a few things forward

While one part of the LMS team is progressing the roll out for libraries, other staff area working on progressing a few other parts of the consortium that need resolution.

The roll out saw Lameroo & their Geranium branch go live last Thursday and is expected to see Pinnaroo go live tomorrow. These libraries run on the Bookmark LMS, so this has been our 1st conversion from a Bookmark system.   And as I have previously indicated, these libraries, along with Karoonda & East Murray have decided to use a shared public interface found here.  Karoonda uses the Amlib LMS, so this will be our 1st conversion from Amlib.  And given the number of Bookmark and Amlib libraries we have doing these ones now will put us in good stead for many others.

The other issues that the team has been working on include:

Fixing the "self registration" facility which allows customers to access the system before they get a library card.  (This was supposedly a feature of the version of Enterprise we are using, however it did not work without considerable troubleshooting work at our end and escalation of the problem within SirsiDynix for a resolution.  We were not alone.  We could see that others were struggling with this & it required changes to system code to get it to work for all libraries.)

The purpose of this facility is two-fold.  
  1. Customers can register and reserve items without visiting the library to join up. And they will be notified when their reserved item/s can be collected. However the customers will then need to come into the library with suitable ID so that their temporary membership can be turned into a full membership.
  2. Also, some libraries use this facility when people come into the library to commence their registration process. Because people know how to spell their name, their date of birth, their address etc they can fill in the self registration form much more quickly than library staff could enter the information.  Library staff can then access the self registration information in Workflows, confirm that the details match the ID that is produces and immediately turn the membership request into a full membership.

If you want to see the self-registration process Tea Tree Gully is now promoting "Register for a library card online" on the front page of their Enterprise site here.

Providing the 1st non-consortium library with access to Inter-Library Loans access to the resources of the consortium.  This library is Unley.  They have written a great blog about how it will work for them, so if you're interesting in this you can see it on their blog here.

This is a trial so that we can make sure it works before rolling it out to all libraries in the near future.  We will keep all libraries informed regarding when this trial will turn into a roll out.

And while talking about Unley and their blog, I would also point you to this post about Unley staff visiting Tea Tree Gully to learn about their implementation & what Unley can learn from the TTG experience.  I think that the points raised - along with a bit of humour, are worth reading.

Perhaps most importantly for the current consortium libraries, we're still working with SirsiDynix to get the "transit slips" working properly! When this is finalised the Symphony system will automatically produce a correct transit slip for all ILL items.  The slip will have both the library service and the specific destination library branch on it.  This means that the TOLL courier staff can sort by the library service name (e.g. Salisbury) and put items in the correct black box, and when the item arrives at the main library (Len Beadell library) staff can then ship the item to the final destination branch (e.g. Ingle Farm branch).  

The way that this transit slip mechanism has been configured will allow libraries to produce or not produce transit slips for items moving between their own local branches, while always printing slips for those items going to libraries beyond their own library service.

This option to print and not print, as well as printing both the library service and destination branch has been a customisation to the Symphony system that SirsiDynix has had to write, test and then retrofit into the current version of Symphony that we are running.  We have seen the customisation working in our Test system, but it is still to be configured in the "production" environment. So, we're close on this one, but not quite there yet. 

We are also working on getting Ezproxy working. Ezproxy is a product that will allow libraries and their customers to have direct authenticated access to our online databases from within Enterprise.   You can read more about the product and how it works from the vendor OCLC and on Wikipedia.  The PLS team is working with SirsiDynix and OCLC to get this working in one library first before we purchase licenses for all libraries in the consortium.

From our perspective, getting two of these changes into the system and progressing the other two has been considerable work, but also very satisfying because we know that they are all key to the future of the consortium and for libraries who are yet to join - but need access to collections for ILL purposes.

We will keep you posted as things progress further.  And I would also add that Karoonda is scheduled to come online next Thursday (23rd) and East Murray on the (30th).

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The consortium "goes bush"

August is the month that the consortium expands into rural SA - where we have many small communities many of which are served by School Community Libraries. Each week this month will see one more library added to the consortium.  (And yes I know that we're already in Strathalbyn and Goolwa - but they're "near country" or almost "outer metro")

This Thursday will see Lameroo and its depot Geranium come online, and coming weeks will see Pinnaroo, Karoonda and East Murray join on the Thursday of their designated week.  As 3 of the libraries are currently using Bookmark LMS and the 4th is using Amlib, this series of conversions has allowed us to learn about these two systems.  This will stand us in good stead for the many other libraries that are using these systems.

Although these 5 libraries across two councils have been operating stand alone LMSs they have had a unified web based catalogue for some time.  They have decided to maintain this level of integration by providing one Enterprise portal to their combined holdings.  This can be found here.  You will note that they have the logos of both councils and the names of their 5 branches showing.

Also, they have decided to start by setting their default search to only look at the Mallee libraries in the 1st instance.  (This is in contrast with other live sites who have set their default search to the complete consortium.)  This approach does not stop their customers seeing and reserving items from across the consortium, but makes this a two stage process.  Given that all of the libraries are in schools and much of the searching will be done by students this default setting seems to meet their local needs.

The project team has certainly learnt quite a bit about differences in how we need to work with these smaller libraries compared to larger metro ones.  It has been a very useful experience & what we have learnt here will be put to good use when working with other smaller rural libraries across the State.

We are now looking forward to seeing what the impact of joining the consortium will have on these libraries and their customers.