Thursday, 21 February 2013

Mt Barker added to the consortium - just

It was Mt Barker's time to go live today, but it wasn't without its hiccups. An IT glitch at Mt Barker just before its final data extraction prevented SirsiDynix from accessing the circulation data ready for the cutover.  This, combined with a public holiday in the US meant we lost several days at a crucial time in the project & gave us a very small window to get all of the process done to meet our deadline today.

But as a result of the hard work & long hours worked by people on both sides of the world we made it - just. I'd like to recognise the work undertaken & thank staff and our partner SirsiDynix who got this conversion over the line in slightly difficult circumstances. 

Mt Barker has a degree of complexity - being a joint use library with the local TAFE campus.  However as the project team has already converted a number of joint use libraries they have taken this part of the project in their stride.  

Mt Barker is a service centre for people in surrounding towns, some of which are in other councils. For those in the north-eastern part of the Alexandrina council this addition will allow them to use both Mt Barker and Strathalbyn libraries with a single card. And those who live close to Mt Barker but are in the Adelaide Hills council this will give them a taste of what is to come to their libraries in June this year. 

Mt Barker decided to put on a "go live" event which was preceded by a large & lively sing-along "rhyme time" for pre-schoolers.  This led to a full and lively crowd there for the event - along with the mayor, councillors, the council CEO, others from council and quite a few members of the public.  The balloons went up and stuck on the ceiling, the amazing blue cake was cut & shared & the celebration was done with minimal fanfare - a real Mt Barker event.

Below are a few photos from today's event.

The project team has been working with staff from Holdfast Bay, Pt Pirie & Pt Augusta and look forward to these libraries joining the network over the next 5 weeks.  The PLS meeting and training rooms have also been full this week, with staff from the far north here for training as they get ready for their addition to the consortium in April.

Rhyme time in full swing

Staff in their "One Card" t-shirts working on the new system

A "1" balloon as part of the display, along with the e-book information about winning an iPad

The beautiful cake

Mt Barker Mayor Ann Ferguson & Library Manager Ian Hildebrand attacking cutting the cake

Love2Read lives on

As most of you are aware 2012 was Australia's National Year of Reading - where libraries teamed up with many other groups and individuals to raise the profile of he importance of reading in our community.  The year was a great success, and many of us involved in the year are keen to see some ongoing activity to capitalise on what was achieved last year.

Public Libraries Services as well as the SA professional association for public librarians - Public Libraries SA were founding partners for NYR & we have agreed to continue to be supporters of the Love2Read campaign which follows on from NYR.

The website for Love2Read can be found here.  The site has information about ongoing activities and ways in which libraries can use the Love2Read logos and other collateral.

A quick summary document has been put together highlighting the success of 2012 & this is on the Love2Read site.  But if you want to go directly to this document this is the link.  A couple of interesting statistics from the summay document is that 4,000 events were registed as L2R events last year - that is about 11 events every day for a year!  And for every dollar of funding provided, a benefit of $20 was generated - remarkable return on this investment!

I look forward to working with local libraries to continue to work on literacy issues and support the growth of a reading culture in our communities.

Friday, 15 February 2013

E-books - available Statewide

Along with the Unley LMS "go live," yesterday was also the "soft launch" of our State-wide e-book access service.

This is in soft launch phase to allow libraries to learn about how the service works, do some internal training and testing and generally get ready for customers who will begin to come to use the services in the near future.  

We've created a page here which provides information for the public (& libraries) about how the system works. For answers to which readers work, how to register and download etc this page is the place to start.

If you're already an e-book user or just want to jump in and start playing you can do it on the site where the e-books are - here.  

While we've launched this site with items for download, it is not complete as we will be continuously adding more titles to the catalogue.

We are also in the process of looking at the integration of these e-books into the One Card LMS catalogue, so that they will be seamlessly available and searchable in everyone's catalogues.  I will post more about this as we work through the process.

And another update:  If you go back to the "Unley goes live" post here, you will see a number of photos I have posted from the event.  Seeing the photos really makes me disappointed that I had to miss the event!  Well done to Hanlie & the Unley staff for the lively launch. And of course there are more photos and details on the Unley Library blog site.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The 2013 rollout commences

Well it's Valentine's Day, Library Lovers' Day AND Unley go live today!

Given the work that Unley has put into their planning and preparation it should be no surprise that they've transitioned smoothly.  If you're interested in looking at their journey their Blog called Uni.verse here is worth a read.

I would love to have been at the launch this morning but I'm at the ALIA Online conference in Brisbane at present.  I will post about the conference a bit later.

I will add some photos from Unley when I get them.

I think I've mentioned earlier that I walk around with a map in my head of the LMS project roll out.  And Unley joining certainly fills an interesting hole in our map.  With Unley live we have councils joined up in a line from Playford down to Goolwa. It will be great to see the map filled in as the year progresses.  In fact I will post the maps we have in the next week or so.

Unley going live is the start of the 2013 rollout, the timetable for which I posted here last year. The schedule is pretty much still accurate, however West Torrens has been added to the schedule for later this year.  Given that Charles Sturt is going live in September there are real synergies by training & bringing these two libraries on at pretty much the same time.  

The implementation team has already been very busy ramping up for the year & we're all looking forward to the next 38 roll outs for the year.  And while the implementation team will be busy PLS is also very conscious that we need to be providing high quality responsive post implementation support.  This will be the focus of more conversations with libraries in coming weeks & work internally to get the systems & processes right.

I should also note that following a few emailed questions about the post from last week on the Toll courier stats I have updated the post. You can see the additional information 

Update: Below are some photos from Unley's launch - with people in storybook costume, musicians, a cake & a crowd - looks like fun.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Busy Libraries - Happy Customers

As many library staff are aware, building the consortium has had a significant impact on the number of items being shipped between participating libraries.  Whilst this is fantastic for library customers & was one of the intentions of this project, it has put a strain on the courier network which had been used to operating with a fairly constant workload for a number of years.  And of course it has placed considerable strain on library operations as we've reported on this blog here and here.
Last week Toll (our sorting and courier provider) provided me with some statistics that show the estimated items circulated per day (based on an average weight and number of items per black box) has increased 4 fold to around 40,000 a day and continues to grow!!  The graph below charts the increase since before the LMS inception in May 2012.  The rise in materials being shipped has also meant that PLS has had to purchase 600 additional black crates & more will need to be purchased this year.   

TOLL staff have been flexible and proactive in working with PLS to identify and implement appropriate solutions in a rapidly changing and somewhat unpredictable environment.  For metropolitan libraries on the LMS we have introduced additional delivery sites and pre-sorting of materials as we discussed here.  This has not only minimised the amount of sorting and manual handling done by library staff but also avoids issues faced by some libraries that are not set up for deliveries of pallets of material on trucks.  Also, on some routes TOLL now has vehicles dedicated to the freighting of public library materials rather than carrying materials for both public libraries and other TOLL customers.

Significant changes such as these have increased the value of the TOLL contract and this continues to be a cost pressure for PLS that will need to be managed into the future.
PLS staff will continue to work with TOLL and libraries to manage the transition.  If you have any feedback or need to report a TOLL issue, please contact us on 

Update:  Staff from a library ran a report on the LMS and identified that the number of items with a status of "in transit" was well below the 40,000 items as identified as the average number that Toll is handling on a daily basis.  I should have pointed out when I wrote this post that when an item is requested it goes through the Toll depot on its way to the destination library, and then it goes back through the Toll depot on its way back to the owning library.  So every loan created generates two sorting "counts" by Toll.  

Also it should be noted that the "in transit" status is also used for items that are transiting between local library branches - which means these items don't go through Toll.  

With these different ways of counting and differing courier systems operating there is no way that we can accurately compare the items going through Toll to loans being created by the system.  As we develop our reporting systems I will report on the amount of inter-library lending that occurs.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Why cataloging matters

I know that a few of my cataloguing friends will have a wry smile at this post, as many will have heard me over the years be rather offhand about some of the pedantry that sometimes attaches to discussions around cataloguing perfection.  I'm not here to eat humble pie, but to reinforce some pragmatic necessities around cataloguing - particularly now that  so many libraries are part of our consortium & so many more are still to join up.

In some ways - it doesn't matter too much how we catalogue, so long as we're all agreed and consistent in what we do.  We need to remember that the main purpose of cataloguing in a public library is to make items easily discoverable by our customers.

A couple of the promises of our Statewide consortium are that:
  • It will be easy for the customers to use
  • It will provide efficiencies for library staff
  • It will accurately reflect the collective public library holdings
  • Collections from across the State will be easily accessible
For us to achieve these and other goals we have agreed to a number of "rules" that we will all follow. We don't have too many rules, as we want libraries to respond to local needs.  However one set of rules that we need to insist that everyone follows is our cataloguing standards.  And these standards are more than professionals just being picky or pedantic.  Adherence to these standards have very practical applications in our consortium.

For example, where libraries choose to alter the standard catalogue record that they receive from PLS they run the risk of their catalogue record not matching with others - causing multiple records to appear in the system. Here is one example: The Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Blu-Ray DVD has at least 2 separate records in the system.  One says;
      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [BLURAY] : Part 1. and its primary author is listed as Radcliffe, Daniel 1989 -
The other says;
     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 [Blu-ray DVD] and the primary author is listed as Yates, David 1963 -

(I've used the italics to show exactly what is in the record) 

Now for the purposes of this discussion it doesn't matter which record is correct, its just that once we have agreed on a standard then we need to ensure that everyone scrupulously follows that standard.

Why is this so important?

If we take a customer's perspective, they look up this title and are confronted with these 2 records - not to say all the other Harry Potter titles on the screen!!  They want to either see if one is available at their local library and/or reserve a copy.  In the example I am using I had to open both records to see which library holds the item - it happens to be Tea Tree Gully and Marion.  (No criticism here of these libraries - these records were added to their systems long before we created the consortium.  However because they have the title and author as looking different the machine matching of records will not merge these two records as they may be different.)

On opening the records I find that both copies are out.  I want to place a hold on this movie so it will come to my library, so what am I to do?  Do I put a hold on the one that has the earliest due date?  What if it never gets returned?  Perhaps I should put a hold on both of them and then I will get the 1st available copy?  But then a 2nd one will arrive later - oh well, I will just ignore the notice to say it is available for collection.

So - the customer has to look at 2 records (& for some examples 6 records), and they are uncertain about what to do.

If they choose to reserve both copies we pay to ship these across the State when only 1 copy is required.

We have also noted that some customers just place a hold on the 1st record they see.  And this sometimes means that they are reserving a copy from another library, even if their library owns a copy.

So - we look unprofessional by having multiple records for the same title showing, we have some degree of customer confusion, and we are shipping items across the State, often for no purpose.

We will slowly tidy up our database to eliminate these inconsistencies, but it will take time.  And it would be more productive if this time could have been used in other ways in libraries.

So - for all libraries I would request that whether staff are adding or modifying records in either your own LMS or in the consortium they need to be familiar with and follow the agreed cataloguing standards.  These standards are available on the PLS Intranet & if you don't have a copy please make sure that you get one.

And can I stress that any fields that are "match points" such as ISBNs are retained in records even if they're not important to our customers.  We use these to ensure that the database will only have 1 record for each title, and all items are linked to this one title field.  I am aware that non-book media is a bit more difficult, but essentially, where match fields are available they need to be retained for a vey good reason.

I am aware of other issues in the database at present, such as many "on-order" records not being overlaid by final records & the issues that this is currently causing.  I will be addressing this in a subsequent post.