Thursday, 26 June 2014

Eudunda goes live

The Eudunda & Robertstown School Community Library went live this morning.  Eudunda, along with Burra provides library services from their local Area Schools for the communities of the Regional council of Goyder.  A branch also provides library services at Robertstown 3 days a week.

The library's Enterprise site is hereIt links to all the usual library materials as well as to their local community website.

A few people have asked about the remainder of the rollout program.  At this stage it looks like this:
Burra             3 July
Snowtown      24 July
Balaklava       31 July
Meningie        14 August
Coomandook  21 August
Tailem Bend  28 August
Tintinara       11 September
Coonalpyn     11 September
Lucindale      18 September
Yankalilla      25 September

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Database cleanup

Most consortium members will know that we're about to head into a phase where we are asking all libraries to undertake some intensive "hands on" clean up of the database, before we undertake another automated de-duplication process in October.

The need to undertake this manual work is because the database has way too many duplicate bib records for the same titles in our database - and these records have insufficient or inconsistent information which means that a computer de-dup process cannot be used with 100% success.

The causes of the multiple records are a few - ranging from legacy LMSs not being sophisticated enough to have sufficient fields and information to store correct information, through diversity of skill sets in staff over 10 years, to changes in cataloguing standards over time. 

Whatever the causes every library and its customers will benefit from the clean-up.  As a library staff member said to me recently, everyone wins from a clean-up, and they listed the following as benefits for all:
  • Staff will handle less materials through the Toll crates
  • Staff will have less Expired Holds to action
  • Customers will get their Holds quicker
  • Customers will be less confused by only seeing a single record for each title
  • Searching in Workflows and Enterprise will be greatly improved
  • Less money spent on the courier will be more money to spend on other things - like Mobile Circ, or more collections etc.
  • And all of this adds up to happier staff and customers.
I'm also conscious that as librarians we pride ourselves in being metadata experts, but at the moment our flagship metadata product - our Enterprise view of our catalogue doesn't do justice to the skills we have. And at the risk of quoting an overused line from a Ben Lee song "we're all in this together"

So, in the interests of providing great customer service, as well as the efficiencies we all gain through a de-duped system, I'd like to emphasise that de-duping our catalogue has multiple benefits for every library staff member and every library customer.

I look forward to seeing the stats on each library's contribution to this blitz & we'll certainly publish the global stats of our endeavours.

Once we have completed the retro-clean up there will always be some minor clean up to do, but this work should mainly be managed through regular automated de-duping & only minor manual intervention. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Libraries Board metro tour

The Libraries Board undertook its annual tour of metro libraries on Monday this week.  We visited West Torrens, Playford (Elizabeth) Walkerville & Adelaide (new city library).   It was great to see the diversity of the communities that these libraries serve & how each council is responding to their communities with their collections and programs. 

West Torrens has steered their services to meet the needs of their community from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, while Playford is focusing on family literacy amongst other things.  Walkerville is still bedding down their new building and looking to reinvigorate their public programs in their new space, and of course Adelaide is forging partnerships with all manner of groups to provide a diverse and vigorous array of offerings.

At Playford we were shown a scale model of their new library which will be built at Andrews Farm as part of the Stretton Centre.  The Stretton Centre is a collaboration between the Playford Council, The University of Adelaide and Renewal SA. It is anticipated that the new library will open in the second quarter of 2015.

The Board was impressed with the quality of all of the library buildings as well as the diverse range of services that were being offered.  And the presentations by library staff confirmed the very clear vision that the libraries have in both linking to and fulfilling their councils' strategic plans and enriching the communities they serve.

The Board's country tour this year will be to the Eyre Peninsula, where I know the Board will see another range of diverse libraries, responding to their councils' directions and communities' needs.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Mobile Circ is coming

As many of you know, SirsiDynix staff are currently travelling around Australia meeting customers and demonstrating new products, or enhancements to existing products.  They were in Adelaide last week & so a group of about 40 staff from a range of libraries got to see the company's latest offerings.

Amongst the products demonstrated was Mobile Circ.  We first saw this product last October when the SD team was in town after the COSA conference in Melbourne. See the report on this here.  At both events libraries have been really excited about the capabilities of Mobile Circ & asked when we can add this product to our suite of options.

Given this ongoing interest from many of our libraries we have decided to purchase it for the consortium.  We are fortunate that we have some credits from the SD BLUEcloud Rewards system which we can put towards the cost of the product. (We also used this program to purchase eResource Central - see here - which we will implement once the last library has joined the consortium.)  What this means is that for a quite small ongoing cost we get to add two key products to our system.

The LMS Systems group has already discussed Mobile Circ & a few libraries have agreed to do some testing of it in coming months.  We're therefore looking to make it available for general release as soon as the test libraries are happy that it works effectively & without glitches on our current configuration.

Bandwidth upgrade arrives

As you're probably aware, PLS manages the telecommunications network which provides public Internet access and the delivery of the One Card LMS software.  We're very conscious that there is never enough bandwidth to do everything that people want to do - particularly when we have limited funds to apply to this part of our business. (Having said that, our network bill is the largest single service cost for PLS.)

So, with the challenges of people wanting more bandwidth, but with limited funds PLS continues to refine our services, look for improvements in what our providers offer and how much they will charge us for these services.  We have been able to upgrade much of our network over the last 18 months or so to improve performance.  These upgrades have been in the libraries' connections back to the PLS "gateway" to the Internet.  This gateway has been a 60MB channel to the Internet.

As of tomorrow (18 June) this gateway will be upgraded to be a 200MB connection.  We expect that this will deliver increased performance for libraries, and will be monitoring the network's performance to see what impact this has.

There are other advantages of this new service as well.  One is that we now have the ability to filter what information comes onto our network.  We are using this ability to filter out malware which could harm our network. However we are not using this to filter any content. The other advantage is that we have increased capacity to monitor network performance, which should help us to address faults more quickly as well as identifying network bottlenecks etc.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Cambrai live today

Cambrai has joined their Mid-Murray colleagues as part of the consortium today. Their collections are now searchable in the Mid-Murray Enterprise site here

A small piece of Australian social history is bound up in the name of the town of Cambrai.  It was one of many German named towns whose names were changed during and after WWI to be more "patriotic" and to remove many German names from the Australian map. Because of the amount of German settlement in South Australia there were many name changes here.  Cambrai was originally called Rhine Villa, but was renamed after a WWI battle. 

An extensive list of name changes in Australia can be found here. Some towns such as Hahndorf & Lobethal had their original names reinstated, while others have continued to use their changed names.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Interesting performance stats

Staff at PLS continue to extract data from the system to help us to understand how customers are using the system, with the aim of improving system performance for both staff and customers.

I have just been provided with a report which looks at holds performance at a very high level.  For this financial year to date customers have placed 1,943,010 holds. Of these, 1,537,134 (79.1%) have been filled.   So what about the other 20%+?

Customers chose to cancel 234,845 (12.1%) of all holds placed.  I'm curious to know more about what these holds were & why they were cancelled, but we don't have that data.  I am pleased that this number of holds were cancelled on the basis that we would not have shipped most of these items - saving courier costs.  Of course, if a hold is cancelled after an item has been shipped we still do all the work associated with fulfilling a "live" hold.

The number of items which have expired on the shelf  - i.e. arrived at the library but were not collected is 171,031 (8.8%).  From my recollection of discussions about this topic in libraries, this figure doesn't seem too bad.  However it does mean that lots of work was done by staff and our couriers only to have this effort go to waste.  If would be good if we could reduce the number of items  which are reserved but not collected.  If any libraries have run a demonstrably successful program in the past about reducing the number of uncollected holds we'd love to hear from you.

As further stats become available I'll share them with you.

Swan Reach goes live

Yesterday the team at the Swan Reach library joined the consortium. They are part of the Mid-Murray council, so share the Enterprise site with the other libraries in their council area.  These other libraries are Mannum, Morgan & Cambrai.

School students getting ready for the formalities

The celebratory cake was well received

Principal Kylie Eggers, Lyal Mutton from PLS, Mid Murray mayor Dave Burgess
Sue Isted of PLS and Library Manager Leanne Griffiths celebrate.