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. 

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