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Visiting Libraries….

A Web of interconnections

This past session, one of the subjects I completed included the study visits to various information agencies. Interestingly most people visiting the Melbourne organisations were from other States of Australia or regional areas and I was definitely amongst the minority from Melbourne on the visits.

The places visited include

I’m not going to venture into detail about each of the organisations but rather provide a focus on Melbourne Library Service.

In previous posts, I have mentioned some of their innovative programming such as the Gallery Space hosting exhibitions, the cafe poet, the public piano and various workshops including Zine making workshops. It’s incredibly exciting to learn about the community engagement offered by Melbourne Library Service and how it provides a glimpse to the changing nature of libraries as space and how they are utilised.

In line with the rise in the creative maker culture, Melbourne Library Service reflects this, not only in their programming of workshops but in their collection building too. For instance, the Zine creation workshops lead to Zines that become part of the library collection that a wider audience can borrow, just like books, ebooks, audio books and CD’s. In effect this is an example of  great community engagement by a public library facilitating publishing and sharing.

Another interesting transition, exemplified in their plans for the library that is being built at Docklands due to open in 2014, is the incorporation of multimedia production facilities, a performance space and a Green room (for special effects). With these facilities, enabling multimedia production, they are planning to employ two multimedia technicians to facilitate the process and enable community to create films, audio recordings and even have performances or screenings.

Clearly, exciting times are ahead for public libraries as they transition to being the Hub of the community. The public library provides meeting spaces, resources and enables creative engagement. It provides connections to artists and community and facilitates the sharing of a local voice to a global audience.

Funnily, the study visits were meant to clarify the kind of information agency I would like to end up in. Currently, I’m in a small school library and for a few months I was convinced it was audiovisual archives and preservation that I wanted to focus on. After the visits, I came away liking all of them and have now broadened my choices rather than narrowed… Maybe next year I’ll narrow it down and the sky will provide a clear and narrowed focus 🙂

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Transforming to a Library 2.0 ~ Part 7… finale?

Work with schools, Library for the Blind : visit of blind Bo...

cc lincensed and shared by New York Public Library

It is nearly the end of the school year and I am still going in and checking the Oliver program transition. We can safely say that is is now live and Athena is no longer needed. When I went in last week I spoke with the IT technician about where the link to Oliver is on the system and how visible it is to the school community. Currently, you can access the library beyond the walls of the physical library. Great as this was one of the aims. However, the process is not too straightforward as you need to bring up ‘programs’ and find the link to the OPAC to go into the library management system. Too cumbersome for our current ‘information now’ clientele!

I suggested placing a library icon as the link on the front page of the school website. This will increase accessibility and enable students, parents and teachers to be able to logon from their homes. Being able to ‘see’ the library link on the front page is what we all want after all. This is now on the list and I was informed it is not difficult to achieve. Fantastic!

Through this journey, I have mentioned often that there is no dedicated teacher/librarian at the school and it is an area I have been advocating for incessantly during my time there. The new system has a fantastic and simple newsletter template that only needs an update monthly. It provides links to new items in the library, information about the library, links to websites and featured authors for the month. With the featured author, it provides a wonderful avenue where students can email suggestions for authors thereby increasing student participation. Hopefully this can open up more avenues for student contributions including student publications online. However, unless there is a dedicated teacher that will focus on the library much of this wonderful potential will be difficult to realise. I continued with my constant advocacy in this area and yesterday, Mary informed me that Bec may be provided some allocated time next year to focus on the library. She will be responsible for updating the newsletter and will run PD with the staff about the new system and the importance of the library. Fantastic! Bec has come on board this term and spent a great deal of time familiarising herself with the new system, looking into electronic resources and reading up on all things library. There is still a long way to travel but every step counts in cementing the importance of the library and extending this beyond the library walls and into the school community.

As for the new library management system, Oliver, the interface is fantastic and a perfect choice for a primary school, especially when you click on Olly and access the visual search. Even searching a subject, the box where you type your word is quite large making it easy for little kids to read. None of the other programs researched had such a fantastic interface with this level of accessibility for very young children.

Currently, the library is shut down for lending and only open for returns. This has been instigated to enable the smooth transition and ensure any difficulties are fixed before the next academic year. It will further enable training in the new system for staff. Only last week I was working through part of the training module with Mary and we identified that a key component linking to Word has not been downloaded and set up yet. This enables the printing of labels, letters and reports. Very vital!… This has been forwarded to the IT department and hopefully the situation has been sorted. I am going back in later this week for a final check and hopefully this is the finale in transforming to a Library 2.0.

 

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Transforming to a Library 2.0 ~ Part 6

J.J. Eller wins 120 yd. Hurdle 1911 (LOC)

J.J. Eller wins 120 yd. Hurdle 1911 (LOC)-cc licensed Library of Congress

Oliver conversion data and trial phase ~ Hurdles and What a Day!

Just over two weeks ago, Softlink informed the school that the conversion was set to begin and provided a timeline of what was involved. I went in one morning to compile a report that included screenshots of the various screens in Athena relating to records, patrons, loans and other items and emailed it to the Softlink conversion team. The data from the Athena LMS was sent via the Web to Softlink for conversion to Oliver.

In response to the report sent, the Conversion team at Softlink sent back an analysis of the data with detailed descriptions of how the data was to appear in Oliver. From this point we were provided with two weeks as a trial phase within which we were to analyse the data; both in the written conversion report and online. This was to determine if any anomalies existed and to provide an avenue for feedback to ensure the data is converted correctly during this trial stage. It was understood that anything new we added to Oliver during this stage would be lost once Oliver went live. The trial stage was purely a stage to iron out any problems, missing data and so forth before we went live. This stage is critical for if we fail to detect any anomalies and inform the conversion team, when we go live the problems will continue to exist. Furthermore, they are much harder to rectify once live.

The Information Technology coordinator has been working closely with me in the process of the upgrade to a new LMS. During this trial process we organised a day where Mary; the Library technician, Bec a teacher who is taking on library responsibilities, the Information Technology coordinator and myself could spend the day working with Oliver analysing the data.

Whilst we spent a great deal of time working through modules, speaking to technical support at Softlink and finding our way around Oliver, it became apparent that there was something missing. The actual data!

It was not until 3pm that we contacted technical support to discuss some of our concerns and it was affirmed that the data does was not there. We then contacted the Conversion team- who happened to be in a meeting… an email was sent and messages left…

Two weeks later we have received an email from Softlink stating that they have had problems with the data conversion and have now set a new date for this to occur… Ho hum.

While we learnt a great deal about the new program, enjoyed the company and learnt a great deal about navigating around Oliver, it is difficult to coordinate four different members to be able to take time away from other duties and provide focus to one task in a school setting. One extra hurdle but hopefully the next date, when coordinated, will run smoothly. Stay tuned for part 7…

 

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See Sally Research ~ Joyce Valenza

 

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Transforming to a library 2.0 ~ Part 5.

Search Help

Search Help cc licensed and shared by mister bisson

Another exciting journey is about to begin as the decision on a Library Management System has been finalised and it is Oliver Junior, (for the various reasons outlined in the earlier posts).

Next week, Oliver Junior will be installed remotely to the network. Then the process of transferring from Athena to Oliver will take approximately a term to complete this transformation.

In the meantime, we are embroiled with the other logistics. For instance do we already have z-cataloging with SCIS and do we want the Syndetics module included.

Mary was a little concerned about the jargon, however after a couple of phonecalls to SCIS and Oliver support, we discovered yes we do have the z-cataloging and now have been enabled by SCIS for integration via Oliver. I understand there are a few more configuration details and hopefully Oliver support can help with the troubleshooting when the time comes to set it all up. Here are the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry.

Oliver’s support end calls the integration Z-39.50. In my speak, all this means is that you can search the bibliographic details via Oliver without needing to go to SCIS and import the MARC records directly. As a result, a more streamlined and efficient approach.

As for Syndetics, confusion set in as SCIS offers a module and we are not subscribed to this. When I spoke to SCIS, I discovered that this module does not integrate with Library Management Systems and was informed that Oliver has their own Syndetic module that can be integrated. Did we need this? was the question all were asking.

After looking up the benefit of Syndetics it is clear that it would enhance the system significantly. Not only does it allow the importation of book covers, but also other relevant information such as awards and author information. Clearly, this provides a better experience for the students and teachers. As a result, we chose to add this module via Oliver.

Where to now? Installation is next week and we are keying in some training sessions. It is starting to feel exciting but the road is still a way off and not too clear just yet… Mary has some trepidations at present but the playing is about to begin!

Visions of fall

Visions of fall cc licensed and shared by Kaitlin M

 

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Bridging the divide with Library Automation

My previous post looked at some of the negative impacts of budgetary constraints and the choice by one institution to cut staff while implementing Library automation systems. The following video provides the positive impact of library automation.

 

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Automate the library ~ cut some jobs?

I woke this morning to the following headline Students protest at library staff cuts in The Age. It appears that Melbourne University Library is moving towards more automated services and one of their spokespeople has been quoted as stating ”The proposed staffing restructure reflects the changes in library use that automation and digitisation have produced in research-intensive, comprehensive universities around the world,”. Furthermore, the article quotes “there had been a 45 per cent drop in ”across-counter loans” between 2008 and 2010, meaning ”staff need to shift from routine processing and lending activities to supporting students seeking help with research tasks and complex database access”. However, the staff are not being shifted to these areas of need, they are in fact being cut altogether.

With automation, as is the case in other industries, the people directly affected tend to be the lower skilled workers and in the case of Melbourne University libraries it is the library assistants and casuals that make up the count of about 30 positions to be cut. However, even if they employ 4.5 higher qualified staff, the question remains will this be enough to service the growing trend of library usage as indicated in other library service areas such as public libraries? Beyond this, why not transfer and retrain the library assistant positions to a similar classification as an Electronic Resources Assistant if this is the area of increased service need? The following job advert for an Electronic Resources Assistant gives an indication of what the job entails. Will the Melbourne University Library skimp in this area of service also?

While they point to a 45 % drop in across the counter loans, this may not be reflective as a statistic of library use overall. Many other library groups are reporting increased library use, as the following fact sheet from the ALA indicates and The Library Council of NSW  (2009) points out in The bookend scenarios: alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW, that there has been a “rapid growth in library usage in NSW over the past 5 years.”  Visiting the City Library for the past two weeks has corroborated this trend and the Sate Library of Victoria always seems a hive a activity at any time I visit.

We are definitely experiencing lean times economically and decisions such as the cuts to library services and staff are just another indicator of the mentality that cutting costs appears to be the solution. Well really?… Clearly this just leads to a loss or inadequate provision of essential services. Is this what we really want in the Information Age?

The following video is an interview with Marshall Breeding on Library Automation.

TWIL #43: Marshall Breeding (Library Automation) from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

The article by Marshall Breeding Automation Marketplace 2011: The New Frontier from Library Journal provides further information specific to library automation.

 

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