over the Horizon to where things are Evergreen: an ILS case study


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Access 2011 preconference: Open Source for Library Decision Makers


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  • context of Emily Carr library - 1800 FTEs, 50,000 bibs\n\n14 staff, 2.5 librarians, staff are mostly young, almost everyone is comfortable with technology, everyone is curious and open to learning new things.\n
  • automated in 1997, this was our first ILS migration. \n\nwe’d hit the end of our upgrade path because of our server. the hardware was over a year end of life and we couldn’t upgrade our version of Sybase, so we were one release behind and unable to upgrade. \n\ni remember when the announcement that Horizon 8 was not coming was made. for me, this broke a huge trust with the library community. also, some of the things that we’ve been dreaming about--like better highlighting our artist book collection, a mobile catalogue, and having more control over what our catalogue looks have limited possibilities with a proprietary vendor. \n
  • i started in Sept 2010, spent the first semester trying to keep up, then started cleaning up Horizon, which was a huge mess. 350 circ exceptions down to about 90.\n\nPart of my job is the technical services supervisor. I spent 6 months doing Excel training with my staff so that they would be more comfortable and have the skills that they needed to use Excel to temporarily track acquisitions and new serials if necessary. This turned out to be necessary. even though the software supports basic serials and acquisitions we are not yet using them. i hope to have our serials set up by the end of the semester and there’s a tentative plan for Sitka to roll out support for acquisitions system wide for the beginning of next year. thankfully we are a small library. \n\nformer library director retired after 20 years, new UL started in Sept 2011, told him the first week that we needed to migrate. in retrospect, i should’ve let him get settled a little bit first. he wasn’t keen to consider a migration, but allowed me to start doing an in depth needs assessment. \n\nfor me, some of the other systems pieces that we want to do include a discovery layer, and a mobile and social OPAC. we can’t start doing any of these things until we have our ILS sorted. \n\nour ILS contract was up in December, and at the beginning of December we decided to migrate to Evergreen with Sitka and quickly negotiated a migration date, timeline and costs. this happened extremely quickly--this was possible because we are a small library and could make this decision quickly without going to an RFP and because of my knowledge of Evergreen and the Sitka team. i knew where the shortcomings were (acq, serials) and staff committed to make it work.\n\nat this stage we started carefully reading our legacy ILS contract, if you know you will be considering a migration in the next few years, i would thoroughly read the contract, especially the exit clauses. we had a slightly different understanding than our legacy vendor, in the end we gave them enough notice for termination of service, and were not charged extra money. \n
  • our users are awesome. and weird. \n\nmy background is not art nor design. one of the things that i found really frustrating was as an outsider hearing some odd local practices defended because “we are special, we are an art and design library”. this sentiment is not uncommon in any kind of library. \n\nit seems, as an outsider, that the art and design colleges often look to see what other art and design schools are doing. which makes sense, to some degree, but the functional requirements for a library system that manages checking out and checking in an item are not that unique to the type of library. \n\nhowever i recognize that this was a gutsy move for my UL to support and for my librarian colleagues to support, as it is different from what other art schools are currently doing. \n
  • before selecting Evergreen, and Sitka as a way to migrate, implement and support Evergreen, i did a thorough needs assessment. it drives me a bit bonkers when people generalize that a specific ILS is for academic libraries, or is better suited to public libraries...\n\nmy library is a one branch library with fairly modest needs, but big, creative dreams for the future\n\nneed to really look closely at practice, current functionality and desired functionality. we definitely could have used Horizon in a more effective way.\n\none of the criticisms that I hear about Evergreen for academic libraries is the lack of authorities, and that the serials and acquisitions modules aren’t very robust. none of these were deal breakers for us, as we had never maintained our authorities--so they were useless. we lacked staff expertise to set up serial prediction patterns for all of our serials, and we were rethinking the value/cost/outcome of claiming for missing issues, and while we used acquisitions we didn’t mange our budgets in our ILS. \n\nany migration was a chance for us to rethink a lot of our business processes and rejig workflows and set things up efficiently\n
  • started talking with Sitka early December 2010, signed a MOU before Christmas with an anticipated migration date of May 2011.\n\nhaving worked on the Sitka team, I was familiar with how they were using Evergreen and had a good idea of how our data could map to Evergreen. the Sitka team had a long questionnaire to try and capture what our patron and item data looked like and our circ matrix. \n\n\n
  • from this, Mark Bucholtz, wrote migration scripts, ran them against our extracts, and loaded the data on a test server for us to look at in Evergreen. we gave him feedback and he tweaked his scripts and reloaded the data. this happened about 4 times before migration. \n\nMark also did our initial data profiling when we automated in 1997.\n\n \n
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  • our users are, not surprisingly, really visual people. one of the things that i pushed really hard for was a catalogue that didn’t suck. i’m also the liaison to the design department, and i knew it would be hard to sell that we migrated to something new and better if it didn’t look new and better. thankfully the Sitka team understood this, and James Fournie helped make the KCLS OPAC work for us. \n\n\n
  • the two things that are scary for me are working with code and doing design work. i chatted with the library staff to figure out what information we wanted to highlight on the catalogue. i’d been doing “pssst...! library recommendations” for the website for awhile and staff suggested repurposing those to put a face to the people who use and love our library.\n\ni was constrained by the structure of the KCLS PAC, as i don’t really have the skills and didn’t have the time to change it. these constraints were useful. \n\nthis will buy us time in considering a social layer on top of the OPAC, as it doesn’t suck.\n
  • user group communities around any product are supportive and helpful. however in this case, we were able to benefit from another library’s code. \n\nwhile Evergreen doesn’t have a reserves module, i knew Laurentian was utilizing Evergreen’s bookbags to group items on reserve by course. they also have a really simple interface so you can see what items are on reserve, by instructor name or course code. Kevin Beeswick at Laurentian tweaked his code, James Fournie from Sitka helped me figure out how to install it and set it up, and in about a week we had a web interface to our reserves. it’s not fancy, but it does what we need it to. \n\nour reserves staff person manually creates a paper binder, with a page for each course. we’ll be retiring this soon, and mounting a tablet to the circ desk so students can easily search for the item that they wish to request. this will save staff time and be a much better user experience for students. it may also shift their attitude about libraries and technology. \n
  • didn’t fully understand the nature of a shared database and didn’t correctly identify local tags that were being used (that i didn’t know about), unsure if one librarian even looked at the data\n\nwe also rejigged our extract from the Student Information System, which hadn’t been updated in over 10 years. because staff found the import into our legacy system so cumbersome, we were only updating once a year and relying on circ staff to do a lot of manual updating. \n\nwe wanted to extend borrowing privileges to the 5000 continuing studies students, so rethinking the export/import process so that it could be done much more regularly, was necessary. this meant working with the SIS coordinator, the company who does support for our hosted SIS, the circulation supervisor, and the Sitka support team (again Mark B--thank you!!) unfortunately due to staff vacations we were still tweaking things during the first two weeks of the school year. this was a bit annoying for circ staff.\n\nthe person who does serials and acquisitions is a bit frustrated as i haven’t had time to set up serials and we’re waiting for Sitka to be ready to support acquisitions. \n\n\n
  • some of the money savings are going into booking module enhancements, other key things that we would like to see, and are willing to fund, include: multiple cover art lookup (especially for Artist Books and other weird and wonderful local collections)\n
  • now that the ILS is sorted, it’s possible to investigate federated search, discovery layers, LDAP integration...\n\n\n
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  • over the Horizon to where things are Evergreen: an ILS case study

    1. 1. over the Horizon to wherethings are Evergreena case study of an ILS migration
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