ASSOCIATES (vol. 10, no. 1, July 2003) - associates.ucr.edu
*My View from the Back Room*
Winona Public Library Associate II
"Is this thing live yet?"
We have 2 months to go before we go live with our new ILS (Integrated Library System) Dynix Horizon. We have been lucky enough at our library to be well represented on committees working on the migration. I am on "Team Policy" which actually merged and became System Profiling (I think) but I just want you to know I am about ready to break out in "What a long strange trip it’s been…" Just hum if you don’t know the words.
The terminology is one of the first things we all had to get used to. Terms like ITypes, IStats, BTypes & BStats, which don’t have a direct correlation to Item Types, and Borrowers. That, and to be really blunt here, is the fact of the working differences between the old DRA Classic and the new Horizon system. It is sort of like going from DOS 2.0 to Windows XP. It will be WINDOWS XP, come to think of it. (As a rambling aside, XP is what I have on my home computers so I do feel somewhat comfortable with the platform.) But what I really want to stress is this: The basic end results are the same. We will still check materials in and out, and still add new borrowers, and still use a computer and a scanner, but how we do EVERYTHING will be different!
Even the idea of new screens (Staff Screen Team), new Public Access Terminal Displays (IPAC TEAM) and how to input all the data, to me isn’t as hard to wrap my mind around, as how to MAP our existing data to fit the new system parameters. Not only is the terminology new, but what it counts, adds and reports on is different. So we had to figure out what was important to be counted and map it to the new system.
Our consortium includes 34 public libraries and 37 school libraries. And I am here to tell you that everyone does things different. A juvenile patron in Winona is the NOT same as a juvenile patron in Wabasha or a juvenile patron at Mayo High School. Ages are different, fines are different, privileges are different, loan periods are different, well you get the picture. In an AMAZING show of determination and cooperation the people at headquarters (SELCO) have kept wildly diverse, very opinionated librarians from coming to blows, and have managed to steer us on a course that appears to accommodate all of us. No easy task when you think of the difference between school and public libraries. And then factor in the small "everyone does everything" libraries to the large "stay in your area" libraries.
One of the first things we had to do was come up with a list of material codes (ITypes) that would cover everything anyone anywhere—now and in the future—would possibly want to catalog. I am awed and amazed at the list we compiled. I don’t have the sheet here right now but I think it is over 100 items long. You can now catalog a table if you wish, or a Large-print, best-seller-paperback-romance-graphic novel. HA! And I was in on that group! I didn’t have any original or stunning ideas to contribute though; I kept whispering what is REALIA?
Then we had to do IStats, which basically assigned all the ITypes we would use in our library as a statistic to count. The IStats concern loan periods and maximum fines, and, if or if not, the item could be checked out on the 3M self check machine. For instance, we have an IStat that is a 28 day loan period for items that can go on the self-check and the maximum overdue fine is $5.00. So anything that fit into that category, for instance, all our fiction, non-fiction, and children's books, paperbacks, and yes graphic novels, all get the same ISTAT. No, I did not make up these rules, and no, I am not sure how it is going to work out, but boy, has it been exciting.
Not as exciting as trying to come up with a list of BTypes, which are the borrowers. See, the big hang-up is that these type settings are SYSTEM WIDE, so everyone has to agree. Please see paragraph four (4). Again, I am really happy to announce we were able to come up with a fairly small list that everyone could live with. Some libraries had to raise their fine limits, some had to lower them, but, we did it! The BStats were next. And I am still not real clear here, but this is where you can fine tune the data on your patron to what your library needs to know for funding and such. Like, what county does the patron live in, sex, race, language, and many more interesting tidbits we could collect, but won't because who wants to have all that on file for the FBI anyway?
This week I get to sit down with the head of circulation and our cataloger and we will map out how we want our old stuff to fit the new stuff. We have our list of new and our list of old. What doesn't map get dumped into a garbage file. Now that will be a fun job to clean up!
Also this week I get to start my training on how to OPERATE the new system. I volunteered to be a teacher, yet another growth challenge and adventure, but oh so good for my promoting of the importance of the role of SUPPORT STAFF. I will in turn be teaching how to OPERATE the new system to my peers including those holding the MLS! I am looking forward to the challenge. I am positive and upbeat, and will even read the manual more than once. I won't let the thought of "it's new to everyone, and I am now supposed to be the "expert" so who do I call for help?" keep me from being as clear and helpful as I can. Heck, from where I sit—here in the windowless back room by the staff bathroom—the behind the scenes stuff, the just getting ready to go live stuff, the discussing, and panicking, and finally accepting that things have got to change a bit to be better for all of us is the hard part, operating the system will be a piece of cake!