Data Conversion Questions

I recieved this email from a NH library director and thought it is very likely a topic that others may be wondering about as well, so I am sharing my reply with the nhaisLOCAL community here.

Good morning Mary--
I am just getting up to speed on ILS and hope you can answer one of my biggest worries. It concerns the conversion of our records:
1. What does the conversion process involve?
2. Where are our records uploaded from--NHUPAC, NHAIS or directly
from us? If from NHUPAC or NHAIS, how do we keep our barcode
numbers, etc. intact?
3. Does our cataloging have to be "perfect" for conversion?
4. Is the conversion process different from vendor to vendor, or is it a standard process?
This set of questions is one of the major sticking points for this project as resolving the various issues around data conversions and data loads is a key issue to bringing down the price of a library system change.

 There are vendors who will do "data conversions" for a new system and typically the prices start at several thousand dollars and go up from there. However, what is actually being done to "convert" the records is very different depending on what the records you start with look like. Assuming all the vendors in question are reputable vendors, the process doesn't really vary vendor to vendor, but is hugely different library to library because it is driven by what your records look like when they start the process. Based on my experience with the files of records libraries send to NHAIS Services for loading to NHU-PAC some of the records in local systems contain no more data than you would find on the price sticker at Barnes & Noble. Others have very good, complete records (often downloaded from NHU-PAC). The estimate you get from a vendor to do the conversions is (in my opinion) unlikely to be accurate unless the vendor asks to see a sample of your data.

NHU-PAC records (which are the only NHAIS records there are, so I will stick with the term "NHU-PAC records") are clean, full-MARC21 records that require no conversions (which really means cleaning up the weird unreadable junk in your records and in some cases putting the data that was dropped any-old-place in the record into the tags it belongs in) and can be loaded directly into a new system. Some vendors will want to charge us for a per-bib loading fee, others may be willing to let us (meaning NHAIS Services) load the data ourselves for nothing, or for a small programming fee to set up the load parameters. This is one of the places where the nhaisLOCAL group may be able to offer savings to libraries over going direct to a vendor to set up your opensource system.

There are a couple of issues with just loading NHU-PAC records into local systems:
- There are almost no NHAIS libraries that have kept up their holdings in NHU-PAC consistently enough that what is in NHU-PAC exactly matches their actual collection. If you have, your library will have fewer issues re loading than others will.
- NHU-PAC item records don't include barcodes, they could, but they never have. For libraries that have never barcoded this is not an issue, but I think there are only a handful of these. A two step load may resolve this -- we may be able to take records from NHU-PAC and load them to the new system for a given library (so they have full MARC records in the new system), then load data extracted from whatever system they use now which should match to the MARC records already loaded and create the items with barcodes, call #s, etc. Will this cost extra? Can NHAIS Services staff do this (time, access, training)? Can a given library exract their current item data? Will the local records have enough detail to match on load to the full MARC? (If the library has used NHU-PAC records in their system the answer to the last question is yes, if they created home-made quick records or took records from a vendor or from whatever free z39.50 source they found online then the answer is maybe).
- I'm not sure what a "perfect" catalog would be. Conversions are a per-record cost, so if your catalog is full of junk you either don't really have or should have discarded years ago then you are wasting money and time by "converting" it.

One of the things the nhaisLOCAL project will account for is the dataloading and making it as inexpensive and straitforward as possible for everyone, but there are a lot of variables and issues to sort out with this.

For anyone thinking of implementing nhaisLOCAL in their library I would STRONGLY advise AGAINST contracting with anyone to do any kind of conversion on their database at this point. At implementation of nhaisLOCAL this data work will be bundled into the load/set up cost. Because it will be a group project with group pricing, you won't get a break for having done it before because what you have done may not exactly match the parameters that are needed for the loading to nhaisLOCAL and the price of that work will be based on volume of the whole group. If this cooperative price structure doesn't sit well with you then nhaisLOCAL may not be a viable solution for your library.

If your NHU-PAC holdings are out of date (ie. You haven't kept up with deleting discards from NHU-PAC) working on cleaning them up -- add holdings for what you have, delete holdings for what you don't have, and including local call numbers in the records -- would be a good step to take to prepare for an automated system. If you go with the nhaisLOCAL project or if you decide to implement a system on your own you can get a file of marc records for your collection from NHU-PAC that can be used to load into your new system (the cost to your library for this data file is $0)


Pricing info delayed

I know everyone is anxious for pricing information, but it is going to be a few more days. Today, December 9th was my announced goal for the announcement, but I didn't get everything I needed to finish first done. I am hoping to have everything sorted out and everyone I need to talk to talked to before Christmas.


Update on goals and timeline

I was asked, along with NH State Librarian Michael York, to be part of a program billed as "An Update on Open Source ILS" being held on Monday, November 14, 2011 at the Howe Library (10am-1pm). At this program we will be offering an update on our current goals and timelines.

Here is an overview of where we are at:
  • Preliminary pricing has been obtained from a vendor that can support us in a KOHA installation. There are several variables that will influence the price, including how many libraries are ready to implement a system through this project. Preliminary pricing on an Evergreen installation has also been obtained, but there are a couple of questions about this quote that we are still waiting on an answer for. I expect to release a preliminary price sheet by mid-December (12/9/2011 is my target date for this to be sent to the nhaisLOCAL community)
  • Collecting input from the libraries in the group was begun and then stalled (not enough hours in my day!) I asked for volunteers to help with this info collection and several stepped up. (Thank you!) There will be more data collection going on (with people other than me doing the compiling) between now and the end of the year.
  • An online meeting will be held the first week of December with the KOHA vendor (Bywater Solutions) to show the system and discuss the options available to us with our group. Registration info for this meeting (and 2 date options) will be sent to the community (via the listserv) next week. I am hoping to arrange a similar online meeting with the Evergreen support company as well.
  • Once these things are done the community will need to:
    1. Decide which system will work best for us based on the identified needs of the community and the capabilities of the systems
    2. Identify which libraries are ready to implement the chosen system (I am working on a checklist to help each library figure out where they are at regarding this question)
  • After that a solid price structure can be settled on (which system is chosen and how many libraries will be implemented how fast will affect the final pricing), a fiscal and organizational structure for the co-op can be settled on, and we can set up the nhaisLOCAL integrated library system and begin implementation for libraries.


Vision of what patrons can do

The working group for nhaisLOCAL (made up of those libraries who are expecting to implement this system when we get it created) has been answering "visioning" questions about what specific aspects of the system might look like. I will be sharing the responses to these questions with the larger library comunity here on this blog. This is the first of these exercises.  Please add a comment to this post if you have an answer to suggest that was not included here.

When nhaisLOCAL is fully implemented in your library what will the system allow your patrons to do (whether they can do it now or not) from outside your building?

Library patrons should be able to search – with intuitive search and limiting options – all of the resources immediately available through the library (articles in ebsco databases, the library's physical  collection, netlibrary sources, overdrive, etc.) Patrons should also be able to browse by genre, new books, etc. The ability to create a list of stuff they found and then print/email/text that list somewhere would be important.

The patron should also be able to expand their search to the NHU-PAC to see what they can get via ILL. It is important that the patron can easily tell which things are "in" their library and which need to be requested through ILL. An easy link to placing a NHU-PAC ILL request directly would be good.

Patrons should be able to identify themselves to the system with a patron barcode and thus gain access to all the stuff they are entitled too (reserves, ILL, database searching, downloadable books, etc.) from that single login which might have a further security step on it (a PIN or password).

Patrons should be able to interact with the library through the system – manage reserves, including for stuff like museum passes (place them for now, for a date in the future, for stuff on the shelf or not, cancel reserves they placed before, etc.); renew materials; suggest purchases; chat and/or email info to the librarian (how great the library is, reference questions, catalog corrections, etc.); add info to individual catalog records (some private, like if they read something or want to; and some public, like reviews, video trailers they made, tags) They should also be able to send updates on their info (phone, email, address changes, etc.) and to select their notification options (phone when item is available, email 2 days before materials are due, etc.) They should also be able to pay fines online and make donations to the library (or Friends group)

Library should be able to control what an individual patron can do based on their prior actitivity – fines over $X and they can't reserve stuff, how many times something can be renewed, limit the number of items they can request based on patron type, etc.)

Catalog records should include bibliographic information, cover images, reviews from patrons and from published sources (like Library Journal), read-alikes, cover blurbs, links to Novelist content, and tags.

The system should include clear links to info about the library like hours, announcements, blogs, calendars, facebook pages, twitter feeds, etc.

All of these things should be available to patrons from anywhere using whatever device (smartphone, mac, pc, ipad, etc.) they want to use.

ACTUAL RESPONSES (with names/identifiers removed)

Reserve, renew, search, critique, enquire, suggest.

Search, reserve, renew, tell us how fabulous we are. Okay, maybe we don't need that last one.

What she said (Reserve, renew, search, critique, enquire, suggest)
and see what they have out, with due dates, and send a message to correct our errors, and be able to submit address/phone/email changes.

plus if possible, ask for ILL (seeing which other libs own or link to NHU-PAC  would be fabulous!), and see book covers and link to reviews.

Be able to access their accounts to renew and reserve items.
big vision for nhaisLOCAL
Patrons will be able to:  Search, locate and reserve materials locally and statewide with intuitive search and limiter controls.  They will be able to access their accounts for materials status, renewals, reserves, fine status.  Content in the form of reviews, etc.  can be added to item data from user portal.  They will be able to pay fines electronically.  The ILS will serve as the central portal for all Statewide database and down-loadable content access. 

We’d want a heads-up e-mail notification for those with e-mail addresses on record (eg: 2 day advance reminder for materials due), elective circulation history  opt –in ( eg:  have I read that?) and a  little more technical, but we’d want SIP (SIP is session initiation protocol, which is the technology that matches user ID #s to accessibility of electronic resources.  That way access is controlled to valid card holders for contracted services like Overdrive.)  and PIN capability (PIN is personal ID number, and allows for patron selection of a further security measure)  That’s all.

We would like our patrons to be able to reserve, renew, access their account to check fines, due dates, and what is checked out to them, search the catalog, and e-mail us with questions.

Reserve, renew, search, critique, inquire, suggest.
and see what they have out, with due dates, and send a message to correct our errors, and be able to submit address/phone/email changes.
plus if possible, ask for ILL (seeing which other libs own or link to NHU-PAC  would be fabulous!), and see book covers and link to reviews
We’d want a heads-up e-mail notification for those with e-mail addresses on record (eg: 2 day advance reminder for materials due), elective circulation history  opt –in ( eg:  have I read that?)

Ability to place holds starting on a future date
Ability to cancel own holds
Fully elective notifications (choose via e-mail or phone or letter for each of the notifications - overdue, advance of due date, available holds, etc.)
Able to place holds on items that are on the shelf
Options for federated searching
Chat with librarian option in addition to e-mail

Federated Searching --
I would love to be able to have people enter their search term and automatically search through everything we have access to:  our in-house collections (all formats), our online databases (EBSCO, LearningExpress, Byki, WorldBook, etc.), and our online subscription services (NetLibrary & OverDrive).  I would keep NHU-PAC as a separate search so that people wouldn't think they could have immediate access to those items (need to understand those could be available but would need to go through ILL).  Of course - since each library has a different set of resources, the system would have to be configurable by the library to enable which things would be searched in a general search.  On an advanced search screen, the places to search could be options to be checked. 

So many of our patrons don't even know that what they are searching for might be available in another form or through another resource -- so a general federated search would introduce people to the many different types of information that we have.  We would also need excellent item type icons to help patrons distinguish between an article available on EBSCO and a book in the library. 

We would like the system to have a searchable online catalog (which we currently have) where patrons can place holds and renew materials (not a current feature). Since we're dreaming, I'd like to have a function that allows patrons to annotate our records for themselves or for others.
Patrons will be able to access their accounts from anywhere, with any type of computer or mobile device. They'll be able to check status, renew, place reserves, check personal reading history, search easily (federated searching?), request ILLs, see and post reviews, see readalikes, pay fines or make donations. They'll be able to access all databases and downloadables their library subscribes to. They'll be able to access their library's calendar of events, sign up for newsletters and notifications, link to websites, email (chat?) with their librarians. They'll be able to join online book groups, suggest purchases, services or programs they might like.  If the system could clean house and babysit, I'd go for that too!

They should be able to renew items, reserve items, see when their items are due and if they have any fines.  Pay fines electronically. See if item is in or out and if out when is it due back.  Visual search as well as basic and advanced search.  Links on item screen to relevant online sites.  Patron review of titles.

Staff should be able to limit number of times items can be renewed and patrons should not be able to renew if fines exceed a certain amount.

I'm sure I will think of something else in the middle of the night.

Search the catalog, see book covers and links to relevant info on the web, see read-alike suggestions, create book lists, reserve, review/rate what they’ve read, view their circ history, view their account, renew, pay fines, and sign up for due date reminders.

Reserve, renew, search, make comments on titles, ask questions of
library staff, suggest future purchases, see book covers & jacket
blurbs, links to reviews.

If this shared ILS links directly to a statewide database, could
patrons select ILLs too?

I like these ideas:
a heads-up e-mail notification for those with e-mail addresses on
record (eg: 2 day advance reminder for materials due), elective
circulation history  opt –in ( eg:  have I read that?)

Allow patrons to create multiple book lists of possibilities
(different subject areas) as opposed to firm holds.
Allow patrons to sign up for emailed date-due reminders.

Access our catalog, reserve materials, attach a 1 sentence review to something they read or used, renew their materials, suggest new materials for the library to acquire.

All recommended features outlined in previous responses are great so I will not repeat them here again…. But in case I missed this one in an earlier email, what about a reader’s advisory feature, similar to “If you like reading Harlan Coben, try …” or “Other people who read this book also read . . .”

I agree with the comments others have been sharing, items I'd love to see include: search, renew (if not on hold by another patron), reserve, see book covers, make ILL requests, review links, if you like this book, then try... book recommendations, access account information.

We would like to see our patrons be able to do the following from outside the Library:

Search our collection online by author, title, subject, keyword, age group, school grade level, and lexile level

Searching should be like using Google and have features such as "Did you mean.." to catch mispellings or suggested search terms that pop up when a search is being typed by the patron.

Narrow search results by date, material type (book, video, etc), and date.

Material entries should have typical biblio. info, plus summaries, book jacket covers, and reviews from publications, such as Library Journal, and allow for patrons to provide a review or rating. Link to NoveList info about item would also be useful.

Ability to bookmark and share material records.

Access downloadable books from the catalog, as well as any database the Library has available (federated searching). Allow them to use their Library card to login, instead of the various usernames and passwords we currently have for all of our online resources.

Ability to access their account and renew, reserve, and receive overdue notices by email/text. It would be great if all our collections were combined so that our patrons may request items from other libraries.

Ability to browse the catalog easily for new books, or for specific genres, such as historical fiction.

Ability to reserve museum passes and register for programs

Have easy access to Library contact info/hours.

Ability to create lists and print/save/email/text.

Ability to upload their own book-trailer videos to catalog records.

Ability to view a tutorial on using the catalog features.

Make an electronic donation to the Library/Friends of the Library.

A Readers Advisory would be GREAT! I'll have to agree on the other points as many seem much more "Automation Savvy" than I am. 

If possible, I’d like the ILS to link to the library’s website, blog and Facebook in an effort to promote our library programs and services.  I know this might not be possible, but I figured I’d throw the idea out there.


A general automation resource

Steve Campbell, trustee at Converse Free Library, Lyme made a good suggestion for the "Resources" section of the website: The Library Technology Guides website, http://www.librarytechnology.org . Run by Marshall Breeding of Vanderbilt University.

I have added this as the first resource on the Automation page.

Thanks Steve!


Back from my travels

Since I last posted I have been to the NHLA Conference (where I got to talk to several of the librarians who are part of this project) and to Washington, DC for a Center for the Book meeting. Now back at my desk I had some time today to update the list of libraries who are working on this project and to add some links to both the koha and Evergreen pages.

If you have a resource that you have found useful on either koha or Evergreen that I didn't include, please add a comment and let me know about it. I intentionally did not include companies that work with these products (Bywater Solutions and Equinox Software for example) as resources on these pages, partly because generally they work with both applications. I'm sure as we go along info about specific support companies will find a home somewhere on this site.  


Where are we with this?

This open source project has been on the back burner for too long now in the hope that other stuff will settle down and I will have time to focus on how an open source library solution can be developed for NH libraries. I have come to the conclusion that the time is never going to come when stuff settles down enough to take on such a big project, so I am just going to jump in.
Here is where we are today:

  • This project has been given a name: nhaisLOCAL.
    It has been being referred to as "an open source library solution for small, non-automated, or under-automated public libraries in NH, but not excluding larger libraries, or special libraries, or schools from participating." That's what we're dealing with, but I can't keep calling it that.
  • There is a listserv  to which everyone who has contacted me or Mike York and asked to be "on the list" is subscribed. If you got this post  in your email then you are one of those people. I see the listserv as being a place for the staff of the libraries who are interested in creating an open source solution for NH libraries to talk about stuff related to this project. 
  •  There is a website for the project at http://nhaislocal.blogspot.com/
    The wesbite currently has a lot of blank spaces on it. I am working on that. I see the website as being (to begin with) a place were links and resources can be posted so people can all find them and see stuff as we go along. There is a blog on the site which is where I will talk about what is happening with the project here at NHSL. Other people may end up blogging here as well as we go along. All the blog posts will go to the listserv. I only included the RSS links on the site in case anyone in the group is dedicated to an RSS reader rather than email.
  • I have a list of libraries that expressed interest in being part of this project. That list is on the Community page of this website. If your library's web link is incorrect there (or missing) please let me know what to change it to.
  • I have talked to several companies about what we are trying to do and what it might cost. So far only one has come back to me with an actual answer. I continue to work on this. I am talking to people about both KOHA and Evergreen at this point. (That's why the website skeleton includes pages for both products).
  • I am working with 2 companies to set up test bed sites for the Lilac Public Library that you will all be able (hopefully) to see and play around with. What's the Lilac Public Library? That will have to wait for another post.



For over a year now, Michael York has been talking about a plan to create an open source library system that could be made available to New Hampshire libraries who don't currently have a local automation system that they are happy with, at a predictable (and low) cost to the library. The stated goal (in the fall of 2009) was to have a demo system -- and pricing -- in place by the end of 2010. Clearly this didn't happen. Despite the financial and staffing challenges the NH State Library has faced this past year, we are still working toward this goal but have had to revise our timeline. (That sounds like there is a timeline, but I'm still working on that -- ASAP is as specific as I can offer at this point.)

Here is what we envision this project being:

  • A local automated system with circulation, acquisitions, and cataloging functionality that is specific to your library
  • A system that is state-of-the-art and that will grow and adapt over time as new technologies come along
  • A public, web-based catalog your patrons can use 24/7 to find out what they have access to through your library, including downloadable audiobooks, databases, etc.
  • A local automated library system with a reasonable, predictable annual cost to maintain
  • A system that, if you have a question about it, or a problem with it, you can call the NHAIS Help Desk to get answers
  • A community of libraries who are working and learning together to create the best local systems possible for their patrons using a shared platform and pooling resources (financial, intellectual, chronological, etc.)
This project is NOT a replacement for NHU-PAC -- these local systems, just like local systems currently in NH libraries, will rely on NHU-PAC as a source for bib records and a mechanism for interlibrary loan.

I have launched this blog to provide a space where I can put resources and information about this project and where the "community" that will be created as part of nhaisLOCAL can find links, tools, etc. as the project evolves.

I don't (at this point anyway) see this blog as being the primary place for discussions among community members -- it is too public a forum and I find it hard to follow conversations on a blog. Discussions among libraries involved in the project will be very important to it's success. To facilitate those discussions I have created a listserv that staff at each library in the group has been subscribed to. My postings to this blog will also be distributed to that listserv so a separate RSS subscription isn't necessary for libraries in the nhaisLOCAL community.

Why a blog and a listserv? I see the blog as providing a "home" for the project where you will be able to find information, documentation when it is created, and an overall view of the project as we go along. I see the listserv as a mechanism for (sort of private) conversation among the libraries who will create and use nhaisLOCAL.