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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Successful database conversion

This is a timeline and step by step process of the database conversion so far, from my first visit to the School of Distance Education, where I saw the database process in operation to the final uploading of our library database to the web.

What comes next? Building a school website that incorporates a library section and an online link to the database from the outside world!-

14 November, 2006

After visit to Brisbane School of Distance Education (BSDE,) looking at their website and going through their tutorials, I showed PL (the school principal) the site and what I thought the approximate costings would be based on BSDE prices. PL could see the advantages although admitted he did not understand all the implications of the process. He was familiar with the Libcode product from his work in Central Queensland and had used the Libcode system although did not understand all that it could do when he was at a 2 teacher school. Agreed that going Libcode for management and online was a good option if it could be done with little upheaval. Gave go ahead to contact Libcode for discussion.

Showed the Libcode site and tutorials to NW so she could have a look at them and feel comfortable with the possible changeover. She liked the selection tabs for subject headings but was concerned we could not add any of our own, especially the ones for Reading Ages which are used for the reading collection.

These questions have arisen so far:

  • What type of reports can be run?
  • Does Libcode allow me to print spine labels?
  • Can I create subject headings?
  • Will it import the subject headings I have now?
  • What is the extent of links I can add to the OPAC page (Ayr High School)?
  • Can I make the OPAC page the central point of a library home page and have other pages following – or would it be better to just have a to and from navigation link?
  • Do I need to change over barcode labels? Are we able to print our own barcode labels to suit our needs if we change over library systems?

22 November, 2006

Phoned Libcode and they are ‘as keen as mustard’ to get our database online. I can send the LOASIS directory of my database and they can do a trail changeover of data and put it on the web for us to have a look at. They will return our converted database with a demo version of the library management software so we can see how our data converts. This will be free of charge.

It takes about 20 minutes to convert the data. The system will our old barcode labels. There seems to be no problem with the location of the database whether it is on the admin server or on our stand alone PC. There will be a backup offsite with the database stored on Libode’s server.

It was suggested I subscribe to Curriculum Corporations SCIS Authority Files to make full use of the search facilities available. This will be useful to the students…but then again any access that can be provided is more than they have had to date.

It seems this could happen before the end of the year if we push to make it work, but if it does not happen until early next year it is not going to be a major drama.

23 November, 2006

Burnt copy of LOASIS directory and mailed it to Libcode. The library PC does not have a burner, so will do it from one of the other admin PCs.

27th November, 2006

Trail database is received and online version is available. Unfortunately the wrong version of the database is in the trial – this is the original database before I made any changes to it, but the process is still the same. I can install a version of Libcode to work with.

6th December, 2006

Visit from IT and technicians from EQ with news that we had been accepted for the trail of Managed Operating Environment (MOE). We have also been lucky in the infrastructure grant from the Commonwealth Government and this will make it easier for us to put new PCs in the lab.

Libcode will require a new PC and I have suggested we also set aside some finances for a PC for building WebPages with Dreamweaver and perhaps Stylemaster and photo editing software.

Teachers will receive laptops to place on their desks and for take home use and planning.

The MOE will see us with one network and the logon identifing the privileges that that user has. There is talk of orange card for network management access and it was indicated that I should go for this, it is also necessary that I be onsite when the changeover occurs. Not sure of the staffing implications or the effect this will have on the management of the library. Seems to be a bit of a re-run of past events that took a lot of my time.

The focus is to have the library database online and to provide the best service we can with limited staffing. There is lots of infrastructure work to be done and I am not sure that staff realise the implications this will have on my time unless there are additional days made available for this.

I phoned Libcode to talk about some of these issues and it is indicated that the database should be bedded down and running with no glitches before the network upgrade, which means this will have to occur over the holiday period before teachers return to school.

19 January, 2007

Copy of database taken and mailed to Libcode. I decided not to take the circulation details across and just converted the data for the collection.

There are many inaccuracies in the circulation data and I thought they were better left behind.

23 January, 2007

CD is returned with the Libcode program and converted data ready for installation. The installation process was just a copy and paste of the CME file to the library directory on the server, The ALICE database is still there and provides a backup should all go wrong in the conversion and uploading of student data. There is always the CD of the installation as backup too.

Staff need to be manually entered into the system and this was done quickly as they were ready to borrow to support their planning for the term. Adjustments needed to be made as the default loan period is 14 days and this would have caused all teachers loans to be overdue before the end of term. Bulk changes in the Utilities function allowed the Teacher Reference (TR) loans to be 70 days, Curriculum Resource (CR) to be 330 days, Learning support (LS) to be 330 days and Reading Resources (RR) to be 330 days. The data transfer so far has gone without any problems.

30 January, 2007

Student data was imported using a SiMS download. This was very easy and allocated all students to their correct year levels. Data appears to be correct and a trail of loaning to students is successful.

Joined up to the Libcode online support group and subscribed to the newsletter. All correspondence with Libcode by telephone and email has given prompt and accurate help and information.

31 January, 2007

The library database goes live with an upload of data to the CME web. The URL is http://mtsamsonss.cmeweb.libcode.com.au All of the data transfer occurred with not problems and was quite quickly executed.

Graphics were emailed to Libcode to add to the website when ready. Adding new materials was an easy process, although we have not attempted a SCIS download as yet.

The problems we are experiencing now are in adjusting to a new library program.

Searching the interface, printing the spine labels and tweaking the system to suit our work practices are the difficulties now. It is now a matter of moving slowly and discovering ways to work with the library system. NW is learning along the way, but is finding the adaptations a little more difficult. She is positive about the process though. Most of our problems relate to the difficulties and inaccurate data already in ALICE. These problems are –

  • Items not returned mainly by staff from the previous year (as we did not take the circulation over, we need to search in ALICE to sort these out). It involves a shelf check and asking teachers if they still have the resources in their possession.
  • A previous unresolved stocktake in ALICE assigned quite a few resources to Missing and this has caused status issues in Libcode.
  • There are items in the catalogue which have been lost. A stocktake later in the year will resolve this. We are not attempting a stocktake though until we are more comfortable with the new system.
  • In ALICE we were able to combine items and scan them out once. (Such as a class set of atlases or a curriculum box of teachers resources. The box or container was scanned and its contents were then collated to that borrower. Returning the items could be done by scanning each item or by a bulk return). I am sure this facility is available, but it appears these items will need to be re allocated to a box for this facility to function.
  • NW was having difficulty in searching and then administering the system, as it will not allow multiple windows to be open. (I did not operate this way in ALICE and tended to finish one activity and move to the next). Perhaps the online inquiry will assist her, although it will not give all the information she may need, it may help her a bit.

In some ways I think it is a matter of not making this system do all the things we were doing with ALICE, but to discover the features of Libocde and working with them to our benefit.

Advantages so far –

  • The Libcode system is very quick
  • Adding new items to the catalogue is straightforward, especially the selection of subject headings and the allocation of DDC.
  • Importing of student data was easy.
  • Exporting the data to the web as easy and this interface is very easy to use.

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