IUG 2001 Conference Proceedings

Table of Contents

Session: J2

Public Library Consortium Forum

Diane Wilhelm, Suburban Library System

Betsy Graham, Innovative Interfaces

The session began with a report on the Consortium Partners meeting held in early April, hosted by SWAN. Twelve of Innovative's largest predominantly public library consortia were invited to compare notes on governance, funding and implementation issues, and included Innovative executives in Director and Operational tracks.

Betsy reported that Innovative listened to the issues and identified areas needing changes, including system sizing and local control (partitioning), reports, statistics, local call numbers and changing records. Also identified was the need for a designated consortium office contact among III staff, particularly for help and support. Betsy identified six issues in more detail:

1. In the new Millennium cataloging client there is provision for 100 templates. Based on discussion at the consortium meeting, that number should be raised and the software configured so that individual sites see only their own templates. The ability to associate templates with users is scheduled for Release 2002.

2. Similarly in circulation, every location must select from the complete list of pickup points while they always use the same one. This should be a default, or limited to the locations directly related to that site.

3. More local control of the system is also important. An example is adding system printers, which traditionally has been a billable help desk function. Allowing libraries to do this themselves could avoid the cost and the delay, and is expected in Release 2002.

4. There are places in the software that are too open, more levels of passwording are needed. In printing notices, any site can indicate a desire to print, and delete, the entire run of notices for all libraries. An additional level of passwording will be required in the future for the "all" option. The list of web catalog patron searches in Web Management reports can also be easily deleted by any viewer, which was pointed out as an issue for all libraries, not just consortia. This fix is being studied but is more complicated.

5. The Web PAC is not keeping statistics on limiting and exporting.

6. Scoping of statistical reports and review files should be available with Release 2002. The scoping will speed generation of reports and statistics for individual libraries as the system will need only to consult a library's subset of the database, rather than the entire database.

Jim Gingery of the Milwaukee County Federated Library System asked for improvements to the fiscal-year-end circulation count transfer, as the process to move year-to-date to last-year conflicts with daily link maintenance. Betsy replied that in Release 2001 there will be a whole new program for changeover. The changes won't go through the transaction file, will be very fast and will offer all the same options. Consortia with multiple fiscal years, such as HALAN, will see improvement in Release 2002.

The need for Millennium to help staff to better manage holds was identified. Library-specific purchase alerts were a popular request. Betsy understands the issue. Local information is necessary for local purchasing decisions, and the systemwide information currently provided is nearly useless. Jim Gingery pointed out that this request "has been there for years" on consortia lists. Another handicap is the inability to view a list of holds limited to local collections.

Jim Gingery also commented that the IUG enhancement process "does not meet the needs of consortia". Due to the weighting of the membership, consortia issues do not make the top recommendations. It was pointed out that this was also true of public library issues in general and that international customers shared this frustration. Some of the discussion from the Enhancements session earlier in the day was related, including the suggestion that the IUG meeting should include sessions with the IUG functional experts prior to the voting so that issues could be more fully explained and discussed to develop a more representative list for voting. Elizabeth Thomsen feels "optimistic that the company now really understands the differences" faced by consortia using the system, and that there are "a whole host of issues throughout the system". Many of the issues were documented at the large consortium meeting and are being addressed directly.

Uploading HTML files to the system for web catalog screens is a problem for large consortia with many scopes. Hundreds of HTML files must be transferred individually and is currently a very cumbersome process. Betsy reports that Innovative is planning to integrate web-publishing functionality. Jay Moynihan of Northern Waters requested that Innovative simply implement industry-standard FTP rather than a complete web publisher as a cleaner solution that would speed the process while allowing customers to use their favorite web development software.

Diane Wilhelm asked about the ability to edit only one's own records in database maintenance. Ideally, your own items would appear at the top of the display, then others. The others would be view only. Others' information is useful for copying call numbers and collection management. Elizabeth Thomsen pointed out that in MilCirc a library can see all items but only edit their own, and MilCat should be the same. Elizabeth also asked about scoping in database maintenance, as it is not currently honored for global and rapid updating. Betsy replied that database maintenance scoping is being developed for all Millennium modules.

Marilyn Weinberg of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System followed up on service issues related to large consortia. Betsy replied that help desk staff is looking into this, and they are beginning by heightening awareness of the consortium model, which is unknown to many of the help desk staffers they assume the library model is the only model. Executive VP of Operations Faye Chartoff did speak to her staff about these issues. The MOBIUS group did a presentation to help desk staff in a similar vein that many help desk staffers found to be eye-opening. The next large consortium meeting will likely be in Emeryville so that more customer support personnel can hear this directly and make contact with the consortium staffers. A consortium contact person is under consideration.

Ron Gagnon, North Of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE)