hello Sitka! hello Evergreen!

This past week my library went live with Evergreen, hosted by the Sitka consortium, which is part of the BC Library Cooperative. It was really satisfying and exhausting to migrate our integrated library system (ILS).

It was such a pleasure to work with the Sitka team again. I adore my old teammates, and the new folks that have joined the team bring huge amounts of experience with ILSes (how do you pluralize that word without making it ugly?) and technology.

It was interesting to be on the client/site side of a migration. The Sitka team is made up of smart, creative, hardworking people who care about libraries. Sharon Herbert, the Project Manager, is organized, pragmatic, diplomatic and calm. I’m thrilled that Ben Hyman is back as the Executive Director of the Cooperative, as he was with Sitka before it was even called that.

I was so impressed by Mark Bucholtz understanding of how our legacy data was structured, his clear and friendly communication skills, and speed–he works extremely quickly. I don’t think I would’ve ever described a data migration as elegant before, but it was. He was part of the proprietary vendor team that initially automated our library over 10 years ago. I thought we automated 13 years ago, but Marshall Breeding’s site says it was 16 years ago.

James Fournie did a bunch of work to adapt the KCLS PAC for our library catalogue. At an art and design university how the library catalogue looks is as important as how it functions. The new catalogue is a big improvement in both areas. If you look at the catalogue in Chrome, you will see a tiny microphone icon in the search box. Click on the icon, and speak into your computer’s mic to enter search terms. This is something that Dan Scott added to the PAC that James also added to ours. While it didn’t seem to actually work it really impressed my boss and underscored how we would benefit from an active development community. This is a radically different model than most libraries have been used to.

On the training and support side, Tina Ji and Laurie were fantastic. They both have so much experience with ILSes and understand library workflows. Tina knows Evergreen so well, I’m always impressed on Sitka committee teleconferences at her detailed knowledge of various settings and permissions.

While go-live is past, there’s still a bunch of work to do: more staff training, setting up serials’ prediction patterns (which may be the bane of my existence–I’d really like to explore how we can standardize and share these between libraries, regardless of the ILS), streamlining our acquisitions workflows and setting up new ways to tracks funds that don’t involve extra spreadsheets, and setting up bookings, which used to be a manual process for us, and figuring out how we want to do reserves. Thankfully our summer semester is relatively quiet, so we have time to clean up, fix things up, and gear up for September.

I have some half formed thoughts on the migration process, the Evergreen community, and changing business models for library software and resource sharing. After some reflection I hope to post them here.


I’m underwhelmed by SirsiDynix’s iPhone app, BookMyne.

First, I don’t see the point of this app.

BookMyne allows you to add more than one library that is using a SirsiDynix product (and is paying for Web Services) to your list of libraries. The GPS in the phone can identify where you are, and you can either search for libraries using proximity (from 10 to 300 miles) or using an interface that looks like Google Earth. You can then do a keyword search of one library in this list, and put a hold on an item, or renew your books.

I can’t think of a use case where you would need to add more than one SirsiDynix library to your phone. Perhaps if you had kids that went to a school where the library was using a SirsiDynix product, and your public library was also using a SirsiDynix product? Both the public library and school library would need to be paying extra for Web Services and have their libraries set up to access through this app. Currently there are no libraries in British Columbia using this. Granted, it was only added to the app store earlier this week, but still…

Someone from a special library asked if it was possible to restrict the app to one library as it would be a way for a library to market their services and collection on the iPhone. The sales representative replied that it wasn’t. This made me think that this app is more about marketing the vendor than it is about marketing our libraries to our users.

Second, the functionality is disappointing. For almost everything on my iPhone, I’m able to pinch to zoom in and out, and if I turn my phone from being vertical to horizontal the screen also flips. When I did a catalog search the titles were getting cut off This is standard functionality that I expect on my phone. Both of these things are missing from BookMyne.

Third, Bookmyne doesn’t meet my expectations of how things should look and work on my phone. I like the clean and elegant interface of the iPhone and the clean and elegant design of apps.A   It took me several minutes to figure out how to find and add a library so that I could search. I noticed that I wasn’t alone–a few other iPhone toting Systems and IT folks had puzzled looks on their faces while poking at their phones.

The SirsiDynix sales representative kept repeating how innovative this application was. The iPhone has been around for about 3 years now, so marketing an iPhone app as innovative struck me as slightly delusional.

The press release (PDF) quotes Talin Bingham, the CTO as saying that “BookMyneA ® provides meaningful patron interaction with their library, which is one of the fundamental objectives that drives all development at SirsiDynix”. I don’t see how BookMyne provides meaningful patrpn interaction.

Instead of an iPhone app, I’d rather see improvements made to the OPAC so that it displays and works better on all smart phones, or an API so that libraries can develop their own apps to market their libraries to their communities. This would be better than a pointless, ugly iPhone app that doesn’t quite work, and seems to market the vendor, not the library.