JISC HIKE Project Workshop – 26th February

Dave Pattern opened the workshop with a welcome to all the participants over coffee before introducing Jane Burke from Serial Solutions. Jane presented an overview of Intota to the workshop, she began by discussing how recent changes in the format of the library’s collections, such as the move to a predominantly e-based collection, the subsequent revision of the acquisitions, the increased purchase of packages over individual titles, have meant that we are now using yesterday’s systems and tools to do today’s jobs. With the old LMS’s and their corresponding workflows designed around the acquisition, maintenance and discovery of print material the move towards e-resources means that they are increasingly not fit for purpose. Jane then moved on to give an update on the development of Intota announcing that they hope to have the Assessment module ready for customers in 2013 and the complete release of the full availability of Intota in 2014. She finished by giving a demonstration of the proposed workflow of acquiring a resource.

Damyanti Patel from JISC Collections then spoke to the workshop about KB+. She open with a discussion about the rationale behind KB+ and how it developed out of a recognition of the need for accurate data and subscription lists and a realisation that every Journals Librarian across the UK was duplicating work as they were all trying to maintain an accurate list. She then moved on to provide an update of the subscriptions that are currently on KB+, the team started by populating the site with Nesli2 collections but have quickly moved on to looking at non-Jisc and non-Nesli2 collections. Damyanti then finished by talking about the future of KB+, how they are hoping to add historical data to the site, work with international partners, improve integration with other systems such as ELCAT, JUSP and 360, and also expand KB+ to cover ebooks.

Damyanti has blogged about her day here: knowledgebaseplus.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/jisc-hike-project-workshop/

Dave Pattern and Graham Stone then presented an overview and update on the HIKE project – eprints.hud.ac.uk/16837/.

The afternoon session was focused around the discussion of three main areas: workflows, cultural change and API’s and interoperability. Having done a lot of work around these areas for Huddersfield we interested to see if other institutions were experiencing the same issues or if they were having different issues what these were so we could factor them into our evaluation.

Workflows

The intended outcome of this discussion was that the HIKE team would understand other institutions workflows, their pain areas where they felt efficiencies could be made and how the new systems of KB+ and Intota could help them.

Integration between the Library Management System, Reading List Software and Registry

This was raised by a number of different institutions as an area where they felt efficiencies could be made. At the moment many of the LMS’s have no integration with their reading list software, registry or book suppliers, therefore staff have to manually check the reading lists before placing an order with the supplier.

The University of Leicester reported basic integration between their LMS, reading list software (Talis Aspire) and book supplier (Coutts). Here academics create or edit their reading lists on Apsire, which creates a link between the reading list item and catalogue record as the list is being created using Z39.50. These lists are then reviewed by the Librarians who make the purchasing decisions, using a link on Talis Aspire the Librarians can link directly through to Coutts Oasis to place their order. Orders are then loaded overnight on to their LMS Sirsi-Dynix Symphony via EDI. Although this integration developed by Talis has helped reduced the amount of time spent checking the reading lists and inputting the book orders manually, staff are increasingly hoping for a completely automated process. It was agreed that ideally the reading lists created by the Academics with items marked either essential or suggested would, with the information about the number of students enrolled on the module from Registry, generate automatic orders based on a formula designed by the Librarians. The orders would not only go direct to the supplier but would also create an order record within the LMS so it would be possible to identify items that were on order.

During this discussion a few points were raised that must be considered when developing or implementing this integrated and automated process. Firstly this process would not take into account any cross-over between subjects such as English and History, or Maths and Physics were traditionally students have shared books. This could result in a large number of surplus books. Secondly this automated process of procurement would need to be considered when developing the integration between Intota and a financial system.

 Other systems

Many of the delegates raised the lack of interoperability between the LMS and a wide variety of systems as a particular pain point. These included all of the above and also subscription agents, publishers and email. One major problem was the inability to record information – of course this is something that KB+ is offering.

The lack of interoperability has led some to by-pass the LMS completely.

Knowledge Base +

An issue raised regarding KB+ was that is was not yet embedded into current workflows – this could cause a problem even if libraries subscribed – if it is not part of the workflow it won’t get used. This is something for HIKE to consider when looking ‘dream workflow’.

A point was also raised regarding the amount of human intervention in the current workflows, and whether KB+ could offer rules to put into place to improve efficiencies and prevent human error.

Finance

Another area where it was agreed that duplication of work and the risk of error could be reduced was within the financial workflows. Like us the majority of the institutions duplicate all their financial accounting in the LMS and their institutions financial management system and have the same problems that we have outlined in earlier posts. It was agreed that interoperability between Intota and the financial system is highly sought after. Again a number of points were raised that would need to be considered when developing and implementing the integration between Intota and the financial system. These were how would the system deal with:

  • the top slicing of budgets which frequently occur in Libraries
  • the split responsibilities of different subject areas between different Librarians; and
  • the subscription to multi-year deals and the commitment of money through the years.

Acquisitions workflow

One of the issues raised when looking at the acquisitions workflows was that there was a marked difference between supplier databases and that there was an on-going out of print books problem.

It was also suggested that in the next national book contracts that technology needs to be a driver for choosing the contracts and that more attention needs to be paid to workflows, it was suggested that with Intota, EDI might be surplus to requirements!

Finally, nobody had a solution for the back office pain of dealing with the huge files involved with PDA.

Cultural Change

Throughout this project we have been aware that the implementation of either or both KB+ and Intota would lead to significant cultural change, and if the implementation of these systems were to be successful how this change is managed would be important. Therefore the theme of our second discussion was cultural change – we were interested in finding out what issues delegates thought their colleagues may have about the change and how these changes could be managed.

One of the main concerns people felt their colleagues would have was that the automation of many of the processes that make up their job would led to their de-skilling, loss of knowledge and less interesting jobs. Others thought that colleagues would be unsettled by the change in responsibilities and tasks as it may require additional training and the learning of new skills. Other factors that would contribute to colleagues feeling unsettled and anxious about such changes are the changes in routine, the lack of control and the feeling of incompetence.

After identifying the factors that could cause worry and apprehension regarding the implementation of these new systems we moved on to discuss how such a change could be managed to alleviate many of these concerns and for the system to be introduced successfully. Everyone agreed that the most important contribution to change management was to ensure that everyone was comfortable with the change and that staff at all levels have the relevant information, are fully involved and actively participating from the beginning.

It was felt that this could be enabled through a series of workshops which members of staff could come to and identify for themselves where there is duplication, a high risk of error and the points of pain in the old system and then help to define how the new system would bring benefits. It was felt that such a workshop would only work if an environment was created where staff would feel comfortable to come forward and express their concerns and anxieties about the new systems without being criticised or judged – staff need the opportunity to moan. One suggestion at this point was the use of an external moderator for such workshops? It was also suggested that these workshops should be continued after the implementation and evolve in to a user group were staff regularly evaluate the system and provides feedback to the company about possible developments. Staff need to understand the journey and help to identify the skills gaps.

It was suggested that we need to evolve people into new jobs. One way of offering reassurance to staff would be to show how the time that had become free through the automation of process would be used, it was suggested that this was not just giving staff mundane tasks but about giving them the opportunity to develop themselves through the participation in projects, etc. and to show how this would benefit the library. The timing of the installation of a new system was also believed to play an important part in how the change is perceived by staff. While implementation at the busiest period of the year was not recommended it was thought that it should be during a moderately busy period in order to demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of the new system.

However, one group wondered to what extent have we already moved towards change anyway? At least two universities present have gone down the route of having a single team that swaps tasks, and others were thinking about doing the same thing. This was also linked back to the discussion on workflows – a possibility is that we could adopt one workflow for all resources – would this lead to one team, or would this spread things out too thinly? Do we still need experts in certain areas?

Another useful point was that many ‘back room’ teams have been dealing with change for some time – the biggest impact may actually be on the subject teams as their role may change, e.g. PDA vs. subject librarians orders. It was felt the these teams need to be engaged from the outset as there is a clear tension between the need to do more outreach work and ordering resources at granular level.

It was also pointed out that we live in a constantly changing and developing world and it is important that institutions and workflows have enough flexibility to be able to constantly enact change to keep in-line with these developments. Therefore it is important that using all the ideas above we can create an environment that is safe, comfortable and open to change. Intota is part of a suite of changes and it is our responsibility to adapt to them.

Finally it was argued that things take time and we have learnt many lessons already from our implementations of Summon. However, if we don’t make our processes more efficient it’s only a matter of time before somebody else does!

APIs

In the final session of the day, groups attempted to come up with lists of APIs and stuff they wish they had – or would want in a new system:

  • To talk to the financial system
  • Less duplication of effort – we are always trying to reconcile things
  • A wish list system
  • A way of reporting problems to all systems without having to re-write the same query three times
  • To be intelligent about students, e.g. on placement – linking student records to the student information system
  • An integrated VLE
  • Integration with every operating system in the University!
  • Active directory – smartcards etc.
  • Integrated with reading lists
  • RFID – Can we GPS track the orders
  • Notification of reservations
  • Could we give more information than just ‘on order’ or ‘reserved’  – e.g. use supply times from vendors to say when an item is expected?
  • Integrated ILL – not just with the British Library, but other local libraries too
  • Ethos!!!

Some thoughts on what we don’t want!

  • FTP
  • EDI
  • Imports and exports
  • Student records in the LMS – no duplication of data!
  • Single point of failure, e.g. staff who own important pieces of information

However, before we got too carried away, we also thought that removing the library catalogue completely might be a step to far for some – back to evolving our users/staff needs through cultural change.

With thanks to all who attended the HIKE workshop for their invaluable thoughts and feedback!