Yesterday we closed all of our libraries in preparation for going live with our new website (note that if you are a regular user of our old website you may need to clear the cache of your Internet browser and then restart your computer to see the new site) and Integrated Library System (or ILS - the system that supports all of our library operations like the catalog, issuing library cards, checking library materials in and out....).
Closing the libraries is a big deal for us, as we take great pride in closing only on a very few major holidays like Christmas and the 4th of July. We took advantage of the opportunity to have all of the staff together for a Staff Development Day...the first in many years. We had a great time as staff from the various locations got to meet one another, we did some training, and finished the day with our first ever PVLD Drum Circle:
This proved to be energizing, stress-relieving, and a lot of fun...just what we needed to get ready for the launch of our new systems today.
So...how're we doing with the new systems? Overall pretty well although we have found a few glitches, like -
- When we moved the new website into production some of the feeds to our online calendar of events broke. We should have this fixed tomorrow, though.
- There are wierd discrepancies between how the ILS functions when it is being operated by staff vs when a library user tries to do things via the online library catalog. We're working on trying to resolve these.
- Some features seem to work intermittently, but not consistently - like the ability to add user reviews, and the display of book covers alongside items in the catalog.
The biggest surprise of the day has been the number of people complaining about the fact that the new system doesn't have the capability to create and save lists of items from the library catalog for future reading/reference. In our old system not only could a user create such lists, they could go directly from a list item to the catalog to place a hold. We had no idea this feature was so popular, and unfortunately we didn't do a good enough job of alerting people to the fact that it would disappear. Definitely a "lesson learned" but also a reason to continue our exploration of Bibliocommons which is built around the ability to create and share lists.
The new systems have some great new features, though - things that our users have been asking for like the ability to rate and review items (once we get it working consistently - it seems it may be a software bug), the ability to keep some or all of your borrowing history for future reference, and new email notification capabilities like getting alerts of pending due dates BEFORE the item is due, or saving catalog searches on topics of interest and then getting email notification when new items that meet the search criteria are added to the collection.
All in all its been a good couple of days, although this is definitely a work in progress as we resolve issues, add new content and capabilities to the website, and implement additional features like the ability to pay fines and fees online.
The staff have been as amazing as always - the core project team has worked long and hard to get the new systems set up and tested and the front-line staff at the public service desks have accepted the changes willingly and are doing a great job of coaching our customers through the transition.
Everyone is a bit wearly right now, but if we can get through the next few days and get some of our niggling issues resolved we've got a great foundation for continuing to offer leading online services to our users.