1. Decide What Kind of Automation
System is Needed
There are many different automation systems
with many different features. Our first step is to gather information
from various vendors, see what kind of features each system offers, and
decide which features are necessary for this library. This is the
stage we’re in now.
2. Contract with an Automation/Retrospective Conversion
We are looking for a system that is simple and
non-intimidating, but not so simple that we’ll end up regretting its lack
of features. The factors we are taking into consideration at this
Ease of use
Record format(s) supported
Add-on modules offered
Availability of retrospective conversion service
Once we’ve decided what kind of system
we need and narrowed our options down to just two or three vendors, we’ll
need to get cost and time estimates from them. We can then make a
final decision based on these factors and enter into a contract with an
3. Prepare the Shelf List and Collection for Conversion
There are actually two parts to automation:
Retrospective conversion is the conversion of physical
records (our shelf list cards) into a computer database that can be managed
by an automated system. Many, but not all, automation vendors offer
“retrocon” services. Hopefully, we will be able to contract with
one vendor for both services. Otherwise, we will have to ask our
automation vendor to recommend a retrocon service—to ensure that the converted
records will be compatible with the system—and contract with that company
Retrospective conversion, and
Implementation of the automation system.
This will be the longest and most difficult
part of the automation project. Most of the people I’ve talked to
said to plan on at least two years to complete this. In order to
complete the process as quickly and efficiently as possible, we plan to
combine several different procedures into this process:
4. Send the Shelf List for Conversion
Each card in the shelf list (approximately 120,000
cards) must be matched to the item it describes. Once the item is
found, it must be inspected to make sure it’s still up-to-date, in good
repair, and worth the cost of conversion. The shelf list card must
be compared to the book to make sure that all the information is correct
and that the card includes all of the information required for conversion.
A security device and a bar code* can then be affixed to the item before
it is returned to the shelf. After a reasonable time, any items not
located will be declared lost and removed from the shelf list.
Weeding/repair/replacement of worn books
Shelf list editing
Establishing authority control
* There are two kinds of bar codes, “smart” bar
codes and “dumb” bar codes. Smart bar codes contain item-specific
information and can only be produced after retrospective conversion.
Dumb bar codes can be purchased by the roll any time you need them.
We may be able to use dumb bar codes and apply them during retrocon preparation.
If not, bar coding will have to be done after the conversion.
Our automation vendor will provide the
means for us to send in our shelf list for conversion, so that won’t be
5. Purchase and Install the Necessary Hardware
and Network Connections
The tricky part will be keeping accurate records
of all additions and withdrawals made between the end of retrocon preparation
and the implementation of the automation system.
We could start to issue the new, bar-coded library
cards at this point. There are pros and cons to this:
When we implement the automation, we will be
swamped with patrons who need to replace their old cards with new ones.
If we start issuing the cards early, we can ease the strain of transition.
People will still be using the old cards at this
point, and might lose the new cards before the automation is in place.
New patrons will have to be issued both an old
card and a new one.
While we are waiting for the conversion
to be completed, we will need to make sure that the following things are
6. Implement the Automated System
All of these things must be ready to go before the
automated system can be installed.
Computers to be used as OPAC (Online Public Access
Any furniture needed for the OPAC workstations
The wide-area network (WAN) that will connect the
branches to the main library
We’ll be relying on our automation vendor
for this. As long as our hardware and network connections are in
place, it shouldn’t take long, assuming that bar coding was done before
retrocon. If bar coding wasn’t done, it will have to be done at this
point and will probably take several weeks.
7. Staff Training
We will also need to add to the database any additions
and withdrawals made since retrocon preparation ended.
Our automation vendor should do the primary
training, but the staff will still need time to work with system and become
familiar with it. We may need to close the library for training.
Before we launch the new system on the public, the staff should be comfortable
enough that they will be able to help patrons with it.
8. Training the Public
For the first few weeks, we should have
staff members assigned to hover around the OPAC workstations, giving demonstrations
and helping patrons with questions.
Change tends to scare people. We want to
make the transition as comfortable as possible for our patrons; therefore,
we should hang on to the card catalogs for a while, but not add to them.
People will be able to search for older items in the old familiar way,
but they’ll have to try the OPAC to find newer things.
|Please bear in mind that this plan reflects
our understanding of the automation process at this time. We are learning
as we go. We may find that more is involved or that certain steps
could be accomplished more efficiently if done in a different order.