Monday, November 22, 2010

T Minus Three Weeks

Six months ago when we began this journey the "go live" day seemed so far off...and now here we are less than a month away and there still seems so much to do and so much to learn. Recently I have been focusing on customization on two different levels--the OPAC and the Circulation notices, slips, and receipts--and how 3rd party products and services interface with Koha--OCLC, Baker & Taylor, 3M, Envisionware, and Unique Management Services.

The OPAC customizing involved putting our name and logo in a banner on the top, adding navigation tabs below the banner linking to our Library Home Page, eResources, Hours & Location, and Contact Us pages as well as Help. I've also been experimenting
with different content in the main area of the OPAC page and the left navigation sidebar. The Koha Task Force has browsed and studied other Koha sites, refining and defining what we'd like our OPAC to look like. I think I've come pretty close to the committee's initial ideas in my first pass, but certainly the customizing is not complete and may always be somewhat of a work in process as new lists and new titles and new services become available and deserve "face time" on the OPAC home page. When we go live there will be a different banner, one that will have the new name of the Catalog, but the new name is still being kept a secret and the new banner is not yet completed.

The customizing of the notices, slips and receipts was mostly just a lot of cut and paste from our current notices, as well as a lot of cutting out excess information from the delivered slip files that we don't need in our finished product. I haven't been able to print these yet to make sure I haven't left anything out or cut too much, but that will follow in the next day or two.
I am still struggling with understanding how MARC imports and Authority imports files from OCLC and B&T work. I have spent time with Tech Services staging MARC files and managing MARC records, but the new items are not showing up in the catalog. We are obviously still missing a critical step. As for the Authority imports, we haven't yet tried to import new data files, but the authorities from our current system haven't even been linked with the bib records in Koha yet so we've got an incomplete picture of how they work on every level. Hopefully this will be an issue that I will be able to get a better handle on early next week.

This week I'm focusing on those services that involve three other 3rd party vendors--3M for our self check stations, Envisionware for our PCReservation and LPT:One, and Unique Management Services for our Account Collections. Today's conference call with UMS was enlightening--while they apparently are considered completely compatible with Koha, the only customers they have are on the Harley version of Koha. We will once again be blazing new trails with our version of Koha by creating reports and support fields to deliver valid data to UMS. Both 3M and Envisionware products use the SIP service to validate patron information against the database. The SIP service will be started on the Linux server this week so that I can test these other two services to make sure we're ready for prime time before we go live.

We will be closing the Symphony Catalog on November 24th for the final time. There will be no more cataloging or tech activities in Symphony after the Thanksgiving holiday. I will be running the Bibs/Item and Authority scripts once again on Wednesday night to capture all the current data in Symphony. I will then upload those files to ByWater Solutions so that over the weekend the data may be imported into the clean, empty databases of our "real" catalog. Our test catalog will no longer be available. Going forward, after the holiday weekend, all new items will be entered directly into the "real" catalog, with these new items being held in Tech Services until December 13th when we finally unveil our new Koha Catalog.

The count down has begun...


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