The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Friday, March 30, 2007

Things I worked on this week....

...processed more automated inventory reports than I care to remember.

...spent 8 hrs at the Reference Desk

...attended training for two different Banner modules (Student and HR) as our campus makes the transition to the new system

...consulted with my staff in customizing the ILLiad 7.2 webpages in preparation for our upgrade in early May.

...end of the month administrivia....timesheets, monthly report, and statistics - oh my!

...trying to catch up with everything else I'm behind on.

...but the bonus - I got my reimbursement check for the money I spent for the ILLiad Conference...YAY!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Travel Has Its Paybacks

While I love to travel and attend conferences and network, there is always the return to my regular job that I must face. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do, but after a week of being gone it's often hard to come back. Not only are you back in your routine, which is always nice to get a break from, but you have to face the mounds of work that multiplied like bunny rabbits in your absence. Wading through the papers left for you, the email, and the phone messages seems to take an eternity. Then there is just getting caught up in general on all the work you would have been doing had you been in the office. And don't even mention unpacking.

I do make efforts to minimize this effect - halting listserv email, changing my voice mail greeting to redirect persons needing immediate assistance, and doing as much as I can while traveling to keep up - such as checking email and checking in periodically with the home front to put out fires that have cropped up so that they aren't awaiting me upon my return.

Still, the advantages of professional travel and involvement far outweigh these inconveniences. Growing always involves a few pains.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Free Trip to the Beach

I am here in what was beautiful, sunny Virginia Beach, where I attended the 3rd Annual ILLiad International Meeting. Not only did OCLC/Atlas pick a beautiful place to have the conference, but Virginia Beach is also my hometown, so I was greatly looking forward to attending. It didn't hurt that because this is a professional conference, work is paying for travel, hotel, and food.

I got into the Norfolk airport on Tuesday and had a nice dinner and checked into the Oceanfront Hilton, where the conference is being held. I arrived early, as I attended one of the pre-conference workshops.

The Wednesday workshop I attended was on maximizing ILLiad. ILLiad is a very robust software system, and I wanted to make sure we were using it to its fullest potential. This was an interesting session, as we touched very briefly on a multitude of topics. Since most of the conference attendees weren't around yet, I hit the beach for some surfing. The water was a bit tingly, but that just adds to the rush.

Thursday, things really got into full swing. We ate the most delicious food, and the sessions I attended were thought-provoking, but more abstract than I usually go for. I tend to prefer hands-on workshops that I can immediately apply to my job - theory only goes so far. But one thing I like about the ILLiad conference is that all the handouts for all the sessions are given to all of the conference attendees. So since I was going to be able to read about all of the sessions, I enjoyed getting a theoretical approach for a change while I was there. I'm going to read about all the hands-on stuff on the trip home and next week, so I'll get the best of both worlds.

Thursday night was my favorite part of the conference ... I always say that you learn more over dinner with your colleagues than in any official session. I went out with about 7 other librarians, some I had just met and some I knew, to my favorite seafood restaurant in town - Harpoon Larry's. It was fabulous.

The conference finished up with more eating and a few more sessions on Friday, before we all went our respective ways. The weather was empathetic...having turned from sunny and warm to cold and rainy overnight. The trip home was rather dismal, because the weather was so nasty, and also because it's always so nice to have a change of pace and always a little bit of a let down to return to the "real world."

If you work with ILLiad and haven't been to one of the conferences, I highly recommend it! I think it is one of the best professional events I have ever attended...and not just because they fed us so well.

Sessions I attended:
"The Long Tail" and the Growing Social Nature of Information
The $64,000 Questions Answered: Why do patrons place requests for items the library already owns?
The Tao of ILLiad
ILLiad is Everywhere
Campus Document Delivery: Centralization and Collaboration

Friday, March 09, 2007

Special Projects

Our students and faculty are on Spring Break this week. I am trying to get work done on my special projects, since only during break times am I able to go 10 minutes without an interruption.

Usually, though I attempt to plan my time and schedule things that need to be done so they aren't forgotten, I never seem to be able to do it all simply because Access Services - and public services in general - make that virtually impossible to accomplish.

I always get a kick out of those non-public-services types who believe all library staff can plan their day's activities and stick to a schedule. Don't I wish? Unfortunately, patrons are not as predictable as materials.

In addition to the usual tasks you would find in Access Services, administrivia, and the scholarly work I need to complete as a tenure track faculty member, I have to squeeze in between interruptions my work on special projects. Right now my big circulation project is a complete automated inventory of the collection - the first automated inventory and the first inventory in a decade for my institution. I'm busy in interlibrary loan too implementing document delivery, Odyssey, and getting ready for the ILLiad 7.2 upgrade. Not to mention I have two publications in process that I need to complete by the end of the month.

So I finally get some uninterrupted time to work on my projects...and wouldn't you know it? I get sick and miss three days. Murphy's law at work.

One day I'll get the hang of how to balance all of these different hats. Maybe cloning myself would be easier!

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Odyssey of Odyssey

The Odyssey of Odyssey - Google Video

I found this video while doing some research for a current project. I found it an amusing diversion from the software documentation I was reading, and thought I would share.

Odyssey is the document delivery portion of Atlas's ILLiad software for interlibrary loan proccessing. I am in the process of implementing this software for my library - which is much more complicated than it would first appear. Not only does the software have to be set up and customizations configured, but I am also looking at work flow from the ground up, as this is an area where my ILL staff and circulation staff are going to overlap. I realized that, since we did not previously have document delivery, there was a lot of duplication in the tasks being done, and am trying to smooth out the process. Setting the software up was very easy - I just asked Atlas to turn it on for me, and they completed the set-up, leaving me to handle only the customizations. While this project is taking many hours of work, in the end it will pay off with additional services to patrons and a simpler work flow in the department. Add direct request and automated delivery, and we reduce the request load as well.

Why implement Odyssey when we have Ariel? Well, for one Odyssey will fully integrate with ILLiad, which we already use for interlibrary loan processing, and it is open source programming. Secondly, because Ariel is just not the software it once was. Problematic functionality and poor technical support are leading the anti-Ariel revolution, as the caustic comments on the Arie-l discussion list serve to underscore. And since the stand alone version of Odyssey (which works without having to purchase ILLiad) is absolutely free - it's all the more reason to make the switch - and many libraries are either switching completely or running both systems. The more libraries that join in this venture, the less Ariel with it's non-open source programming will be needed, as many libraries are hanging on to it only so they can supply other libraries who have only Ariel. Vive la revolution!!

Unclassifiable Librarian 2.0

Welcome to the new beginning of the Unclassifiable Librarian blog.

I started this blog back in August 2004 and for the past two and a half years have included random ramblings on a number of topics whenever it was convenient.

Since that time I have learned two very important things. First - the need to keep my personal and work life separate - which can be easier said than done for Millennials and Xers who tend to chunk those aspects of life together. As such, this site is now dedicated solely to professional discussion. Second - a blog is a lot of work, and a focused topic makes it much easier to maintain, and the simpler the better. I wanted a focus that would take very little of my time to develop and that would benefit other librarians. I am also going to make an effort to be more regular in my postings - starting with Fridays, and hopefully expanding on that base once I see that I can do at least a weekly post.

So what is my new focus? I am an Access Services Librarian - I don't have to try to be unclassifiable, it's part of my job description. I am going to post weekly summaries on the projects I am working on, interesting things that have happened during the week, and all those little activities that unexpectedly fall in the realm of access services.

While catalogers and tech folks and other groups of library personnel have a large web presence, you don't often hear much about access services. Of course, this could be because we are so busy working at the front lines. This is my attempt to change that, and generate discussion on topics pertinent to access services.

For those of you that are interested in the 1.0 postings, you may be wondering what has become of my archive. They have been migrated to my LiveJournal personal blog, which has friends only access. If you don't know where it is, send me a personal email and I will be happy to send you the link.

Goodbye 2004-2006 and hello Unclassifiable Librarian 2.0