or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Working With Innovators

   March 15th, 2007 Brian Herzog

One of my coworkers was recently recognized by the Northern Massachusetts Regional Library System (NMRLS) for his work in making library life easier.

Chris Kupec (Assistant Director at Chelmsford) and Dean Baumeister of the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA, developed some free software to make the printing of routing slips possible for libraries using SirsiDynix's Horizon product.

To understand the benefit of this, you really need to get into the nitty-gritty of working at a circulation desk. But the bottom line is that this software literally saves hours worth of effort each day. The software automatically prints routing slips that accompany books for interlibrary loan requests, which is a huge improvement over the prior method of writing out a slip by hand.

There's been some buzz about this project for awhile, and it is slowly spreading throughout our consortium and the rest of the state. We've had it in place for about five months, and the staff cannot even imagine doing their jobs now without it. Even though ILS' may not do exactly what we need them to do, it's nice to know that librarians out there are picking up the slack.

So good job, Chris and Dean, and all other innovators out there. Anyone interested in meeting Chris in person can do so at the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C. - and I'll be there, too.

chris kupec, dean baumeister, horizon, libraries, library, printers, public libraries, public library, routing slips, sirsidynix

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Catalog Down

   December 6th, 2006 Brian Herzog

Today, my library consortium is upgrading from Sirsi/Dynix's Horizon 7.3 to 7.3.4. Which means, our catalog is unavailable to both the staff and the public. Which means, I've been brushing off my Dewey knowledge and helping people by memory rather than relying on a computer.

Whew, I've worked harder today than I have in awhile.

More about Libraries Without OPACs:
It's hard to realize how much you rely on something until it's gone. But the good news is that the library didn't come to a standstill just because the catalog is offline. People are still coming in for storytime, reserving museum passes, using the meeting rooms, using the computers, etc. It's a nice reminder that, even though they're right there on the shelves, people do a lot more here than just check out books.

More about Online Catalogs In General:
When our catalog software went down, so too did our online catalog. Which means that I can't do keyword searches unless I use a neighboring consortium's catalog (just to find the right call numbers). But what if a library's catalog records were open to the entire internet, instead of hidden away in the little boxes we call the catalog?

To that end, I would like to congratulate Casey Bisson for his work with WPopac, and for being awarded the Mellon Award for innovative search software for libraries. This effort could make days like today a thing of the past. This is one small step for libraries, and one giant leap for patrons.

More about Horizon:
As noted, we're upgrading from 7.3 to 7.3.4 - regardless of the fact that the current version of Horizon is v8. I complain about this because all we're getting from this upgrade is the ability to handle the 13-digit ISBNs. Which, granted, is important and necessary, but I would have much preferred to fix a lot of the other shortcomings with the system to make being down all day more worthwhile.[/rant]

casey bisson, catalog, catalogs, horizon, library, opac, opacs, sirsi/dynix

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