Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marketing your library - 1 restroom enquiry at a time

Loving being on holiday; I'm almost caught up with my blog reading now!

Just read this geat article by Diane Zabel and Lorraine J. Oellack, guest columnists on rusq.org

Its about the importance of customer service and recognizing that every single interaction - even if its just showing the way to the restroom - is an opportunity to market your library:
"If you are tired of hearing “where’s the restroom?” then maybe it’s time to rethink your choice of jobs or how you perform it. Simply put, either stop working at a public help desk or take the challenge to rejuvenate your patron interactions and become a positive face for your library."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thinking about The Bookends report.

The thing about being on holiday is that inbetween bouts of reading historical fiction, swimming at the beach and general carousing I actually get time to catch up on professional reading. More importantly, I get time to think about what I've read.

I have spent 2 days - on and off - reading, digesting and discussing "The Bookends Scenarios : alternative futures for the public library in NSW 2030". This a really interesting and challenging piece of work which is very, very timely. I heartily recommend it as a good read - and excellent after dinner discussion!

My response to the Bookends Scenarios follow.

1. ROI on investment in Libraries.
The library profession must define what the social needs of our society are and how we can add value thus demonstrating the social return on investment in libraries. This needs to be done nationally and the provision of free public libraries by local authorities must become a legislated social necessity like potable drinking water, sewerage disposal and roads.

2. Collaboration.
I am more convinced than ever that open standards and open source is the way of the future. The LSynCNZ work on a nationwide library management system for NZ is hugely timely and important work. I urge District Librarians not to rush off forming adhoc local consortia of 3 or 4 territorial authories which greatly weakens the viability of LSynCNZ and just delays the inevitable. Lets not be afraid to think of the big picture. Huge open source consortias operate all over the world and NZ really is small fry in terms of geographic spread, population, items and loans.

3. Staffing of Libraries.
As librarians we must reskill - constantly - in order to stay relevant to the society we serve. Professional registration is a great initiative. An aging population will compound the current problem of finding suitably skilled library professionals - which we must do if we are to remain relevant to the society we serve. We need to 'audit' the skill-set of our staff, identifying gaps and move immediately to an ongoing training development plan to move staff to where we need them to be.

4. Service Models.
We need to completely redesign our service model for the future. Issuing books has not been our primary purpose for many years, and will become proportionately less significant over the years to come. We need to define the roles and programmes and services we will offer, and redefine these every few years to ensure we keep relevant in changing times.

5. Spaces.
We have 2 new buildings in the pipeline in Horowhenua and this is an excellent opportunity to ensure we design community spaces as "The Third Place", as hearts of the communities we serve.

6. Leadership.
Libraries must embrace the changes demanded in changing times - this is non negotiable. 'Servant leadership' of an exemplary standard will be required to lead Councils, communities and staffr forward. Library managers will need to skillfully push, pull and drag 'old school' librarians into the 21st century librarianship and bravely know when to call it quits and let go those unable to change.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The cost effectiveness of Open Source for HLT

Horowhenua Library Trust recently underwent a review and one of the recommendations raised in the final report was to assess the cost effectiveness of Koha and Kete for Horowhenua Library Trust. The tables above tells the story really.

But you can view the whole slideshow below.
coz it makes no sense without painting a picture first :)
In 1983 I was quoted $3,000 to have a wedding dress made by a bridal shop in Wellington – no way my Mum could afford that dress. We would have to make it

So we went into Fitzroy’s, an old fashioned draper's shop in Levin, and within minutes of hearing that I was marrying a local lad, “Nancy’s boy”, we were surrounded by a clutch of woman: comparing fabrics, discussing how to adapt the paper pattern, which lace, what size seed pearls etc … I’m sure you get the picture. That dress turned out heaps better than anything I was thinking of – and saved us a fortune too!

That was my first grownup experience of crowd-sourcing, group think, community consultation, collaborative design – call it what you will. What I learnt that day was the power of community ownership, adaptation and the sheer power of collaboration.These are key concepts in the open source world.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Library is no place for children"

Followers of my Twitter stream yesterday will have seen my verbatim quote from an irate library patron:
"The library is no place for children - they should be out roaming the hills. If you keep encouraging them I'll stop coming".

How do you argue with that ... its like arguing whether the sky is blue or not. But as librarians we have to argue because the sad reality is that their truly are people out there who actually believe this.

The complaint was sparked by a change in layout made at her local library. The clients who use the library borrow insignificant amounts of library material, so low that we are seriously having to justify keeping the branch open, situated as it is in its prime Main Street position. Yet visitor counts are up - way up - we are busy, busy, busy. But we aren't converting visitor usage to issues. And maybe thats okay, maybe this community doesn't want to borrow library materials, maybe books just aren't important, maybe homelife is so muddled that library items just aren't safe taken home, maybe people are laughed at if they pull a book out at home. This community is statistically poorer, browner, younger, older and less educated than other communities in our District.

But we are not giving up this without a fight. We have completely turned the collection profile on its head, adjusted the focus on what resources and services are available and have sought help from a successful retailer in terms of marketing and presentation.

We think it is really important to encourage kids into the library and we will be shameless in employing whatever method we think will work.

And if we lose an old biddy in the process then so be it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kete : a job well done.

The Kete Vision

A couple of years ago a bunch of us dreamed of Kete, a digital archive of local arts, cultural and heritage material in a variety of media formats coupled with social media techniques to make it 'zing'.

Our ultimate goal was to get to a point where a user entering a search in Kete Horowhenua would be shown results from other neighbouring Kete who might hold Horowhenua material due to historical boundary changes, plus other databases including Koha the Horowhenua Library catalogue. We also dreamed of being able to draw search results from big national repositories of digital content like Te Papa, National Archives, National Library etc. regardless of what content management system they were using.

Digital NZ
Digital NZ is the National Library site which currently 'harvests' records from 67 contributing organisations throughout NZ. Here is a diagram showing how it works and here is a list of who the current contributors. Incidentally, Digital NZ also have a Kete for collecting content from organisations who don't have their own digital content management systems :)

Federated Searching
Late yesterday the final enhancements were turned on and all of this is now operational. An added bonus is that the new Koha will also pull results from Kete Horowhenua.

A few links to have a look:
  • A search in Kete showing results from Digital NZ,
  • a search in Kete drawing results from another Kete, our Library Trust as an organisation Kete which is distinct from the Horowhenua community one,
  • and a search in our test Koha 3.0 site drawing results from Kete Horowhenua.

The HLT Kete is proving quite useful as a collaboration tool in the Library 2030 work we are working through.

Where to now
This is all very exciting looking ahead. Manawatu Horizons member Councils are working through a project to build a shared digital archive using Kete. This will then be searchable from other Kete thus opening access to the vast wealth of local authority archival material currently held by a bunch of neighbouring Councils.

Kapiti Coast are in the process of starting a Kete collecting the digital resources from all arts, cultural and heritage organisations from within its area, setting up a separate basket with its own theming for each main organisation thus enabling individual identity within a shared database.

Providing that the new Council cemetery records, At Home Care and Youth databases have all been built on open standards then these to will also be searchable through Kete.

I think we can call this a job well done!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Twitter Data Analysis: An Investor’s Perspective

This post is merely pointing you to the remarkable analysis of Twitter usage carried by Robert J Moore, CEO and co-founder of RJMetrics.

Just go read it ...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Boring is the new black.

The reading I have done recently on future forecasting and trends is boiling down to a few simple truths which can be summarised as: "Boring is the new black" (not mine I'm afraid - flicked past me on twitter this morning.)

1. As life becomes even more fast paced and frantic we are valuing the slow paced and calming.
2. We like to 'savour': lifestyle choices, quality social and recreational experiences.
3. Baby boomers will be slamming into retirement - and they won't be ready to put down their rucksacks and travel guides and recline into their lazyboys and largeprints. They are active and discerning and are looking for quality (and that doesn't mean excess) in the next ten years of their lives.

This post is a summary of the about the main themes from the Horowhenua Development Plan published in June 2008. It is actually really good reading!

The population of Horowhenua has remained static for virtually 20 years, and is likely to remain so. It may even decline. The numbers of young people leaving the District is almost equally offset by the numbers of older people retiring to the area. We have about double the NZ average of retirees at 30%. This is set to rise to 34% by 2026 and around 50% by 2051. Council are committed to attracting a younger demographic to the District, people looking for an improved quality of life.

So what?
All retirees are not equal! Horowhenua is a destination for retiring baby boomers: 'young' retirees, active, highly mobile, relatively well off, discerning in their lifestyle choices and recreation choices. Over time they become 'old' retirees with a different set of characteristics: more dependent, less mobile, less 'able'. There will be an increasing workforce of caregivers who tend to be of a lower socio-economic demographic, and are often immigrants.


Subdivision and building consents reveal that new development is up and trending towards rural-residential, lifestyle and coastal villages. There is noticeable trend for holiday or second homes in the District. We have a high proportion of single occupier dwellings. The lack of public transport is an issue for the District, especially but not exclusively for older people who are more restricted in their movements for reasons which include: financial, age related and philosophical reasons ie 'green' movement.

So what?
We will have the same number or less people spread over a larger areas in pockets of community. The goal is to develop 'liveable communities', neighbourhoods with 'hearts', focal point with all basic services to support lifestyle choices and an enhanced quality of life. New focal point for Levin is around the Mall carpark area, and "lack of social services restrict growth in coastal villages: schools, shops, libraries."

Concluding thoughts
So thinking now about this relation to the design of library services in Horowhenua over the next 20 years:
  • we will have lots of young and old retirees,
  • lots of service support workers and their families,
  • we need to support Council in attracting a younger demographic to the District through providing a quality service; libraries are a key part of decision matrix in relocating and say a lot about the town,
  • we be serving a disparate, dispersed community, clustered into 'village' service centres,
  • our clients will be looking to savour 'quality' and libraries as 'experience' and being central to the heart of their communities. This is not the 'drive through' service model but a 'living room'.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Library Service in Horowhenua : now and in 2030

I have a small task to do .. nothing too challenging for a wet Thursday... I need to prepare 'something' to communicate to Council Officers what the library service delivered by Horowhenua Library Trust in 2030 might look like. Yes - I can hear you laughing - and now that I have stopped weeping, I am actually starting to feel excited by this.

The Background.
Very briefly: we have a new library building planned for Levin, we have been messed around for about 5 years, change of staff at Council, new chap thinks we have no vision, no plan, no idea what we want to achieve (obviously case studies, building briefs etc etc have been "lost" in the bowels of Council) . Moving along ...

The Good News
And this really is good news:
  • Council are not disputing that we need a new building - they just want to know what we want to 'put' in it,
  • Fundraising is going splendidly well - we have almost $2m already.
Refresh our Vision
We now have this golden opportunity:
  • take back control of the project and drive it ourselves,
  • think about changing societal trends in general and Levin in particular in 2030,
  • refresh and define the role of HLT library service in the community both now and in 2030,
  • consult with our community about what they want,
  • recommunicate our vision.
I put out a wee cry for help on Twitter yesterday and the lovely Brenda Chawner and Alison Wallbutton sent me through some really useful links that I am including here for future reference.

Current Library Thinking
The last link above is a visioning project currently being undertaken in Australia. While the report isn't out yet, but due any day, what I have found on the net so far is quite inspiring. The exercise is based around a scenario matrix, from which 4 possible scenarios are derived.

The good folk doing the work have shared their slides as well (I love librarians:)

Societal TrendsLocal Context
What next
So the plan from here is to read through the future trends stuff about society in general, take a look at the Statistics NZ stuff for Levin demographics, then the Horowhenua Development Plan to see how Council see our local community developing over the next 20 years. We need then to think about that all in relation to the Future of Libraries scenarios, and from there come up with a vision of the role of the public library in Levin,now and moving forward, and the services we will be offering and the functions we will fulfil.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Liblime forks Koha

Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha, the world’s first open source library management system back in 2000. We gave it to the world in the spirit of community. We are very happy, delighted in fact, for any organisation or individual to take it, improve it and then give their improvements back.

Recipricocity is the keystone which gives strength to the Koha Community.

We do not begrudge vendors taking our gift and building a commercial enterprise out of it, as Liblime, Biblibre and any number of others have done, but the deal is that you give back. This has worked well for a decade and Liblime has been a strong, valued and much appreciated member of the Koha international community over that time.

So it is incredibly sad and disappointing that Liblime has decided to breach the spirit of the Koha project and offer a ‘Liblime clients only’ version of Koha. Let's call it what it is: vendor lockin and a fork.

Technically, because Liblime offers hosted Koha what it is doing does not breach the GNU GPL licence conditions of Koha. Liblime has said it will continue to push new developments – but its actions show it is not contributing code or participating in the community anymore. Other developers are sharing their public Git repositories but there is no sign of Liblime's yet. An important principle of FOSS is that you release early and often allowing the community to share in the development and benefit.

Long serving, reputable staff with a proven track record of commitment to open source have, I assume, chosen to not work in the new Liblime culture. They have moved to other vendors committed to the FOSS ethos - people like Nicole Engard who late last week accepted an employment offer from Bywater Solutions and Biblibre.

The other thing that us Kiwis don’t understand is how Liblime could have trademarked the word ‘Koha’. It’s a simple and common word in New Zealand; it would be like trademarking the word ‘thanks’ or ‘gift’ or ‘hello’ in America. Liblime has also registered a Koha Foundation which strikes at the very soul of the Koha community. Liblime has taken the name, the domain and the foundation away from us all. The company has said publicly that it is just holding them in safe keeping for the community and will hand them back to the Koha community.

The real loser in all this is the WALDO consortium who seem to be bearing much of the fallout for Liblime's divisive decision to fork the code. Much of the new development work that Liblime is going to be withholding from the community is being funded by WALDO - $USD600k worth:

* Acquisitions: Purchase Orders, Budget Hierarchies
* Serials: Serials Binding, Improved Prediction Patterns
* Cataloging: Holdings Structure (3-tiered), Authorities Control
* Circulation: Offline Circulation, Proxy Patrons
* System Administration: Granular Permissions, Enhanced Reporting

This could be a great contribution by WALDO to the Koha open source project, and a splendid reciprocal payment for being given Koha in the first place… except that Liblime is taking it, keeping it and robbing WALDO of the kudos and goodwill that they should be earning by sponsoring this development. Why WALDO are letting this happen is anyone’s guess but I sincerely hope that other Liblime clients don’t let this happen to them too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jo's Chicken Soup

I was going through my old emails this morning looking for something (must learn how to manage my inbox sometime...) and came across this addition to my inner list of motivational writings:
"How do I stay optimistic? I realize first the issues I face are miniscule to the good I can do. How do I get inspired to face intransigence, or laziness, or ineptitude? I look right past them at the real goal, and those who really need me:

Block me, and I will go around you. Build a wall, and I will build a door. Lock the door and I will break a window. And if I don’t have have a leader to inspire me, I will lead. If I don’t have a team that will support me, I will recruit a team from beyond the organizational boundaries - every policy has a loophole, every system has a hidden reward.”
The last bit is from Shakespeare - Henry V’s St. Crispen’s Day Speech - and it must have really struck a cord with me at some point in recent months when we were defending the Library funding in the LTCCP process. I don't know who I'm quoting in the top bit - it wafted through my blog aggregator, but it links back to a terrific site I'd forgotten about: The Participatory Librarianship Starter Kit (which on reflection, may have been the real reason I saved the quote ..) anyway, great site worth looking at.

Back to me ... The Desiderata is an oldie but a goodie:
"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit".
And yes I know its corny but its not bad. I picked up a new one on Twitter a few weeks ago:
"If you are right you don't need a defence, if you are wrong their is no defence".
And they all kind of hearken back to George Eliot's concept of a "Creed of Humanity" explored so beautifully in Silas Marner (must reread that too).

And to finish, a motivational warning from Olive Shrieiner's The Story of an African farm:
"He mounted the grey mare and rode off. The dog watched his retreat with cynical satisfaction; but his master lay on the ground with his head on his arms in the sand, and the little wheels and chips of wood lay on the ground around him. The dog jumped on to his back and snapped at the black curls, till, finding that no notice was taken, he walked off to play with a black beetle. The beetle was hard at work trying to roll home a great ball of dung it had been collecting all the morning: but Doss broke the ball, and ate the beetle's hind legs, and then bit off its head. And it was all play, and no one could tell what it had lived and worked for. A striving, and a striving, and an ending in nothing."
I have never forgotten the 'striving, striving and an ending in nothing bit' and think its about recognizing when you are pushing shit uphill, or as our guest speaker in the INFO560 class on Saturday more eloquently phrased it: Is it worth doing?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marketing Libraries

Alison Wallbutton writes a great blog called Market Intelligence : news and views about marketing, consumers and trends relevant to libraries and librarians.

Her most recent post features the research project by Melissa Clarkson about special libraries and marketing, but is of relevance to public libraries to.

I'm not going to write anything here - coz I have nothing perceptive to add - but do check out Alison's blog. She writes about an aspect of librarianship that we are increasingly involved in and there aint much around!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making a difference: try smiling :)

This is a lovely video clip - with a great message.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The September Project

I came across this project some months ago and while I quite like the idea of 'connecting the world 1 library at a time' I have never felt inspired enough to see if we wanted to do anything. Until now that is, when I found this video on the project site.

Since 2004, libraries across the world have organized events about freedom and issues that matter to their communities during the month of September. This grassroots project favors free over fee, public over private, and voices over silence.

Looking at the map of past and planned events, the project is definitely Americentric, and the September 11 date is not subtle. I thought at first it really wasn't for us... until I saw the video and I've been thinking that maybe it is.

September Project events explore and exercise freedom, justice, democracy, and community and include book displays, community book readings, childrens’ art projects, film screenings, theatrical performances, civic deliberations, voter registrations, gardens, murals, panel discussions, and puppet shows. September Project events are free and open to the public.

A couple of possibilities of themes which we could promote here in Horowhenua are:
  • celebrate individuals and groups who foster and support community spirit and wellbeing,
  • celebrate Kete, our community built library of local digital content,
  • Celebrate Kete and Koha, as tangible results of our believe and commitment to open source and open standards.
  • promote the role of libraries in an open society in terms of equity of access to information.

Planned September projects can be found on the project website and are incredibly diverse, including:

  • Customer appreciation day where library staff bake cookies and brownies for library users,
  • a live review and discussion of the book Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, one of the first novels relating to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,
  • a storyteller will present tales of peace, justice, and humor from the Islamic World,
  • celebrating local or ordinary heroes,
  • "What I'd like the world to read" where patrons submit a short video, audio or Power Point presentation on any book they choose,
  • defend anti-censorship in libraries principles by promoting previously banned books.
This post considers what makes an interesting September Project event. While there are no set templates, some of the most interesting past projects capture the surrounding culture and history of the region.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kete Meetup : Auckland 17 July, 2.30pm.

An informal Kete get together in Auckland, Friday July 17th, 2009 at 2:30pm at Esquires Cafe in Auckland Central City Library.

Walter will be in Auckland for the launch of the latest Kete site (that we know about) during the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas Conference starting Friday July 17th. He figured why not throw a Kete Meetup while in Auckland. If you have any burning Kete questions or just want to see what other Kete users are up to, this is a great way to see and hear about the latest goings on with Kete.

He'll take along his laptop and will demo upcoming features, and answer any questions you may have about how to make the most of your site's configuration.

Venue: Esquires café on the ground floor of the Auckland Central City Library branch on Lorne street at 2:30pm on Friday. There is wireless access with your coffee or tea.

Walter will be in Auckland for the rest of the weekend, so if you can't make the Kete Meetup, but would like to meet up with him, drop him a line at walter - at- katipo dot co dot nz.

Mobile Devices, Libraries and Policy panel : ALA 2009

Hasty post today because I am busy but want to come back and read this when I have time...

Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian, has blogged about a panel discussion on mobile phones and libraries held at ALA conference 2009.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Koha in the latest Code4Lib Journal #7

How hard can it be? : developing in open source

Over recent years, Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT) has been receiving a steady trickle of enquiries and surveys from Library students the world over wanting to know about the development of Koha. What were the conditions and mindset that allowed a little public library in Levin, NZ to not only imagine they could, but actually develop the world's first open source library management system?

So, with help from Chris Cormack, the main brain behind Koha, and Rosalie Blake, the guts and courage, I have written our journey up and it was published today in issue 7 of the Code4Lib journal.

From the introduction:

"We were a very ordinary public library in New Zealand, we had hardly any money and a library management system that was going to stop working on 1st January 2000 …. What else could we have done? And how hard could it be anyway? The librarians would tell the programmers how a library works and they would make it so. And we weren’t going to make a big deal of this ok; 3 months is loads of time."

I do want to thank Andrew Darby from the Code4Lib editorial board for his wise and patient guidance and advice which meant getting our story published wasn't that hard at all!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nose in a book

Another photo for the "aww aint that cute " category of library photos..

We don't have many 2 story buildings so I guess stairs are a bit of a novelty to sit on, and lie on and read on ....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Coromandel Community Digital Storytelling Project

One of the coolest digitization projects I have come across is the Coromandel Community Digital Storytelling Project. This is an initiative to record, preserve, and share the history and stories of the Coromandel community using Digital Storytelling.

The programme is based on the work and practice developed by the Centre for Digital Storytelling, an international not-for-profit community arts organization rooted in the craft of personal storytelling. They assist youth and adults around the world in using media tools to share, record, and value stories from their lives, in ways that promote artistic expression, health and well being, and justice.

"While the term "digital storytelling" has been used to describe a wide variety of new media practices, what best describes the approach is its emphasis on first-person narrative, meaningful workshop processes, and participatory production methods."

What happens is a crack team of IT professionals led by Vanesa James, parks up in a village hall for 3 days. They unload their equipment: a bunch of shuttle PCs, a scanner, sound recording equipment etc and then they help locals craft a short digital story persoanl to them. The product is the end goal, so the process is not the be all and end all and the storyteller doesn't need to learn how to use all the software used.

The project started in January 2008 and so far 70 stories have been produced covering a variety of topics, including history, immigration, travel, and family. The stories are wonderful. I particularly liked Snow of the Tokotea and A Floundering Experience but there are dozens of stories online at the site. And do take a look at the programme of community screenings - pretty jolly impressive!

What I am really pleased to see on offer, is that will hold Train the Trainer courses and are available for advice and support.

And here is the opportunity: for very little expense this project could be mirrored all round the country. We could have dozens of these projects operating all over the country, coordinated by local libraries, especially the Aotearoa Peoples Network ones. The APN libraries already have a foothold in the communities of NZ, can be supplied with all the necessary equipment and get a free hosted Kete in which to store and share the lovely stories which will be created.

We should do it aye...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tara Robertson on FOSS in Wellington, NZ.

Tara is a freelance librarian from Vancouver, Canada who has just moved to Wellington, New Zealand for a year. She has been a breath of fresh air, in person and online. Apart from the appeal of her vivacious personality she is really passionate about open source software, with particular experience in Evergreen and digitization projects like the Queer History Project.com access to information, intellectual freedom and travel (and Japanese cookery with dog .... weird but true).

So she has slotted very easily into Wellington, arguably the coolest city in NZ :) She has been writing a series of blog posts about Wellington's thriving Open Source community - and I was suprised to learn how much is going on.

Her first post in the 'Get Your FOSS On' series outlines the regular geeky events held in the city and the second one focus's on Wellington Library geeks including our very own Chris Cormack, Walter McGinnis and Horowhenua Library Trust.

Can't wait for the 3rd one - good on yah Tara!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thank goodness for Rodney's Mum!

Thanks to his Mum, Rodney Hyde considers Libraries core Council business ... great news considering the shake up we are likely to see in local government in NZ in the near future.

The Cabinet paper can be viewed here and the Radio interview on Morning Report here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

NZ Koha Users Group Meeting

Horowhenua Library Trust invite existing and potential Koha users and vendors to a meeting to be held on Friday the 17th July at Horowhenua District Council building, Oxford Street, Levin, from 9.30am - 4.30pm.

An agenda will be finalized on the day, but come prepared to share:
  • what version of Koha you are running,
  • any plans to upgrade to 3.0,
  • anything you are proud of or want to show off,
  • any enhancement or bug fix work underway,
  • any bug fixes or development work you'd like to see done,
  • any problems or areas you'd like help with,
  • future plans and ambitions,
  • anything else you can think of!

The room will have a wireless broadband conenction, projector and whiteboard.

There is no charge for this meeting. Lunch can be arranged for $15 a head (anyone care to sponsor this or shall we charge per person?)

Please feel to extend this invitation to anyone you think may like to attend.

For catering purposes I would like to know numbers attending by 10th July so RSVP jransom@library.org.nz.

Cheers Jo.

Photograph by Trevor Heath : http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/trevor_heath_photography

Monday, May 25, 2009

Defending a free public library service

Universal access to information is a premise dating from the Victorian era, and a founding principle for New Zealand society. Access to information and education is not just for the wealthy classes, but for all.

Public Libraries evolved during this era, and were quickly established in every small, medium and large community throughout the land. Levin's first real public library was funded by Andrew Carnegie on condition that it was free for all.

A free public library is a long established, ethical, socially responsible and much loved service throughout New Zealand. Horowhenua is a socially and economically ‘deprived’ community in terms of the Deprivation Index. The libraries in Horowhenua have never, ever, experienced higher numbers of visitors and usage than in the last year. As this recession bites, that trend will only continue, stretching a system struggling to cope on existing budgets, staffing and space.

Horowhenua District Council is one of very few Councils in New Zealand to insist that library users raise 15% of their operating expenditure. That has been achieved historically, but only through the goodwill and donated labour of library staff and Friends of the Library who have fundraised the difference between the 8% raised through user charges and the 15% currently raised.

The proposed change whereby the library will have to raise up to 25% of operating expenditure is an outrage against the principles of universal access to information for all. Additionally, and what makes it even worse, is that according to the wording of the LTCCP, the entire amount must be raised through user charges alone. While fundraising for new services and special projects is possible, fundraising for core operating expenses like power and phone is not.

Two new, much needed, community centres are being planned for Levin and Foxton. No other community in New Zealand has been charged with fundraising to such an extent, in order to build public library buildings. Public libraries are core council business, and it is no wonder that charities and grant boards are finding it hard to fund the new libraries. Income previously raised locally through fundraising and grant applications to prop up library operating costs will need to be diverted towards funding the new community centres.

This year, a new targeted library rate has been established, and I applaud that move. The cost of providing a library service, around $1.70 a week per SUIP, is now transparent and can be recognized as the value that it is.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mid winter at Levin Library.

I love this scene. As a public librarian it makes my heart sing, and heres why:

A lovely young teenager, not a library-geek,
curled up in the adult library reading,
surrounded by books, a wide variety of biographies,
and magazines,
slightly cluttered, homey feel (no , we didn't put the blue chair there),
small, cosy, human-scale 'room',
a comfy leather couch with squishy arms, big enough to curl up on,
and its warm enough to take her winter coat off.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Riding the waves : Meyer on Management

Most of the management books I read generally provide good generic management tips and tricks that may be useful one day, but I have just read one which really struck a cord:
Setting the Table : The transforming power of hospitality in business by Danny Meyer. 2006. isbn: 9780060742751

While it is unashamedly about the restaurant trade, it has some great stuff for public librarians. More for me (so I won't forget) rather than any other audience, I have listed below the key points I took from the book - but it is well worth reading in its entirety!

On Hospitality
Hospitality is present when something happens for you - is absent when something happens to you. Libraries are about hospitality too.

Service is the technical delivery of a product or service, hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes a recipient feel. Service is about monologues, hospitality is about dialogue.

We need to be agents for the customer not gatekeepers for the organisation.

Task = quality = 49% and feeling = warmth = 51%.

Values of 51%ers:
  • Have an optimistic warmth.
  • Intelligent in a curiosity to learn way.
  • Excellence reflex: a natural tendency to do something as well as can be
  • Empathy: caring about how others feel
  • Integrity: natural inclination to be held accountable and to do the right thing with honesty and judgement.
The other 49% task / process / skill can be taught - the 51% can't. Hire 51%ers

Looking under rocks
Find out whats happening in the place by joining bits of information together, found by looking under rocks to see whats lying underneath.

Defining your core
The importance of identifying, defining and defending your core values through constant, gentle pressure.

Managing People
Treat your staff as if they were volunteers; they could have chosen someone else to work for but they chose you! Really relevant given our high dependency on volunteers in Horowhenua.

Talk. People will hop over ripples if they know they are coming and are prepared, its the unexpectness that knocks frogs of lily pads not the ripples themselves.

5 stakeholders in enlightened hospitality: employees (yes first), guests, community, suppliers then investors. Clients can tell if staff are happy, and that sense of goodwill prermeates the place giving soul (another Meyer-ism).

Surround yourself with ambassadors: you can't do everything yourself so grow the team, identify the talent, surround yourself with people who you trust to make good judgement calls in line with your core values.

On mistakes
Surfers not servers (I love this analogy!) Surfers love taking on the big waves and they know they may well crash and burn, but they get up and on. Mistakes are like waves: the skill is in how you ride it.

As for correcting mistakes: write the last chapter in the whole sorry saga - and make it good!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Writing the last chapter

I've just been on the receiving end of superb customer service - and it felt great!

I have spent several weeks selecting wallpaper for my bedroom. After getting down to a shortlist of 3 I went to the local Resene shop who offered - yes offered - to obtain large samples so I could pin them up and see how they work with the light and furnishings etc. Great idea - and a service - which I gladly accepted.

This week I saw that Resene have a 40% sale off wallpaper, so I placed my order. Within 4 hours I was telephoned and told that my chosen paper was not being made any more. I was a bit disappointed, but mostly annoyed that I was going to have to start choosing all over again.

"No no" the man said, "Leave it with me and I'll see what I can do". So I called in this morning expecting to lumber home with another 6 sample books. Nope.

That lovely man had a bunch of samples he'd sorted out for me which were very close to what I had tried to order. I picked one, which I think is actually nicer than the one I had originally picked, he rang through to confirm supply, then placed the order. It won't get here this week but he would still honour the 40% discount.

That is great customer service.

That is the sort of customer service I expect our librarians to deliver. I shudder when I hear a customer told that a book is not available sorry, and then they watch the customer leave empty handed. What I want to see is that opportunity used to open the door to a conversation about what we do have that the client may be interested in.

I am reading restaurateur Danny Meyer's book on management (which I heard about on Twitter) and he talks about writing the 'last chapter'. He argues that when something goes wrong in terms of cutomer service there is a golden opportunity to write a great last chapter to the story; people always tell others when things go wrong and you can author a great ending to the story which reflects well on you! Make it right, but do more than that, make the situation better.

In the Resene scenario this morning I have got a better wallpaper, at a great discount, and the shop saved me time - and I am telling the story.

In the library example a client could leave having discovered a bunch of other great authors or a new section in the library, all in super quick time, and you can bet they'll tell their story too!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Skills for contemporary librarians.

I am pleasantly surprised at the number of really exciting library positions being advertised on the NZ public library list. Really meaty jobs requiring high class candidates. It really is a great time to be a librarian.

If I was looking to impress, or be impressed, I'd follow the advise given by Brian Kelly in this recent post over on his blog: UK Web Focus.

"Although I don’t feel that everyone should necessarily publish a blog, make use of Twitter or, indeed, give presentations or appear on YouTube or Google Video, I do feel that these can be skills which will be valuable for many information professionals and software developers at a time of economic difficulties.

And if that short-term project fails to receive continued funding how should staff ensure that they can continue to find employment in the job market? I would argue that having demonstrable skills in making use of a range of Web 2.0 technologies may well help.

This might include:
  • publishing a blog (which can demonstrate good written communications skills),
  • creating and editing content in wiki tools such as Wikipedia (demonstration of collaborative working),
  • using micro-blogging tools such as Twitter (the ability to interact with other users, including those you may not have met),
  • using social sharing tools such as del.icio.us (as awareness of the benefits of sharing resources using popular services) and
  • social networking services such as Facebook (all of the above together with an understanding of privacy and other ethical issues).
And of course as well as having skills in use of such social networking tools, having a community of peers may well also be valuable in a new job.

Hmm, will:

“You mean to tell me you worked in a library and you only ever used email and a word processor? You used a Web browser but never used an RSS reader? You contributed to a newsletter but never published a blog? Thank you for your interest in out company. Next candidate please.“

be the approach that employers will take when there is a large pool of information professionals to chose from?"

I've just finished reading Seth Godin's new book "Tribes" (really good) and he shares the story of selecting interns for his business. He set up a facebook account - then left them to it. 1/2 the people started to introduce themselves, communicated with each other and then tried to encourage the others to contribute - but the rest sat back and watched. Who would you rather employ? Quite.

So where abouts are you on this groovy little chart by Hutch Carpenter?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Local councils band together to help communities keep working

Fantastic initiative in the UK which I would love to see adopted here in NZ...

'Keep West Sussex Working' has been launched by the County Council and is backed by the seven District and Borough Councils.

It involves a £15,000 boost for West Sussex Libraries to provide IT training and hundreds of new books advising people on employment and business, to help guide them through the downturn.

IT training sessions will be held in a number of libraries under the scheme to give people the essential skills to help prepare themselves and get into the market place for new jobs. Sessions will include IT starter lessons, CV writing and how to make online job applications."

Read the full story in the West Sussex County Times here and view the full plan here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fancy Florence for August?

I have huge pleasure in announcing that registrations are now open for the

IFLA satellite Preconference
Emerging Trends in Technology:
Libraries between Web 2.0, semantic web and search technology.

So if you are floating around Italy in August '09, you might like to consider spending the 19th and 20th in Florence.

The satellite preconference is sponsored by the IFLA Information Technology Section and supported by the Libraries and Web 2.0 Discussion Group. The local supporter is the Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale based in Florence www.rinascimento-digitale.it and is available for any additional info or support.

The complete programme is available at http://www.ifla2009satelliteflorence.it/meeting3/program/program.html where you can also download the flyer of the conference.

I was invited to serve on the Steering Committee for this satellite conference and having read all the abstracts I am really pleased with the final programme.

And you could do worse than Florence ...

"Establish a culture of courage to make mistakes, learn and move on".

Great line aye ... not mine though, I copied it from "Government Projects the Agile Way : Can it be Done" which was posted on the In Development blog which is a NZ Govt blog decicated to delivering world class state services.

Katipo and Horowhenua Library Trust utilized agile development methodologies in the development of both Koha and Kete, and I now know (thanks to the blog) that the Digital NZ team used Agile too.

This post is a really interesting intro into Agile, and the panel discussions are worth listening too as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who will fight for Gerald?

I need a champion.

Who is going to fight for Gerald? or Janine? or Rachel? Or the lady with knitted stockings and the cloche hats or the 'giggle' of girls who flock in when the school bell rings?

Levin Library has 9 computers available for public internet use. They are in constant demand and we have to ration access in order to extend the service to as many people as possible. Everyone is entitled to 30 minutes free internet each day, but additional time may be purchased for $2 a half hour, although most people who can afford to buy internet time have a computer at home anyway. This means that anyone who wants to use the internet can.

Our internet computers are in constant use from open to close, and there is usually a queue.
The computers are used by a wide range of people in our community: applying for money through studylink, typing up CVs, downloading job applications or forms from IRD and WINZ, researching family history, buying and selling on TradeMe, emailing grandkids, booking flights, paying bills with internet banking, playing games or keeping in touch through Bebo or Facebook.

Gerald, Janine and Rachel are all intellectually handicapped. Gerald can't read, but he loves steam trains, and he has borrowed every train book we have - many times - so one day we showed him Youtube. Now, every couple of days Gerald comes to the library, we set him up on Youtube with a search for steam trains and leave him to it. He has learnt how to click on the files, now, and it doesn't matter that the PCs have no sound cards because he is really good at providing the sound effects himself.

Rachel chats to her friends on MSN, and I'm not sure what Janine does yet, but she loves coming up the desk and asking for an access code which she proudly clutches as she wanders off.

Horowhenua District Council have decided that from July the Library will have to start charging for the internet, and thats just the start. We currently have to raise 15% of our operating expenditure from user charges, $150,000, but last month Council decided that we need to raise between 20% and 25%, $200,000 - $250,000.

The Council's LTCCP is being released this week for public consultation. That means we have 1 month to let Council know whether we think this is acceptable to ratepayers or not.
The school girls won't write a submission to the LTCCP, or the students applying to Studylink, or the young boys playing Runescape, or the old lady searching the Pipe Rolls. And nor will Gerald, Janine and Rachel.

So who will fight for them? Who will fight for their right to access technology that we all take for granted?

Will you be that champion?

[Names have been changed for privacy].

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Effing Librarian Manifesto

Wow, The Darien Statements have certainly created a storm of discussion amount the profession - Great!

Couple of good places to follow the discussion include the John Blyberg's original post, but this great post this morning had me laughing out loud:

".... The Effing Librarian Statement: Libraries and Librarians help you do all kinds of shit that might somehow involve books, but not always."

And if you want the bumper sticker version: "Librarians help you do shit." more>>

Monday, April 6, 2009

Only in Europe ...

Cool - but nothing to do with libraries at all :)

The Lipstick index : 5 ways the recession is changing our life.

How could I not blog about an article which had that for a title!

I regularly skim through feeds from The Trendsetting Blog and this one got me thinking today. The article argues that coping with the global recession has become more than lifestyle adjustment, it is really changing lives:

5 trends noted:
  1. Potty training - to cut back on disposable nappies.
  2. Apearance expenses: do-it-yourself hair dying, persona grooming.
  3. Cell phone and internet use : 39% of cellphone subscribers in the States are looking at cutting back on internet, and 1 in 5 cellphone users have cut back in the last 6 months or are planning to. More research shows there has been a 20% growth in VOIP - go Skype!
  4. Cookbook sales are up (like double digit growth for Amazon), in fact the whole DIY section. Backing this up was a story I heard last week about the phenomenal growth in sales of vege seeds and seedlings.
  5. Bartering is in.
Must pass these trends onto our acquisition team .... and look at our public internet service offerings!

PS The quirky economic theory "The Lipstick Indicator" is based on the question : Does lipstick sell well when the economic depression deepens? Google Trends answers “Yes” More>>

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians

On March 26th 2009, Darien Library in the States, hosted an event called “In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries” at which participants were instructed to “come prepared to help sketch out the role librarians should play in defining the future of libraries”. The two speakers, John Berry and Kathryn Greenhill, provoked a conversation among John Blyberg, Kathryn and Cindi Trainor that began in John's office the next day and spilled out across the ensuing week.

The conversation resulted in "The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians". Click here to view the resulting document (CC Licence). It’s meant to be grand, optimistic, obvious, and thankful to and for our users, communities, and the tireless librarians who work the front lines every day, upholding the purpose of the Library. Heres a sample:

"The Purpose of the Library

The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.

The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change.

The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence.

Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict.

Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will.

A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library.

The Role of the Library

The Library:

  • Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
  • Encourages the love of learning.
  • Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
  • Facilitates human connections.
  • Preserves and provides materials.
  • Expands capacity for creative expression.
  • Inspires and perpetuates hope. More>>

I believe this document will become core to discussions on the role of libraries for years to come. Congratulations and thank you to John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill and Cindi Trainor for articulating so eloquently why we do what we do.

NB. The photograph above of the three whizz kids is by Michael Porter, and about 90% of the text above is taken directly from John Blyberg's blog.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The role of public libraries during the recession

Quick one today: 3 links to thought provoking articles in online newspapers gleaned from the NZ-Libs and ALA this morning:

"Our Libraries are at risk - just when we need them most" from The Guardian.

"Downturn puts more stress on libraries" from The New York Times

"How Libraries can benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" from American Libraries.

The first article looks at how local authorities are closing down libraries and reducing opening hours in Britiain. The second article examines the social problems that librarians are increasingly having to address, and the third one reports on the multi-million dollar investment in American Libraries being made in recognition of the vital role that libraries are and will continue to play in our society, especially during this recession.

Ironic, that as librarys are coming under increased demand for their services, local authorities in the UK, and NZ, are seeing them as an easy target for slashing operating budgets.

The problem is how will we manage with increased demands and pressures while our budgets are being slashed or even just remaining static. How do we fund the extra staff and resources to meet the extra demand? Our statistics show that while issues are increasing, and foot traffic too, and the range of tasks we are asked to help with, this does not translate into increases in rental or donation income.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't be afraid of using lots of Item Types in Koha !

Well, I have done it ... got my collection organised into Item Types and Collection Codes and it looks like it will work really well for the OPAC display!

Setttled on 73 Item Types, but clustered them into 12 collection codes which makes advanced search really useful. Surprisingly, once I changed my thinking about creating the circulation rules, I only needed to create 21 lending rules (I used defaults heavily).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Live Blog of Future of Libraries non-summit at Darien.

Kathryn Greenhill is such an inspirational librarian ... really, really on to it!

This link is directly to her blog Librarians Matter showing how she is sharing what she does... great content - but also great technique and use of tools!

Mobile Library services for iPhone and iPod Touch

Take a look at this brand new service developed by Orange County Libraries in the States, a breathrough way to explore the Library using your iPhone or iPod Touch:

PS. OCLC is a Koha library!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Usage patterns

Well I have just spent the entire day crunching issue stats and its been quite interesting.... odd, but interesting.

Our average daily issues over all items has been rising consistently, 20% over the last 2 years.

The average daily issue count of all rental items (fiction, magazines, DVDs) has remained essentially static, despite issues rising so significantly. Income from rental items has flatlined, virtually unchanged despite halving the rental charge of pay DVDs 18 months ago. We have long suspected there is $x of disposable income to spend at the library, and if people borrow more rental DVDs they spend less on rental fiction etc. This became very obvious once we got the stats on a graph.

Total DVDs make up around 11% of our total issues, up from 4% just 2 years ago; the daily average count of free DVDs has risen by 288% !

Actually looking at our issues in relation to what % of the budget we spent is interesting too:
  • AV: 6% of our budget generating 15% of our issues.
  • LP: 14% of the budget for 15% of our issues.
  • Junior: 18% for 15% of our issues.
  • ANF: 23% for 15% of our issues.
  • Fiction: 19% of the budget generating 30% of the issues.

The DVD collection, which gets about 4% of the total budget, generates 11% of the issues which is a pretty good return on investment.

Generating Revenue through Rental Collections
The starting point for all this was that Council would like us to raise more money. Now that our issues are rising so steadily, not to mention our visitor numbers (both real and virtual), surely we should be able to generate a bigger chunk of our operating expenses ... well, no, sorry.

Those who choose or can afford to rent items rent them, and those who can't don't. And those who are coming to the library because of economic hardship are not coming to spend money. If the motivation to save money gets them to the library, it is also going to get them to bypass rental items for free ones - of which we have plenty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What the web stretegist should know about Twitter

Great link on the Web4lib digest this morning, linking to this post on on Jeremiah Owyang's blog Social Media, Web Marketing.

Provides a really good introduction to Twitter, plus loads of related links to other posts about using Twitter to market your business or service. Heres an excerpt:
"The savvy Twitter user realizes that the effective communications aren’t just ‘pushing’ content to readers, but they will also dialogue and converse with others by replying to them. I use this tool as a global chat room, responding to others, building relationships, and listening in. Like blogging, the rule of anti-marketing marketing is required for success, engage your community. Unlike traditional forms of advertising and marketing, Twitter is “opt-in” meaning that users will ‘follow’ a twitter account, abuse will result in a user unsubscribing. "

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

The way we read now as out world totters

Nothing original from me, but a link to a great item on Times Online.

A wee quote:

"Publishing may be facing the same problems as other businesses, but some books are booming. Escapist romantic fiction is in the pink. Mills & Boon is selling three books a second, and Cheryl Cole, of Girls Aloud, has signed a £5million deal to write romantic novels.

Sales of misery memoirs, by contrast, are dwindling: the pleasure of wallowing in someone else's unhappiness, it seems, is less poignant in hard times." More >>

Summary of discussion about Item Types

Wow ... don't I know how to generate discussion!

I have been bowled over by the really helpful discussion about this issue over the last week or so; on the Koha list, via email and also on this blog.

I started getting confused (again) about this isse and so went through and assigned a piece of paper per issue raised, then listed all the comments below each topic. By the end of the exercise there was a wide spread consensus on how to use Item Types and CCodes, which I share for you below.

Biblio Level Info
Search results display Biblio level info; which can include:

  • Format (book, DVD, video cassette)
  • Audience (children, young adult, adult)
  • Content (bibliography)
  • Material Type (using XLST search will display wee icons.)

Item Level Info
The holdings table displays Item level info, which can include:

  • Item Types
  • CCodes
  • Shelving Location
  • Call Number

Advanced Search
The Advanced Search interface displays either

  • Item Types (with their associated icons)
  • Collection Codes (with their associated icons).

You cannot set both as Advanced Search options, although this would be a cool enhancement.

Notes on Item Types
  • set circulation policy
  • you must have item types
  • you don’t have to have CCodes
  • can be used to define collections
  • can be OPAC advanced search points

Notes on CCodes
  • have no relationship to circulation policy
  • any number of CCodes can have the same the Item Type
  • are optional
  • are used to define collections
  • can be OPAC advanced search points

Notes on Call Number
How the item is shelved ie its shelf position, can include alpha and numeric characters.

Notes on Shelving Location
A physical location ie a floor or building

General Rule:
Nice quote from Joshua:
"If you don’t have to have CCodes to distinguish between Item Types and Collection Codes, then don’t – just use Item Types".

When CCodes would be needed:
And a great example of when you would need CCodes (Thanks Owen):

You have a policy which says borrowers may have no more than 10 AV items on loan at a time. So Item Type is set as AV and a bunch of CCodes are created:
DVD, JDVD, Video, JVideo, CDROM, Audio Book on Tape, Teen Audio Book on CD, etc. A patron may borowe a total of 10 AV materials from any of the CCodes related to Item Type=AV.

MARC Fields
For anyone still interested in playing this game, I would love some help identifying the marc fields where we enter the data that will display for these fields:

Biblio info
  • Format
  • Audience
  • Content
  • Material Type

Item info
  • Item Types
  • CCodes
  • Shelving Location
  • Call Number (including dewey and / or genre, and filing letters)
Thanks for everyones help with this ... hopefullt we will save many hours of planning for others to grapple with this issue!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And another option for arranging our collection in Koha 3.0

After corresponding with a handful of really clever, and questioning librarians I think there may be another, better way to organise our collection in Koha 3.0 which will meet all of my needs with regards to making a really helpful OPAC!

Item Types
9 Item Types only, based on loan lengths and rental charges, making for easy creation of the circulation rules table. The codes do make sense for us, but double dutch for everyone else, so I showed what they represent too:
  • REF : not for issue
  • CIRC : 3 week issue, no rental
  • TB : 3 week issue, $5 rental
  • P : 2 week issue, no rental
  • BPF : 2 week issue, $2 rental
  • CDPP : 1 week issue, no rental
  • BPN : 1 week issue, $3 rental
  • DVD : 1 week issue, $2.50 rental
  • PP : 1 week issue, $1 rental

We could then have 13 Collection Codes based on main shelving areas or collections. For us these will be:
  • Adult Nonfiction
  • Large Print
  • Adult Fiction
  • Children's Nonfiction
  • Children's Fiction
  • Children's Picturebook
  • Teen books
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • File Packets
  • Magazines
  • Audio Books
  • Videos
Shelved at
Then we will use the 'Shelved at' field to denote sub-collection. For us, examples are:
  • General Nonfiction
  • The Natural World,
  • Health
  • Local History
  • Local History Reference,
  • Paperback Romances,
  • First Chapter Books,
  • Rental Teen DVD,
  • Free Audio Book on CD,
  • Rental Audio Book on Tape,
  • Children's Video
  • etc
Call Number
The call number field would display the filing position on the shelf. Sometimes the dewey number and filing letters, othertimes the genre (where we shelf by genre), othertimes just a filing letter. Examples for our collection are:
  • 636.8 BONE
  • GABA
  • Romance COOK

I think this looks very do-able - in fact I am really excited at how useful this could be for the library patron who finds an item in the catalogue and wants to know exactly whereabouts to find it.

So, still a few issues to clarify;
  1. Can we assign icons to CCodes?
  2. Can we get decent sized icons displaying in the OPAC to reflect or denote format at a glance, not just the ugly wee 16pt ones at present?
  3. Can the CCodes 'description', 'shelved at' and 'call number' fields all be made to display in the OPAC search results? and
  4. Can we set the advanced search options to CCodes?

But if all those can be done, I think its looking really positive!

Thanks you so much everyone who helped discuss the options through; I feel that a number of us have developed a better understanding of the issues involved, in working through this process. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this latest version!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thinking about Item Types in Koha

I am writing this post to record the process I have been through to review our existing use of Item Types in Koha 2.x, in preparation for a move to Koha 3.x.

OPAC centric
I focussed this exercise from the library users point of view. What would our patrons like to ‘see’ as a search result in OPAC interface?

Search Result:

  • Title, author etc
  • What format is it?
  • Is it on loan or available ?
  • If on loan when is it due back?
  • If available, which library is it currently at?
  • Which area of the library or which collection do I go to get it? Which collection or ‘Living Room’?
  • What is its shelving position ie dewey or filing letters?

Advanced Search:

  • Only items not on loan OR all
  • Only items at a specific library Or all * Particular formats ie Book only or DVD OR all
  • Particular audiences ie children’s, teen or adult OR all
  • Particular genre: romance or mystery etc
  • Particular collections: easy reader fiction, picturebooks, local history etc

Item Types OR CCodes

There are two very different ways to organize a collection in Koha 3.0. Either heavy use of the Item Types OR heavy use of CCodes. My understanding is that you have to choose 1 or the other for advanced search, but not both.

Item types – These are used to set circulation policies. These are not format descriptors (GMDs). They can be set as advanced search options, and display as icons on the search results screen. The codes are never seen by the public, but informative descriptions add real value as a finding tool for patrons.

CCodes – Collection Codes can be set as advanced search options too, and can be set to display as text on search results.

Having minimal Item Types can greatly simplify the creation of circulation rules. So you could have just 3 or 4 Item types, and then use collection codes to shape your collection into ‘clusters’.

eg. Item Types:

  • G General collection 3 week loan period, no rental
  • GR General rental collection 3 week loan, $3 rental
  • S Short term loan 1 week loan, no rental
  • SR Short term rental collection 1 week loan, $1 rental

with a bunch of CCodes:

  • ANF Adult nonfiction
  • CNF Children’s nonfiction
  • TNF Teens nonfiction
  • AF Adult Fiction
  • JF Junior fiction

Or even by genre or Living Room:

  • FM Fiction mystery
  • FW Fiction Western
  • FR Fiction Romance
  • BNP People and Places

Alternatively, we could create as many Item Types as we like to reflect a finely granulated collection at Item Type level, with or without the use of Collection Codes.

If we go with many item types then I will need to craft the circulation rules carefully, loading the default position first and only creating rules for the exceptions. My old way of creating a rule for every single combination of patron and item types will be a nightmare!

If we go with Item Types I will assign icons which reflects the format or GMD (ie all book item types have a book icon). The full text description of the item type will display in the OPAC search result enabling the patron to see what format the item is at a glance.

Test Scenarios.
I created a bunch of test scenarios in order to see how applying each of the various options and combinations could best meet my objective of delivering the most useful information for the patron.

In placing a heavy emphasis on Item Types I could end up with about 100 different item types, if I fully utilized this method to reflect genres within fiction, rental fiction and large print, and also ‘living rooms’ or subject based sub-collections within the non-fiction.

I also wanted to test an option where heavy emphasis is placed on Collection Codes. This would streamline setting up circulation rules drastically as only 8 Item Types would be required, but I would still have to create a whole heap of Collection Codes. I could group a bunch of Item Types into 1 collection, or a bunch of collections into 1 Item Type.

Several scenarios were tested:

  • Total granulation as far as possible, for all genres and living rooms, within all collections (about 100 item types).
  • Granulate for all major collections, but not for genres. Rely on the subject headings – which are hotlinks to find related material. (about 60 item types).
  • As above, but enter the Genre in the Call Number field as well.
  • Minimum number of Item Types created, 1 for each class of circulation eg 3 weeks & no rental, 1 week & $2 etc.

I have a document showing the detail of the tests but I'm not clever enough to create tables in this blog... so contact me directly if you want the whole document!


All 4 test scenarios struggled with displaying the Fiction genres in a useful way for the Patron. This is because we do not shelf them by Genre.

Our Fiction Collection Manager suggested we just stop adding them in to the catalogue, and use the subject headings instead, which would actually be more useful because different aspects of the book could be catalogued. We would not be forcing a book into 1 genre. We can still add Genre stickers to the spines if we wish, which is where they really come into their own for shelf browsers, but the catalogue will not reflect that.

This made live easier.

The reason against making loads of Item Types is the pain of creating the circulation rules table – and its not a bad enough reason to out weigh the benefits of many, finely tuned and well descibed, Item Types which would add real value to the OPAC search results.

We will create Item Types for each collection and Living Room, but not by Genre for each of the 3 Fiction collections: free, rental and large print.

Thanks to Owen, Brooke, Nicole, Caitlin, Larissa and Rosalie for helping me work through the issues.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Local Authorities and Public Libraries

I just love the internet! Here I am in sitting in quiet old Levin, and I get to 'attend' a conference held in Britain recently - via video.

The Local Authorities Transforming Public Libraries conference has some very relevant and timely presentations. 2 in particular caught my eye: Libraries in a Recesssion and Public Libraries in a Democracy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Twittering Class Moves On

Just popped over to the new-look Stuff.co.nz - its pretty cool - and I found something interesting too, which is always a bonus!

This story about 12seconds.tv which is a site where you post 12 seconds of video from your cellphone... its like Twitter with video not words - although it does post to your Twitter account too if you want it too....

... and the copyright wars continue

Interesting item on Computerworld this morning about New Zealand's copyright laws being threatened:
"A local website has removed recordings of the Conan novels under the threat of legal action from the US, despite the material being in the public domain in New Zealand." More>>