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>>

Digital literacy education in public libraries.

We used to have heaps of primary class visits to the public library - 5 or 6 every week - but now we don't.

The long term payoff for us having every school kid in this town visiting the library, at least 6 times a year, was that we got to see kids we would never normally see, kids whose families didn't include the public library as part of their usual, family routine. We got these kids through the door, and gave them the courage to come back out side of school hours, alone or with their mates. We miss that opportunity now, and I think we can't afford to let this ride.

Our schools are focussing their attention on the inernet as the primary source of information and even our towns, which have fairly low socio-economic profiles, have 2 or 3 computers in every classroom. What the teachers don't neccessarily have is the skills, knowledge or time to devise and deliver the lessons that will teach our children how to maximise the opportunities the internet provides.

We need to rethink our programmes and offer something that is irresistible to teachers, helps them deliver to their students - and saves them time too. Universities do this 'user education' or 'digital literacy' really well but I think public librarians could offer this to the schools of the town.

A series of high quality lessons focussing on fostering and developing skill in using the internet, delivered by the local public librarian needs to be re-established as a core part of the academic year if we are going to reclaim our relevance to a whole generation of kids whose families for what ever reason don't bring them to the library.

This clip was blogged about by Peter Godwin recently and talks about why Google is just not enough.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exploring 'The Bandstand, Hyde Park' : a video experiment on Flickr

Seb Chan and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney do some ground breaking stuff and I follow his blog for the cool stuff he shares. This post came up a while ago but I kept it because it demonstrates the very cool stuff that can be done with digital collections - and on a shoe string too. Must keep an eye out for similarly composed photos in Kete and see what we can do!