November 28th

Plowed through the articles about data analysis. There are many types of data analysis to consider, the reasons for it and the types of libraries that use it. That is way too much to try to fit in before the end of the term.

I will focus on data analysis with respect to data driven decisions and serving patrons’ needs better. I need to re-read some of the articles and look up some of the programs used. This is a very complex subject. One needs to consider a library’s integrated library software, web site and any social media applications the library might use. Not all types of libraries use the same types of software. An academic library for a university with three campuses will use a different approach than a public library serving only a few communities or just one.

Google Analytics showed up many times, so that is another thing to research. Another thing that has piqued my interest is GIS. I am not sure how this works with libraries, but will eventually find out.

November 27th – Data Analysis

The due date for this assignment is coming up very quickly. I haven’t been able to get to everything on my list, but I was probably over-ambitious. Once I got the Class Shell loaded on to the new pc my productivity went up considerably. And my frustration level went down, which was a positive.

Today’s topic is data analysis. There are more than 12 journal articles to read and understand.  My eyes glaze over periodically. The ability to highlight phrases in Adobe Reader is helpful. Hopefully when I go back they will still be there.

One thing that library patrons likely don’t realize is that once they return a book, there is no tie between their library record and what they have signed out. In some ways this makes data analysis easier, as there are fewer privacy concerns. Just as important as the data itself is the metadata. What libraries can collect is based on their ILS software, software for their websites and access to their data. It seems logical to me that it would be important to analyze the statistics that are related to money – are the items that the libraries spend most of their money on the ones that are used the most? Also, what trends can be found? With shrinking budgets, libraries need to be able to justify their expenditures more than ever.

I was thinking mostly about data analysis in public libraries at the start of the assignment, but have found a good article about an academic library . It is “change by numbers: using data to assess and transform library service environments”, by Hector Escobar, Heidi Gauder, and Frances Rice. It was in the September 2012 edition of Catholic Library World. The article is a case study about collecting library statistics and using them to make evidence-based decisions. The study used some software tools, but kept costs and time to a minimum. So far it has been an enlightening read.

It’s the second article in the list, so have a lot of reading ahead of me. This is likely my last topic. I can look at the other two software products next week. Just because class is over does not mean that I give up trying new things and trying to keep up with my topics of interest. If I am to be a more than competent library technician, this will be a way of life, not the exception.

 

November 26th – Library automation (self check out, automated check in) mostly

Library automation is really hard to cover in one post. So many vendors, blogs, journals, so little time.

Library automation – this covers integrated library systems, interlibrary loan software, scanners and the related equipment to make everything work together. The latest hardware that many circulation staff expect to put them out of a job are self-check-out and automated check-in.

Self-check-out units are not new. Before I moved out to the valley just over seven years ago, my local library, Richmond Public Library, had multiple units at their Ironwood branch. They were seemingly built into a wall. I enjoyed being able to check my own books out and not have to stand in line. I can remember standing in line before that, trying to look patient. Whatever the person on the other side of the counter was doing did not look difficult. Once I had the opportunity to try it out myself, my assessment was correct. I can remember a time when liquor stores were not self-serve. I also remember Consumer’s Distributing. You wrote out your order on a form and someone picked the order in the back. You picked up your order when it was ready. I cannot imagine going back to that delivery method. Today people want quick service and short if no lines. Many, including me, are very happy to certain tasks myself if it gets me in and out quicker.

Occasionally there are times when self-check-out does not work. Then it’s off to the circulation desk to fix the problem. Sometimes there is a good reason, other times it is technique. I also tend to use the self-checkout at the grocery store, unless the lines are really short and I have items that require special processing.

Automated check-in interests me. As a library student, as I know that self-check-out is here to stay. With the advent of RFID, automated check-in becomes more likely. The job description of circulation staff has changed significantly in the past 10 and will continue to do so because of this kind of automation. What kind of future can I expect?

I have often wondered about how the circ staff feels looking at the book returns that have become full overnight, or the ones that get full during the day. Is it like laundry and dishes, a drag? A cause of RSI? Is it the best use of these staff members’ time and expertise?

Firstly the integrated library system had to support equipment for self-check-out and automated check-in. The pieces of equipment have to talk to the system. Equipment has to be compatible, fit in library spaces, be easy to use and reliable. Automated check-in has come as a later entry. As staff’s salaries account for a large part of the budget, just like in other industries it makes sense to try to reduce the number of staff that do jobs that can be done just as well by machines. Use the staff for the things that computers are not good at or cannot do. This is an application of the right tool for the job.

One of the libraries in my local library system now has automated check-in in one of the newer libraries. Here’s the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPwtuk41V-I&feature=youtu.be. It also talks about other newer technologies the library and its users use.

In order to calculate the total cost of ownership, to know if a library is justified in purchasing either or both types of equipment, cost is a primary issue, other than those noted above. It can be difficult to get prices on technology in the library world, as there are very few library-type stores that one can wander in to. Software websites tend to not have prices, or only give prices for the most basic systems. It’s about negotiation. And I thought buying a car was a hassle. However, with the magic of the Internet and a list of the right suppliers, prices are available for some things. It still can be difficult, as this may not be the actual price a library would pay. It depends on which consortia a library belongs to and how much pull it has with a desired vendor.

The Automation Leader – they have great graphic to help the user to identify products on their site, http://www.latcorp.com/LAT-Leap.htmlhttp://www.latcorp.com/LAT-Products.html is a data sheet for a self-check-out unit and add-ons. Notes no prices. They do offer webinars, which is helpful. Head office is in New Jersey.

This company focuses on the needs of libraries only. Their page http://www.latcorp.com/why-LAT.html explains this in a rather humorous fashion. There is no section for testimonials. The closest thing is the page for Recent News and Events, http://www.latcorp.com/LAT-News.html.

In reading some of the material I downloaded from the LITSA database, the name 3M came up. I tend to think of them mostly in terms of Scotch tape, but they do a lot more. http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/library/home/. The offer equipment for both check in and check out, http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/library/home/products/selfcheck/. There are product demos available, but they are somewhat lame. The specs for one check-in system are included in http://3m-ssd.implex.net/selfcheck_cseries/3M_SelfCheck_C-Series.pdf. The demo includes a 360 degree view, and photo gallery as well. No price, but there is a link to request information.

There are more options for self checkout, http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/library/home/products/selfcheck/checkout/.

There are promotional on-line videos available, but one needs to complete and submit a form in order to access them.

This site also has a Loss Reduction calculator, http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/library/home/resources/calculators/, useful when calculating payback. Service agreements are also available, http://solutions.3mcanada.ca/wps/portal/3M/en_CA/library/home/products/service/. As long as there is a circulation desk staffed by people, perhaps a 24+ hour delay waiting for a technician is acceptable.

Still frustrated about lack of visible pricing. Time for a different search string, using GoDuckGo. I found this website, http://www.shopbrodart.com/equipment/security/self-checkout/. This has prices for the equipment as well as the supplies. Regardless of  automated or in personal circulation staff checkout, there is a need for the thermal printing rolls.

Here is a web page for a 3M self checkout http://www.shopbrodart.com/equipment/security/self-checkout/?s=MToxNjowOjo6Ojo6MDo5NDQ5NWFmYi0xYTU4LWRmMTEtYThlYS0wMDI2Yjk0MmFhYzg%3d – $21,049.00. As this is an American site, presumably the price is in US dollars. To calculate payback, one would need to know how much the actual operating costs are, including electricity, cost for installation, service contract and any building modifications. That goes beyond the scope of this assignment, but it is certainly doable. Many of the costs are sunk, which would may a three year payback attractive.

The 2013 rate for an-call circulation assistant for the Fraser Valley Regional Library in an internal posting is between $23.67 and $24.28 per hour (pay grade 4). Based on 35 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, an annual salary is between $43,079 and $44,190 (approximately). Another consider is the number of transactions done by via self checkout versus circulation staff. A cost per transaction could eventually be calculated.

 This web site has nothing for automated check in.

Finding a price for automated check-in equipment is beyond the scope of an Internet search. There can be multiple parts involved, which vary between libraries and how the system is implemented. That is one for the accountants to figure out – the total costs, including installation, service agreement, building modifications. This may be done when a library has chosen specific components and implementation.

Time for another search. Using  GoDuckGo search I found http://www.galecia.com/content/automated-materials-handling – the site looks like everything one could want to know about automated materials handling, except how much it actually costs. An article caught my eye, http://www.galecia.com/blogs/admin/report-analysis-cost-savings-automated-check, actual report http://galecia.com/sites/default/files/included/docs/2008/ayre_self_checkin_cost_compare.pdf. The cost of the equipment is not included in this study, as far as I can tell. However, the study suggests that the automated library is more efficient than the manual one, as well as providing better customer service by having materials on the shelves sooner. One may disagree with the wages for staff, but the calculations could be redone with the specific wages for a specific library and its hourly rates.

The site includes blog postings, web resources and case studies that the Galicia Group has or is currently working on. The focus area includes the topics of automated materials handling, open source library software, RFID and workflow technology. I will definitely share this site with others. The site covers systems and includes presentations. A goldmine of information for library management. Hardware vendors and hardware information would need to be obtained elsewhere.

I have my doubts about ehow websites, but this one seems reasonable – http://www.ehow.com/info_8634909_advantages-disadvantages-library-automation.html. It is refreshing to see disadvantages discussed as well as advantages. There are other useful looking resources associated with this ehow site.

Library Technology Guides, http://www.librarytechnology.org/index.pl?SID=20131126146789550, contains a plethora of resources about library technology, including Perceptions International Library Automation Surveys for the last six years. One can compare statistics from year to year, as well as read author Marshall Breeding’s opinions.

It is difficult to keep up with the hardware and software trends and technology due to the sheer volume. You can’t go wrong with Marshall Breeding, but he does provide enough for one to do the research.

Library automation is here to stay. The vendor web sites do not indicate what the expected lifespan of self-check and automated check-in is. That may be a question for an RFQ or by checking with individual libraries. What does the trend in automation mean to library students? Once in the workforce, it may mean working with more machines than staff members. Manual processes will be minimized. Trouble shooting hardware and software problems will be a regular part of the job description. There will always be upgrades and changes to software, hardware and middleware. For those who don’t like technology or are not comfortable with it, pick another profession. For those already working in circulation, it means acquiring and maintaining technological knowledge.  It may not be easy to keep up with all the changes, but certain blogs and vendor websites make it easier. Following them on Twitter can also help.

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Update on Delicious – the tags are really important, as this seems to be how My Links categorizes. If you click on Tags, then a list of tags is shown. Some are in a larger font than others, which suggests that they are somehow important. More to read about tags and tag bundles. Not all web pages work with the Add to Delicious function. The Smithsonian was one of them, which was disappointing. The web page I wanted to add went blank, which was not useful.

I have not yet logged into a different computer and accessed Delicious. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work. I will continue to use the program after the course is over, to learn more about how it works, its quirks and additional functionality.

November 25th – supplemental

Yes, I had a good Delicious experience. I had to be signed in to the program. Then, on any web page I want to save I just click on the “Add to Delicious” icon on my favorites bar. Of course I am using multiple tabs.

I did some searching for library automation and saved a whack of web pages. They are in “My Links”. So far this seems way more efficient than trying to save a web page to my pc. I also tried tagging them.

One thing that I noticed about Delicious is that the carriage return (enter key) key does not work. You need to click on things like Sign Out.

Tomorrow – have a look at My Links, see how the tagging works, read some of the web pages and learn all about library automation. I would like to set up my account if I was working at a reference desk – how would I find the links I wanted? I think I will add some links suitable for a reference desk, learned in LIBT 140 and 145.

November 25th

I set up my Delicious account this morning. It was easy enough. I declined to add my Twitter and FaceBook contacts. This is a test and I would like to keep things simple.

I could not drag the Delicious bookmarklet to my Favourites bar. This was in IE. I could in FireFox. So far the behaviour I was expecting has not happened. I could connect with existing content. I went to the Library Journal home page, thinking I could just click on the Delicious button and it would be added to my Delicious content. However, there is no blue Delicious button on the home page. There are other options, such as Reddit.

I tried again this evening. I did not get the same error message, which I did not understand. I tried right clicking with the mouse. Lo and behold there is an option to add to Favourites, so I selected the “Add to Favorites bar” and there it is – Add to Delicious.  Now to test drive some web pages and see what happens.

November 24th

Delicious, by Avos Systems, Inc.

URL for the home page https://delicious.com/privacy

On this page the product is described as “Never lose a link again. Delicious is a free and easy tool to save, organize and discover interesting links on the web.”

This sounds like something I would find useful, personally and professionally. It’s the free part that gives me pause. What’s the catch? How can this tool afford to be free?

Privacy policy

https://delicious.com/privacy

We are assured that Avos Systems, Inc. takes privacy seriously. Some services do not require registration with certain services require the user to create an account and provide some personal information. There is some information which will be publicly available, such as the user’s name. The purpose for collection personal information is described as “We will also use your Personal Information to contact you with Delicious newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that may be of interest to you.” For those who do not register, no personal information will be collected.

Non-personally identify information will also be used for registered users. “We may also use the combination of your Personal and Non-Identifying information without aggregating it to serve you specifically, for instance to deliver a product to you according to your preferences or restrictions.”

Not only does Delicious use cookies, it also uses pixel tags. The rationale for this is “Pixel Tags allow us to count the number of Delicious Users who have visited certain pages of the Site, to deliver branded services and to generate statistics about how our Site is used.” Cookies I can deal with, but pixel tags do not make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Non-identified user data is collected and “aggregated or non-aggregated formats with third parties for industry analysis, demographic profiling and other purposes.” It is the other purposes that bothers me. Avos is quite clear that they do share certain personal information.

Provision is made for registered users to alter or delete their personal information. “We will use commercially reasonable efforts to honor your request. We may retain an archived copy of your records as required by law or for legitimate business purposes.” I would like to see legitimate business purposes defined and/or described.

In case of breach of security, registered users will be advised of such breach with what appears to be reasonable action. The policy is realistic in that it says that it cannot guarantee privacy 100%. They outline how they protect security, and the method seems reasonable. This is a free service after all.

The “International Transfer” clause is a bit worrying. As a Canadian, my personal data will be sent to the United States, which negates privacy.

If Avos changes terms and conditions of usage, they advise that they will advise their users before making changes, allowing feedback. This seems reasonable.

Terms of Service

https://delicious.com/terms

These are clearly outlined in plain English. When one uses Delicious, one does not relinquish ownership.

About the company

Avos, Inc. http://avos.com/

The company is co-founded by the same people that gave us YouTube. They are “backed by Google Ventures, Innovation Works, Madrone Capital and New Enterprise Associates.” They took a product that was originally Yahoo’s and made it over.

Chad and Steve state “Our goal is to create products that are fun, intuitive and simple so everyone can enjoy.” them. Free is not mentioned. When I see Google I get a bit nervous.

About the product itself

https://delicious.com/about

The product is described as “a free service designed with care to be the best place to save what you love on the web. We keep your stuff safe so it’s there when you need it – always. Delicious remembers so you don’t have to.” How altruistic beneficent this sounds.

FAQS page

https://delicious.com/help

The wording seems plain and clear. Unlike Twitter, there is email support. It is important to read this page, as under certain circumstances items are imported as Public.

Tomorrow I will set up an account and give the software a test drive. The risk seems minimal, as long as the sites that I want to keep track of are not too personal in nature.

 

 

November 21st

My focus recently has been on the big assignment. Last night I had a look at both the BCLA and CLA web sites to see if there are any interest groups in next generation software (resource sharing in particular) / automation. I was appalled. So much of the future of libraries is dependent on technology. I have had to rely on ALA Techsource, library journals and vendor web sites. Don’t we have any library technology leaders in Canada?

Most of the vendors are American and the journal articles tend to be American as well. No one seems to write about the small library or use them in case studies.

Windows 8 update. I really enjoy having my Start button back. The download previously mentioned has really helped my productivity and reduced my stress level. If Microsoft really wants to have one operating system for four different types of tools (desktop, laptop, tablet and phone), couldn’t they build in some kind of detector for the type of machine and only display options that are suitable for that one?

November 18th

 

Today is scheduling software day. Windows 8 has its own app, but I want to try third party products mentioned in my supervision class (LIBT 205).

Schedule Pro 

https://scheduleproweb.com/Signin.aspx

The website bills this as “a comprehensive, intuitive, efficient, and useful online employee scheduling software”. There is an area to sign in (actually two), but nothing for setting up a new account. This is not a free product. They provide email and telephone support. The trainer can visit the organization or use the “train the trainer approach”

http://www.edpsoftware.com/features/

The features page. The product looks quite useful. This is made by a Vancouver company. There is a demo available as well as a blog. Too many features to list here, the web page does an excellent job. Of displaying it.

Their client list is impressive. This isn’t something to download and play around with. EDP software does training. The client testimonials are also good.

The level of customisation will dictate how long the training and implementation will take. EDP Software has some customer stories under Resources, http://www.edpsoftware.com/customer-stories/.

This is Cloud based technology.  http://www.edpsoftware.com/other-organizations/. It may be overkill for a single smaller library. There is a provision for Union Management.

  DRoster 

http://download.cnet.com/DRoster-Freeware-Standard/3000-2124_4-10457477.html Review.

http://www.kappix.com/  Product web site.

The product site provides a 15 minute tutorial for the Quick Setup Wizard. The product looks pretty straightforward so far, although the employees are all scheduled to work the same shift for two weeks straight. Somewhere there is a pattern feature to account for weekends and alternative shifts.

This is freeware employee scheduling software. The rating given is about 4.75/5. There is a 45 free trial available of the Premium Edition as well as a free trial for the regular version.

Upon reading the reviews, the freeware version does not supply great functionality. The $200 version may. It looks like this is the Premium Edition. The last reviews on this site are from 2011.

I had a look at the technical specs, http://download.cnet.com/DRoster-Freeware-Standard/3010-2124_4-10457477.html?tag=contentBody;sideBar. There is no provision for Windows 8.

There is a page for scheduling best practices, http://www.kappix.com/Employee-Scheduling-Best-Practices.htm. On this page is a PDF document comparing the two versions. This document shows the price tag for the premium edition at $249.00 for one user. Other prices are on this page, http://www.kappix.com/register.htm.

There is a support manual available. The copyright date is 2012, so the software looks fairly current. There is an on line support request form, but no telephone number. The EULA is only one page. There are also screen shots to show what the software looks like on-screen.

The software has won some awards, as shown on http://www.kappix.com/awards.htm. There is little information about where the company is. By doing a Google search of the telephone number, 972-54-7757037 I found that company is in Israel.

What I don’t see is where the data is stored. As this software is designed for small companies, I would think that data would be stored wherever the company stores its other data. This seems like a good product for a small business.

Delegator

http://www.madrigalsoft.com/fdelmulti.html

This product is produced by Madrigal soft tools. This software appears to be a blend of employee scheduling plus project management.

Pricing is available on the home page. Base license (includes 5 users) $590,
Additional users $49 each.

This above-noted page is very informative – other than breaking down the functionality of the product by category, it includes pricing, a downloaded trial version and product manual and technical specifications. Computers running Windows 8 can use this software.

There is a Frequently Asked Questions section on the web site, tutorials, how customers use the tool, and more. There is a standard and corporate edition. Tech support is free for the first year, then is 20% of the of the original license fee (http://www.madrigalsoft.com/fresmulti.html).

Madrigal Soft Tools is located in Victoria.

These software applications are not all for the same type/size of an organization. Each has its charms. If my library did not have good scheduling software, I would look at these to see if they were more cost efficient and effective. I like the idea of the project management features in Delegator. The actual choice of what would be the best of the three really depends on the needs of the organization.

Update on the Windows 8 books

Finished the good one – a lot of the stuff at the end just went over my head. I will leave registry items to my husband. The other book from the library is not nearly as good. No need to make any comments on it, it’s going back to the library.

I think I need to pin things to the task bar, to avoid the need to go to the Apps screen (or whatever anyone wants to call it). I still need to master splitting the screen.

 

November 17th

I am very fed up with Microsoft’s Reader app. It is very awkward to open PDF documents as the desktop disappears. The app did not seem to close. I did not want to leave the place where the documents were stored. Today I uninstalled Reader and installed the latest version of Adobe Reader. It is so much easier to print documents. When I close the program I know it is closed. This will make reading the articles on data analysis and library automation easier to deal with.

I have been reading Windows 8 in easy steps: special edition by Michael Price & Stuart Yarnold. I have found it very helpful in understanding Windows 8, what is missing, where I can find some of the missing things and other helpful information.  It uses a lot of visuals and is very easy to follow. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Windows 8 before committing to it. For anyone experiencing Windows 8 pain, this book may offer some relief.

I downloaded the Classic Shell app so I have a start button and other things that were available in previous operating systems. Although I had never been to the site for the download, IE showed this as I typed the URL into the search bar.  I am on page 116 of the book, another 354 to go.