Gimme a V! Gimme a U! Gimme an F! Gimme an I! Gimme an N! Gimme a D!
What’s that spell? – PROGRESS!
Some days it’s been a struggle, but VuFind is finally cleared for takeoff.
We’ll be speeding through the rest of the technical implementation in the next five weeks, preparing for a soft launch right before Thanksgiving (followed by the official beta launch with fanfare in January). There are not very many technical tasks left ; the primary work to be done is the marketing campaign for the January fanfare, which will be handled by the functional side of the VuFind team.
A wise man once said “Don’t like the look of this old town, what goes up must come down” (and by wise man I mean bellicose churl John Lydon).
This week he must mean the temperatures. We’re hitting daytime highs in the 60s, and nighttime lows in the 40s. The Library Systems team is unpacking its fall wardrobe, trying to remember what goes with what (can we wear the candy corn-embroidered denim vest with the Princeton warm-up pants, or is that too much orange?), daydreaming about apple picking and cider donuts and Oktoberfest.
As for the look of the town, well, it will be dressed in reds and oranges and yellows soon. Pretty enough, but a bittersweet harbinger of the slow grey slump into winter.
Let’s catch you up on the last couple of weeks!
The ILLiad CoSign rollout on September 14 went off without a hitch. Reports from InfoPoint and ILL are that users are very pleased with the change. One less username and password to remember. Who doesn’t like that?
Planning has begun in earnest for the Aleph upgrade from version 18 to version 20. The upgrade will not introduce any major functionality changes for staff and users, but will represent a significant infrastructure shift – from physical to virtual servers, from 32-bit to 64-bit, and from Oracle 10 to Oracle 11. Aleph is currently on track to be the first Oracle 11 implementation on campus. Luckily we have confidence in our DBAs. The upgrade was slated to occur this fall, with a go-live the first week in January, but a NetSys resource crunch has moved the work to the spring semester. Exact go-live is still TBD, but we will keep you updated.
Planning and infrastructure buildout is also underway for the SFX (GetIt) migration from a physical Solaris server to a virtual Linux server. The testing will occur during the fall semester, with go-live TBD.
Miscellaneous other bits of work include: DSpace programming cleanup, masters thesis collection configurations and minor enhancements, upgrade to 1.5.2 ; InMagic to Archon data migration ; ERM system trials.
Regularly Scheduled Rant Regarding Next Generation Catalogs
Rant is probably the wrong word, but it is one of my favorite topics these days.
A very interesting article from Chronicle of Higher Education – “After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software” – covers the increasing popularity of next-generation catalogs. The user comments are in some ways the most interesting part of the article, because they parallel the debate in the rest of the library world over teaching users to search “correctly” in current catalogs vs delivering something that enables them to discover what they need without professional intervention.
From my perspective, it isn’t about dumbing down the catalog so that information-illiterate users can continue their lazy amazoogle style searching. It’s about convincing users whose online experiences have been steeped in the Amazon and Google environments not to go elsewhere for their information needs. If their perception is that our traditional discovery tools suck, then they suck. All the erudite arguments about why they should learn our way aren’t going to help a frantic sophomore choose our tools over Google at 3am on a Wednesday if s/he hasn’t yet had (or may never have) the benefit of formal search training.
If 30 years of “information literacy” training programs haven’t resulted in the majority of users being able to effectively find what they need, perhaps it is time to recognize that effort as futile and try something else. Even in higher ed, most of our catalog users do not strive to be scholarly researchers. Some of them just want to get through western civ.