Friday, 5 December 2008

Library catalogue - rebuild underway

As you can see from the Twitter feed down there on the right we have started to load the bibliographic data back in to the the library system. This process should take about 30 hours in total if the import carries on at its present speed. After this we will be spending time checking that the data is all correct and then working on rebuilding indexes and ensuring that the information on the catalogue, and elsewhere displays correctly, and also making sure that all the other parts of the system, are getting the right details.

We are not touching the circulation system(the bit that handles borrowing, returns, requests etc) so borrowers and books will still all be linked together. However, displays of what you have on loan or have requested will be affected whilst the upload is in progress.

So why are we doing this? It is all to do with how the information about each book, journal, DVD etc. is held on the database. Most library systems use MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloguing) to hold the information. Over time this has evolved and the version we have been using - UKMARC - has been superseded and we need to move to a later version, MARC21. To the end user this will have little visible impact but it will bring some advantages to us in how we handle data relating to items we purchase, and means that we will spend less time having to convert records obtained from external sources when we purchase new items. This is particularly relevant to our growing collection of electronic books.

If you want to know some more about MARC have a look at this Wikipedia article which will get you started and has links to a range of other sources of information.

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