Friday, 12 December 2008

The end of term approaches

Putting catalogue upgrades and reindexing to one side for a moment it seems a good time to remind users about our vacation opening hours now that we have reached the last day of the term. Congratulations to everyone who made it this far!

It is a frequent misconception that the library closes for the entire vacation. This is not so and we will be open except on those days when the College is closed. However, some important points to note are:
  1. We open at 10.00 so no early reference-only opening and close at 20.00 on weekdays
  2. On Saturday 20th we open at 12.00 and close at 17.00
  3. We will be closed on Sunday 21st December
  4. We close at 16.00 on Tuesday 23rd December to re-open at 10.00 on Monday January 5th
  5. Items are loaned over the vacation and you will be able to renew on-line throughout the holiday period
  6. Fines are not charged for days when we are closed
Our systems (catalogue, proxy server etc.) are monitored over the holiday but our email addresses are not so there will be no replies from the 24th until we reopen. As usual you can check all of the exact details via the library website.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Library catalogue - latest news

Touching wood and crossing our collective fingers it is looking as if our work on the catalogue has gone smoothly and with very limited disruption for users. The bulk of the data (212,386 records if you are interested) was imported by Saturday evening and a further small set of records was loaded on Monday morning. We had a minor problem with these but this has now been sorted out and we are now checking that the data is all intact and doing what it should do. Once this is done we will be able to start cataloguing new items and edit existing records.

The catalogue was available throughout the process and although a few things need to be sorted out is still functioning. There will be a short interruption to keyword searching when we rebuild the indexes, but there will be notices about this on the catalogue at the time, and posts on our Twitter feed. This is most likely to be on Friday 12th in the morning. After this we will be tidying up the displays of information and checking that the indexes are all working. Our main priority will be to ensure that the catalogue is in a stable and functioning state for the Christmas vacation.

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.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Library Catalogue - work in progress

Work has now started on updating the bibliographic database that underpins the library catalogue. The immediate impact of this is that we are not able to add new items to the catalogue or edit existing records. Please be aware that the information about items you have on loan may also become limited as the databases are rebuilt.

Further bulletins will appear here and on the library website as we go along, but library users should be prepared for some disruption.