Yocalcat final progress post

October 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | 2 Comments
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  • Background York St John University is a small institution of approx. 6,000 students, over 70% of whom are following full-time programmes of study in Arts, Education, Theology, Health and Life Sciences and Business with the remainder on part-time programmes in the same subject areas. York St John University Library and Information Services (LIS) currently shares its SirsiDynix Symphony Library Management System with the City of York Council, under a partnership arrangement set up in 2001, and had been aware for some time that the existing catalogue or OPAC interface was failing to meet user needs. 
  • Intended outcome(s)  OCLC WorldCat Local is a resource discovery interface that works on the principle of one search box to search a variety of resources including physical items, e-material, databases and catalogues at the local level of the institutional catalogue but also the wider level of the WorldCat consortium of library catalogues.  It is a subscription-based interface, as opposed to one requiring capital funding. It was implemented at York St John since it was both affordable,  and would provide a better user experience than the current OPAC.  It would also provide federated searching across catalogues worldwide, as well as LIS’s subscription databases.  WorldCat is valued as a database by library staff and this is a means of retaining access when continued use was under threat.  Cataloguing and acquisitions processes would need to change as a result of the implementation.
  • The challenge  The existing OPAC was failing to meet user needs.  It was seen as clunky and old-fashioned and there was user resistance to it.  There was no federated search facility so it was not really a discovery tool, no Web 2.0 features such as tagging and we simply required a better, more user-friendly interface.  Low NSS scores for LIS meant that something needed to be done to improve the user experience.  Alongside the OPAC experience was the target to improve acquisitions and cataloguing workflows, and a redesign of LIS web pages.  Usability testing had already been identified as key to the new implementation. There were concerns that technically the implementation might not be easy to achieve.
  • Established practice The OPAC had largely remained the same since implementation in 2001 with a few cosmetic changes being done over the years.  This is largely due to the technical team being very small but the existing interface is not easy to amend, requiring a large amount of time to identify where changes can be made and how to make them.  It is not simply a case of changing style sheets.  Enrichment in the form of book covers, tables of contents, summaries etc., was acquired from a 3rd party supplier but with the move to a new software release was about to change to a different supplier.   Usability tests had been carried out by a member of staff as part of a MSc thesis, so there was an awareness of the limitations of the existing OPAC.   The existing link resolver was acquired via a 3rd party supplier, but was based on OCLC’s Link Manager with the same knowledge base.  Acquisitions and Cataloguing have been carried out following the inherent workflows in the Symphony system.  Records are downloaded from an external supplier at the order stage  and amended by the Database Librarian at the cataloguing stage to meet acceptable LIS guidelines and requirements for users.
    Library webpage incorporating search box

    Library webpage incorporating search box
  • The LMS advantage  Implementing OCLC WorldCat Local provided the opportunity to improve the OPAC experience as well as change other systems and processes.   We were keen to spend some time understanding how existing users would respond to the change in library catalogue, and as such decided on conducting task-based usability evaluations as these would enable us to directly observe users interacting with the software. It was our intention to use the understanding gained from these evaluations to inform any further changes to the configuration of WorldCat Local, and the design of information skills sessions. It is hoped that University students and staff will subsequently benefit from decisions to change search tools becoming strongly evidence-based, rather than based on assumptions held by library professionals.
    Becoming cataloguing members of OCLC brought changes not only to the downloading of records but also to the workflows and the point at which they are downloaded.  The OCLC Connexion client is used for cataloguing, the record being downloaded at the receipt rather than the order stage, so that an accurate match with the OCLC number that provides the link with WorldCat can be made once we have the physical item.  Cataloguing is then checked and amended in Connexion and if necessary further information is overlaid on the original record in Symphony. Enrichment is acquired from that existing in WorldCat and comes as part of the package, so a saving was made on paying extra for that.  The link resolver has been changed to OCLC Link Manager, a smooth process technically but the interaction with WorldCat Local is still being investigated.  Federated searching falls in the next phase of the project.
    WorldCat Local/YSJ interface

    WorldCat Local interface for York St John
  • Key points for effective practice  The main points to emerge for us as a small institution were problems in the technical phase of getting data from the Symphony system and re-inserting the OCLC number in the 035 field.  Help is available from the wider WorldCat Local community, but this may not be a problem if you are already cataloguing via WorldCat. 
    The usability evaluations, although small in scale, uncovered several interesting issues that could be generalised across all of the users. In particular, users familiar with our previous OPAC but new to WorldCat Local were slow to recognise the power of the facets in filtering and organising search results, were not confident in conducting speculative searches (ie, on a broad topic rather than for a particular item) and were highly confused over the relationship between print journals, eJournals and articles. It would well behoove libraries considering transitioning from a traditional OPAC to WorldCat Local to focus information skills sessions in these areas.
    Ensure that all staff are involved with the processes whether on the acquisitions and cataloguing side or are involved in preparing material for induction.  Timing of any project is important here and our initial project timescale overran so we were not as prepared for induction as we might have been.  Implementation of WorldCat Local should be seen as a staged process, in order to maximise the advantages of moving to it, and to be able to implement fully the range of features.  As WorldCat Local links to such a large database and the interface is more of a “one size fits all” approach, there can be issues with the display of records, as we discovered with e-books.  There may be ways around the display as we also found but this is something to be aware of.
  • Conclusions and recommendations When we began this project, now more than a year ago, we did not anticipate the steep learning curve necessary to make the implementation successful.  Being a small library with a very small technical team meant that some issues were more difficult for us to resolve.  It has also taken time to work through some of the acquisitions and cataloguing changes, and to resolve issues as they arose.  Many are still outstanding.  Federated searching and the lists feature are yet to be properly addressed and implemented, and they form part of the ongoing project.  Usability testing to date has produced largely positive responses in comparison to the previous catalogue interface.  We have identified some areas where OCLC should adapt to the UK market, rather than being US-centric, e.g. timing of webinars
    Our recommendations for institutions considering adopting WorldCat Local as their resource discovery interface are:
  1. Ensure your current catalogue data is as accurate as possible if you are not already cataloguing to WorldCat standards
  2. Be familiar with your Library Management System’s method for exporting and reimporting data and check for instructions on interfacing with WorldCat Local
  3. Accept that your cataloguing and other workflows may need to be adapted to fit in with cataloguing with WorldCat
  4. Ensure all staff are fully aware of the implications of working with a new catalogue interface, particularly those involved with induction processes

For the wider community OCLC WorldCat Local is recommended as a product that sits well beside the other resource discovery interfaces currently on the market.  As a subscription model with an implementation fee it is attractive for those organisations that do not have large capital amounts to spend, but are able to commit some resource from their recurring budget.  For those libraries that catalogue through WorldCat or are considering doing so, and value WorldCat as a database, it is a logical next step if they also require a more user friendly interface than their existing one.  From a student experience viewpoint it makes the searching process easier, and once federated searching and central indexing of databases is set up, will provide access to several million records.  Usability tests carried out as part of this project indicate that it has been well received by most students, particularly when compared with the previous catalogue interface. 


Yocalcat OCLC WorldCat Local – outputs (One minute blog)

September 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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York St John University is implementing OCLC WorldCat Local as its resource discovery interface to the existing SirsiDynix Symphony OPAC. 

Why did we choose it? To enhance the student experience by making the library catalogue easier to search, so that items are more easily located, to give a more “Google-like” approach to searching, whilst at the same time providing a more advanced search experience if required.  Low NSS scores meant we had to do something to encourage easier access to library resources.  We looked at the other resource discovery options but couldn’t afford them; WorldCat Local is delivered on a subscription basis with an initial implementation fee and was therefore more affordable for us, as a small institution, and can currently be funded from the existing library budget.  As a tool for librarians WorldCat and OCLC generally have a good reputation, so we did not want to lose the value we have had from WorldCat over the years, which was also potentially under threat because of limits on database budgets.

How did the implementation go? As the first UK implementation of OCLC WorldCat Local we expected, and have had, a great deal of support from OCLC.  However, we hadn’t anticipated the level of technical knowledge required to extract and then re-input data into the existing system, for which we couldn’t use the “canned” approaches provided by the system, in order to allow the Z39.50 interface to work. Support came from the WorldCat Local community on that issue.  Integrity of data is another issue – some of our data couldn’t be loaded into WorldCat because MARC fields were missing so several passes had to be made to load the data.  We are still tidying up data!  Acquisitions and cataloguing workflows have changed as a result of becoming WorldCat members and cataloguing through the OCLC Connexions interface.  There were some issues with how the OCLC algorithm presents the data, particularly with display of recent editions and FRBR-isation and a solution is still being sought.

Do the students like it?  Yes, indications from usability tests carried out over the summer are that they do, although not all results have been analysed yet.  We’ll report more on that in the final case study.  Most have commented that it is easier to search.  Some of the librarians are not so sure, however, and feel it is more difficult to get at precise information.  Maybe they are taking the librarian’s view rather than seeing things from the users’ angle.  Most users don’t care how they get to the information, so long as they get it.

Progress report – search interface

August 27, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in process analysis, usability, yocalcat | 1 Comment
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A quick catch-up before going on holiday for a week, and in advance of the JISC programme meeting and ECDL in Glasgow. 

Our search interface is live at http://yorksj.worldcat.org/ .  We’re still working on a search box to integrate into our web pages that will allow for more basic searching of our catalogue for local users, as well as in-depth searching for more confident and advanced users.  This will form the primary means of access for our users.  Academic Onefile has been loaded by OCLC as a centrally-indexed database and we have linked to it in the service configuration, so this is now searchable along with WorldCat and WorldCat.org.  We have also linked to some remotely accessible databases (EBSCO) so these are now searchable too.  We had some problems with recent editions not being listed at the top of the results list, and this is the subject of an enhancement request.  The View all editions and formats option was producing inconsistent results, largely due to how the OCLC FRBR algorithm works, and the problem is being pursued further by OCLC.   We also have issues with de-duplication not working that are still being investigated.  The OCLC Development team is looking into it, and may tweak the script that the Z39.50 search accesses to improve the rankings, if they cannot come up with another solution.

A Deletes batchload has been sent off finally, and is being processed.  No major removal of items from the database had been done for some time, largely due to how batchload removals works in Symphony, so there was quite a lot of sifting of data to ensure that only those records with OCLC numbers that had no copies left were removed.  A second batchload was sent off containing deletes since we started cataloguing via WorldCat.  This is an ongoing process and will form part of the process analysis that is being undertaken in Acquisitions and Cataloguing to ensure streamlined workflows.  As mentioned in the previous blog a flowchart will be produced detailing the process.  We have not yet decided whether we shall continue to send batchloads of deletes or the process will be managed through the Connexions cataloguing interface.  We have yet to investigate the batchload processes in Connexions.

Our link resolver was migrated to the WorldCat Link Manager during July.  The process went very smoothly, and we were able to global edit the link urls in our existing catalogue as well as reconfigure part of the existing OPAC to take account of the changes.

Usability testing is continuing with library staff to get their views on the user interface and will form an ongoing analysis of the usability of the interface.  Analysis of the testing carried out with other users is ongoing, and we should manage to adhere to project schedules; hold-ups have been largely down to holidays and pressure of other work, another problem of being a small academic library.

We’re looking forward to meeting up with the other JISC LMS projects in Glasgow next month for the programme meeting, for which a slide and short presentation is being prepared.  It will be good to swap experiences and find out what others have been doing.

Process analysis update

August 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Posted in process analysis, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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As we have begun to integrate WCL into our daily activities in the acquisitions department, it has become more clear precisely how and where we will have to adjust our existing processes to fit. These shifts are perhaps most pronounced in the ordering and cataloguing stages of the acquisitions process.

We have essentially added a further step to the cataloguing of resources – that of making a link between our local record and the appropriate global record held within WorldCat in order that our local holdings may display in WorldCat Local. In deciding where best this step should be placed in our processes, we have kept two related principles firmly in mind:

  • the importance of maintaining the integrity of the underlying database;
  • the cardinal cataloguing rule to only describe an item once you have it in hand.

Because of these considerations we will not make the link to WorldCat before the item has physically arrived in the library. This has had implications for our ordering process – we are no longer downloading MARC records at the order stage, but adding brief titles instead. This speeds up the order process, but lengthens the time spent cataloguing a given item. As such, the responsibility for ordering items will be redistributed within the department. This also means that on-order items and items just received into the library will not show on WorldCat Local. To counter this we have decided on a subtle change of priorities within the department (ie, get things briefly catalogued and linked to WorldCat in a shorter time than occurs currently) with a possible change to the standards we hold ourselves to, as appropriate.

Another influence on our decisions in this area is that the number of staff members responsible for cataloguing and classification is small – two people in part time roles, plus one other person with the authority and knowledge to catalogue and classify as required – and that the remit of their particular roles in the acquisitions process is well-defined. It may be that the decisions we have made to adjust our processes would not be the most appropriate decisions for libraries with a large cataloguing staff, or indeed libraries with no cataloguing staff at all.

In terms of where this talk of processes and decisions fits with the JISC project – we intend to document those processes that have been most affected by the introduction of WorldCat Local in the form of diagrams (probably relatively simple flow charts). Each process will have two diagrams: before and after. It is hoped that these diagrams will help others identify where in their own processes introducing WorldCat Local might have an effect, and plan for how to adjust processes accordingly.

Usability update

August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Posted in usability | 4 Comments
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Formal usability assessments of York St John’s WorldCat Local implementation took place, as scheduled, on 29th and 30th June. These assessments took the form of six sessions lasting an hour and a half each. Participants, recruited from existing YSJ students, were asked to undertake five pre-defined tasks and to think aloud as they used the interface. Sessions were guided and video recorded by a facilitator.

We are now firmly in the data analysis phase of the usability project. This is usually the most time-consuming part of any usability assessment, due to the large amounts of rich sense data generated from usability assessments – in our case, six videos averaging an hour in length. We have gathered those bits of quantitative data that we are interested in – task timings, user rankings of tasks (in terms of difficulty) and task success rates. Next comes the job of viewing the videos, applying the Critical Incident Technique to the results and the process of drawing conclusions from that point. We hope to have the second phase of data analysis completed by mid-September.

Yocalcat OCLC WorldCat Local: catching up

June 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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Is it really that long since I last blogged about the project?  I’m desperately trying to catch up with things before going away on holiday for a couple of weeks so this will be a short blog.  We’ve carried out some basic usability tests to get a feel for how students react to the new interface, and to inform the configuration so that the Academic Support Librarians have something to work with as they prepare for induction of new and returning students in September.  Indications so far are a positive response.  The main usability tests will take place next week, but we’ve had to make some changes to the personnel carrying them out, so we hope they will go as planned.  We had another conference call with OCLC in the US and here in the UK and resolved some issues about training in Connexions, the catalogue interface that we shall ultimately be using to update the WorldCat database with our holdings and then downloading records into our own system.  Further deliberations on our cataloguing processes have to take place before we have an adequate workflow for this process.

We are a little disappointed that there is not much progress with the federated searching aspect of the system and only one major database will be centrally indexed and available by our September deadline, although we could still link to other databases remotely.  There could be authentication issues with databases remotely accessed via WorldCat Local.  WorldCat will be authenticating via Shibboleth, and this should be set up by the start of the academic year.  We are also looking into EZProxy as a means of authentication off-site. 

Another batchload of data has been sent off to OCLC for inclusion in WorldCat.  Hopefully most of the records will have OCLC numbers since we started cataloguing via WorldCat in August of last year so it should simply be a question of adding them to WorldCat so our holdings are linked.  The deletes process is taking longer to work out and there are some issues with how it works in Symphony, but I hope to tackle the problem when I return from holiday and when we have performed our system upgrade, due to take place on 14 July.

There have been some issues with the display of e-books and print books where we have copies of both for a single title.  However, we now have a solution arrived at through a brain-storming session with OCLC staff and ourselves.  As a result we need to make some cataloguing changes in the Symphony interface to allow the items to display in the same record as required.

Some good news is that OCLC has signed a deal with a supplier of enhanced content so that our display will include more UK-based content than we had previously thought.  We’ll also be starting to move from our current URL resolver software supplier to OCLC WorldCat Link Manager, a process that we hope will run smoothly.

We have yet to meet up with our JISC Programme Manager, since due to travel difficulties, he wasn’t able to make it here.

I’m hoping that one of my colleagues will be able to blog something about the usability tests and the processes we shall be using for the analysis.

Yocalcat OCLC WorldCat Local – the story so far

June 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Posted in yocalcat | Leave a comment
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JISC LMS Yocalcat team members

The JISC Yocalcat team members


Our project to implement OCLC WorldCat Local as the resource discovery interface to our catalogue has been underway for some time.  In fact we are behind schedule in terms of the overall project timescale that has had to be readjusted to take account of the technical issues encountered.  For a small library with limited technical resource and knowledge implementing a product that is new to the UK has proved quite a challenge.  It is probably fair to say that the OCLC team in the UK have learned also from the experience of dealing with delivery of a product across different timescales and a different market.       

As WorldCat Local is based on the WorldCat catalogue and subscribers to the product have to become cataloguing members of OCLC the initial phase of the project meant extracting bibliographic data from the existing library management system, SirsiDynix Symphony, and sending to OCLC for matching with WorldCat data.  This initial load matched approximately 100, 000 records from a total of about 130,000, meaning that a large number of records did not match on a first pass.  It was thought that we would have to upgrade these records ourselves in order to produce a match, a task that would have been impossible for a library of our size with limited staff resource.  Fortunately OCLC were able to help with further matching based on format and MARC tags, eventually leaving us with only 1100 non-matched records that have yet to be resolved.       

Once the matching was completed, we then had to load the records back into our system, complete with OCLC number, in order for WorldCat Local to be able to retrieve records via the Z39.50 interface.  This proved somewhat of a challenge in that the automated matching system in Symphony would only match on items with an ISBN and so was unsuitable for the large number of items that did not have an ISBN.  At the time OCLC were unable to help us with the problem so advice was sought from a reference site in North America, the University of New Brunswick in Canada.  Systems staff there sent us Perl scripts that could be used to extract the relevant data from the cross-ref files containing the data to be uploaded, sent to us by OCLC.  They also sent details of how to use the Symphony API to insert the data into the records, since we had not had API training in doing this ourselves.  We tested the process on our test server, itself a difficult process since we do not have direct access to the server, being on a shared system with City of York Council, and having to rely on CYC staff to download additional MARC:PM and MARC:BATCH software to complete the process.  Once this was proved to work effectively, the repetitive task of loading the data back in in relatively small batches began, and took approximately 2 weeks on and off to achieve.  Thanks to Gareth in IT who gave us the tip to use BASH to interrogate the system as it speeded up the process somewhat.       

Whilst this was going on OCLC were busy trying to get the Z39.50 connection to work.  As we share the system there were some firewall issues, but thankfully problems there were resolved by OCLC working with the City of York Council IT staff.  In order for the process to work correctly there was some setting up to be done in SirsiDynix Symphony, and quite by chance the discovery that there was a FAQ on the SirsiDynix customer care site on implementing WorldCat Local helped enormously.  All did not go smoothly however, and required some input from SirsiDynix support, plus some rebuilding of indexes so the required holdings data would be retrieved in a Z39.50 search.       

The next stage in the process has been the configuration and customization of the web interface.  OCLC rely a lot on webinars and conference calls and because of the time zone differences we weren’t able to take advantage of some of the general configuration webinar opportunities.  However, OCLC responded by providing webinars just for us, so we were able to see how the configuration worked, and once they had set things up for us were able to play around with it.  A problem with an interface to SirsiDynix Symphony is that the holdings configuration is taken from Location description policies rather than item types as we had at first surmised.  It should not be the same for other library management systems using WorldCat Local.  A second webinar helped us to get our heads around the configuration a little more clearly and a test version is in existence – York St John WorldCat Local (#yocalcat).        

The next stage is setting up some qualitative tests on the data retrieved via WorldCat Local, then some preliminary usability tests to gauge initial responses and to grab some student volunteers before they leave for the summer.  We shall embark on full usability testing at the end of June/beginning of July and are in the process of planning and recruiting for those.   Amazon gift vouchers are always popular with students!     

In addition to the setting up of the user interface we also have to revise our acquisitions and cataloguing procedures to take account of the new cataloguing processes via WorldCat.  There’s also the question of deletes and the ongoing loading of records, but more of that in the next blog.

Yocalcat project 4. IPR (Creative Commons and Open Source Software License)

May 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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In general, the IP for the outputs of this project belong to York St John University (as detailed in the institution’s IPR Policy) and should be made openly available to the community via the institution’s digital archive. However, there may be some exceptions to that rule.

  • Final reports and diagrams – may be made public easily, under CC: A-NC-SA where appropriate.
  • Raw data – where data is visual, ethical considerations must come in to play. As such, the videoed usability sessions would be subject to consent before being made public. Interview transcripts may be subject to the same conditions.
  • Software or other code snippets – may be made available openly and freely under an appropriate OSS license

Yocalcat project 7. Budget

May 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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Outline budget for the project is as follows:

Directly Incurred
April 10 – July 10 August 10 – October 10 TOTAL £
Deputy University Librarian, Grade 7, 0.10 £2120 £2141 £4261
Web Support Librarian, Grade 5, 0.10 £1524 £1539 £3063
Database Librarian, Grade 5, 0.05 £762 £770 £1532
Total Directly Incurred Staff (A) £4406 £4450 £8856
Non-Staff April 10 – July 10 August 10 – October 10 TOTAL £ 
Travel and expenses £200 £350 £550
Hardware/software £ £ £
Dissemination £100 £200 £300
Evaluation £500 £500 £1000
Other – equipment – Flip camera

WorldCat database subscription

WorldCat Local annual subscription

Implementation fee





£ £160




Total Directly Incurred Non-Staff (B) £15349 £1050 £16399 
Directly Incurred Total (C)(A+B=C) £ 19755 £5500 £ 25255
Directly Allocated April 10 – July 10 August 10 – October 10 TOTAL £ 
Staff £ £ £
Estates £800 £800 £1600
Other £ £ £
Directly Allocated Total (D) £800 £800 £1600
Indirect Costs (E) £4750 £4750 £9500
Total Project Cost (C+D+E) £25305 £11050 £36355
Amount Requested from JISC £10000 £0 £10000
Institutional Contributions £15305 £11050 £26355
Percentage Contributions over the life of the project JISC
28 %
72 %
No. FTEs used to calculate indirect and estates charges, and staff included No FTEs
Which Staff
Helen Westmancoat
Lauren Shipley
Ruth Mardall 

Yocalcat project 6. Projected Timeline, Workplan and Overall Project Methodology

May 14, 2010 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized, yocalcat | Leave a comment
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Projected Timeline

We are already well into the project to implement WorldCat Local with the initial data batchload having been completed and the configuration in the process of being set up so the Gantt chart below shows what is left to complete in terms of the JISC project.  A more detailed workplan for the usability evaluation will follow once Lauren Shipley, who is carrying out the study returns from leave next week.     

Yocalcat timeline

Project methodology

We are considering the Small Project methodology which we used for the evaluation of our JISC digital repository project, YSJ DigiRep.  We may also use PRINCE for the overall methodology.  

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