Last week, the Upper Hudson Library System (UHLS) upgraded its catalog and patron management software. We were unable to remain with the old software, as the vendor had stopped supporting it years ago and it was really showing its age by failing in critical ways. Moving to a new library management software is an enormous project that takes lots of planning and configuration. In fact, the project has several phases, and it will remain ongoing for several months. While the new software has many exciting features for both patrons and staff, many of them are not yet available and will roll out over time.
Phase One Complete
Because this was not simply an upgrade to our current software, but changing software entirely, much of the battle here was getting the data from our current system to move successfully and meaningfully to the new system. I won’t bore you with the details, but at times this can be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
The priority for our first day working live in the new system was to make sure that we could check items in and out and they would attach/remove appropriately with a patron’s account. Now we are identifying glitches that may have occurred in translation (a.k.a. stuff that got lost or broken in the move) and working to fix them. If you believe something may be amiss with your patron account (lost requests, inability to login to your account, etc.), please let us know ASAP so we can investigate and fix the issue.
Getting Help with the New System
Another part of phase one of the project is staff and patron education. The library staff has been trained on the new software, but it will take time for us to get used to using it. We truly appreciate your patience, as transactions at the checkout desk and information desk may take longer than usual. If you would like help searching the catalog or managing your account, please see our catalog help page for videos, text, and a printable guide, or our YouTube channel for videos only. If you would prefer to walk through the new catalog with a librarian, please visit the reference desk, and we’ll be happy to show you the finer points of the new catalog and answer any questions you may have.
Phase Two Underway
The next part of the project is to integrate the new software with our other library software and turn on additional features. Here are some examples:
- We have integrated our online article subscriptions (databases) with the catalog, making it possible to search for digital newspaper, magazine, and journal articles right alongside our physical books, music and movies. Unfortunately, there is still a bit of an issue getting these articles to display consistently when accessed through the catalog. Until we work this out, you can search the databases separately from our online resources page.
- OverDrive, our service for downloading books, audiobooks, magazines and streaming video, is currently partially integrated into the catalog. Some, but not all, titles show up with links that will open the separate OverDrive catalog for checkout. In the coming weeks, a feature will become available that will show all current OverDrive titles and allow you to check them out without ever leaving the main catalog!
- Libraries that use software for managing public computers, printing, self-check machines, and point-of-sale systems (taking payments) are working to make sure that this third party software communicates effectively with the new system. At the East Greenbush Community Library, these particular services are up and running. Your experience may vary at other libraries.
Aside from the issues above, the following missing features have been brought to our attention. Issues we may be able to fix have been submitted to UHLS support.
The My Account login page does not offer an option to save your barcode.This has been addressed. There is now a check box you can click if you would like the browser to remember your barcode.
- The New Items feed is no longer available. We are aware of how important this feature is to our patrons, but are unsure if this can be configured as part of the new system. It is on the list of features to explore.
- When viewing the catalog in the Internet Explorer browser, the input fields on the login page are too short (though they do accept a full barcode), and sometimes the popup windows become transparent and don’t respond to clicks. So far, we have only seen these issues in IE. If you experience these issues, we recommend using an alternate browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.
We Appreciate Your Feedback
As always, your feedback on the new system is important to us. We want to make sure your library experience is a positive one. In the first week, we received a lot of feedback at our service desks, which helped us report issues we may not have seen otherwise. Have questions or comments about the new system? Please let us know in the comments below.