Merlin Meeting 2015.05.20

May 20, 2015 (via GoToWebinar)

Chair Courtney Dietsche called the meeting to order at 10:02 a.m.  

Quorum (of 15 members) was determined with the following attendees: Linda Stobbe, Mike Sauvola, Mike Sheehan, Marsha Sorensen (NWLS); Shirley Miller (Ashland); Blair Nelson (Bayfield); Cherie Sanderson (Boulder Junction); Kristine Lendved (Cable); Kristina Kelley-Johnson (Grantsburg); Molly Lank-Jones (Hayward); Courtney Dietsche (Iron River); Caryl Pfaff (LCO College); Teresa Schmidt (Mercer); Pam Eschenbauch (Presque Isle); Ida Nemec (Sayner); Amy Stormberg (Shell Lake); Jane Frankiewicz (Spooner); Sue Heskin (Superior); Darrell Pendergrass (Washburn); Patti Meyer (Webster); Donna Knuckey (Winter).

Ida Nemec was a proxy for Julie Zelten (Land o’ Lakes)

There was no discussion.  Donna Knuckey moved to approve the minutes.  Seconded by Kristine Lendved.  Passed unanimously.

Amy Stormberg moved to accept the financial statements as presented.  Seconded by Shirley Miller.  Passed unanimously.

Merlin By-Laws Review
Mike Sheehan presented the By-Laws with revised areas as noted at the February Consortium meeting.  Revisions included:
•    Removing the words “in-person” from the first paragraph of Article VI, Section 2.
•    Labelling the area concerning normal election process under Article VI, Section 2 as subsection (a).
•    Adding a subsection (b) to Article VI, Section 2 to identify how the election will proceed when the meeting is held in an online format.  What is written follows how the Consortium proceeded for the November 2014 Consortium election.
•    It was also suggested to add language to Article VI, Section 2 to specify that as electronic access technology changes, so may so facets of the online election process.
•    The article on Amendments was moved from IX to X so that Article IX would include information related to the dissolution of Merlin.
•    New Article IX, Section 2, subsection (a) contained an option for the kind of vote (simple majority; 2/3 majority; ¾ majority).  Consensus was to use the 2/3 majority vote option.
•    A question was asked regarding an option of transferring to a new Consortium and any fees that might be involved.  Mike Sheehan will draft some language for the Merlin Executive Committee regarding the delineation of what NWLS can do for member libraries to choose another ILS if Merlin were to dissolve completely.
The revised By-Laws will be presented at the August meeting for Consortium approval.

Long Range Planning Committee Update
Shirley Miller reported that the Long Range Planning Committee had convened twice: once online on April 1, and in-person at Weiss Community Library (Hayward) on May 11.  Some initial work on the plan has taken place.  At the meeting in Hayward, the committee developed a survey for library staff to take so the committee has some guidance on what areas to focus on in the plan.  The committee suggests one survey being submitted per library, but directors are encouraged to solicit input from staff (volunteers included).  Any surveys to the public could be an action item of the plan but this survey is meant specifically for member libraries.

The original June 1 deadline for survey responses was felt to be too soon.  The agreed upon survey submission deadline is June 12 at the end of the day.

Purchase of New Inventory Equipment
Jane Frankiewicz suggested the Consortium purchase new inventory equipment since the current equipment is outdated and inventory is an activity each library should perform every 3-5 years.  She remarked that Mike Sheehan had discovered some new methods or heard about new technology at the last IUG conference.

Mike Sheehan agreed that while the PDAs we use for inventory still operate, they have been used for the past six years and NWLS is unsure of their remaining life.  He also explained that Innovative is developing an improved inventory program to replace Circa.

The Mobile Worklists app is a free application currently available for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) that can be used for inventory projects.  Using the device camera to scan barcodes, a worklist can be sent to Sierra Create Lists for further action (like rapid updating the inventory date in item records).  NWLS will test this new program (just released on March 31st).

There was some split from libraries on the urgency of updating the equipment now.  There were further questions regarding the number of devices necessary to perform an inventory, the costs for these devices, and any hidden costs to using the application.  Mike Sheehan and Marsha Sorensen will provide more information at the August meeting.  NWLS will also work with Vaughn to test the app on their iPad and attempt to demo it at the next meeting.

Sierra Training Workshop
Amy Stormberg mentioned two specifics requests: (1) for NWLS to provide some training on reports generation so library staff can run them on their own, and (2) NWLS provide information on capabilities the library staff may not know about.

Mike Sheehan addressed the first request by remarking on the challenges of reports training.  Some of the challenges include:
•    The varying kinds of reports tools and the knowledge needing to run them;
•    The complexity of queries for those who do not run them often;
•    The varying degrees of training desired from library to library (most want none, but some want some);
•    The need to be familiar with records and fields for performing queries;
•    Updates to Oracle’s Java often conflicts with III’s version of Java affecting program access;
•    The expected (late 2015) overhaul of the Create List search query will change procedures.
Sheehan asked if the current reports NWLS provides are insufficient.  There was no response.  Some libraries did remark that they appreciate what NWLS runs since they are too busy to deal with them on their own.  Sheehan commented that NWLS staff are not too busy to continue providing reports at library request and prefer to do it since NWLS is most familiar with the reports and the challenges creating them.

Linda Stobbe responded to a question on whether reports training qualifies as technology CEUs, stating it does not qualify.

Sheehan also mentioned his work on developing tutorials for basic Create Lists procedures will be postponed until after the new search query changes have been released.  He also suggested that training may be provided on an individual basis.  Marsha Sorensen concurred that one-on-one trainings might be best.

Courtney Dietsche noted the group appears divided on who wants training and who does not.  She also felt it wise to hold off on Create Lists training until after the software update.  She asked if there was interest in Web Management Reports training, but received no response.  After further discussion Courtney asked NWLS staff if they could investigate a training program of some kind, focusing on common reports which could be followed by individual training if desired.  Sheehan responded NWLS would provide a list for the August meeting.

Sheehan asked about addressing Amy’s request for NWLS to provide information on Sierra functions libraries may not be using to their advantage.  Kristina Kelly-Johnson provided an example where they happened upon a way to batch delete items.  Sheehan explained that the process is described in the cataloging training resources available on the NWLS website.  He further advised library staff to check these training areas first to find out what can be done before struggling to find out on your own or asking what can be done.  Courtney then mentioned a way to start is to present a list of things you can do in Sierra that aren’t generally well known that Directors and staff might be interested in.  She offered that any training needs considered should also be based on NWLS time availability to the cause.

Mike Sheehan explained that due to NWLS budget constraints Merlin training is limited to resources available on the web.  They include extensive procedures for cataloging and circulation in both print and video tutorials for staff.  Courtney asked NWLS to create a Merlin training directory on the website.  Sheehan agreed this could be done and encouraged feedback if resources need to be added or revised.

Report Generation in Sierra
Courtney Dietsche believed this topic of reports generation had already been covered in the above agenda item.

Courtney then called for a break at 11:52 a.m. with a reconvening at 12:02 p.m.

Clearing the Hold Shelf, Freezing Holds, and Circulation Upgrades
Clearing the Holdshelf: Marsha Sorensen reminded members about clearing the holdshelf.  The system report last week showed 46,885 records that have not been cleared from the holdshelf.  This should be close to what really is on the holdshelf (which would be nearer 1,500 or so items)  If this file gets too large it can negatively impact system performance.  Courtney asked Marsha to report back at the August meeting and if this is still a problem; we may have to have Marsha manage it again.

Circulation Upgrades: Marsha informed the group of various new features the Consortium may wish to enable.  The list included:
•    Selecting statuses that do not change when checked-in (e.g. library use only).
•    A function to mark items damaged would allow you to add a charge and assign a status of damaged [enabling this would require a global Consortium decision; most want to wait to decide after Marsha provides more information]
•    The option to display an expired patron alert in bold color when staff access the record [this can be added on a library by library basis; let Marsha know if you are interested]
•    A running count (status bar) of checked in items will display when checking in a large number of items.
•    When printing a patron’s fines from the Fines tab, a total amount due will display as well as the individual fines [Marsha has a call in to III about this since there is not much information on it.  There were no objections to enabling this feature.]
•    An explanation to an adjusted charge can be added and it will be stored in the fines history [There were no objections to enabling this feature.]
•    The auto-fill aspect of the birthdate feature has been removed.
•    In the webPAC, patrons can renew items with outstanding holds as long as there are enough copies available to fill the other holds [There were no objections to enabling this feature.]
Marsha will send a list of these features out to libraries for review and also update documentation on them.

Freezing Holds: This feature allows a patron (from their account) to select certain holds to freeze if they will not be able to pick them up for some time, while they are out of town, etc.  However there are many issues that affect how well this works.  There are also several enhancements requests to improve the functionality so Marsha wondered if this is desired by libraries.  There was consensus that it sounds too problematic at this time and we should revisit this after is has been upgraded.

SMS Text Notification Options
Mike Sheehan explained that he has received requests about text messaging of notices for patrons in the past and has compiled some documents showing options for member discussion.  This feature would be in addition to the notice delivery methods already in use in Merlin (automated voice messages via phone; email; and print notices for mailing). He presented options from Innovative with their SMS Text Notification service, ShoutBomb, LibraryELF’s text notification feature, and service from a company called DialMyCalls.  This presentation was mainly informational but there could be action taken if there was a strong enough feeling to add a particular service.  Many remarked that text messaging would be of interest if the patrons did not have to pay for the subscription cost and the cost to the Consortium was relatively small.  There may also be advancements with text technology in the future that could affect what we provide.  There was no other action made at this time.

Innovative’s Development Update
Mike Sheehan referred to the handouts highlighting some of the areas the software vendor is taking to move the company and their clients to a more open web environment.  He discussed areas of development coming in Sierra version 3.0 which will include a new web-based option for the Sierra client, an updated query structure in Create Lists, and a potential reduction of currently limited areas.  He added that the company is also promoting cloud technologies and advancing patron self-service products to make the user experience more streamlined and mobile friendly.

Sheehan also talked about the vendor’s increased desire to use Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to allow 3rd party companies to interact more openly with the Sierra programming.

Lastly, Sheehan discussed Innovative’s position on becoming a supporter and leader in the linked data movement (making library data more accessible to the web).  III has worked hard to adopt the new cataloging rules found in Resource Description and Access (RDA), and the company is now a sponsor of the LibHub movement (working with developers on a post-MARC format of data management).

TV Series Records Update
NWLS was able to identify 640 TV series titles in Merlin.  As of the week of May 11, Mike Sheehan and Ashley Kamantauskas were able to modify 376 (59%) of the titles.  NWLS has been adding identifiers for those titles treated as a complete unit and for those where individual discs are split out.  NWLS prioritized titles with holds for modification first, then moved to other popular titles, and now is left with older titles to modify.  For an example of how corrected TV series show in the patron catalog, users can search for the title Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the Merlin catalog.  They should be able to see titles where libraries catalog the complete set and other titles where the library has individual discs separated out.

Courtney adjourned the meeting at 1:00 p.m.

Next meeting date: August 20, 2015 at 10:00 (at NWLS)
Respectfully submitted,
Michael Sheehan