Innovative Users Group Annual Conference, Chicago

Are you ready for excitement? Intrigue? Adventure? Stop reading now. But, if you want to know what I did as one of the 1075 attendees of IUG in Chicago, carry on with the reading.

Day 1
Scott Simon of NPR fame gave the keynote address. He spoke on the importance of information that can be trusted in this age of Twitter and Facebook, when people know about an earthquake as soon as it happens (if not before…) He was speaking specifically of the importance of journalists and of the keepers of information, libraries. It was a very good speech filled with various stories he has covered as a journalist. He ended with a quote which I will paraphrase here; A picture is worth a thousand words? If you give me a thousand words, I will give you the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Hippocratic Oath, a Sonnet by Shakespeare, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and the final draft of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech.

Circulation Enhancements coming to the newest release of Millennium.
Here are the highlights:
* Recent search history in Search/Holds – a feature that our friends in Cataloging have had for years has finally made its way to Circ. You will be able to store your most recent searches for easy access when the next person comes looking for the same title!
* We will now have the option to extend the pickup date on holds. This will allow us -when a patron calls and tells us they need another week to come to the library to get the item we are holding – to extend the date without cancelling and re-placing the hold. (There was much rejoicing…)
* All patron messages will now appear in the pop-up window, as opposed to just the one that appears first in the record.
* We will now have an option (under delete records) to delete single items by barcode.
* Much like the customizable hold slips, we will now have the option to customize overdue notices, including those sent via email.
* We will now have the ability to require certain fields in patron record creation before it will allow the creator to save the record.
* We will now have the ability to view the cleared holds without actually clearing them. Apparently this is a good thing.
* Renewals by the patron online will now count (in the statistics) as a renewal for the check-out location as opposed to the nebulous (and mostly useless) web location.
*Bursar In/Out now has secure FTP (as opposed to plain old regular FTP) but is still ONLY in the Telnet version of the client. Boo.
* Checked out items will be able to be put on reserve, with a notice generated upon return indicating that they should go to reserve processing.
* NEW PRODUCT: SMS alerts – the ability to send circ notices as text to a phone (in addition to the regular email notices)
* NEW PRODUCT: Volume Holds – ability to place a hold on a specific volume (not retroactive in the system, though “it will be.”)
* NEW PRODUCT: Circa – a nifty handheld device that you can take into the stacks and scan barcodes which wirelessly updates in the system in real time. So instead of going to the stacks and finding the book someone claimed to have returned and bringing it back to circ and scanning it and taking it back to the shelf, you can simply go to the stacks and check it in.

Statistical Reports
This session dealt mainly with reports that could be run on the system having to do with systems and cataloging maintenance. There were a few things of interest to circ, but it was largely the wrong session for me. I did learn that we should be running field statistics on our patrons annually. Also, a lot of libraries use one of the patron codes to indicate a field of study or major. Would this be useful to us? I also got official confirmation from an Innovative employee that the web stats and client stats are in fact gathering different statistics on what would appear at first glance to be the same thing.

Day 2
Circulation and Customer Service
I thought that this session might have more to do with the actual system, but in reality it was mostly just a customer service session. It started out with a clip from the Cosby Show in which Cliff enlightens his possible son-in-law on the importance of presentation. He asks him to imagine his favorite food, steak, with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans, piping hot and sizzling, presented to him on a garbage can lid. Another interesting tidbit from this session was the idea that some libraries hire students to work only in the stacks their first year, and then allow them to work behind the circ desk subsequent years.

AutoIT – Automation in Millennium
AutoIT is free software that allows repetitive, routine tasks to be written and saved as an .exe file and run on any computer. The actual writing of the code seemed fairly complex, though I have not played around with it at all. There is not a record function (in other words, you cannot do something on the computer and have the software copy what you are doing for use at a later time. You have to write all of the code from scratch.) I had high hopes going in, but my first impression is that the coding is more involved than I would probably want to get into. It does communicate well with Millennium, however, including the Telnet version. They had it doing things like creating a list and searching OCLC for matches and downloading files when it found a match and inserting that record into the system with an order record attached. So you can do fairly complex tasks if you are willing to take the time to set it up.

Day 3
Using Regular Expressions in Create Lists
I had no idea what regular expressions were, but apparently they have been around for quite a while. In short, it is a way of coding a search in a much more detailed manner than Create Lists would normally allow you to do. We have a text that the presenter recommended: Mastering Regular Expressions. I will not get into the various notes I took, but if you are interested, either check out the book or let me know. I got the sense it was primarily useful for catalogers, but I’m sure I will figure out some way to use it in Circ as well. NOTE: if you want to use regular expressions in create lists, use the “matches” (r) qualifier.

Create Lists
This presentation started out with a warning that it was not for novice Create Lists users. That being said, I did not take many notes. Here are the few that I took:
* to find records that have/don’t have a specific field, use not equal to / equal to BLANK
* Exporting tips: change , to > ; change ” ” to none ; change ; to *, input a max field length (to avoid lengthy titles)
* to fix the way barcodes display in Excel: format cells->number->custom->0 (or format the field as a text field)
* to sort by call number in Excel: sort in Create Lists first, then export. In Excel, add a column of numbers (in numerical order) and use that to sort by call number.

That’s about it. I did stroll through the exhibits and chatted with our Millennium rep Pablo. I also picked up some information on the Circa device. My overall impression from the conference is that we as a college are using Millennium very efficiently and effectively and that we know a lot about it. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

6 thoughts on “Innovative Users Group Annual Conference, Chicago

  1. Ian McBride

    Thanks for the summary, Dan. Any word on improvements to the WebOPAC or changes to how XRECORDs are served up? We’ve been wanting to provide library catalog integration with our other search pages, but that’s not very easy to do in our current version of Millenium.

  2. Adam Franco

    Thanks for the great post, Dan.

    Here is a good online resource for working with regular expressions in case anyone is interested. Regular Expressions are an incredibly powerful search & search/replace syntax, but unfortunately are much easier to write than they are to read (so much meaning in so few characters).

  3. Arabella Holzapfel

    I went to IUG, also, but I’ve been taking some time off since my return. I’ll post about the sessions I attended (which focused on the Electronic Resources Management and other Collection Management aspects) later this week.
    Thanks for the post, Dan!

  4. Terry Simpkins

    Re: autoIT: I haven’t used this, but another good, free, 3rd party app to automate tasks is AutoHotKey. This does have a recorder bundled with it that makes writing macros easier, although the programming language for this can also get complex fairly quickly. I use it all the time though, now, and don’t know what I’d do without it!

  5. Pingback: Innovative Users Group 2010 – part two « Library & Information Services

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