This blog documents news and updates from the OLS Systems department. Expect product updates and tips & tricks for making the most of the systems we support, as well as how-to information to help you achieve certain tasks. Read more about OLS »
The Aleph Item Process Status (IPS) in Aleph is sometimes misunderstood, as it is sometimes (but not always) more than a display field. The functionality built into some of the IPS is complex, so it will probably be best to approach them separately. Let’s please take a look at the Bindery related statuses:
BD At Bindery
BP In Repair
PB Binding Preparation
SB Sent to Binding
While these statuses are not assigned by every CUNY library in the same way, we know that all four cause items to function in Aleph the same way. In Aleph, they block items from being CLICS eligible. They suggest that the items are not readily available. (The only difference between these four is the screen display text.)
These IPS will all migrate to our new LSP in the same way. These Aleph Item Process Statuses will ONLY appear as a comment on the items for staff to see – assuming that they look up each individual item. These comments will give no indication to patrons that these items are not actually available on the shelf. Also, the items would follow the circulation policy of their collection. For example, patrons could suddenly place holds for these items, if they are in a request-able collection.
I discussed the following plan with the Director of our new LSP’s Data Migration Services. She concurs that the below is probably the best method for migration of these particular statues. (She has a history of work in our new LSP, as well as with Aleph.)
It would be recommended to set up in Aleph a collection called “Bindery”, or some similar verbiage of your library’s choosing. The on screen description should indicate as intuitively as possible to patrons that the items are unavailable due to being out for re-binding or repair.
Next, all of these items should be placed in this location of “Bindery” as a temporary location. The Aleph Item Process Status should then be removed. Should the item return for use at some future date, one only needs to remove the temporary location check box. The items will revert back to their permanent location as listed in the holdings record.
An added benefit is that this will also work well in our current Aleph environment. It will communicate clearly to patrons that items are temporarily unavailable, or at least not available now. Reverting back to a permanent location (in Aleph) this can be done manually or as a batch process.
If your plans include using any batch processes for removing lost items records, please consider first removing Titles that are suppressed with an Item Process Status of “LO” or “LP”. We can use a batch process with Titles.
We can use a batch process for items only if we have first removed the titles.
IF a Title has more than one item, and all of the items are suppressed (Aleph Item Process Status = LO, LP, SU, WD, or CA) then the Title will be suppressed. We can safely remove these in batch by tagging the Bibliographic records with STA=OLSDELETE. (This suppresses titles, and at the start of the next month completely removes those records, after withdrawing your library’s holdings from OCLC for that title.)
IF we have run this batch process, we know that the remaining LO and LP items are on titles where the bibliographic record has at least one active item remaining. This means we can safely use the batch process to remove these items. This batch process for removes the items, and if there are no items remaining on the holdings, it also removes the holdings record. If there are no holdings left for the title, it removes the Bibliographic record.
The dangers come from three potential issues.
If we just remove items, holdings and the bibliographic record, without removing the holdings from OCLC, we do not know anything more about the deleted title. We do not know which holdings to unset. This is not a concern IF we have first used STA=OLSDELETE.
A second danger would be IF the item record is not linked to a holdings record, it will not know which holdings record to remove. However, we can identify those unlinked items as the Holdings number will appear in our custom listings as ‘000000000CUN60’. (Since we recently ran a fix for holdings record, we are down to roughly 60K items not linked to holdings across CUNY; a third of those are at one institution.) These small numbers of items can be easily handled in advance.
Looking at a listing (for your library) of all items currently on loan but never returned by patrons, we see that none of them have an Item Process Status for suppressed, lost, not returned, or missing. These items are not misplaced, and instead have a loan status of ‘Not returned by patron’. These items are not suppressed, and neither are their titles. Please do not assume these might be lost by batch removals when done properly by a trained Aleph Admin.
Moving away from Aleph to a Library Services Platform requires preparation BEFORE data migration. One important pre-migration goal is to separate print items and electronic items out at the title level.
Aleph, like many legacy ILS systems, handles electronic and print records using the same data structures. We have bibliographic, holdings and print records.
In a Library Services Platform, electronic records are handled in a very different way. The data structures are different, as they look to manage these records in a more sophisticated way. For example, the link resolver is taken into account. This requires that the current record structures must be transformed at the time of migration.
There are a number of titles in CUNY’s Aleph catalog which have both print and electronic items on the same bibliographic record. In some cases physical items are incorrectly identified as electronic records. At least some electronic records incorrectly identified as physical print items. There are also physical print items where the library also has access to full electronic text.
As part of your preparation, we are looking to separate print items from electronic items at the Bibliographic level. One of the main reasons is that we need to migrate there records in a very different way. This impacts more than the catalog records. Some titles have serial subscriptions. Both serials patterns as well as acquisitions orders are impacted.
As we look to other libraries that have successfully migrated we find a repeated recommendation. Separate your print items from electronic items before migration. It absolutely requires a great deal more manual work to sort out and rebuild your catalog records if a library does not. For example, under certain conditions electronic items can show up “as if” they are physical items, which is a problem.
A second reason is that print and electronic records can have separate OCLC numbers. OCLC numbers become increasingly important in an LSP environment as the primary match point. This will facilitate functionality such as replicating the CLICS borrowing that we currently enjoy.
There are a variety of problems that arise by not separating these records. This goes beyond not following modern RDA standards. In presentation after presentation libraries keep pointing out the need to get this done. Let’s please learn from their history and not repeat their mistakes.
We will be talking more about this during the coming year in the Cataloging and Acquisitions Committee meetings. (Both areas will be impacted, in their own ways.)
This is the second part of synchronizing your Collections with your Circulation Policy. This work comes after you have begun as described in my previous blog post:
Let’s say that you are finding one collection where your library has 345 items with “Aleph Item Status 01”, and 2,357 items with “Aleph Item Status 02”. Let’s also assume that each item generally has the correct circulation policy.
Of course, one would want to separate what are really two sets of items in the same collection. This will be a manual process, because someone will have to edit the holdings records. Someone might also want to check whether some of the individual items seem to have the correct circulation policy.
If we moved an ENTIRE collection to a new collection, it could easily work using a batch process. There would be no new holdings records to create.
We correct both existing items and holdings, and then run a scan to double-check & triple check. There would be a need to re-check for duplicate holdings records, as well as checking any orphaned holdings we may find.
IF we only moved PART of a collection, based on Aleph Item Status (or some other criteria) it would not work by using a batch process. We would be attempting to apply changes to both the existing items and holdings records. The Aleph functionality would not CREATE new holdings records.
This would just make a mess since you might need to add a holdings record. We could not have two items linked to the same holdings record, but with each item attempting to use a different permanent collection code. These automated Aleph functions do not add temporary locations.
For example, one bibliographic record has two items today in collection MEDIA. If we wanted to move one of these items to collection AV and leave one in MEDIA, then we would need to manually create a new holdings record. Of course one could put both permanently in MEDIA, and use a temporary location for media reserves. This requires human judgment as temporary locations should ONLY be use when the change is really temporary (meaning, time limited and to be eventually reversed).
The recommended way to proceed is to either choose a second existing collection, or add a new collection code, in order to divide these two sets of records into two or more collections. Create a collection description that clearly let’s a patron know exactly where the items are physically located. (Patrons see these descriptions in initial search results.) Then, move the smaller subset of items by editing the holdings records. Items and holdings records absolutely matter in the new LSP.
Any new collections should be added before October 15th, 2018. (This will help us make sure it will be included in the new LSP.) The work of moving items would not be needed to be completed before July 2019, but OLS would not recommend leaving it until the end of the semester or fiscal year end.
The (CUNY Library) Data Migration Task Force is now recommending that libraries work on cleaning up our existing Course Reserves / Reserves this summer. This should be done before we set up our Test LSP environment for our new LSP.
Rather than bring over what we know already will be a problem, it is better to correct those issues now. As a shorter term benefit, your Course Reserves during the coming year will be in generally better shape.
We will be bringing over our existing Aleph Course Reserves records into our Test LSP environment (by this coming fall). Each library will have the opportunity to assess how well the catalog data migrated from our Production Aleph into our Test LSP environment, and prepare for our eventual go live. When we bring Course Reserves data over to our LIVE Production LSP environment, we will be bringing over the records from our Test LSP environment.
This will allow libraries at least 10 months to decide whether to:
• Clear out these records, and completely start over fresh, or
• Make any needed corrections and prepare their Course Reserves
There are known issues in the data migration into the new LSP. Other libraries that have gone before CUNY have found the problems serious enough that the majority recommend not migrating any Course Reserves. Some libraries have reported that their Course Reserves records migrated without problems, but describe having done careful maintenance prior to migration.
Course reserves will work differently in the new LSP, and uses a very different data structure. Migrating / translating our Aleph data over to this new environment will be directly affected by how well in order our existing Course Reserves records are.