Category Archives: CUNY Catalog

Planning to remove Lost Items from the Aleph catalog?

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.

Reason:

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.

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Print to Electronic record conversion for the new Library Service Platform

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.)

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Sync your Collections with your Circulation Policy – La Segunda Parte

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:

Sync your Collections with your Circulation Policy

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.

CUNY’s migration to a Library Services Platform

CUNY’s migration to a Library Services Platform (“LSP”) will provide unified services across the library. It will be a long journey, and we will be building up information for our roadmap as we reach different milestones.

To follow the journey, please consult the OLS Support Site: https://ols-support.cuny.edu/?q=systems/lsp

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Is the catalog going away?

Note: For definitions of technical terms used throughout this post, please refer to the Glossary at the bottom of this entry.

The Office of Library Services (“OLS”) has taken the CUNY Libraries through the initial migration of library data from disparate and no systems into NOTIS (late 1980s/early 1990s) and then into Aleph circa 2002. It’s fifteen years later and we are looking to migrate again, this time to an LSP.

If you work in technical or access services, you’re used to the ILS being “the catalog” you use to perform your daily activities. You use Aleph to place orders, pay bills, catalog new acquisitions, check in serials, manage patrons, and keep track of all of the items going into and out of your library. You’re also aware that Aleph is a Windows application that needs to be installed on your workstation. You may have experienced the cumbersome and labor-intensive process of upgrading the system from one version to the next. When we migrate to an LSP, you will continue to have access to all of the tools you need to do your job: you will place orders, pay bills, catalog new acquisitions, check in serials, manage patrons, and keep track of all of the items going into and out of your library. However, the system you use to do all of these things will be different: LSPs are necessarily cloud-based so they can be accessed from any browser on any computer; updates are released on a regular basis and are done quietly in the background; to-do lists and workflows are built into the system; management of e-resources is baked right into the product and is not an afterthought. Generally speaking, an LSP is a system built for the modern library and is meant to make your daily work activities easier.

If you work in public services (i.e., reference or instruction), you’re used to the OPAC being “the catalog” you use to search the library’s holdings. However, LSPs do not come packaged with OPACs. Instead, they rely on integration with a discovery system to provide a public web interface. Therefore, when we finally migrate to an LSP, the OPAC as we know it will be gone. That is, the public-facing interface to Aleph that we have been using for 15 years will be deprecated and, in its stead, we will rely entirely on a discovery system to search our library collections. Luckily, we have been live with CUNY OneSearch since the Fall 2014 semester so we have a lot of experience with a discovery system! OneSearch is the catalog of our physical library collections across the University as well as local electronic and digital collections. Our patrons use OneSearch to find their textbooks, identify peer-reviewed articles for their research papers, conduct research across multiple disciplines when doing a literature review, and more.

Card catalog card reads: The catalog is dead. Long live the catalog!So, yes, in a sense, the catalog is going away—really, though, it’s metamorphosing. We will choose a new LSP that will allow us to more easily conduct all essential library activities traditionally carried out by an ILS. Our bibliographic, holding, and items records will retain a familiar form, our invoices will be maintained, our orders will still be tracked, and our patrons will continue to be managed. The OPAC, on the other hand, is certainly going away. However, we will continue to discover our library collections through OneSearch so we will continue to have a public-facing web interface for our library collections.


Glossary

Integrated Library System (ILS)
An enterprise suite of software applications for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. CUNY uses Ex Libris’s Aleph software and frequently refers to it as “Aleph,” “Aleph GUI,” and “Aleph client.” Aleph consists of several modules: cataloging, acquisitions, serials, circulation, and OPAC.
Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)
A public-facing web interface for a library’s catalog, used by the public to search the database of materials held by a library or group of libraries. CUNY uses the OPAC module of Ex Libris’s Aleph and brands it as “CUNY Catalog” (formerly “CUNY+” or “CUNY Plus”).
Library Services Platform (LSP)
A cloud-based library system that integrates the acquisition and management of electronic and print resources into a common platform, data stores, and task workflows.
Discovery system
A public-facing web interface used by the public to find materials in library collections and gain access to items of interest through the appropriate delivery mechanisms. Discovery products are independent from the specific applications that libraries implement to manage resources, such as integrated library systems, library services platforms, repository platforms, or electronic resource management systems. They use more sophisticated search technologies, including relevancy ranking and faceted search. CUNY uses Ex Libris’s Primo software and brands it as “CUNY OneSearch.”
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