Category Archives: CUNY Catalog

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: http://support.cunylibraries.org/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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Best Practice when Setting up ILL Accounts in Aleph

The best practice when setting up ILL accounts in Aleph is to set up individual accounts (patron status “32.ILL”) for individual ILL borrowers. Having all ILL loans go out under one individual account is not a good practice for several reasons. For example, it is not technically possible in Aleph for a single account to have unlimited loans. There are several advantages to individual accounts:

  • ILL borrowers (the libraries making the request, not their patrons) would receive all patron notices and billing for un-returned items
  • Borrowing Libraries would have a “bill” or lost materials notices to hand their patrons
  • The notices can be targeted to a specific individuals at the borrowing organizations, for better communication
  • Fewer ILL loans to the same account means one is less likely to hit a ‘limit’
  • Several CUNY libraries may lend to the SAME borrower, but only one account is maintained. The work is thus distributed.

You can get more information, including a sample list of such accounts already set up in Aleph, on the OLS Support Site.

Missing ebrary titles

The Office of Library Services has recently seen an uptick in reported problems with ebrary titles showing up in the CUNY Catalog and not showing up in OneSearch. We have been in communication with the vendors (ebrary and Ex Libris) and think we have identified the problem.

In a nutshell, for subscribing to ebrary Academic Complete, we were given access to two complimentary collections: College Complete and Public Library Complete. These titles appeared in the ebrary platform but were never activated in the Primo Central Index (PCI) or SFX for discovery in OneSearch. We activated the collections in both places last week (on 2/15/17) and that seemed to have resolved most of the reported access problems—but not all of them. There are still some titles not showing up in OneSearch.

In talking to the ebrary vendor, we found that there are fewer titles in the SFX targets than there are in the collections: College Complete is short 1200 titles and Public Library Complete is short 1900 titles. They think that there was some problem with a metadata file sent to SFX and they are trying to resolve this issue. They have assured us this is a priority (as this would affect all College Complete and Public Library Complete subscribers who use SFX as their link resolver, not just CUNY). Once this is resolved, all centrally-licensed ebrary titles will appear in the OneSearch platform.

In the meantime, we may also be missing MARC records for these complimentary collections. We’ve been receiving monthly additions to these collections but they have been in the batches with the Academic Complete records and, again, we believe the numbers of records do not match up with the numbers in the SFX targets. We will work with the vendor on this as well; however, we think this will take more time and, in the meantime, are making the discoverability of these titles in OneSearch a priority.

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact your ERAC and/or SFX Committee representative. (The latter will be discussing this issue at its next meeting on Thursday, March 9, 2017.)

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CUNY Libraries’ Data Retention Policy

The CUNY Libraries’ Circulation Committee deliberated the issue of privacy and confidentiality of patron records, resulting in the creation of a Data Retention Subcommittee. The subcommittee consisted of six members representing five CUNY Libraries as well as the Office of Library Services (OLS). The subcommittee noted that CUNY has a policy pertaining to record retention:

The CUNY Records Retention and Disposition Schedule indicates the minimum length of time that college and University officials must retain records before the records may be disposed of legally. This Schedule is meant both to ensure that records are retained as long as required for administrative, legal, and fiscal purposes, and to encourage the systematic disposal of records that are no longer needed.

The Data Retention Subcommittee, as well as the CUNY Circulation Committee, determined that the record retention policy did not address particular records associated with the work of the Circulation librarians and staff; thus the Circulation committee convened and decided to provide recommendations on these specific issues to the Council of Chief Librarians. The recommendations are listed in the complete CUNY Libraries’ Data Retention Policy.

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