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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 if and 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), 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 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 records, we are down to roughly 60K items not linked to holdings across CUNY; a third of those are at a single 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.

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.)

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.

Course Reserves / Reserves preparation for CUNY’s new LSP

The (CUNY Libraries’) 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.

Aleph Item Process Status: New Book

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. Today, let’s please take a look at NB New Book.

NB New Book is not used by every CUNY library in the same way. Items with this IPS will need to be considered by each library regularly using it.

There are some common aspects to NB. Items marked with IPS ‘NB’ are not CLICS eligible. Some libraries have said that they preferred to offer new books first to patrons of their own library. In the new LSP, if these items are part of a collection that is CLICS requestable, then these ‘New Books’ would also become requestable in the new LSP.

It would be a good idea to look at how your library is using the Item Process Statuses of ‘NB’ currently in Aleph, and to create some documentation about what your library is looking to achieve. We would then want to use the built in functionality in the next system to accomplish the same thing.

For example, some libraries are using NB status to identify a specific set of materials as being part of a special or separate group. In effect, they are using the IPS of New Book to create something like a collection. (At one CUNY library, many of their items labeled as NB are in fact older books.)

In the next system it would be useful to have these items identified as an unique (permanent) collection. Using a temporary location of ‘New Books’ (for items that are only considered new books for a few months at most) makes sense — IF the books are really only temporarily considered to be ‘new books’. However, it the items are to be considered ‘New Books’ for an indeterminate amount of time, then it is better to use a permanent location (also setting 852 $c) for a new book collection.

Not every library at CUNY is using NB in a way that is supported by the built in Aleph functionality. Since Aleph remains relatively static and unchanging between upgrades, one can get by with a kludge. The new LSP will not be static as there will be ongoing releases over time. We will likely have to pay a little closer attention to how the new software is designed to work, or risk being caught off guard.

The reason to not use a temporary collection location for all Aleph Item Process Statuses is that some IPS are very much more than just a display field. There is software functionality tied to the Item Process Status. We will not want to lose that functionality in Aleph, nor would want to lose that functionality when we move these items to the new LSP. For example, we would specifically not want to use a temporary collection location for misplaced (missing, searching, lost, etc) items.

Discussion of Item Process Status opens a whole new area of discussion, investigation, and this will be part of the work done by the Data Migration Task Force. (Details about the various Migration working groups are just beginning to be discussed in Committee meetings. Please see your Committee Reps for more details.) We will be talking more about IPS over the coming year.

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