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OIS News -- November 2001

Aleph Implementation

Aleph Implementation Project Update
AIP: recent policy decisions
AIP: preparing libraries and staff
Reporting implementation team forming

Library Digital Initiative

Round 5 of the LDI Internal Challenge Grant Program
Now available: Guide to Image Digitization
Harvard-Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf Leads to New Digital Library Services

URLs in this issue

Aleph Implementation

Aleph Implementation Project Update

Implementation teams are busily working on many fronts at once: data conversion, current Aleph functionality, and training. Teams are reviewing Harvard data from the second subset conversion completed in mid-October (more on this in the Conversion section below). They continue to investigate Aleph functions -- making recommendations to the Aleph Implementation Steering Commitee on workflows, implementation of specific Aleph features, and conversion of certain data types in HOLLIS. See the Policy decisions article in this issue for the details. Finally, implementers are working with trainers in the design of an Aleph staff training program.

Enhancements to Aleph is another area keeping implementation teams busy. There have been meetings to review progress of Aleph developments in support of non-Roman scripts (CJK), acquisitions, Harvard Depository (HD), indexing, and circulation. Early reports indicate encouraging progress.

Ex Libris has reported that there will be a delay related to redesign of the Aleph client interfaces. Ex Libris staff told the Aleph Steering Committee last month they will be unable to meet the contractural obligation of having the redisigned interface to the Serials, Acquistion, and Cataloging modules according to the schedule in the contract. (The contract does carry penalties for delays in development.) The roll out of all the improved technical services client interfaces is planned for Spring 2003. Ex Libris does plan to have the redesign of the circulation module ready for the 15.2 release (Harvard’s "Day 1" release). Members of the steering committee and implementation teams are working with Ex Libris to develop productivity tools and aids that will hopefully ameliorate some of the productivity problems anticipated as a result of the enhancement delays.

This delay means that Harvard staff will have to work with the current interface for a year longer than planned. But, the newly proposed process, in which Serials, Acquisitions, and Cataloging modules are redesigned together, will likely turn out a much better result than if each module were redesigned separately. From the perspective of those who will be training library staff, this delay means course design can proceed based on modules and functionality that will not change significantly before July 1st 2002. The exceptions of course are the major changes to circulation, serials, indexing, and financial functionality, expected to be available in release 15.2 at the end of 2001.

Conversion activities are heating up as implementers begin review of the second subset of converted Harvard data. A set of approximately 200,000 records, including all record types, has been loaded onto Harvard’s local Aleph test system. Implementers are reviewing the converted records, checking that data came over cleanly and "landed" in the best place. As problems are found, corrections are made to the original conversion specifications (developed in July). During this process OIS is developing a set of HOLLIS-to-Aleph data conversion maps. These maps will document conversion decisions by identifying location of data in HOLLIS and corresponding location in Aleph. Drafts of these maps have been distributed to implementation teams. Final versions will also be available to trainers and eventually to all library staff.

Another outcome of early conversion efforts are recommendations that certain types of data not be converted. Conversion and implementation teams have started to submit such recommendations to the Aleph Implementation Steering Committee. Recent decisions are reported in the Policy decisions article in this issue.

The next big step occurs in December 2001, when the first full conversion of HOLLIS data takes place. With this conversion, we will see the true implications of loading 9 million bibliographic records (plus all other record types) in terms of conversion decisions, performance scaling, indexing, and more. Also significant is that the full set of data will be loaded under the long-awaited version 15.2 of Aleph, which is scheduled to include many of Harvard’s most important enhancements.

Training development continues, as trainers begin the design and development phase. After spending September and October identifying the library job tasks that staff training should cover, trainers are now determining the sequence of training topics, number of classes, and methods of instruction. Members of the Training Advisory Group (TAG) are working on securing classroom facilities for Spring 2002 and implementation of an automated training registration system to help with class scheduling.Ì

AIP: recent policy decisions

The Aleph Implementation Steering Committee has been busy fielding recommendations from implementation teams on data conversion as well as Aleph configuration and functionality. Noted below are the first round of decisions, some of which may impact local library operations. If you have questions, contact Kathleen Anderson or Tracey Robinson in OIS.

Access to HOLLIS data post Day 1

The final "snapshot" of HOLLIS data is expected to be accessible via Distributed Reporting (BI/Query) once the cutover to Aleph occurs on 1 July 2002. It is likely that selected portions of HOLLIS data will be available in other ways, but the details have yet to be worked out.

HOLLIS data that will NOT be converted

The data conversion process is particularly challenging given the enormous size and complexity of data in HOLLIS. There are some types of data, typically closed records and data problematic for conversion, that we expect to leave behind. Recently, the Aleph Implementation Steering Committee began reviewing conversion recommendations submitted by the implementation teams. Below are listed the first round of decisions regarding data that will not be converted from HOLLIS to Aleph.

  • Unlinked item records. Aleph does not support our current model for unlinked items in HULPR (but it does offer support for functions like "on the fly" barcoding--the most common use of unlinked items). Unlinked item records will not be converted to Aleph. From a July 2001 survey on this topic, we know there are a few libraries using unlinked items for other purposes. These units have functional reasons to continue this use, but they should expect no conversion of these records when we migrate to Aleph.
  • Holds and recalls. No holds or recalls in HOLLIS will be converted to Aleph. The amount of programming resources required to convert the data was estimated to be very high. Steering Committee recommends that libraries provide advance warning to patrons that holds and recalls not fulfilled before the switch to Aleph will have to be re-submitted in Aleph.
  • Bill/Fine records. No bill/fine records in HOLLIS will be converted to Aleph. HOLLIS bill records are known to be flawed, containing dated and inaccurate information. Libraries will be able to bill Accounts Receivable and Termbill through the end of the spring 2001 semester. Since lack of current billing information may result in difficulty resolving billing disputes, the Steering Committee has asked that OIS develop offline access to HOLLIS bill information, to be available after the cutover to Aleph.
  • Closed orders. Order (OPR) records with no open action dates and a status Z (closed), X (canceled), Y (rejected), or W (returned to vendor) will not be converted to Aleph. This decision will impact the display of order status in the OPAC for some affected records; implementers are working on a solution.
  • Completed invoices. Invoices that are created and approved before the cutover to Aleph will not be converted. Although Aleph will not contain historic invoice data, such information will be available through offline products.
  • CRL records in HU. Center for Research Libraries (CRL) bibliographic records in the HU database will not be converted to Aleph. In fact, there have been no new loads of CRL data for several years. Web-based access to CRL data and holdings from the HOLLIS portal is being investigated.
  • LG, RC, UP, TR databases. Data in the Library Guide (LG), Roosevelt Collection (RC), Unitarian Pamphlet file (UP), and training database (TR) will not be converted to Aleph. LG-type data is already represented by information provided in the libraries section of the HOLLIS portal. RC data will be transferred to a finding aid available through the OASIS system. The Divinity Library plans to migrate UP data to another form, but no details about this yet.
  • The Anthropological Literature (AL) database will migrate to Aleph, but this migration will be delayed until fall 2002.
  • Some form of Books File (BF) and Subject Headings (SH) databases are expected to be available from Aleph, but details are still being worked out.

Aleph system configuration

  • Implementing item status. The Aleph "Item status" represents the circulation characteristics of a particular item, i.e., is the item for in-library use only or, if it does circulate, then what is the loan type? In HOLLIS, libraries have adopted a wide variety of custom loan codes, which function like item statuses for circulation. In many cases, very different loan codes represent the same or very similar loan characteristics. In the name of consistency, the library-specific loan codes used in HOLLIS will be replaced with library-wide item statuses during the migration to Aleph.

Deferred Aleph features

  • Photocopy requests: deferred to post-Day 1. While Aleph features a good deal of functionality in allowing patrons to place photocopy requests, this functionality will be considered after initial Aleph implementation.
  • Reading room functions: deferred to post-Day 1. Aleph features an array of functionality to allow "closed stack" requests which may be of interest to some Harvard libraries. However, consideration of this functionality has been delayed until after initial Aleph implementation.
  • Reserve "basket": deferred to post-Day 1. Within the Aleph public catalog, there is a "basket" feature that allows teaching staff to create lists of reserve readings and to send these to reserves staff. The Steering Committee agreed with the recommendation of the course reserves implementation team that this feature needs more development before it is implemented. Without implementing all "basket" functionality, teaching staff will still be able to search the public catalog to create lists for mailing to reserves staff. Ì

AIP: preparing libraries and staff

With Aleph implementation well underway, project participants are now identifying issues that will impact staff and library operations. Many of these issues relate to decisions about conversion and how we use Aleph. (See the Policy Decisions article in this issue for more information.) One of the earliest issues to impact libraries was the Ex Libris recommendation of minimum desktop configurations to support Aleph – published in February 2001. More recently attention has turned to the needs of the smaller libraries and pre-requisites for staff training.

Needs of smaller libraries

At the October Project Liasons meeting, Project Manager Kathleen Anderson asked if there was interest in starting a discussion on the impact of Aleph implementation on small libraries. Those interested should contact Kathleen Anderson in OIS.

Staff training pre-requisites

There will be a few pre-requisites for library staff who participate in Aleph training starting in Spring 2002. Making arrangements to satisfy these pre-requisites will be the responsibility of each library.

  • Basic Windows functions – for all staff. All staff should be familiar with basic functions of the Windows operating system before attending Aleph classes. While most staff access HOLLIS and HULPR from a Windows desktop today, this connectivity does not require much real knowledge of Windows operations. This will change with Aleph, which is accessed by Windows-based graphical clients that take much greater advantage of Windows functions. The Training Advisory Group has put together a Checklist of Windows competencies that libraries and staff can use to help determine if additional Windows training is needed before next spring.
  • Chart of accounts coding – acquisitions and financial staff. Any staff member who will need to interpret or input account information in Aleph should be familiar with the University’s 33-digit, seven segment chart of accounts coding scheme before attending Aleph training. The current HOLLIS system still represents fund information with the old 14-digits (it was not redesigned in 2000 to accommodate the new scheme because of the proximity to Aleph implementation). Staff members with financial duties that are only familiar with the old 14-digit scheme should be trained in the COA. This training is a local unit responsibility.

Future library preparation topics will be published in this newsletter and in the Library preparations section of the Aleph Implementation web site. Ì

Reporting implementation team forming

Planning for a local management reporting system is getting underway with the formation of a reporting implementation team. Aleph does not currently have a reporting system along the lines of our Distributed Reporting System (accessed by the BI/Query desktop client). Unlike other implementation teams, the reporting team will focus on designing a system rather than converting from what we have now.

In early December, basic information about this team will be available from the Aleph section of the OIS web site [ http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/projects/aip/teams.html ]. If you have questions, contact Roger Brisson. Ì

Library Digital Initiative

Round 5 of the LDI Internal Challenge Grant Program

The new call for preliminary proposals for participation in Round 5 of the LDI Internal Challenge Grant Program is now posted on the LDI web site at:


Please note that funding in Round 5 focuses on image digitization projects for visual materials that use HUL systems and services already in place.

Please contact Wendy Gogel (LDI Projects Liaison) in OIS if you have questions. Ì

Now available: Guide to Image Digitization

Harvard University Library's Office for Information Systems has announced that The Harvard University Library Guide to Image Digitization is now online at (http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/guide_images.html) The new guide outlines the steps and processes for engaging in image digitization projects using the systems and services developed in the first three years of the Library Digital Initiative. For more information, contact Julie Wetherill in OIS, at 5-3724 or julie_wetherill@harvard.edu. Ì

Harvard-Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf Leads to New Digital Library Services

The Harvard University and Radcliffe Archives have launched the Harvard-Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf. A Library Digital Initiative project, the Reference Shelf is a joint venture with the Office of Information Systems (OIS) of the Harvard University Library (HUL). This new web site, located at http://hul.harvard.edu/huarc/refshelf/HROHRSHome.htm, provides electronic access to frequently consulted sources on the history of Harvard and Radcliffe. To date, the Reference Shelf includes:

  • Annual reports of the presidents and treasurers of Harvard and Radcliffe, from 1825 to the present
  • Narrative histories
  • Access to the Harvard Fact Book, from 1997 to the present
  • Founding documents concerning Harvard, 1642-1814

By browsing or searching the Reference Shelf, anyone interested in the history of Harvard and Radcliffe can find a wealth of information, including such details as what classes Harvard sophomores in 1825 attended on Saturdays ("History, and Declamation, or English Composition"), that in the 1938/39 year Radcliffe's Department of Health Education offered a senior elective on marriage, and what President Pusey had to say about the academic year 1968/69 ("Ša dismal year").

From its inception in 1999, the Reference Shelf was designed as more than a searchable collection of the Universitys historic texts: it was also meant to demonstrate two new Digital Library services: Page Delivery Service (PDS), and Full-Text Search Service (FTS). With the launching of the Online Historical Reference Shelf, OIS is making both new services widely available to support the delivery of full text material at all Harvard libraries, archives, and repositories, etc., where textual materials can be delivered effectively on the web.

Page Delivery Service (PDS) is a web-based "page turner" system for reformatted print material such as books, journals, reports, letters, diaries, notebooks, and more. Full-text Search service (FTS) is a web-based system for searching the full text content of digital library material such as OCR derived from the scanned print material delivered via PDS. Material delivered by PDS can be secured to the Harvard community if necessary, using the normal ID/PIN mechanism.

As the Harvard-Radcliffe Online Historical Reference Shelf demonstrates, PDS can deliver page images online, while FTS makes the text of the pages fully searchable. The two systems can be used together or independently. To use either of these new services, the digital objects, including all necessary structural metadata, must be deposited in the Digital Repository Service (DRS). Note: The HCL Digital Imaging Group is developing a service to prepare structural metadata files in XML on behalf of collection owners as part of the scanning process.

OIS will be holding an open meeting on these two important new services. The time and place for the meeting has not been anounced yet. For more information, contact Julie Wetherill (julie_wetherill@harvard.edu) or Wendy Gogel (wendy_gogel@harvard.edu) in OIS, 5-3724. Ì

URLs in this issue

List of Libraries at Harvard

Recommended Desktop Configurations for Aleph 500

Checklist of Windows Competencies

Library preparations for Aleph

Aleph Project Implementation Teams

Library Digital Initiative Challenge Grant Program Round 5, Current Call for Proposals

Guide to Image Digitalization

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