ALEPH Implementation Update
Implementation of the ALEPH systemthe new Ex Libris product chosen by
Harvard to replace aging HOLLIS softwareis moving along at a brisk pace.
Staff from OIS and Ex Libris have been meeting frequently since December on
topics such as data conversion, ALEPH configuration, Harvard enhancements
to ALEPH, and much more. Initial meetings have been kept intentionally
small to facilitate the early learning process. Within the next two months,
implementation teams will be defined to include broader library
participation. The following list summarizes current planning activities.
Staff members from Ex Libris and Harvard recently spent four days on
systems analysis. Ex Libris acquainted Harvard staff with the basic data
structures and functionality of ALEPH. Harvard staff oriented Ex Libris to
the complexity of Harvard's library system and its processesand the
meaning of those processes for configuration of an ALEPH system at Harvard.
The "output" from these meetings will assist Ex Libris in configuring the
"first draft" ALEPH test system now being installed on Harvard's server.
Implementation of ALEPH will entail moving 8.7 million bibliographic
records, 1.3 million authorities, 1.1 million holdings, 600,000 orders, 6.7
million itemsand moreout of HOLLIS ILS and into the appropriate place in
ALEPH such that access to and usability of data is preserved. Because of
the volume and complexity of these conversions, Harvard will sometimes face
hard choices on either moving data or leaving it behind. It is also clear
that some cleanup of our data ahead of time will make for a smoother
conversion. Better information on record cleanup efforts will be available
later this spring.
Loading Test Data
During March and April, Ex Libris will load a subset of data from the
HOLLIS ILS (approximately 100,000 records) into Harvard's ALEPH test
system. Half of this first subset will include randomly selected records.
The balance will be pre-selected records with attributes that will help in
testing indexes, record displays, and, eventually, Harvard's configuration
settings. The process of defining subsets, conversion, loading, and testing
will happen over and over again until Harvard is satisfied with the
conversion results. The first full-scale test conversion is expected to
happen by the end of 2001.
The goal is to set up ALEPH in a way that supports processing routines in
the libraries. One of the initial hurdles has been to understand functions
of the ALEPH "sub-library," which is similar in concept to the HOLLIS ILS
"LOC" (library holding location code). Work is also underway to define the
properties of the indexes and displays of search results that staff and
patrons will be using to find information in ALEPH. Shortly, we will begin
the task of defining tables that control circulation policies as well as
the codes and functions used in acquisitions, fund accounting, and serials
control. This is an area where input from individual Harvard libraries will
be critical. This process will begin later this year.
Harvard Enhancements to ALEPH
Harvard is requiring a number of enhancements to ALEPH over and above its
current functionality. What Harvard considers "critical"
enhancementsnecessary on Day One of the Harvard implementationwill be
effected across a series of semi-annual ALEPH software releases. Small task
groups composed of staff from OIS and libraries are now working with Ex
Libris to define specifications for these enhancements.
Teams of staff from OIS and the libraries will be responsible for carrying
out many of the activities associated with ALEPH implementation. There will
be teams responsible for specific ALEPH functions (e.g., cataloging,
acquisitions, serial control, OPAC) in addition to teams covering training,
staff productivity tools, desktop software issues, etc. Teams are expected
to work closely with individual libraries. The scope and membership of
these teams remains under discussion.
Implementation activities to date have not been very visible to the library
community, but this will soon change. Once the ALEPH Implementation
Steering Committee (AISC) approves the general plan for ALEPH
implementation, details of the process will be described in open meetings,
newsletters, and on HUL-Info. Direct any questions about the ALEPH
implementation to Kathy Anderson or Tracey Robinson at 5-3724 or
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
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