International Survey of Library Automation

Marshall Breeding has published the results of the “Perceptions 2007: An International Survey of Library Automation” and I doubt they’ll make comfortable reading at SirsiDynix HQ (unless Scribe has got it right!)…

The products of SirsiDynix, Unicorn and Horizon, received low satisfaction scores from libraries responding to the survey. Unicorn, the company’s flagship ILS performed somewhat better than Horizon. 14% of libraries running Unicorn and about half of those with Horizon indicate interest in migrating to another system — not surprising considering SirsiDynix’s position not to develop that system into the future. Horizon libraries scored high interest in open source ILS alternatives. The comments provided by libraries running Horizon voiced an extremely high level of frustration with SirsiDynix as a company and its decision to discontinue Horizon. Many indicated distrust toward the company. The comments from libraries running Unicorn, the system which SirsiDynix selected as the basis for its flagship Symphony ILS, also ran strongly negative — some because of issues with the software some because of concerns with the company.

Voyager, Horizon, and Aleph 500 sites are the most likely to consider moving to Open Source (such as Koha or Evergreen).
If Open Source isn’t of interest, then the satisfaction levels amongst Polaris customers makes that a very attractive system to move to.

HIPpie “Did you mean?” ready for testing

I’ve just finished plugging the first bit of HIPpie into our test OPAC:
I’m gonna be out of the office for most of next week (3 days in London at Online Information 2007), but I’ll start contacting those of you who said you’d like to be involved with the testing. The test code just requires you to paste a short block of JavaScript into one of the HIP stylesheets (searchinput.xsl).
At present, the version I’ve plugged into our test OPAC uses a generic US word list, but the idea is to allow libraries to either upload their own word lists or choose from country specific ones.
Although the code needs to be able to create links that contain the HIP profile string and the session ID, neither of these are actually passed back to the server at Huddersfield (just in case session privacy is an issue).

(Hopefully) coming soon — HIPpie

In the last couple of months, I’ve had several email exchanges with Dynix & Horizon libraries who were interested in using some of the “2.0” features that I’ve added to our OPAC at Huddersfield, but the technical challenges (setting up an extra web server, MySQL database, etc) would have been too much.
I’ve been thinking for a while that some of the features could be done if someone else (e.g. me) were to handle the techie stuff. All the library would need to do would be to add a few lines of JavaScript to the relevant XSL stylesheets…
HIPpie was the best name that I could think of in the bath last night, and (unless the SirsiDynix lawyers come down on me like a tonne of bricks) it stands for HIP patron interface enhancements (HIP being the product name of the Dynix and Horizon OPAC).
It’s still mostly vapourware (i.e. I haven’t finished writing the code yet), but if you’re running HIP version 2 or version 3 and you fancy adding any of the following to your OPAC, then please get in touch (email d.c.pattern [at]

  • RSS feeds for keyword searches
  • “did you mean” spelling suggestions
  • email alerts for keyword searches
  • user reviews
  • user ratings

I’ve deliberately picked features that I don’t think are being offered via other channels (e.g. LibraryThing for Libraries or Jim Taylor).
Unfortunately HIP version 4 was never released in the UK, so I’m not sure how easy it would be to add the features to that version, but if there’s someone out there who’s familiar with the stylesheets and is willing to experiment…?
HIP is the only OPAC I’m intimately familiar with, but if other people can figure out ways of making the features work with other products, then that’d be cool.
HIPpie will be offered for free and will hopefully stay that way, unless it becomes incredibly popular.
Like I say, it ain’t ready yet, but please get in touch if you’re interested in testing it once it’s ready!

Arrghhhhh – Change!

I’m sure Stephen Abram posted his “Change — Arrghhhhh!” article with all of the best intentions in the world, but unfortunately it’s not gone down well with some of the customers…

I assure you, most of us handle change quite well and if none of us wanted major change we wouldn’t be upset about the decision to trash 8.0. In fact, we have asked, begged and demanded change for years and we finally thought we were about to get some. Instead that long awaited “change” has once again been flushed down the toilet.

I was reminded of a stern grownup telling a child that he must take his cod liver oil, because it’s good for him. And I might, if I thought the New Improved Cod Liver Oil had distinct advantages over the old cod liver oil I’ve been taking for years. Problem is, I’m not convinced.

…an incredibly insulting commentary

I also think the article on change has to rate as one of the most offensive and tasteless exercises in corporate public relations ever done.

I must admit that when I read the article, my initial reaction was “what on earth was Stephen thinking when he wrote it?”. Anyway, with a quick shrug of the shoulders, I went back to doing some more coding on the Solr OPAC and the subsequent release of endorphins made me feel much happier! 🙂
I’d definitely be interested to know what some of the Unicorn sites thought of the article.

SirsiDynix Rome Sweepstake #1 – EDIFACT

Will SirsiDynix Rome support the EDIFACT standard from day 1? The US office says “no” and “probably not”, whilst the UK office says “yes”.
For UK customers, EDIFACT is pretty much an essential requirement for running a library. In fact, I suspect most libraries outside of the US require it.
So, will the first release of Rome have EDIFACT or won’t it? As the US will be doing the development, I suspect the answer might be “no”, but I’m sure I’ll shortly receive another telephone call from the UK office to say “yes” (if only to even up the scores at two all).

SirsiDynix to build Rome OPAC on Evergreen

Finally some proof that the new management at SirsiDynix are listening to their customers! I really shouldn’t post this until SirsiDynix make the official announcement on Thursday, but I just have to spill the beans because I’m so excited about the news…
Since the announcement of Rome, many Dynix and Horizon sites have been discussing a move to open source systems (such as Koha and Evergreen) and it looks like the top brass at SirsiDynix have realised that “if you can’t beat them, join them” — on Thursday they’ll be announcing a partnership with the people at Georgia Public Library Service who develop the Evergreen system.
How did I find out about this? Well, a couple of years ago I was given access to the Dynix development website and I regularly check it to see what the company has in the software pipeline. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a link titled “Evergreen Partnership OPAC” this morning — what could I do but click to see what is was!
I honestly thought that SD staff might have put it on there as some kind of joke, but a quick phone call to the press office at Huntsville confirmed the news and also that the formal announcement would come before the end of the week. They did ask me to swear that I wouldn’t leak the news, but I had my fingers crossed at the time so it doesn’t count!!! 😀
This is really great news as the Evergreen OPAC has a host of features not currently available in most ILS vendor OPAC products (including facets and lots of cool AJAX stuff).

Horizon — the five stages of grief

Well, I finally passed through the “denial” stage yesterday evening (which was partly why I didn’t post the information I knew until the formal announcement), slipped in “anger” overnight (good job I can never remember my nightmares!), which I guess puts me firmly into the “bargaining” stage today…

I wonder if I rang up SirsiDynix and promised to be a nicer person or told them how much I love them, they might reconsider?

Unfortunately, this means I’ll either be in the “depression” or “acceptance” stage during my presentation at the CILIP: “Re-imagining the Library” Executive Briefing tomorrow.
I guess either is better than still being in the “anger” stage — 15 minutes of me on the stage shaking my fists at the heavens screaming “Why God? Why?!? Horizon 8.0 looked so beautiful with its funky Aqua style buttons! Take me instead!!! Wait a minute… Statue of Liberty? …that was our planet! You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!” might well go down as a memorable presentation, but not in a “good” way.
Anyway, if nothing else, the upcoming European Conference in May is going to be extremely interesting — if you haven’t done so already, get your space booked now!

OPAC search cloud and failed searches

Seeing as I’ve got my head in the clouds at the moment, here’s one showing the most popular keyword search words used on our OPAC during the last 6 months…
To be honest, there aren’t too many surprises in there — students studying business & law and the health sciences are the heaviest users of the library.
Unlike Yahoo, not a single person has done a search for “Britney” on our OPAC in the last 6 months …and “yes”, you would get a relevant hit if you did 😉
I’ve also separated out words that appear in failed keyword searches (i.e. they produced no hits) and removed those which did appear in other successful searches — this gives a list of keywords that probably don’t match anything on the catalogue:

  1. newspapermen (96)
  2. socail (90)
  3. buisness (84)
  4. brantingham (74)
  5. renew (74)
  6. metalib (73)
  7. reserach (72)
  8. mortor (67)
  9. vehclos (66)
  10. gieber (63)
  11. thoery (63)
  12. writting (62)
  13. psycology (59)
  14. contempory (58)
  15. donky (51)
  16. facism (47)
  17. reserch (46)
  18. reasearch (39)
  19. ans (38)
  20. hypodermic (38)
  21. ielts (38)
  22. televison (38)
  23. estimation (37)
  24. priciples (36)
  25. superficial (36)
  26. immanual (35)
  27. infomation (34)
  28. ligament (34)
  29. tuberclosis (34)
  30. centuary (33)
  31. resourse (33)
  32. topshop (33)
  33. treetment (33)
  34. devlopment (32)
  35. petherick (32)
  36. proffesional (32)
  37. quantitive (32)
  38. stamps (32)
  39. theorys (32)
  40. enviromental (31)
  41. pschology (31)
  42. statistic (31)
  43. syringe (31)
  44. hanbook (30)
  45. simnet (30)
  46. stratergy (30)
  47. intoduction (29)
  48. pestel (29)
  49. physio (29)
  50. pratice (29)

The words in bold are valid spellings (according to Microsoft Word) and the figure in brackets is the number of separate searches that contained the word.
Compared to the cloud, this is much more interesting…
1) many of them are simple typos — another good reason to add a spellchecker to your OPAC if you haven’t got one!
2) the fifth most common word is “renew” — are our users trying to renew their books by typing the word into the OPAC, or are they expecting the OPAC to work like a search engine and return something like “How to renew your books” as the first result?
3) the sixth most common word is “metalib” — it looks like a lot of people are trying to find help on using MetaLib in the OPAC… maybe we should create a dummy catalogue record that contains 856 links to MetaLib and our Electronic Resources Wiki?
4) “mortor” is an oddity in the list… but the entry for “pestel” near the end makes me wonder if people were searching for “mortar and pestle”?
Outside of the top 50, there are some other interesting failed keywords (with links to Wikipedia or other sites when relevant):