New header added…05.31.08

31 05 2008

I decided to finally get around to adding a personalized header to my blog.  The photo is from a canoe on the St. Johns river near DeLeon Springs in Central Florida.  The amazing St. Johns river flows north from south Florida and empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Jacksonville. 


ILS Configuration/Cataloging plan…05.30.08

30 05 2008

1. ILS vendor training/documentation

Along with our ILS software and maintenance agreement purchase, I also decided to purchase a 6-hour block of on-line training.  On-site training was available but appeared cost-prohibitive and unnecessary.  This evaluation was correct in hindsight as I only availed myself of about 3 hours of training and was then off and running configuring and tweaking the software to our needs.  I also was able to download, print, and use a “quick start guide” and a full “users guide” which proved helpful at times after training was over and at various times since then.

2. Configuration of web-based Atriuum ILS from Book Systems, Inc.

The following are areas of the ILS software that needed review and thought for its configuration.  This was particularly difficult since no guidelines or input about the general direction of the library and its use or future use was provided by management.  Some decisions made requried modifications at a later time due to insufficient information at the outset.  The negative ramifications of other decisions make me wish that I had known more about the collections and possible/actual use beforehand because some functions are limited now.

Without going into too much explanation, the following are major areas that required configuration decisions without any guidance from management: 

Catalog Administration:


Item Circulation Class


Item Report Class

Physical Location

Age Groups

Catalog Settings


Material Types

Quick Cataloging (Z39.50) Settings

Study Programs



Library Administration:


Barcode Info

Barcode Location Codes


E-Mail Settings

Library Settings

Machine Settings

User Defined Fields

Worker Records

Worker Settings

Worker Settings Defaults




ComPeer Setup

Custom OPAC Links

Edit Visual Search

Library Information

Media Icons

News And Messages

OPAC Settings

Theme Editor


Note: If you visit “My Atriuum OPAC” (see links column), you will notice the homepage has a significant amount of information, however, not as much as I would choose due to size limitations in the software’s OPAC template.  I would have preferred to place there or elsewhere more bibliographic instruction for my current and future patrons.  Future releases of the software, covered by the maintenance agreement, may allow increased size contraints.




Patron Circulation Class

Patron Report Class



Patron Settings

3. Additional Book Systems, Inc. Z39.50 software called “eZcat” was also purchased and configured for our particular application.  eZcat expedites cataloging by searching for and obtaining free MARC 21 records.

4. After reviewing options, I decided to use the DDC system along with LCSH.  DDC schedules, specific DDC shedules for our main subject, and the 5-volume LCSH 5th edition was purchased.  LC websites for the LC Catalog and LC Authorities are used frequently to aid in cataloging as well.

5. OCLC cutter number generating software (free download) was selected and downloaded to my desktop to expedite the creation of consistent author and title cutter numbers.  This really saves a great deal of time and you can’t beat the price.

In my next post, I will continue discussing the creation of policies and procedures. 

Off-site inventory–Phase 2…05.29.08

29 05 2008

transporting boxes for shipping

I was unable to get to the out of state storage areas again until about a year later in April 2007.  I have yet to be able to go there again but plan to do so in Sept. 2008 if possible.  Here is an abridged second trip report (some photos precede–“Every picture tells a story don’t it?…”):

2007 Library Resources Trip Report

Purpose of Trip

The purpose of the trip to the off-site area was to access the new off-site storage facility where we now had 4 distinct units in addition to our main off-site TV production facility, to prepare and ship materials back to the main office for cataloging later, and to begin actual cataloging of materials on-site, as time permitted.

Sunday April 22 (afternoon travel day)

Monday April 23

Starting before 8am with the help of security, I reviewed the 4 remote storage units containing old tape library material.  From storage unit 738 on the third floor, we removed 48 boxes from the racks (approx. 2,450 pounds), taped and labeled each box, weighed each box, carted the boxes to the first floor and eventually loaded them on pallets on a truck.  They were then shrink wrapped and sent to the main office via commercial trucking.  The process took the whole day as we had to wait at the storage facility for the truck to arrive for pick up.  [No materials from the other 3 storage units were moved or shipped on this trip.]

Tuesday April 24

I spent all day at storage unit 736 on the third floor which contains the oldest materials from the video tape library collecting data on my laptop–and by hand when my battery wore down–for later cataloging and entry into the Atriuum database on the BHM network.

 Wednesday April 25

 I spent half the day again at storage unit 736 on the third floor collecting data for later cataloging and entry into the Atriuum database.  In the afternoon, a staff member arranged a spot for me in the break room for network and printer access.  The balance of the day was spent cataloging items using the data collected from 7 boxes in storage unit 736 and entering the data in the Atriuum database. 

Thursday April 26 

I spent all day Thursday in the break room cataloging and entering data collected from the 7 boxes from storage unit 736.  A total of 208 individual 3/4” video masters and dub masters were cataloged and recorded.  

I was unable to print labels correctly using the printer on-site.  Since the IT staff person was gone a conference in San Antonio by Thursday, I was unable to correct the problem so I will print the labels at the home office and apply them to the materials in the 7 boxes from storage unit 736 during my next visit. 

Friday April 27 

This was travel day (return rental car, flight leaving 11am arriving after 4pm at destination airport) 


4 storage units contain the remote storage of the tape library items.  The oldest items are in the 2 units on the third floor.  This is the area chosen to begin cataloging as they are the least likely to be needed for use any time soon. 

I will attempt to store 16 boxes of the materials shipped in the home office library for cataloging as time allows and store the balance at the home office off-site storage unit.  There are many more items in the boxes that were shipped to the home office than in the 7 boxes cataloged off-site Viejo because the items I cataloged there were large ¾” video tapes.  The items shipped to the home office are of various smaller sized videotape formats. 

The items I plan on cataloging from off-site at the home office will be shipped back prior to my next trip so that they may be placed back in storage in the appropriate location.   

9,264 ibliographic records for individual physical items have been entered into Atriuum database/catalog at this time (April 27, 2007).  [End of abridged trip report]

Note:  All of these materials were accessed, cataloged and shipped back to the off-site facility for storage in the unit in numbered boxes by the end of 2007.   Thousands of video archive materials remain to be cataloged and new ones are created daily.

Inspection of off-site library resources…05.28.08

28 05 2008

Yesterday can best be described a balancing act on a tight wire crossing Niagara Falls with piranha biting at my feet.  Marketing deadlines were exacerbated by our changing daily live TV broadcasts so emergency product project management kicked into overdrive and library functions were put on the back burner for much of the day.  With the concerted efforts of many working in relative unison, impending deadlines were met with literally minutes to spare.

Today, I was back to multitasking various library and marketing duties simultaneously…

Anyway, to return to the narrative at hand, I will discuss the first investigatory trip to our off-site storage facilities to access the scope and condition of our collections out of state which occurred concurrently with the inventory.  A 3-day trip was made about 3 months into my job.  I requested and was approved to make this initial trip but again was given no guidance or direction although upon arrival a staff member did give a tour and brief explanation of where the materials in question where, how they got there, and a very general idea of the contents of the storage areas.

Our television production building was first visited and most of the time there was spent looking at a large videotape library on the main floor which was minimally organized in a manner only television production personnel who worked on our daily TV program would partially understand and only the TV director and a few others could actually use to successfully retrieve materials sought.  This was followed by a tour of an out building used for multiple storage purposes, including older archived material that were almost completely unorganized and in a state of disarray with many items in deteriorating condition.  All of the library resources at both locations were video archive materials in various video formats.

After the tour, a cursory but very incomplete inventory and inspection of storage boxes was done.  Upon arrival back at the home office, a report was generated which details my initial findings.  If you are interested further, you may read the excerpted trip report below.  It is rather tedious but helpful to comprehend the bigger picture.  The voluminous photos have been excised. The following is rather “quick and dirty” as time for blogging today has run out.  “…ay, there’s the rub…”

NOTE:  There is no indication that this submitted report in its original format was ever reviewed since no comments and/or feedback were received.

Tuesday 3/21/06

I arrived before noon Tuesday and met with personnel who gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to several other staff members.  One took a significant amount of the time trying to explain to me the current but incomplete organization of video masters in the various areas within the main building and the remote building.

Video Master Archive                      

Main Shelf Rack Area in Main Building: PHOTOS

Second Shelf Rack Area in Main Building: PHOTOS

Some of the video masters at the main building have been organized into a color-coded system and stored in an Access database.  The staff will find this database and email a copy to me when possible.  Here are photos showing the color-coded system:


Although the TV department maintains an Excel spreadsheet with segment reports and synopsis reports, there is no inventory of each individual physical item.  Each program, for example, will include a “Program” tape, an “ISO” tape, and a “Back Up” tape and sometimes with multiple tapes for each type.  The following photo shows the individual tapes for each program:


The following 7 pages are a few additional photos of shelves in the 40-shelf rack storage system to better show the variety and quantity of materials which must be cataloged, preserved, and stored.  We must remember that any additional cataloging/organization of or changes to the organization of these materials must be done with the TV Department’s awareness and approval.  The ultimate goal, besides better and more accurate cataloging of the materials, is to facilitate their use by the TV department now and in the future.

The items stored in this building will be placed in a yet to be determined off-site storage unit. 

The following photos of full storage cabinets, boxes, bookshelves and lateral files illustrated the huge amount of materials amassed which needs to be addressed:


Video Preservation Masters

In discussions after my tour, it was revealed that there are no protection masters of any of BHM programming stored at remote locations.  In case of disaster, i.e. fire, flood, earthquake, water incident, etc., all masters would be susceptible to damage or destruction.  The enormous investment of time and resources to create these unique materials could be lost in a single incident.  Some may or may not be able to be recreated.  It seems prudent, and I recommend, that there should be an assessment of the most valuable masters we possess to create dub masters for off-site, secure storage.

Before leaving for the day, it was determined that I would return on Wednesday to further document the size and condition of our current video archive and take photos of the areas where items are stored to graphically illustrate the magnitude and variety of items which need to be assessed, inventoried, cataloged and organized.  It would also dramatically emphasize how digitization, though costly and time-consuming, would preserve selected items, make them more easily accessible, and reduce physical space needed for storing them. 

Additionally, I planned to diagram the current general locations of the collections I saw and also begin a test inventory section on Wednesday to help estimate the amount of time required to inventory our the materials.  

Wednesday 3/22/06

On Wednesday morning, I spent time in the main (#1) video archive area taking pictures of storage racks, reviewing masters and inventorying just 1 of 40 pull-out racks containing stored video masters to begin the process of trying to determine how long just an inventory of the materials would take. 

Inventory Test

The one section inventoried included 221 lines of data to be entered into an Excel spreadsheet and took 2.5 hours to record.  The items in this section were well marked, not the case in each section.  At this pace, basic arithmetic sums up that a simple inventory of just the 40 video storage racks could take over 100 hours not counting time for data entry.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at building #2, the current video remote storage area.  Photos (over 100) were taken of each section along with samples of boxes or items non-labeled, in poor condition, and items of unknown worth due to damage, condition or format.  The following photos are from Bldg #2, the current remote storage area:


There are reel-to-reel audio masters in a large box:


There are boxes of 2” video masters:


There are quite a few boxes unlabeled and taped up in bins with various masters:


This next photo tries to show the poor condition of some materials.  These videos were covered in thick dust inside and outside their casings:


Audio cassette masters and paper files also in storage:


Below: Me thinking, “I’m sure glad the Lord knows where everything is!”


Wednesday evening and Thursday morning was spent preparing the first draft of this report.  Just to reiterate, all the photos taken for this report were taken merely to help everyone comprehend the magnitude of the project at hand. 

It is extremely important, in light of creating our cataloging, archiving, and preservation plans to learn the fate of the materials stored in the building to be sold.  I understand that all BHM materials, property, and staff housed there must be relocated. 


I have completed rough diagrams of the spaces currently used for storage in both (not to scale) and labeled each rack and section of each rack with a listing of the general contents.   These rough diagrams follow this report.


1) Of utmost importance for all of our resources in all locations, we need to have clear and specific goals for preservation, historical archiving, and long-term storage for possible future use along with a high level of commitment to the resources necessary to accomplish these goals.  To adequately catalog all of the materials currently stored, a clear direction on what we want to accomplish needs to be determined and an approved, executable, long-term plan needs to be formulated.  Just to inventory every item at the off-site will literally take weeks of labor.

2) A decision needs to be made as to which items in storage, if any, need to be discarded or preserved in a manner that will retain their quality and usefulness.   There are many items of questionable usefulness based upon age, content, quality and format.  For example, there are some very old audio cassette masters, audio reel-to-reel masters, ½” (VHS), ¾“and 2” video masters in storage.  Some audio masters may be damaged beyond use and it should be noted that some video/audio masters may not be able to be used due to being formats no longer in use.

3) A decision/plan needs to be made/formulated to make provision for digitization so we can digitally store for use and retrieval manuscripts, historical documents, printed sermons, sermon notes, etc.

During the next visit, we’ll hopefully know more about what we want and need to accomplish and can coordinate work there at the same time.  Having the library automation software purchased and installed will help expedite these projects.   Since the software is web-based, work with the software can happen at remote locations with internet access, such as during trips. 

4) Once library automation software is up and running, we need to make certain my laptop is configured with an internet service provider in order to be able to acquire internet access off-site so I can work on cataloging from any location.

Back from the long Memorial Day weekend…05.27.08

27 05 2008


Well, I’m glad to be back from the long weekend off and ready to dive back into my daily work.  I have a little sunburn from spending time in our swimming pool for the first time this year.

We left off on the post from Friday about the laborious, lengthy, and frustrating ILS selection, approval, and installation process.  To reiterate, I was the only one remotely familiar with ILS packages.  Neither those in the approval process from my IT Dept. nor those in the the Accounting Dept. had a clue as to what the software does or why I needed it.

The first choice I made for our ILS was made primarily because of an extremely low cost and because the vendor was local.  The software selection was submitted to the IT Dept. for review.  However, there was no response for several weeks despite many attempts to get some input on their review progress.  Finally, I was asked to discuss my software needs with them.  During this initial meeting, I clarified the necessity of the software for my position and explained what I wanted to accomplish with it.  The chosen ILS was rejected for several reasons, primarily because our IT Dept. had decided to deal exclusively with Microsoft products and the database for the ILS used a proprietary software unique to the vendor.

It was back to the drawing board in the ILS review process after the first selection was rejected but at least I finally had some minimum criteria that would hopefully please the IT Dept. and the first hurdle to approval for purchase.  I still had no stated budget limitations. However, through my initial conversation with IT Dept. personnel bringing up the matter as a side issue, I was led to believe that the cost would have to be from the low end of the spectrum available that would minimally meet our needs.

Further research led me to the second selection, a relatively new software from Book Systems, Inc.  Their web-based ILS, Atriuum [for more on Atriuum, check out my links list at the right], seemed to fit our needs at the time, would be sufficient as the library resources expanded as projected, and was at a price which hopefully was in the acceptable range.  The software is most generally used by school districts and small public libraries and includes some features not relevant to our needs.

I went though another protracted process of having the software and its specifications from the vendor carefully evaluated for compatibility with our hardware and software environment in addition to seemingly arbitrary preferences.  Eventually, the software was approved by the IT Dept. to proceed to the approval for purchase process by the Accounting Dept. [I had negotiated the cost down from the vendor’s initial proposal prior to submission for purchase but this information will remain confidential.]

After a couple of months, I was informed that the Accounting Dept. had approved the ILS purchase and the appropriate requisition order was generated.  The vendor was given the order which included, the ILS software, installation help for placement on a server in-house, an annual maintenance agreement, barcode scanning equipment and labeling supplies, and an on-line training package.  At this point in time, I had been in the librarian position for 6 months and had completed as much of the physical inventory as possible locally.

A twist on this story came when the IT Dept. announced after the order had been placed that their staff member who reviewed he software had not noticed that the database software the ILS uses is not supported by our current servers so it was not compatible to our hardware/software environment according to their standards.  To avoid problems internally and externally in addition to not further hindering the needed software installation, the IT Dept. decided it would rapidly get approval to purchase a unique Apache server to satisfy the needs of the ILS.

Atriuum was installed about 6 weeks after the software was purchased and available.  Training online from Book Systems, Inc. followed shortly thereafter and cataloging began although it took about another 6 weeks for the IT Dept. to get the OPAC online.

Next time I will discuss my initial trip to our out of state storage areas for a cursory review of the scope and condition of the collections off-site.

BTW, I have been playing with the font in this post trying to get it to match previous posts but have been unsuccessful so far.  It appears correct in the posting area but changes after posting. 

More tomorrow…. I am hoping that my running dialog is understandable and somewhat sequential.

Shout out to OPL…05.24.08

24 05 2008

Normally, I won’t be posting on weekends; however, I wanted to thank Judith A. Siess, founder of Information Bridges International, Inc. which was formed in 1996 to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among library workers around the world and focuses on those working alone in an organization or in small libraries. Judith has been kind enough to comply with my request to visit this blog and give constructive advice.  A link to Judith’s blog, “OPL [One Person Librarian] Plus (not just for OPLs anymore)” is listed in my links column.  It is described as “a blog for librarians in all smaller libraries, not just for one-person or solo librarians–all kinds of libraries, anywhere in the world. Management information, links, and marketing tips that you can use right now.”  I would encourage you to visit her site.

ILS Evaluations…05.23.08

23 05 2008

Simultaneously with the on-going process of inventorying physical collections and electronic resources, a review of existing ILS options took place through web searches, online demos, emails and calls to various vendors, etc.  The selection criteria had to be based solely upon my perception of needs at the time.  As I mentioned earlier, there was no specified budget or clearly defined goals for anything other than that of fulfilling the stated objectives in the job description.  There was no input from anyone in the organization although I attempted to get in-person and email direction and/or guidance frequently.  I did sense, however, that getting expenditures approved in general may be an uphill battle and that visible progress quickly was a paramount though unstated expectation.

Since I was a solo librarian with no technical services assistance and because we have offices in other locations including other countries, I determined that minimally we needed an ILS that would include the following:  1) web access to the OPAC for patrons and librarian access to database functions from anywhere, 2) Z39.50 capabilities to expedite cataloging, 3) circulation functionality, 4) relevant and flexible reporting ability, 5) broad enough in scope to handle the size of collections including future growth, 6) software with a proven track record with quick and easy maintenance along with capable, timely, and responsive technical support, 6) adequate training, and, of course, 7) acceptable to our IT Department’s specifications, and 8) not too expensive–whatever that may have been.   I assumed that most ILS systems used by large public, academic, and specially libraries would be too pricey although I had no particular understanding of the actual costs involved.  Initial inquiries as to ballpark estimates for these types of ILS packages were $50-150,000 so I felt this assumption was generally true.  It made me double my efforts to search for and explore all of the options available.  Pressure was on to make a selection as quickly as possible for submission first to the IT Department for compatibility with the organization’s hardware, software, and other requirements and then, if acceptable, to the Accounting Dept. for purchase approval.

The process ended up being much longer than anticipated and fraught with many unexpected perils and frustrations.  I guess I was a little naive.  Regardless, I was eventually able to find an adequate ILS that was at least minimally acceptable to the IT Dept. and was approved for purchase.  More on this next…

The story continues….