Social Networking from within the OPAC

Part of the overhaul that the NExpress Shared Catalog OPAC received (courtesy of Liz) included the addition of buttons to Like and comment on a book in Facebook or Tweet the URL of the item.  Both just passed my tests and here are the results…

From the Details page of an item (where the holdings table is found) in the Online Catalog…

If you are friends with me on Facebook, this is what you will see if I “Like” a title:

If you are not friends with me, you see this:

You can also post directly to Facebook from within the Catalog and “Like” the item:

Finally, you can Tweet:

Kudos to Koha, as well, for giving us such an awesome OPAC.

Reading just became EZ-ier?

State Library sent out some promotional materials yesterday:

For those who love the convenience of downloading ebooks and audiobooks to their personal electronic devices, the opportunity to sign on with two new vendors is underway.

The State Library of Kansas and the NExpress Shared Catalog are pleased to announce the Kansas EZ Library of digital books available to all Kansas library users. Acting on behalf of Kansas libraries, the State Library of Kansas has entered into agreements with OneClickDigital (for downloadable audiobooks) and 3M (for downloadable eBooks).

OneClickDigital for audiobooks is available via the State Library of Kansas and the NExpress Shared Catalog. Books can be accessed at this site Users must have a Kansas Library card that can be requested at your local library or use their NExpress Shared Catalog card from one of the participating NExpress libraries to register for OneClickDigital.

Regular users of the download service will find the new interface with OneClickDigital much simpler and faster to use. Video and written tutorials are available at to assist individuals in using the new service.

In addition, the State Library will begin offering an ebook solution through 3M Cloud Library soon.

Updates for the beginning of this service can be found on the site. The Kansas EZ library page also features other free audiobook and ebook resources available to Kansas readers.

On December 5, the State Library of Kansas ended its six-year contract OverDrive, a source for downloadable books. The books previously available for checkout through OverDrive and possibly on hold for patrons will no longer be accessible. However, thanks to the diligence of the State Library, many of the titles popular with customers have been transferred to the new vendors’ platforms, and now are available through the two new services.

We added a link to Kansas EZ Library within the My Account section of the NExpress Online catalog so that patrons can register for OneClick Digital without needing a Kansas Library Card Number.  By hitting the 1CD site from our catalog proves that they have an active library card and are authorized to register for the service.  How this will work with 3M is still unknown – it could be we will add a second tab for 3M and rename the existing tab to “OneClickDigital”.

Other news for today – we learned about the Sunflower eLibrary – new mini-consortium of libraries who decided to stay with OverDrive.  Topeka and Wichita libraries also maintained independent contracts with OverDrive.  Interesting development that none of us had heard boo about.

Now, to wait and see when 3M will get the beta ready for testing!!!

How do you Catalog a Subscription Database?

That is the question.  Background – Kelly Fann, the new Director of Tonganoxie Public Library, shared a Reference-is-so-much-fun story with me about how she found a Police Officers Selection test  using her mad Web-searching skills after the patron couldn’t find what he needed in the stacks.  Next, I’m weeding at a library and have to pull all of their GED, GRE, SAT, and ACT tests because they are 10+ years old and not worth the paper they’re printed on anymore.  This library is strapped for cash and can’t afford to buy new guides.  My solution?  Show your patrons how to access these tests and more at LearningExpress!  

The State Library of Kansas provides access to LearningExpress Library (a re-packaged version of  At LearningExpress Library, once you register, you can get access to HUNDREDS of full-text online tests, study guides and ebooks on everything from 4th grade math to Algebra to Adobe Photoshop to GED prep in English or Spanish to Plumber’s License Test Preparation to U.S. Citizenship Preparation to Social Networks and Online Communities.  So, nothing of interest to library patrons or the staff who may need to help them.

We raved about LearningExpress at NEST and wrote a few Posts about it and brainstormed ways to market this service (my favorite is to create a fake book full of how-to book marks and put it in the stacks).  I just wrote another one because I wanted to share our plan to catalog the online Tests in NExpress.

At first, I did things the hard way and tried to create my own brief record for the GED Preparation resources, but then I got smart and went to WorldCat.  Guess what I found there?  MARC Records!  Woot.  Too bad we don’t subscribe to WorldCat.  However, Heather was able to get sample records from the great folks at Northwest Missouri State Univ in Maryville, MO.  I’ve also contacted the marketing department at LearningExpress LLC to see if they can just send me some MARC records.  I’m hoping they’re free.  I can see in WorldCat that they exist….and I WANT THEM.

So, now the question is – can we count ‘use’ via these Koha records?  Maybe using Google Analytics?  Not sure about that.  It would be nice to know if our hard work is going to pay off.  A bit off topic, but I did have Heather add props to the State Library in the records, since it’s their budget that’s providing this great service.

The sample records are:

One complication with our pilot is that you have to register to access the site content and you are not re-directed or ‘further directed'(?) to the exact/correct page within LearningExpress from the Koha OPAC unless you are already logged in!  So, you find the perfect test in Koha, you click on the link, it takes you to the LE site, you register, and then it spits you out on the Home page…not to the exact page you want (and we so carefully embedded in the MARC record).  We’ve added a path finder into the record as a work-around.  The other is to log into LearningExpress first, then use Koha…but if you’re already in LE, why go back to Koha?  We want to use the ILS to advertise LE, not the other way around.

So, I’m waiting impatiently to hear back from LearningExpress about MARC records and until then, we’ve sent our sample records out to the NExpress list for feedback.  I hope they find it useful.

Libguides – Play day in the lab

Heather got us a demo for LibGuides for Libraries, so we are looking at how Academics, school and a few public libraries are using these ‘Content Sharing Platforms’ aka, wayfinders, reference guides, presentation platforms, knowledge base (LibAnswers) research pathfinders.  This is a subscription service, but it would certainly be affordable for us

Wonder if we could link this to our OPAC?  How could school libraries and publics use this for those annual “History of Kansas” projects or “To Kill a Mockingbird” reading assignments?

Some Examples and Reveiws:

West Virginia Library Commission They use it for FAQ’s – Collection Development Consulting guide – Articles – Feeds and Videos.

We could also use this to contain our presentations, consulting info, NExpress stuff, those informational emails that include links and documents and such…

Tulsa is using it for Local History – Could we incorporate this with our kete idea – feed in information?

Can we tell how useful this is?  Are their Statistics…Widget that provides view statistics – so yes.  Also, the last updated date is automatically included. Also, it’s printable (sort of) and mobile versions are included with this LibGuides product.

Makes sense to use this as a brain-dump – if you’re going to do the research, archive it in a LibGuide.  Ooh, while you do have to handcode the Book List widget, you can embed a “Place Hold” hyperlink.


  • Do we want to pay extra for “”?
  • Do we need to pay extra for the backup and image storage?  If we were to leave, what would we do with information and pictures?  Backed up in XML – so an ‘open’ format.
  • NExpress site as a LibGuide or collection of LibGuides?  Can we embed our Jing videos??
  • Staff presentations and articles
  • Brain dump for staff – CD/weeding consulting, Budgeting, Advocacy, Technology, Business management, Courier how-to’s, Board Roles and Responsibilities, and our CE events
  • Indexed by Google?  We think so…
  • Do individual libraries have to have their own subscription?  Yes.  Affordable for the schools and small academics?
  • eBooks in Kansas – re-create the statewide site from Blogger to LibGuide?
  • Build a LibGuide around our Webinars – terms, follow up Q’s, pre-reading, site lists, etc.
  • We could see Jim and Laura using something like this a LOT.
  • Topics – “Programming for Seniors” or “Reader’s Advisory for THIS GENRE”
  • I’m going to make one around the Toy Box…

Koha Community Here We Come!

Like good little tortoises and hares, we’ve been racing towards our migration to Koha Community with Bywater Solutions and we reach the finish line tomorrow night.  After a relaxing brunch, I plan to be at the Bonner Springs City Library at the open of business on Sunday to celebrate.

We have learned many useful lessons from our many upgrades and this migration:

  1. Follow your testing priorities and delegate – Heather covered Cataloging, Liz managed SIP and scripting the data download/upload process, and Mickey and I tested Koha within an inch of its life
  2. Be in contact with your migration team – conference calls, chat, skype – we used them all!
  3. Learn to love the Bugzilla ticketing system
  4. Steal from the Koha 3. 4 Manual
  5. Communicate with your stake-holders, like libraries open on Sunday and who use SIP
  6. Pay attention to new System Preferences, like “HomeOrHoldingBranchReturn”
  7. Get re-acquainted with Koha Bugzilla – there are a lot of bugs we need to be aware of
  8. Have realistic expectations – Yes, there are bugs we discovered during our testing this week and last week that will bother our libraries, but not enough to postpone the migration
  9. Make lists – Liz has a rather large one of stuff to do Saturday night and Sunday morning related to geek stuff that I don’t even try to comprehend
  10. Stay positive – we are very excited to be returning to the Koha Community where we can impact the project in a meaningful way.

KohaCon 2010

Update: Nicole is live-blogging the event.  The conference started Monday in New Zealand, which was Sunday in Kansas…about 3 pm to 11 pm or so our time was 9 am to 5 pm, the next day, in the land of the kiwis.

Two of my staffers in New Zealand for KohaCon 2010.  I was looking at the program today and wish I could hear Lee talk about her migration from Winnebago to Koha at Butte.  I see that Paul is on the agenda giving the “brief history” speech Chris gave in 2009 and instead of Galen, he is talking about 3.4…a Release Manager’s duty, I guess.  Love to say that I’ve met, ate, and drank with all of these fine folks at the Plano, Texas KohaCon.

Oooh, I will have to get Liz to take notes on this one:

eBooks: Why they break ISBNs
Stuart Yeates

A view of eBooks from an administrative and cataloging point of view, focusing on how some of the current practices around unique identifiers and organisation of content by media is going to be challenged.

Have fun!  I’ll be watching the Live Feed and Twitter.

Proud to say NEKLS is a Sponsor.

Long Live Leavenworth

Last week was spent up north at the Leavenworth Public Library.  They joined NExpress and had to be taught the ins and outs of PTFS Master, based on Koha 3.0.  After several planning meetings, we decided to split up the agenda thus, knowing that we had an opportunity on Wednesday to clear the book-drop back-log  from the 2-week closing (for new carpet):

Tuesday. In the meeting room. With a projector, demonstrations, screencasts and hands-on practice:

  • Intro and Reality Check – Mickey
  • OPAC and My Account – Brenda
  • Staff Client Overview – Heather
  • Staff Client: Check in :: Check out :: New patrons :: Managing Holds :: Searching :: Placing a Hold – Me
  • Troubleshooting – Heather

Wednesday. At the Circulation Desk. With the Live catalog, Staff:

  • Checked in hundreds of items,
  • Triggering dozens of holds,
  • Filling dozens of courier bags, which required Kansas Library Express labels
  • Provided ‘Advanced Searching’ training for the Reference staff – Me

Thursday. In the Tech Services Office. With volunteers from Atchison:

  • Processed 12 tubs of materials sent by other NExpress libraries to fill Leavenworth holds

By Thursday, things were flowing nicely and I could leave the Circ desk and train the last five staff members (nights and weekends crew) from 5-9 pm.  I showed back up Friday morning, but left by 10:30 because I was superfluous.  The Koha ILS, at its core, is easy to use.

We discovered new bugs, workflows that needed adjusting and peripherals that needed fixing.

What I loved most, though, was helping patrons, flirting with small children and making people happy…which is why I love being a librarian.

Harley Hiccups

Our recent upgrade from Koha 3.0 to PTFS Master 1.1 happened Saturday night and we’ve been managing the ‘hiccups’ ever since.  I’m going to be nice, polite, professional and keep this post limited to the subject of communicating effectively with 32 libraries in 14 counties during a turbulent period.

The most useful method, in my mind, was the Koha news feature.  We used this to push out quick and dirty updates and direct folks to other sources of news and information.

We supported the News feature with a full-length post on  This is where we posted explanations, screen shots, and screen casts.  I reordered this list today, putting open tickets at the top and closed or fixed items farther down the list.  If you visit that post, you’ll see we’ve been busy.

For really important issues, we sent out emails.  Old skool, but still effective.  In these, we could use humor and examples and other cuddly methods of softening the news.

I hope that this three-way attack of information kept everyone informed, alert and flexible.

It’s not over yet, but we have the Leavenworth library migrating into the Shared Catalog over the labor day weekend, so we need to turn the Great NExpress Eye toward that for a bit.

Next Available v. Item Level Holds

For the NExpress Users Group meeting, I will be talking about the very unscientific results of an ‘unrestricted holds flow test’ – meaning, I picked 5 titles and recorded their holds for 6 weeks.  Each Monday morning, I’d take a snapshot of the status table and Holds priority list for Fantasy in Death, Big Girl, Worst Case, Going Rogue and I, Alex Cross.

During this review, we discovered:

  • The simultaneous holds bug (4373), which we sent to Support in December 2009 but were able to replicate and record (using Jing!) for a bug report.  This is a rather significant find and will require some major changes in how Koha functions.
  • We also see problems with how Koha picks an item to fill a hold when a Library has one copy of the title cataloged with a restricted item type and another copy with an unrestricted item type.  Sometimes the restricted item shows up on the Pick List with instructions to ship it to another library.  That’s not suppose to happen.
  • We also learned more about how the priority list behaves – namely, that when an item has been ‘picked’ and ‘assigned’ to fill a hold, the Priority List goes funny (bug 3344).  We brought this to Galen’s attention and there is a new interim status in 3.2 for items in transit, but not yet waiting (I think – I can’t find my screen shot for this).
  • We also worked with the Cataloging committee to find a better way to catalog On Order items – it seems that in some cases, restricted hold rules weren’t being followed on items that were first cataloged with the On Order item type and then later changed to Local Hold or Walk-in.  Actually, Walk-in behaves ok, but Local Hold is still kind of problematic.
  • Expired holds need to be managed a bit better – many times there were books tied up on a holds shelf for 14 days, rather than being moved on to the next waiting patron.
  • Item level holds (not associated with restricted item types) are BAD, BAD, BAD and lead to unnecessary wait times for patrons.

As to “The Test” – On average, a patron’s hold request advances one place in the priority list each day, or 7 places in a week.

  • Patron A went from 33rd to 19th to 10th to checked out in 4 weeks on a ‘Next Available’ title-level hold while
  • Patron B went from 21st to 12th to 7th to waiting in 4 weeks on an “Only item” item-level hold.
  • Patron C went from 27th to 19th to 12th to waiting in 4 weeks on a title-level hold
  • For Worst Case, which had the most available copies, the average went up to 14 places in 7 days.

As a ‘control’ – I used House Rules and in 6 weeks, Patron A went from 52nd t o 5th place – if my math is right, that’s 47 places in 6 weeks or an advancement of about 7.8 places per week.  That’s on a title-level hold.  For the Patron B who had an item-level hold, they went from 9th to 3rd in 9 weeks!

Joy of Statistics…or How I Spent My Friday

We have 173 saved reports in Koha.  That’s a lot.  How many are current? How many are still used? How many even work?  I haven’t a clue.  Regardless, I added  a few more yesterday when I went to visit Basehor.  As a District Library that has to take any mil levy increase to the tax payers for a vote, it’s important for them to have a useful strategic plan and meaningful statistics to prove that they’re reaching their goals.  That’s what I was doing yesterday – trying to figure out how to get 2009 Circ Stats out of the catalog that met their needs AND could be run without getting a Gateway Timeout error!  The Circulation Wizard is bunk – wasn’t before we added 7 new libraries, but now I guess we’ve reached the wizard’s carrying capacity and it’s feet up except early in the morning or late in the evening.  Not terribly useful…but our support vendor is working on it, I think (hope and pray).

Here’s what we came up with – we search the Statistics table for items issued and renewed at their location that have call numbers LIKE ‘insert example here%’ – we made judicious use of OR statements (thank you #kohakansas for your help with that) and the % wildcard character.

We did discover that because Basehor has a unique call number scheme of DVF for their movies, our report was not counting many movies circed at their branch that came from other libraries.  We debated and decided that for what they need – proof that their adult media goal is being met – the missing circs wouldn’t matter.  It was a lively debate and I really enjoyed it.  Carla certainly has a strong team at their library and encourages everyone to voice their opinion.

I may add these to the SQL library.  Will be asking folks tomorrow for help with adding a date range – need to run this for the first quarter of 2009 and I can’t whip out the code for that…

SELECT count(*) FROM statistics
LEFT JOIN items on (items.itemnumber = statistics.itemnumber)
LEFT JOIN biblioitems on (biblioitems.biblioitemnumber = items.biblioitemnumber)
WHERE statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘DVF%’
OR statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘CD F%’
OR statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘CDF%’