As the winter holidays draw close, so does the end of Chalmers’ first year of working hands-on as EBSCO’s beta partner within the FOLIO project. We started off 2018 with a workshop where my colleagues at Chalmers and I, together with Theodor, our FOLIO implementation consultant from EBSCO, first started discussing our hopes and goals for FOLIO and the future. While the spring that followed was primarily dedicated to going from Summon to EDS and to exploring and setting up our FOLIO alpha environment, and summer introduced us (and other “early implementers” of FOLIO) to the wonderful world of feature ranking for development, the autumn semester saw us focusing more intensely on future data flows between systems, circulation functionality in FOLIO, and e-resource management.
Sharing bibliographic metadata
For the past months, we’ve put a lot of work into planning and preparing the flow of bibliographic metadata between Swedish union catalog LIBRIS, FOLIO, other metadata sources, and EDS. One thing that we knew early on is that, from now on, we want to do all our print cataloging in LIBRIS. Using LIBRIS to its fullest lets us take advantage of other libraries’ cataloging and subject expertise, while sharing our own expertise with the rest of the LIBRIS community and to the world – and we are of course looking forward to exploring the possibilities created by LIBRIS’ transition to linked data together with the fact FOLIO is not based on the MARC format. We also knew that we do not want to duplicate data, that we want to automate the data flows between the systems as much as possible, and that we need to differentiate between data used for circulation and data used for discovery.
One of the exciting activities that was born from this was a hackathon where some of our own developers, our FOLIO implementation consultant, my systems librarian colleague Siska, and I, worked together to create an OAI-PMH client that would automate the flow of metadata between LIBRIS and FOLIO, and convert the incoming data from the format provided by LIBRIS to the FOLIO Inventory format. We found that the hackathon format has suited us especially well in this project. First of all, the developers get direct real-time input on what the tool they’re building needs to do from the end-users (librarians, in this case). Secondly, it’s a great opportunity for systems librarians who do not have a background in programming to pick up some of the knowledge, practical experience, vocabulary and confidence needed to understand, talk about and work with our systems and data on a deeper level.
What we (need FOLIO to) do
We have also spent countless hours trying to figure out what it actually is that we need from FOLIO: which functionality is necessary, which workflows have to be supported, what makes an interface easy to work with. As the library set to implement FOLIO first, we have a great opportunity to make our voice heard and contribute with our knowledge and vision. In this, we’ve had assistance from several people from EBSCO and the FOLIO community, who’ve walked us through existing and planned FOLIO functionality in order to help us understand how it supports our current and desired workflows. In November, we welcomed three product owners from FOLIO with whom we had great discussions about circulation, acquisitions and ERM.
Our feedback, both to the FOLIO community when reviewing planned features and to ourselves when looking at our own current workflows, has often boiled down to one thing: make it simpler. This owes in part to the modest size of our library, in part to philosophy.
A few weeks later, we had a visit from one of the American EBSCO implementation consultants who helped us get started writing manual tests based on our own workflows. That is something we look forward to sinking our teeth further into this coming spring. Writing and carrying out these tests will, besides letting us find bugs and gaps for the FOLIO developers to fix, provide an opportunity for us at Chalmers to try out our workflows in FOLIO and to get acquainted with the system before we go live.So there we are. From that first workshop in January where we were just starting to figure out our part in the FOLIO project and the potential FOLIO holds for us, through a fairly harmonious implementation of EDS, great encounters and conversations with the FOLIO community, countless discussions of our feature requirements, and some interesting discoveries made while cleaning our catalog data, we have had an intense, challenging and exciting year.
Wishing you all a happy holiday season!
/Lisa Sjögren & the FOLIO team at Chalmers