Journeys of a FOLIO early implementer

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I remember when, a wide-eyed young cataloger (this was about three years ago), I was asked by my colleagues Siska and Marie – then in the process of capturing the staff’s thoughts on our current library systems – to list things I wished it were possible to do in our ILS Sierra. In response to many of the things I pointed out, I was informed that the functionality I requested actually exists – we just don’t use it. One of the main lessons I took away from that experience was the importance of articulating my assumptions and ideas, so that others can challenge, confirm or make them better.

The past months have provided plenty of opportunity for me to do just that. From a three day working meeting in Amherst with our fellow EBSCO beta partners, via the annual meeting of the EBSCO Systems Nordic User Group which Chalmers had the pleasure of hosting in early April, to the German FOLIO days in Bremen.  April also saw the birth of the FOLIO Implementers interest group, which meets virtually every week to discuss challenges of and strategies for implementing FOLIO.

Common to all of these meetings is that they provide the opportunity to share experiences and ideas, inspiring you to think beyond your own horizons, and to develop and sustain that invaluable network of people – with names and faces – that you know you can get in touch with when you need help, advice, or someone to bounce ideas with. Keep reading to learn more about how we experienced this at the EBSCO beta meeting and at the German FOLIO Days.

Meeting the EBSCO betas in Amherst, MA

In late March, my colleague Lari and I spent three productive days getting to know and working together with colleagues from the libraries at University of Alabama and the Five Colleges in Amherst. Like Chalmers, these libraries are implementing FOLIO as EBSCO beta partners, with hosting, implementation and support services from EBSCO. Hosted by the 5 Colleges and organized by EBSCO’s team of implementation consultants, the meeting included many interesting discussions and quite a bit of hands-on work.

One day of the meeting was spent going through each library’s existing feature prioritizations in small groups (e.g. resource access, ERM). The slightly daunting task of expressing your library’s requirements by ranking features (needed to go live, needed later, not needed) in FOLIO’s issue tracking system JIRA is something every early FOLIO implementer has, or will very soon, come into contact with. It’s one of our primary tools for helping the project decide which features need to be developed first.

At Chalmers, planning to go live in 2019, we have already reviewed our rankings several times to make sure they properly reflect our actual needs. Still, discussing them in new constellations can give new insights: it forces you to go back and explain, maybe reexamine, those assumptions and familiar habits that underlie your decisions. Which features do we really need to provide good service to our patrons, which ones to recreate the workflows we have in our current ILS:s, and which ones because we simply haven’t thought of other possible (good) solutions that exist? And which are those features that will make us think of FOLIO as a really good system? These are excellent questions to discuss with fellow implementers.

At the end of that day, we could all be very proud that, defying belief, we had actually made it through all the features and refined our prioritization of them.

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Feature prioritization in action. (Photo by Theodor Tolstoy)

Among the many interesting implementation topics we touched upon during these three days, I found it particularly valuable share the other betas’ experiences with and ideas regarding how and when to talk about FOLIO with the general staff. When is it fun and exciting, and when unnecessarily unsettling, to see a system in development? How do we best leverage curiosity and deal with legitimate concerns? How does training to prepare for go-live differ from training to keep up to date and to foster an atmosphere of engagement and continued learning?

I found it very inspiring to hear about the communication activities at Five Colleges, which include a monthly FOLIO newsletter and open events where staff watch and discuss the FOLIO Forum webinars together. Their view has been that, when given the ability to stay informed and take part in the conversation, staff members can turn their concerns and ideas into involvement in the project.

At Chalmers, we have for the past months at several occasions invited library staff to come and, in a very informal and exploratory setting, try out some basic workflows in FOLIO. We’ve done this in small groups, through open invitations, and with at least two implementation team members present. The idea with these workshops is to give staff a chance to familiarize themselves with the system, while giving us great feedback on functionality and UI that we’re able to relay to the community. Seeing our colleagues test FOLIO with fresh eyes really has been inspiring and energizing as well as informative.

German FOLIO Days in Bremen

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A captive audience at the German FOLIO Days.

In mid-April my colleague Marie and I went to Bremen for the German FOLIO Days, which we saw as a chance to get to know European members of the FOLIO community. It was great to see and speak to so many librarians and service providers from all over Germany, and some visitors from other countries, all curious about FOLIO. For Chalmers it is crucial to have a strong footing in the European community. We know that there are issue and interests particular to the European context, like the GDPR and localization and internationalization, that are vital both to us as European institutions and for FOLIO to be a project with a truly international identity and viability in the European market.

The German FOLIO Days programme included demos from several product owners, including fresh looks at acquisitions, MARC cataloging and electronic resource management. The German FOLIO community has played and continues to play a crucial role in the development of FOLIO’s electronic resource management functionality, and the first German implementers, among them the University of Bremen, are planning to start managing their electronic resources in FOLIO this fall. While Chalmers has been using different ERM systems for quite a while, Bremen are taking the leap straight from Excel sheets and e-mails to FOLIO’s integrated resource management modules. We look forward to sharing this journey with them, and with all our fellow FOLIO implementers.

Since neither Marie nor I speak German, we had an interesting time using online translation tools, the advantage of having a Germanic first language, and kind help from fellow conference participants to keep up with presentations and workshops in German. Finding the right balance between a common language and the language that attendants are most comfortable is a tough challenge – but it’s one that I’m actually happy to see us faced with, since it means that the community really is international. It might also have been partly thanks to this creative confusion of languages, paired with the openness of the people present, that I found myself feeling oddly comfortable in a workshop in German on loading user data into FOLIO using bash – another language I’m not quite fluent in yet.

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Chalmers staff testing FOLIO.

As you discuss workflows with fellow FOLIO implementers at the top of the (very high) W.E. Dubois library in Amherst, as you write to a fellow systems librarian to ask how they would tackle a certain issue, as you watch your colleague check out a book in FOLIO for the first time, something falls into place. It’s in these encounters, between people and between software and people, that all that hard work we put in – across time zones and countries and professions – gets a chance to try its wings and embark on its (initially bumpy) flight.

Working with FOLIO, at this moment in time, you get to experience these encounters of people and software and organizations and ideas in abundance. In the coming month I look forward to trying out the latest release of FOLIO in the Q 2.1 release bugfest, to delving further into data migration, and to talking FOLIO with international colleagues at the FOLIO working meeting in Washington DC and at ALA.

/Lisa Sjögren

Curious about FOLIO?

Chalmers Library is planning to migrate to a brand new, actually not yet existing, library services platform called FOLIO. Partnering with EBSCO, we will be the earliest adopter, going live with the first version in 2019. Here I will try to outline the foundations of FOLIO, no previous knowledge required.

A new library system built from scratch

Photo of thinking woman with FOLIO pen behind the ear.
We want a potent library system that meets our requirements today and can adapt to future needs.

The philosophy behind FOLIO is to build what libraries need, with a modern and flexible infrastructure and a well-thought-out design for a good user experience. Well, of course, that is what every library system company would say, but in this case librarians are involved from start to end. And there is no company who owns the system.

One basic idea is the concept of ”apps”, i.e. pieces of functionality. None of these apps should be too large and each could easily be replaced by another app if needed. The technique behind this is called micro services and the intention is that selected apps will serve as one system.

FOLIO will be handling both print and electronic resources and related library tasks. In the core setup, there will be apps for knowledgebase(s) including link resolver activation, licenses and other workflows for e-resources, as well as metadata management and circulation of print books.

Screenshot of FOLIO apps

Later on, anyone who wishes can extend their installation of FOLIO with additional functionality or replace parts of the system with apps they would rather use. For example, a consortium may prefer a more extensive app to handle finances than a small library who prefers simplicity. Or you may feel the need to build an app to integrate with your home grown inter library loan system or institutional repository.

The user interface is a for librarians only. There will be no OPAC among the core apps, instead the user has to find the material in a discovery system who will call FOLIO to display loan status, make requests etc. EBSCO discovery system (EDS) as well as some open source discovery systems are currently working with FOLIO integration.


Who is developing FOLIO?

FOLIO is an acronym for The Future of Libraries is Open. It may sound a bit fishy, but the basic idea is that the source code is open for anyone to use and to build upon. Also, anyone can install FOLIO locally, free of charge.

FOLIO is being developed as a collaboration within the non-profit open source promoting organization Open Library Foundation (OLF). In OLF, The Open Library Environment (OLE) coordinates the work together with EBSCO information services, the Danish software development company Index Data and several other teams.

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Librarians work together with product owners at online meetings. There are Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for metadata management, accessibility, reporting, and many more.

As a community driven project, engaged librarians are working in together with product owners to determine which functionality the apps should encompass, how the workflows should behave and to test the user experience. The work is completely transparent and anyone can join.

However, the tempo would not be this high without the involvement of commercial companies who are investing heavily with dedicated teams of developers. EBSCO, ByWater, SirsiDynix, Index Data and others are planning to sell hosted environments and support services as well as endeavouring to integrate with existing library systems components. To make FOLIO a success is of course vital for these companies.

Further on, the idea is that a flora of libraries and companies will make and offer new apps with extended functionality. It’s up to the developer to decide weather the app should be free of charge or not.

Is any library using FOLIO?

No, not yet. But Chalmers Library is intending to go live with FOLIO as the very first library, soon, really soon.

So why on earth are we planning to leave established library systems to embark on this project? Well, that’s another blog post…

Want to learn more?

Folio.org – the starting point.

The FOLIO wiki – The node for the special interest groups and, well, essentially everything. For example, have a look at some app ideas or The Codex vision which is currently being discussed within the community. Go to the bottom of the page to learn how to join a SIG.

FOLIO UX – demos of the design work and vision.

FOLIO demo site – the latest stable version. Login with diku_admin / admin

At Open Library Forum on You Tube you will find several presentations. For example, this recent roadmap update which also covers the basics about FOLIO and shows how features are prioritized.

Previous blog posts about FOLIO

/Marie Widigson & the FOLIO team at Chalmers

A year closer to FOLIO

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.

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Looking at a patron record in Chalmers’ FOLIO environment before a meeting with LIBRIS. The hat behind the coffee cup was purchased in Durham, NC, where I attended a FOLIO conference in May. Read more about the conference in this blog post.

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.

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Systems librarians, electronic resource librarians and developers hard at work at our first hackathon, held in spring, where we built an interim solution for displaying Terms of use (as we we lost that service going from Summon to EDS).

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.20181219_141722So 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

 

BLOGGSERIE BIBLIOTEKETS FRAMTID: DEL 5

Arkitektur- och samhällsbyggnadsbiblioteket tar äntligen form! Förutom en rejäl makeover till det yttre – större yta, ljusare placering och ny inredning – så sker en hel del förändringar även vad gäller biblioteksservicen.

Antalet studieplatser utökas till totalt 80, en tyst läsesal med avskilda studieplatser tillkommer och vi kommer att erbjuda meröppet för studenter och anställda till klockan 22 på vardagar. Tengbom arkitekter har tillsammans med biblioteket utarbetat det nya konceptet för bibliotekslokalerna. Den ljusa och öppna atmosfären står i stark kontrast till det gamla Arkitekturbibliotekets stil som, i all sin retro-charm, var lite mer åt det murriga hållet. Inredningen domineras av ljust trä och vitt vilket förstärker känslan av rymd. Trägolvet är gjort av plank av ask och bokhyllorna och de omgivande väggarna av furu/furuplywood. Möblerna går i färgskalan svart, grått, mörkblått och grönt.

Bibliotekets boksamling förvaras i sex bokrum – utrymmen som kvällstid går att låsa med gallergrindar. Tidskriftssamlingen är placerad centralt i biblioteket i låga hyllor med luckor för förvaring av tidigare årgångar. Det är fortfarande en hel del praktiska detaljer som ska falla på plats, men arbetet fortskrider åt rätt håll. Fredagen den 15/9 slår Arkitektur- och samhällsbyggnadsbiblioteket officiellt upp dörrarna.

Varmt välkomna att besöka oss!

ACE1

Biblioteksrummet med utsikt mot Sven Hultins gata och A-dammen.

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Bokrum i furu med låsbara gallergrindar

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Den tysta läsesalen med 24 studieplatser.

/Sara Nässén

 

 

 

Kuggen fyller sex månader

Vi har nu passerat halvårsstrecket, det är halvtid i projektåret och vi tar tillfället i akt att blicka tillbaka och begrunda.

Terminen är officiellt slut och studenterna försvinner iväg en efter en. Kuggen avfolkas allt mer för var dag, fotstegen i trappan klingar ut, frågorna i referensdisken blir allt färre och våra studiemiljöer som så väl tjänat sitt syfte under de mest intensiva tentatider och uppsatsskrivande breder nu ut sig i sin tomhet.

Sommaridyll på Campus Lindholmen.

Mycket har hänt under dessa första månader, likt människans egen utvecklingskurva har även Kuggen och projektdeltagarna haft anledning att under denna period vidareutveckla sin autonomi och perceptionsförmåga. Rutiner och arbetssätt har skapats, bearbetats och satt sig, balanssinnet aktiverats. Vi har fått tid att bo in oss på vår nya plats, i detta nya koncept. Med hjälp av olika sinnesintryck, erfarenheter och feedback från våra användare kan vi nu bygga upp en minnesbank att återvända till när vi skapar nytt.

Som projektdeltagare har man under denna termin tillförskaffat sig en bättre förståelse, dels för vad man kan åstadkomma inom ramarna för projektet men även vad som händer runt omkring oss; olika processer inom Biblioteket och Chalmers verksamhet i stort. På Kuggen har vi arbetat aktivt för att förstå och tolka användarnas olika behov genom att vara lyhörda på plats, genomföra olika användarundersökningar och ta tillvara på den input som genereras från bibliotekets olika kommunikationskanaler. Fortsättningsvis, i den mån det är möjligt, försöka svara på dessa behov eller önskningar och genomföra de förbättringar och justeringar av verksamheten som krävs.

Det har varit ett både spännande och lite nervöst arbete att etablera bibliotekets programverksamhet ute på Lindholmen. Frågor kring vad som är angeläget, inspirerande eller vad som skapar störst värde för våra besökare har stötts och blötts i sammanhanget. Frågor som fortsättningsvis kommer behöva ställas när vi lägger höstens program och vidareutvecklar verksamheten.

Studentsamarbete på Kuggen. Foto: Chalmers, Anne-Lena Lundqvist.

I veckan samlas Kuggens projektgrupp för att tillsammans genomföra en utvärdering av våra första månader i drift. Alla lärdomar och idéer vi kan utvinna från detta retrospektiv bär vi med oss i vårt kommande arbete till hösten.

Men innan dess vankas sannolikt lite sommarledighet och avkoppling. Vi vill således ta tillfället i akt att tacka hjärtligt för alla studiebesök som anordnats till Kuggen hittills, allt visat intresse från kollegor landet över! Hur vi har fått många trevliga tillfällen att presentera vår verksamhet och dela tankar kring projektet.

Stort tack likaså till våra studenter och deras vilja och förmåga att på olika sätt ta del av Kuggen samt vara med och utveckla verksamheten, vi gör det här tillsammans!

Med detta sagt önskar vi glad sommar och välkommen åter i höst!

/Kuggengruppen

Kuggen stänger helt för sommaren från vecka 28 och öppnar åter vecka 33.

Stort intresse vid Kuggen-invigning

Förberedelserna har gått varma i månader. Följ med under invigningsdagen av Kuggen – Sveriges första lärandetorg.

11.40.
Nedräkningen är nere på noll. Tårtorna står uppradade. Kuggen – Chalmers bibliotek lyder texten i glasyr. Kön ringlar sig lång. Hundratals nyfikna besökare har kommit för att inviga bibliotekets senaste initiativ och verksamhet.

12.15.
Matilda Wikman läser andra året på Ekonomi- och produktionsteknik. En del av studietiden spenderas ute på Lindholmen.
– Det ser verkligen jättefint ut här. Lugnt och fräscht. Det behövs fler studieplatser här ute, säger hon, balanserar sin tårtbit på papperstallriken och slår sig ned vid ett av borden på källarplan.

12

13.05.
Musiken skruvas ned. Sorlet tystnar och folksamlingarna skingrar sig mot kanterna. Fokus flyttas till platsen framför den cirkelformade informationsdisken. Där står en julgran, ett mikrofonställ och rektor Stefan Bengtsson.
– Kuggen är en byggnad som sticker ut och väcker uppmärksamhet här i stan. Det är roligt att vi nu också skapar en verksamhet med samma syfte inuti. Det handlar om skapandet av framtidens lärandemiljöer, säger han och fortsätter:
– Världen förändras. Den digitala utvecklingen går fort och vi behöver fundera på hur våra lärmiljöer ska se ut framöver. Hur understödjer vi studenters lärande?
Frågan lämnar plats för eftertänksamhet. Kuggen är ett av svaren. Sveriges första lärandetorg, på engelska learning commons, blir en mötesplats där relationer mellan studenter, forskare, näringsliv och intresserad allmänhet byggs. I en öppen och kreativ miljö ska det skapas förutsättningar för utveckling.

13.10.
Daniel Forsman, bibliotekschef, tar avstamp i tanken om just mötet mellan människor och information.
– Det är vad ni ser manifesterat omkring er. Viljan att hjälpa kännetecknar Chalmers bibliotek. Det här kommer att bli navet, hjärtat, av campus Lindholmen och det är därför så roligt att få förklara Kuggen invigd, säger han.

14.10
Forskaren Christina Rehn från institutionen för Fysik gör entré i ”Kuggfrågan”. Temat är ”Stora problem för små sensorer”. Hon gestikulerar vilt, bjuder upp bibliotekets Pontus Kjellberg från publiken som en hjälpande hand. Allt för att blåsa liv i sin forskning.
Vi sitter i gradängsalen. Den rymmer 50 platser och ska i fortsättningen husera programpunkten, där doktorander kan presentera och sprida sin forskning till intresserad allmänhet. ”Kuggfrågan” är utformat som akademiska kvartar under lunchtid.

16.05.
Tårtan, dagen och väntan är slut. Nu ska verksamheten blomma ut på riktigt. Användarnas röster kommer att spela stor roll i framtagandet av den ultimata verksamheten. Vad vill du se, höra och delta i? Förslag mottages tacksamt av ”Kuggen-gruppen” som nås via kuggen.lib@chalmers.se.

/Sofia Andersson

Inga fler inlägg.