If you use our online Catalog, please be patient with us. It will not be available between Sept. 1, 2011, and the date on which we “Go Live” with the new Pioneer Koha catalog. The wait will be worth it because our records will be far more accurate and patrons will be able to do a lot more online than has been possible.
We began getting ready to move all our database records –all the patron and catalog records – from Destiny to LibLime Koha during Summer Reading.
Updating and Cleanup
Sue worked through all our patron registration cards, sorting out those she knew needed deleting, updating addresses and other information on other cards, and so on. With the information Sue gave me, I began cleaning up all our Destiny database patron records so that the information we transfer will be as accurate as possible.
Creating Transfer Reports
At the same time, I began creating the report formats to transfer patron information from the old system; the report formats (which are different) to transfer information into the new system; and EXCEL formats to use between the two for final editing.
Needless to say, a lot of trial and error was involved, especially in creating Destiny output reports (I kept detailed notes so I would know what worked best). I hadn’t done anything so tedious or confusing in a long time. Especially since I didn’t dare delete any Destiny records until I was absolutely sure I had created all the reports from the old information that we’ll need for our annual reports to the state, plus information about fines due from patrons whose records we should delete.
Databases don’t forgive small errors or inconsistencies. For the transfer to work, all the patron records from Destiny must have exactly the same kind of information in exactly the same fields and exactly the same formats – and they didn’t. They will in the transferred reports – but only because doing the final editing offline in EXCEL makes it possible to spot small inconsistencies.
Fines and current checkout records
The same process applied for the records of fines and current checkouts. I’m glad I kept good notes about the output reports that worked best, because I had to do them for several trial runs and for a final run at the end of August.
Catalog (MARC) records
Work on the catalog records came next. The catalog records are the MARC records, which include both the general information about an item with a specific ISBN/LC number AND specific information about individual copies of that item. With help from other Pioneer Consortium members and LibLime Koha staff, I figured out how to run a trial export of MARC records from Destiny. Soon after Summer Reading ended, I uploaded this export to Koha, along with the trial run patron, fines, and checkout records, for them to check for problems.
Moving records from one database system into another requires something called MAPPING. For example, patron last names may be in the “PatronLast” field in Destiny but in “Surname” in Koha. It’s easy to identify these sorts of correlations.
It’s a lot harder to map the correlations for collection records, because individual libraries have their own ways of coding their materials for Item Type, Collection, and Location, AND different database systems, such as Destiny and Koha, store this kind of information differently in the MARC records.
For example, in 2010, Val Library adopted a call numbering system that uses the call number to show Item Type, Collection, and Location within the first “word” of the call number (everything before the first space). Destiny, however, uses a special “location” field to distinguish among Saunders County Libraries. And Koha requires Item Type, Collection, and Location codes that are more generally applicable than our call numbers.
We had 8,540 MARC records in the system, and they were a mess – errors in call numbers, barcode numbers, vendor fields, and funding fields; missing call number fields; records for non-existent items; records for items that actually belonged to other Saunders County libraries; and so on. Since we had inventoried the collection within a year, I could do some of the cleanup within Destiny by deleting lost and culled items and correcting barcodes (with help from Sue and Cheri).
But it was impossible to do the other editing online – that would take much more time than we could afford to spend. I needed a MARC editor I could use offline, one that worked more like a wordprocessor. LibLime Koha directed me to Oregon State University’s free MARCEDIT, and I was in business. If you want to check out MARCEDIT, follow this link:
It’s August 29 as I write this. Since Summer Reading ended, I’ve been busy editing the MARC records and tackling the problem of mapping our records – while also making sure we had all the information we needed (1) for our annual report to the state and the village (finished Aug. 27), (2) for our fine records for former patrons (finished Aug. 27), (3) for migrating the most current possible patron, fines, and checkout records to the new system (finished and uploaded August 28).
On August 17, we stopped adding or editing any MARC records in Destiny and I downloaded them for final editing. We lose access to Destiny on August 31.
MARC records are still in process. MARCEDIT shows 100 items per page and started as 86 pages. It’s now 84 pages (lots of records to delete which had no items) and I’ve finished a first edit through page 69. It takes about 22 minutes to edit a page, so I’ve a ways to go – and then another run-through to correct vendor/funding fields (I hope with a batch edit). By early September I will upload the edited MARC records for LibLime Koha staff to analyze so that we can make final MARC edits and do a final mapping of the catalog.
Sandbox Play and Going Live – and meanwhile doing everything by hand
Sandbox play is what they call messing around with the transferred records in Koha to see if everything works right before actually “going live” with the new system. It’s also where we will learn how to use the system – how to add and edit records for new patrons and new items, how to handle checkouts and fines and notices, how to create reports, and so on.
In the meantime, we won’t have a catalog online for our patrons or staff to use. We hope this won’t last long and that we’ll be “live” before the end of September.
Meanwhile, we will keep check-out, check-in, and fine records by hand. Please be patient with us. The new system is going to save our library money and time and make it a lot easier to produce the reports we need for the Village, state, grant applications, and so on. It also will provide a lot of new features for patrons to use on the internet (including much better searching), and the work required to make the change means all our records will be much more accurate.