Wednesday, June 16, 2004

T-Minus 0 Plus Three

Yup. Our new cataloging/circulation computer system, Mill3nnium by Inn0vative Techn0l0gies, was supposed to FINALLY go live last Monday.

Of course, it didn't.

There've been some problems.

A few issues, you see.

Couple of glitches.

They're workin' on it.

Probably be ready by next week.

Uh huh.

We've been hearing that song for a month now. And every week new and more horrifying system glitches are discovered and more librarians lose fist fulls of their own hair as they realize that they are the ones who'll have to do all the work to go in and clean things up.

I don't know all the specifics of this work, but I do know that great heaps of data keep disappearing. Our collection as of September, when the computer people TOOK our data and forbade us to alter or delete any of it til we officially got it back in the form of the new cataloging system, sat at around 33,000 items (books, videos, etc.). And that's 33,000 items that WE had to REBARCODE by hand last summer in preparation for all this. And while we have physically removed books from our collection since then, they are supposed to still exist in our data record. That being the case, when the computer people squirted all our data back to us last week, in preparation for the new GO LIVE date, we should still have had all 33,000 items, right?

Bwahhh! No.

Try 24,000 items.

We're also not the only library who've been handed this can of rancid tamales. So now the great hunt for data has begun. And that's not even the least of the computer worries.

From what I'm told, though, things are rapidly getting better, but it's still unknown when we're going to finally go live for sure. Once we do, I'm anticipating lot's more computer worries. Yep, we're gonna have to walk through fire before getting to the promised land of smooth circulation.

Meanwhile, I've signed up MORE new patrons since we've been actively discouraging people from getting new library cards than in just about any week before it mattered.

One lady has been coming in for weeks promising her little girl that she can have her own library card and has graciously been delaying this in anticipation of the new system. Yesterday, she'd reached the end of her patience, though. As soon as I started my spiel encouraging her to wait, she put up a hand to stop me and said she wanted a card for her kid regardless of its impending expiration date. She wasn't rude about it. She was just tired of hearing her daughter moan about it. So I made her one up and the kid was happy. It really doesn't affect anything for us to add new patrons. We the staff just hate having to do the same job twice.

Speaking of which, remember that whole rant several paragraphs up about our rebarcoding every book last summer? The whole reason we did all that work was to shift our entire collection from a nine digit barcode to a ten digit barcode. We hoped this would eliminate the massive doubling up of barcode numbers within our library network, which was due to morons in other counties who ordered barcodes that used the same numbers other libraries were ALREADY using, despite having been repeatedly told NOT TO DO THAT. This kind of thing would have resulted in mass chaos when EVERYBODY's item numbers were consolidated into one system like we're doing now.

Got all that?

Well, yesterday, Mrs. C let it slip that the Powers that Be, geniuses that they are, have now started making noise that we'll soon need to shift all items to a 14 digit barcode.

"It better not happen til the year 2010," I said. "Cause I'm not rebarcoding another book until at least then."

Unfortunately, every new item catalogued into the new system is already being given a 14 digit barcode.

Good omen? I think not.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.