Volume 4 Number 3
|The snow was falling outside in one of those
rare storms of the winter of 2001. I was having a particularly tough time trying to solve
the mysteries as to why my OCLC MARC records were not importing correctly into ALEPH. The
"This is Jan Carpenter of SUNY Oneonta. I'm calling about the 24th Annual New York State Library Assistants' Association Conference we're hosting in June. We'd like you to do two ALEPH sessions for us at the conference."
ALEPH? I thought, yes. I'm using that right now. I tore my eyes away from the monitor and tried to momentarily give my full attention to the phone call. Jan was waiting patiently for an answer. I got the specifics and asked for her contact information. I told her I'd get back to her in a day or two.
Turning back to my computer screen I tried to concentrate on the problem at hand. If only we had known what was ahead of us before training, I thought, then these problems wouldn't seem so overwhelming now. Let's see... 099 indexes as...
What I had just said to myself hit me hard. "If only I had known what was ahead." Here I had been handed a fantastic opportunity to let the "shock troops" (those who would use the software all day every day) of the SUNY library world know what to expect when their turn for migration came. Suddenly this workshop idea was sounding better and better. What I would have liked, even before ALEPH training, was one early session that explained the reasons for migration, who the various organizations were that would be involved in the migration, an overview of the various software and hardware packages involved, and some hands on time before full fledged training to assimilate the upcoming move. When it occurred to me that I could give this very thing to SUNY library assistants all over the state I became very excited.
I contacted Jan Carpenter and let her know that I would do it. A few weeks later I contacted OLIS and asked for their assistance. I knew that OLIS was heavily involved with ALEPH. Because of their fine work many of the problems experienced by the pilot campuses had been eliminated for Group2, and many of the problems Group2 encountered would not be an issue for Group3.
OLIS agreed. Maureen Zajkowski said she would attend the workshops and asked what she could do to help. This was great news. One of the goals I had for the workshops was to let the attendees know that OLIS was there for them and that even though the software system could be overwhelming because of its versatility and complexity that OLIS would assist in any way they could.
Maureen would cover:
1) Ex Libris, who are they and what do they have to offer?
Another goal I had was for the attendees to be able to "try out" the software. I wanted them to be able to practice using the various modules. All the explanations and lectures won't match "hands on" when it comes to letting people know the system's capabilities.
Lucy Yang, a Circulation Specialist at TC3, agreed to demonstrate circulation, and I would demonstrate cataloging.
Lucy would cover:
1) Adding patrons and patron information in Aleph's circulation module.
I would cover:
1) Opening remarks, including TC3's experiences as a pilot implementer.
Between the three of us we put together a two hour package that gave an overview of Ex Libris, ALEPH, and OLIS and allowed the 43 participants of the two sessions to practise using the circulation, cataloging, and items modules.
The first session, held at 2:15 PM on Thursday, June 13th, included over 20 circulation specialists so Lucy's part of the session was of particular interest. Attendees were very interested in adding patron information, blocking patrons from library privileges, and placing items on reserve.
The second session, held at 10:15 AM on Friday the 14th, included mostly catalogers so patrons were very interested in Aleph's F2 help feature when modifying a MARC record. They also asked pointed questions concerning the ability to customize the Web OPAC.
At both sessions attendees asked Maureen questions pertaining to server structure and why databases were housed at certain campuses. They were also very interested in the sub-library concept.
The two sessions, which took months to plan and implement, were a cooperative effort of SUNY Oswego (who hosts the training database), OLIS, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and SUNY Oneonta, who loaded the client software and insured the smooth functioning of the computers.
Was the conference a success? The following is an excerpt from a thank you letter I wrote to Maureen Zajkowski for her part in the workshops:
"I want to thank you for everything you and OLIS did to make the Ex Libris and ALEPH workshops at the 24th Annual NYSLAA Conference in Oneonta a success...
"If the amount of questions and positive comments are any indication I am sure that we put many fears to rest for the 43 participants that attended the two sessions. Furthermore it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm that some of the participants showed toward moving to the ALEPH system in the near future.
"Squelching rumors, putting fears to rest, and instilling this enthusiasm was exactly what I had hoped for when I accepted the challenge of this workshop and I owe you and OLIS a great deal for your part in this. The section you did on OLIS and your role in this migration was very well received and I could see a high level of interest when you commented that OLIS was taking over some of the Aleph training and developing tools and techniques to assist with SUNY's continuing migration to ALEPH."