A 360 View: Essential Steps for a Successful Next-Gen Online Catalog Upgrade (Part 2 – Implementation)

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Co-authored by Cheryl Niemeier, Director of Knowledge & Research Services, Bose McKinney & Evans, LLP, and Michayla Sullivan, Knowledge & Research Services Specialist, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Congratulations, you’ve selected your online catalog system! After you have decided on a new platform and signed the contract, you will need to implement the new system. The general stages of implementation are:

  • Record migration
  • Library employee training
  • Product customization
  • Promotion of OPAC

The implementation process involves several considerations. Your new vendor should be able to help you bulk import your old library records to your new system. As mentioned in Part 1 of this post, hopefully you’ve made absolutely certain to double-check on this functionality before you signed the contract. The lack of this service is a deal-breaker. Even the smallest law libraries can have thousands of records that are critical for day-to-day operations. An inability to import records in bulk or compatibility issues between the old and new systems could make the migration process difficult, lengthy, and possibly not worth the associated time and cost. Some larger libraries also may have the same consideration for patron records.

The new generation of library catalog systems tend to have far more functionality than older ones, therefore, a surprising amount of training may be needed for your staff. Expect to spend weeks or even months discovering all the new features and how to use them. Be sure that your library staff has at least 10-15 hours over the first several weeks to dedicate to initial training with the vendor, reading manuals, and/or watching training videos. Also, account for extra staff time spent on performing routine tasks in the new system. Allowing for some overtime during the transition period also may be necessary.

After you have mastered the features available in the new system, you will need to spend time customizing it to your needs. Your vendor may be able to help you with some of this, but much of it will be left to you. Depending on which product you go with, the biggest customization may be designing your OPAC. You not only will have to design its overall appearance; you also will need time to determine which features to make available to your patrons. Which search fields will you make available? Will there be links to outside resources? If so, which ones? Will your patrons be allowed to add and remove themselves to serials routing lists? Do you want them to use the OPAC to submit reference requests? After you have answered and implemented all of your customized features, time devoted to testing them is essential.

Build it and they will come? This may hold true in some instances, but no matter what, make a plan to promote the OPAC to the employees at your firm. Every library catalog needs name—one way to get people excited about your new online catalog is to ask for name suggestions or have a naming contest. Next up is announcing the chosen name and arranging demonstrations of the catalog at your firm’s practice group meetings. Also, don’t forget to demonstrate it to the paralegals and secretaries at their meetings. If your firm has an intranet, position the link to the OPAC prominently. Lastly, in the ensuing months make sure to remind people about the OPAC whenever you get the chance. As people call asking where a certain book is kept or if the latest issue of a favorite current awareness journal is in yet, take the opportunity to remind them about your new catalog system.

Advantages abound in moving up to a next-generation online catalog system. Chief among them is the ability to offer attorneys seamless access to the entire universe of resources in your library’s collection. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the time and effort needed to make it happen.

 

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Interview of Research Services Librarian Yael Rosenblatt

This post introduces Yael Rosenblatt, Research Services Librarian at Reed Smith in New York.

What was your path to law librarianship?

Law librarianship was a natural outgrowth of my 9+ years spent at Westlaw which brought me into contact with some of the largest firms in New York City.  I really enjoyed seeing what law librarians do and was so impressed by the wide range of projects within the law firm that they were involved with.  I believed my skill set would dovetail nicely with that and was excited when an opportunity presented itself.

Did you have a mentor or librarian who helped you and/or influenced your work style/ethic?

I was fortunate to work with so many smart and talented librarians at many firms and to observe many different work styles and many different work settings.  I think most of the librarians I had contact with have served as a mentor for me in his or her own way.  I have tried to adopt for myself some of the qualities I most admire.  Since moving to Reed Smith, Brian Blaho’s help and guidance has obviously been invaluable to me.  I have also kept in regular contact with many of my librarian contacts who have provided lots of advice.

How has your job evolved from the time you first began your career?

My career really began when I served as law clerk for a judge in New Jersey.  Even then, I always loved research.  I even served as a research assistant for a professor in law school.  I transitioned to Westlaw and so my focus was exclusively on Westlaw , and eventually on the whole suite of Thomson Reuters’ legal offerings – and how those products can bring value and efficiency to lawyers and law firms.   Now my focus (in terms of research) is finding out how each product I have access to can bring value to the work I am doing.  It’s a learning curve – and it’s exciting to learn — in depth – about other resources.

What is your biggest challenge at work?

Currently my biggest challenge is still learning about all of the available resources.  I have so many great research tools to choose from.  It takes time to figure out what is available and then what is the most cost effective and thorough research platform to use in the particular instance.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with all different people in a law firm – and I enjoy learning about the diverse practice areas.  In my prior position, I always tried to meet attorneys in different practice areas.  I’ve continued trying to do that and enjoy working with corporate attorneys as well as litigators.  It keep things challenging and interesting.

How do you keep up with news and trends in law libraries?

I joined AALL and the local library associations.  I also follow popular blogs.  The librarians in my firm are also great about meeting regularly to keep in touch and keep each other up to date.

What job would you have if you had not become a law librarian?

I would be a private investigator.  I love the quest for information.  It keeps things interesting!

How do you reach out to your attorneys to let them know how the library can help them?

I am fortunate that I get a chance to meet with each and every attorney that starts – whether they are new associates or laterals or partners.  In this way, I can impress upon them the many ways the library can help them and show them what an essential resource the library team can be.

Keeping Current with News Aggregators

by Stosh Jonjak, Manager of Library Services for the Pittsburgh office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

digital-marketing-1563467_640Librarians and information professionals are accustomed to delivering relevant, late-breaking current awareness to our users. We have access to the latest and greatest news aggregating software currently available on the market. Yet, we have a tendency to overlook our very own information needs. We specialize in using news aggregators, so why not use them to stay current with law librarianship and related fields?

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Partnering With County Law Libraries As Law Firm Members

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by Michael Ginsburg, Reference Librarian at Arnold & Porter

Collaboration has often allowed librarians to overcome challenges of access to needed information resources. Early examples include interlibrary loans and document delivery. services. As our firm libraries face new challenges of access, collaboration can again help us succeed, benefiting not just the attorneys we serve, but also county law library (CLL) users. In cities without membership law libraries, we should engage interested CCL colleagues to develop or expand member services. Continue reading

Take the Start/Stop Poll: What Did You Start or Stop in 2013?

Submitted by Jean O’Grady, Library Director at DLA Piper

The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question) Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll

I am a big believer in new beginnings. The dawn of a New Year always provides a good excuse to hit the “pause button” and reassess my trajectory both personally and professionally. I started 2014 with a good omen – being bumped up to first class on my first flight of the year. I will add it to my “good luck” inventory of the year – a list which I consult in those inevitable moments of psychic whiplash. Continue reading