ILS Migration Stories: Naked Data & Change Management: 2017 Annual Conference

On June 25, 2017, the LLAMA Technology Community of Practice sponsored the ALA Program, “ILS Migration Stories: Naked Data and Change Management.” This panel presentation was delivered by Elizabeth Novicki, Leland Deeds, Julene Jones, and John Sterbenz, Jr.

Each panelist described the size of their library or libraries’ collections, the academic programs their libraries support, and the number of library employees at their respective institutions.

Elizabeth Novicki from Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC) opened the panel presentation by describing her institution’s ILS migration from an administrative point of view. Salem College Libraries migrated from SirsiDynix Symphony to OCLC WorldShare Management Services (WMS) in 2013 and has gradually become reorganized from a siloed environment with uneven workloads into a more collaborative, flexible culture. Ms. Novicki discussed the differences between her intuition’s organization charts prior to and post-migration, in which positions had been reallocated and departments renamed in terms of function or role in the research process: the Public Service Department became Research and Learning and the Technical Services Department became Discovery and Delivery. All employees are cross-trained across departments and all provide library instruction. Her advice: (1) Know your culture because “culture eats strategy for lunch!”; and (2) Refrain from making assumptions about employees’ interests, abilities, or comfort levels; they may surprise you!

Leland Deeds is the Head of Systems at the University of Miami Libraries which migrated from Millennium to Alma. Mr. Deeds was the project manager for the implementation of Alma across the three instances of Millennium that the University of Miami had. Their migration began with an RFP process in which each of the three libraries had equal decision-making power. The RFP process took two years, with much of that time being spent in contract negotiations. It was the University of Miami’s responsibility to perform all data extraction from Millennium, which included bibliographic, electronic resource management, acquisitions and reserves data. The three libraries’ data had never been merged in the past; bibliographic record numbering and patron records required disambiguation, as did item barcodes, as it was discovered that the barcode vendor had provided duplicates across the three libraries. Backstage was employed to de-duplicate their bibliographic records as well as to provide RDA enhancement. Mr. Deed’s tips included: (1) Know the vendor’s expected dates and constraints; (2) Be realistic about the opportunities and challenges that a migration presents; (3) Insist that the appropriate personnel be on the institution’s migration team; and (4) Be clear with your vendor about your institution’s needs and expectations.

Julene Jones, Head of Database Integrity at the University of Kentucky (UK) Libraries, reported about their migration from Ex Libris’ Voyager to Ex Libris’ Alma and Primo. The University of Kentucky Libraries had been a Voyager customer for 15 years. Their six-month migration included a one-month Technical Service freeze. The types of metadata that migrated between this vendor’s system included bibliographic, holding and item metadata as well as patron data. The libraries chose to migrate the last three years of active Acquisitions data as well as locally created authority metadata. Data that did not migrate or required significant configuration included systems data (calendars and circulation policies), reserves titles, and licensing data from their former electronic resource management system, SFX. Therefore, even though UK migrated between systems with the same vendor, all of their data did not migrate! Her advice: (1) During pre-migration data cleanup, be firm that you will only spend time on projects that will impact migration; (2) Decide what is most valuable for the migration at your institution: staff comfort or minimizing data loss or some other concept. Do not focus your efforts on multiple priorities, focus on your top one priority; (3) Ask about any questions you have or test them in a sandbox environment; do not let anyone hoard knowledge. It is impossible to over-communicate or to be too transparent with the changing workflow or processes; (4) Celebrate any forward progress and what you like about the new system; do not get stuck in the rosy retrospective of your previous system; (5) Do not attempt to document every procedure for every task because the details will change; document policies instead; and (6) Migrations are the most stressful point in your career; the change and stress is perpetual and is a shift in institutional culture: take care of yourself and be kind to everyone else.

The final panelist, John Sterbenz, Jr., discussed the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business’ Kresge Library Services’ migration from Millennium to Koha. As a standalone library, they migrated in 14 months, coming up live on Koha on July 1, 2014. During this time, their collection was reduced from over 150,000 physical items to 215 non-circulating monographs plus additional electronic resources due to a redesign of their building that lacked collection space. Neither electronic resource management nor authority data was migrated. Millennium export profiles were used to extract bibliographic metadata into MarcEdit. Documentation for Koha continues to be under construction, and may be conflicting or outdated as the software has developed. Koha has two small releases per month and then two major releases per year, which Mr. Sterbenz is adamant about implementing, since choosing to not upgrade can cause problems. His tips: (1) Take as much time as you possibly can in all stages of your migration; (2) Do regular data extractions, as this data can be crucial for backup; (3) Create and test documentation while you work; and (4) Know that you will find problems in your data; migration causes them to be more obvious.

The panel presentation was followed by questions from the moderator and from the audience.

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