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September 2014, Volume 6, Issue 7

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

Library Card Sign-up Month
September 2014

ALSC National Institute
September 18-20, 2014

Banned Books Week
September 21-27, 2014

Banned Websites Awareness Day
September 24, 2014

South Dakota Festival of Books
September 26-28, 2014

SDLA Annual Conference
October 1-3, 2014

SDLA Legislative Day
January 22, 2014

Featured e-Resources of the Month
Welcome, TumbleBookLibrary!

Library Development


Attention public and school librarians — YOU can utilize your annual survey data

By Shawn Behrends, SDSL Data Coordinator

For all South Dakota public library directors, school librarians and administrators —
You now have access to Public Libraries Survey and School Libraries Survey data through the Counting Opinions Reports tool. This easy but powerful tool can help you analyze your library's data for trends across time and compare your library's data to others in the State.

Several of our librarians have already used data from the Public Libraries Survey to advocate for an increase in library revenue from local government, pay raise for the director, increase in library materials budget, and to look at circulation trends. The new Reports tool made the data gathering quick and easy.

Access the Reports tool at the online survey site:

To help you learn the basics of using the Reports tool and building reports we have posted a few "how-to" presentations to get you up and running quickly. Find those at the Statistics page on the SDSL website. If you need further assistance, please contact the State Library Data Coordinator, Shawn Behrends, at

Don't forget that data is available to you to determine your library's needs, protect against false assumptions, and to tell a more effective story with numbers.

We encourage you to take half an hour of your time to explore how this tool can make the annual survey data collections work for you.


How to automate a library one step at a time: planning, selecting, implementing

Third in a series of 3 articles on library automation
By Nina Mentzel, Metadata Librarian

This article will provide an overview of 10 main steps involved in planning for, selecting and implementing automation systems. Planning steps, steps 1-5, were described in the first article in this series. The second article in the series covered the selecting steps, steps 6-8. This third, and final, article in the series will cover implementation steps, steps 9 and 10. Additional resources, including sample checklists, for each step may be found at the end of each article.

Overview — 10 Main Steps to Automation

The graphic below illustrates 10 main steps to library automation. All libraries will need to complete steps 1-5, the planning steps. Steps 6-8, the selecting steps include Request for Proposals (RFPs). Some libraries may not need to complete this step depending on their size and funding sources. All libraries will need to evaluate systems and contract with a vendor. Steps 9-10, the implementation steps will also be completed by all libraries.

automation steps outline

Implementation Steps

Implementation includes all the activities after you have decided to automate the library and selected a system. Data conversion and migration, testing the new system in a test environment, training staff, full implementation or going live with the new system and marketing and training for your patrons.

Step 9 — Data conversion / migration

A system has been selected. You will now work with your vendor and previous system manager if you have one, to convert your data and migrate to the new system.

Retrospective Conversion

Converting a paper-based catalog into electronic form is called retrospective conversion. One option for retrospective conversion is for the library staff to enter each bibliographic record into the online catalog. Even if the staff can download records from the vendor or from other libraries this is still a time consuming process. Another option is to hire a company that does retrospective conversion, or having your automation vendor do the retrospective conversion. Not all automation vendors provide this service.

If you are going to use a shelflist to create the electronic records for your automated library system then it is vital that the shelflist be as accurate as possible. The shelflist preparation can take place at the same time you are doing weeding and inventory since you use the shelflist to inventory the collection.

If you have not already begun this process, now is the time. Make sure the shelflist matches the books on the shelves. Also make sure that multiple copies are listed on the shelflist. You will also want to make sure that the call number you have on the shelflist is what is actually on the item. Having accurate information will make the process of converting records from a paper format to an electronic format much faster. During the inventory process you will find that you have items that are missing or that you do not have a shelflist card for an item that is on the shelf. It is a good reason to do inventory before automating. You do not want to pay a vendor for bibliographic records for items that are missing. You also do not want to add incorrect records to your automation system.

If you do not have a card catalog or shelflist then you will have to physically pull each item and use the title page and the title page verso to create a list and then your electronic records.

Make sure as many of the following fields as possible are on each shelflist card:

  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or
  • ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Publication date

The ISBN will be found on the verso of the title page. The ISBN is a number that uniquely identifies books published internationally. The number will be either a 10 or 13 digit number and it will usually, but not always, have ISBN preceding the number. Not all books will have an ISBN number.

An ISSN is like the ISBN only it is used for magazines. If a magazine has an ISSN you will usually find it in the masthead where you find the publication information.

If the shelflist cards do not have the ISBN, or ISSN, make sure that each card has at least the author, title, publisher and publication date. These four items are an absolute must if you are going to use the shelflist as the source for converting your bibliographic records to electronic format.

Migrating from an existing automation system

If you are migrating from an existing automation system, your current vendor should provide your records to your new vendor. Depending on the state of your data, you may need data conversion services. Your library records may not be in MARC format or may only contain a minimal amount of information in them. You may need to hire a company to assist if your vendor does not offer this service.

Many vendors will convert your records, possibly for an additional fee. Another option is to use third-party conversion services from companies such as MARCIVE [] or Mitinet []. Companies such as these will take your records and convert them to MARC format as well as enhance bare records with missing and extra information such as subject headings, etc. They work closely with the selected automation vendor to format the records appropriately for their system. Your cataloging records are then formatted for and inserted into your new ILS upon delivery.


Barcoding the collection is the process of assigning a unique item number to each piece that can circulate, and linking that item number to an item record, which in turn is linked to a bibliographic record.

In addition to barcodes for items in the collection, your library will also need barcodes for library patrons. Just as you create specific subject categories in your collection for fiction, non-fiction, and so forth, you will create specific types in your patron database. Possible categories may include adult, juvenile, student, out of county, etc.

Library cards are another consideration. Depending on budget and maintenance factors, you may want to give each patron their own card.

The two primary types of barcodes used in libraries are Code 39 and Codabar. The current standard is to use 14 digit barcodes.

Codabar barcodes are the most frequently used barcodes in libraries. The rectangle of lines and spaces translates into 14 digits. The first digit is used to identify whether the barcode is for a patron or an item. The next four digits identify the institution. The following eight digits represent patron or item information, and the final digit is an error-checking digit.

Most libraries in South Dakota use Codabar barcodes. To ensure consistency across the state it is recommended that libraries continue use of Codabar barcodes. It is also recommended that before ordering barcodes, libraries contact the South Dakota State Library. The staff at the State Library can assign your library a barcode number. Contacting the State Library will guarantee that your library's barcode number will not duplicate another library's barcode number.

Many libraries in South Dakota purchase barcodes through MINITEX []. The State Library and MINITEX keep a record of the barcode numbers in use in South Dakota.

Another decision you will need to make is whether to use smart or dumb barcodes. Smart barcodes display detailed information such as title, author and call number. In addition, smart barcodes come with an online item record for each item in your database. These records can be pre-loaded if your automation vendor performs your retrospective conversion. Dumb barcodes are simply a barcode number. You will have to assign these barcodes to each item in your collection.

Dumb barcodes are less expensive than smart barcodes and are recommended for collections with many multiple copies and non-specific call numbers such as those beginning with FIC.

Barcoding an entire collection can be extremely time consuming. One way to make this process easier is to purchase duplicate barcodes one for the shelf list card and the other for the item. Each time you barcode an item, barcode the shelf list card as well. For duplicate copies, barcode duplicates on the same shelf list card. When you do retrospective conversion, you will have the barcode for the item record as well, thus, creating your item record database.

You will also need to purchase barcode scanners. Barcode scanners are truly a necessity. Hours of staff time will be saved if staff can scan a barcode number rather than having to type the entire 14 digit number into the computer. A barcode scanner also eliminates the errors that happen when someone tries to type a 14 digit number. Barcode scanners may be purchased through MINITEX [].

Step 10 — Installation and training

Now that your data is being converted, it is time to ready the physical space in the library and prepare for testing and training on the system. Once testing and training is complete you will be ready to go live on the new system.

Site preparation

Prior to system installation, you can do some things to prepare. Site preparation is important. You will want to make sure you have the right number of computers in the right places for use. Identify each service point and put the necessary hardware in place. For example, you must have a computer at the circulation desk to be able to check materials in and out, as well as, process other circulation functions. The same is true for cataloging, acquisitions, serials control, reference, etc. In certain cases these functions can share hardware. Remember that for every service offered there should be a computer available, including computers for patrons to search the catalog. In addition, you must also identify a place for the server, if you are hosting the system in house. You will also need space for barcode scanners and printers, including receipt printers, if you will be using them. If you need higher levels of computers or particular software, get them installed before the migration if you can. Prepare the equipment room with any required electrical, data, and HVAC needs.

System Installation

Prior to system installation, the vendor will provide mapping documents to map policy files from your old system to the new system. Or, if you do not have an existing automation system, to create the policy files. Examples of information in these files will include circulation loan periods for different material types, expiration dates for different patron types, overdue notice settings and many more. You will need to review existing policies in circulation. A new system will not have all of the same functionality and options. Depending on what is available in the new system, policies, especially circulation policies, may have to change. Additionally, this is a great time to change policies that no longer make sense. Anything you can do ahead of time will make your life that much easier during the migration.


Testing will involve testing functionality and testing data. The vendor should first install your data to a test or pilot environment for initial testing. You will want to test as much functionality in each module of the system as you can. The vendor should provide you with testing checklists for each module. There are certain things you should check when testing data as well. These include:

  • Call numbers with semicolons, or of atypical origin
  • Order records
  • Suppressed records should still be suppressed
  • Provisional records
  • Claim notes and action dates
  • Open orders by type and prices
  • Diacritics in authority and bibliographic records
  • 949 fields of bibliographic record
  • Unlinked items or short MARC records
  • Copy holding notes and 852, 866, 867, 868, and 899 fields
  • Long and/or complex call numbers (government documents, Dewey, Cutter)
  • Existing system control numbers

Once testing is done in the test environment and any issues found have been resolved, you should be ready for the vendor to promote your system and data to your new, live environment. Prior to going live, you will want to provide training for library staff.


Most vendors will offer some training on the new system's operation at no additional cost. This training may be on-site or via webinar. Most vendors also offer documentation to users of their system which can be adapted for use in your library. Make sure to plan enough time for all staff to participate in vendor training and be prepared to follow up any vendor training with in-house training.

Lastly, remember to prepare training materials for your patrons on use of the new OPAC. Training materials can be combined with marketing for the new system. Signage, flyers and bookmarks are some of the tools you can use to promote and train your patrons. Short video clips can also be posted to the library web site or social media sites.

Testing and training now complete, it is time to go live with your new system.

Resources for Implementation Steps 9-10

Data conversion / Barcodes

Colorado Department of Education. "Retrospective Conversion and Weeding page"
Accessed July 16, 2014.

Colorado Department of Education. "Patron Records and Barcodes page"
Accessed July 16, 2014.


MINITEX -- barcode labels and scanners

Mitinet Library Services

Installation and Training

Colorado Department of Education. "Data Migration page"
Accessed August 12, 2014.

Doering, William. "Managing the Transition to a New Library Catalog: Tips for Smooth Sailing". Computers in Libraries, Vol. 20, No.7, July/August 2000, pp. 20-24
Accessed August 12, 2014.

Please contact me with any questions at or 605-773-6391.





acquisitions, automation, cataloging, circulation, collection, marketing, reports, software, staff, statistics, survey, trends, weeding

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