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Notes from the Scribe

  • Notes From The Scribe

    Notes From The Scribe

    Hi all,

    Notes from The Scribe is an attempt to share our experiences, here in North Carolina, with Duplication on Demand for patrons, using a newly developed high capacity duplication system called The Scribe. There's been lots of buzz about this system since the 2018 Users' Conference. Those of you who attended the conference got a little taste of things and may have heard about how we got to the creation of this system. Those who couldn’t be there, this is a bit of our story. My hope is to make this a more regular posting going forward so we can check in with y’all on how things are going. Please forgive some of the length, there's lots to say. Even more than what I could fit in this article. I promise some pretty pictures along the way to help ease some of the reading. Here’s a bit of our story.

    Like many of you out there, North Carolina had planned at some point, in the future, to offer duplication on demand because we saw things going in that direction with the program. We had been using Gutenberg already to duplicate individual titles and our local magazines onto cartridges. We were comfortable with making things available this way. When NLS announced to the network back in December 2017 that it was cutting back on what it offered to libraries freely on a cartridge, we in NC saw that this may become an issue in our more immediate future and we felt a push in the back to implement something. Getting duplication on demand now became a priority. We were able to get together some LSTA funding and then talked to Keystone about how to go about creating something that would work for our library. For those not familiar we serve 12,000 patrons and run an average of 2000 mail cards per day. We are a large scale, high volume library. We needed something that would work with our workflow and not interrupt the way we served patrons. We feel like The Scribe system can do that.

    Before I go much further, I would like to take a moment to thank and remember all of the libraries currently implementing and/or running Patron Centric Cartridge (PCC) Duplication on Demand systems. You all were the first adopters, the pioneers, and the ones who helped make The Scribe System a possibility. We heard the stories of all the things that didn’t work. All the delay. The various issues. Your pain was felt and understood, as part of the process of creating this system. It’s unfortunate that sometimes a transition of doing things in the best way can only be discovered after many other things have been tried out and tested. Just as our service is transitioning, so too will a system like this evolve based on lessons learned. In Keystone’s defense, the system implemented was based on looking at a readily available system (the Patron Centric one used in Iowa) and modeling it after that. Everyone talks about wanting Gutenberg to work with KLAS, but at the time of our experience, this wasn’t even an available option put forth by NLS. We can only do things with what’s possible at the time, particularly when you’re talking about grant money. We had a timeline and we needed to implement something.

    After the rain and the storm, I feel like we are seeing the rainbow in The Scribe. Is it perfect right now? No. But things look very promising. There are some minor issues being ironed out in testing. In the end, it doesn’t matter to patrons what we do. They just want their books. Overall, we believe that most all of the major issues seen in other libraries using PCC have been addressed. Right now, going beyond all that, we’re on a test version of KLAS. We’ve had the system in the building for the last month so a couple of us could test it out and see where the issues are so we can tune things and make them right before we go live. What's great about the new version of KLAS is that it has been developed using an agile method, meaning that adjustments can be made much closer to real-time and updates can be pushed out as needed, so updates get pushed to us much faster, sometimes within hours.

    Some may notice that we didn’t go the route of cartridge recycling. I’ll be honest, I had expressed a want for the potential of going to the cartridge recycling method at some point down the road and that option may be possible, but it wasn’t ready to be used with this system now. We needed to do something based on our situation. Since we are in a transition we can choose to go in many directions. We thought why not just go PCC and see what happens. Our processes will have to adapt anyway regardless of the method used. In the end, it’s about serving the patrons by whatever means.

    The next phase of this project is a pilot with staff being served like patrons to see if there are any issues and so that staff can get more comfortable. Once this is complete, we'll move on to serving patrons.

    That's all for this article. Stay tuned for more Notes from The Scribe where we'll share more of our experiences and some more pictures of things as they happen. I'll end this article with some pretty pictures so far of what’s happening.

     Notes From The Scribe

    New Scribe Setup closest to the front of the warehouse. Lots of testing has been happening here. Pictured is the backup hard drive that stores the NLS BARD collection, the desktop processing unit communicates with KLAS and is the brains of the Scribe, and the duplication rack with 15 bays. We affectionately call this "Thing 1".

     Notes From The Scribe

    New Scribe Setup in the back of the warehouse in the circulation area. Pictured is the desktop processing unit that communicates with KLAS and is the brains of the Scribe, and the duplication rack with 15 bays. We affectionately call this "Thing 2".

     Notes From The Scribe

    This is a cartridge being duplicated in the rack. Notice the light on the rack to indicate things are being duplicated.


  • Notes From The Scribe - April 2019

    Notes From The Scribe - April 2019

    Here’s the latest Notes from The Scribe for April 2019.

    We are now Live on Version 7.7 and into a couple of upgrades.

    When we last left you were just on to the Live Version of 7.7. Now we've had some updates and some issues were addressed. We are into at least our 4th iteration of updates and we've been live with full service to patrons since March 18.

    First off, I'm happy to report that if you run into an issue it gets corrected pretty fast!!! There are some new tools for more accurate tracking of issues as they occur which allow Keystone to go right in and fix them. It's pretty impressive how fast some things can get resolved. I will tell you that the more detail you can provide, including screenshots, time of day and what you were doing when things happened makes things go much better.

    Now onto the patrons and their experience...

    From what we've gathered, so far, the patrons we have put on the new service, which we now call Books On Demand or BOD, have been impressed and enjoying the experience. What was once 12 patrons is now nearly 300 patrons as of this writing. We've been averaging adding 6-10 patrons a day. Our strategy has been to put all new patrons on the service, because this is all they will know and there will be no "bad" habits to break.

    The other part has been adding transfer-in patrons and anyone who volunteers. Overall it's been a good experience. The other part now is adding existing (non-voluntary) patrons. This first batch of these patrons is a group of around 800 who use advanced digital talking book players (DA1), are not on BARD and have some form of automated (or Nightly) service type. To build a well-running service queue for patrons they have to be on a Nightly service type in order to serve them properly.

    One caveat to this smooth running of nightly service types is in the Nightly List Only patrons. These are patrons who wish to be mainly served using their own lists of requests and reserves. The one preference that can also be used is a favorite authors, which should help supplement a list when it's empty. What we ran into initially were new patrons wishing to pick their own books but not offering up a list with anything on it. Also in many cased these patrons didn't give an authors to supplement requests. So this would cause a delay in getting their cartridges out to them while we backtracked or waited to get books. We want patrons, especially when they are new to the service, to be able to experience all of the advantages of this new system. Without any books to offer it will delay our ability to serve them in a timely manner and show them what things look like. As a solution to this issue we developed a curated list of books to offer up to patrons as a kind of sampler so they can see what we can offer them and so they can become familiar with their new digital talking book player and how things like the bookshelf work. This also offers staff a simple means of setting up patrons, as needed. Overall this has helped smooth out some of the initial wrinkles.

    On another topic, in the last Notes from The Scribe we talked about tuning the number of books per turn per series takes some time to get adjusted just right. Our tuning of series to pull 2 books from series per turn has worked well. One additional area we needed to adjust was the number of reserves and requests per turn so that more of them will get turned over onto the patron service queue at a time. Along with this, we had some more seasoned patrons that we discovered were getting some newer books from favorite authors, since the system defaults to latest selections first, and they wanted to pull more of the back catalog of these items. So we adjusted the rules to pull oldest works first by Author just to see if this might help. So far so good. Things are working well. One other thing we tried out on 2 of our more particular patrons was setting up nightly auto-selection rules for them specifically and adjusting specific portions of their selections to tune them better and serve them more individually. In these cases, we have been successful in that they are much more satisfied with the individualized attention. This is a nice feature set to use in creating a more personalized experience.

    On a final note, I have talked about putting into place good processes. What I would encourage beyond this is to allow these processes to adjust based on the people doing the job. The first part of a good process is seeing the bigger picture, but the second important part is to allow that bigger picture to account for the smaller parts that encompass the task by the people that are doing the task. One of the many benefits I have seen firsthand from this approach is having the people who are impacted the most become champions of the system and step up as teachers and trainers. Watching a process you have laid out being improved is quite satisfying. Seeing all of the things you envisioned at the beginning without being able to see it firsthand, is awesome. A couple of the following recent photos show a bit of staff interacting with the process. The way it looks in these photos is a little bit different than the original vision, but that's just fine.

    Here's a couple of recent photos:

    Notes From The Scribe - April 2019

     A patron digital cartridge

     Notes From The Scribe - April 2019

     Inspection and inventory of BOD cartridges

     Notes From The Scribe - April 2019

    Staff running BOD duplication

    That's all for this edition of Notes From The Scribe. The next edition will come out with the next round of major updates and new features.

  • Notes From The Scribe - January 2019

    Notes From The Scribe - January 2019

    Hi all,

    Here’s the Notes from The Scribe for January 2019.

    This last month we played around testing out the limits of the system with many more cartridge runs, thanks to having all 25 staff on the service now. This means we can go much more fully into things and do larger groups of testing. The library’s Duplication on Demand Committee met again so we could prepare to roll out the service for a pilot patron group before everything goes live.

    The first big news, is that we have now put 12 patrons on the service who are piloting the service. We had mentioned starting them in Mid-December, but some adjustments had to be made to the system first. This week we'll pair them up with cartridges and set them loose. We'll get feedback and tune things for putting more patrons on this service this early spring. At that time we will begin offering this service to all new patrons and pull from a list of more existing patrons to add to the service. This will grow over time. Currently it stands at 3000 or so.

    The other big news is that we're about to get Version 7.7 running live in our library. If any of you attended Katy's webinar on version 7.7 you know that contains a great many improvements and features. We have been treated to experiencing a bunch of these things by being able to test out this new version for use with The Scribe. One notable piece is a button in the patron book search results to add items directly to the Service Queue. The roll-out should happen some time in the next week or so. One noted strength of being a tester of the new software version is our staff's ability to check things out and test some things before we go live. Staff currently is taking release notes for this new version and double-checking things before we go live just to make sure when we flip the switch we'll be good to go. We have learned from past updates that sometimes things do get "broken" in the process of updating things. So this kind of feedback is valuable and helpful, in case something needs to still be adjusted before we go live. It also will help prepare staff for the overall transition in service. As we say around here "this is getting real".

    Here are some photos of this month's testing of more cartridges (patron orders) at the same time on a larger scale. The results are promising

    Notes From The Scribe - January 2019

     That's all for this edition of Notes From The Scribe. The next edition will come out with the next round of updates and new features.

  • Notes From The Scribe - November 2018

    Notes From The Scribe - November 2018

    Hi all,

    Here’s the Notes from The Scribe for November 2018.

    This will be a shorter version. This month we played around testing some limits of the system itself and some improvements to our own processes as we get ready to roll out this service in full. The library’s Duplication on Demand Committee has met twice and we are shaping how our service will work moving forward with this exciting offering. Let’s go over some brief highlights since I last updated you all.

    In November we finally put all staff on to the service as a test group so that we could run larger batches of duplication jobs. What we discovered with this process is that The Scribe is up to the task (so far). The speed of duplication whether you are copying one cartridge or 12 doesn’t really change much. In our sample, one cartridge typically takes 3.5 minutes to put 5 books on one cartridge and 4.5 minutes to put 5 books onto 12 cartridges at the same time, in 2 different locations. I say 12 because that’s all the staff we had up on the system at the time we started the tests. We still need to run the remaining cards for the rest of staff (13 more people) and put together cartridge sets. Once we have that we will look at 15 at a time. We do note that there seems to be a kind of sleep mode from starting out the day running this. There is a little delay when you start up first thing and put everything in motion, which isn’t as pronounced the rest of the time. As we go forward and the units run more throughout the day we will see how this pans out. But if you want to run 12 cartridges (patron orders) at the same time, this device does that well.

    The next phase will be to run all cartridge slots on both units at the same time. This should happen in the next week or so once we get all staff setup.

    Another thing of major note, the committee decided that rather than calling the service Patron-Centric Cartridge or PCC service, we have adopted the name Books on Demand or BOD. The group decided that this would be easier for the patrons to understand. The term Patron-Centric Cartridge is meaningless from a patron standpoint. The method behind how those books (and magazines) are served doesn’t matter to the patron. While this is a PCC type of Duplication on Demand Service we will refer to it as Books on Demand or BOD for simplicity. Also this leaves open the option of using other types of delivery for patron reading materials.

    One final note, a group of 15-20 patrons will begin pilot testing the system in mid-December. We have worked out most of the kinks in the system, but the next step is patron feedback that we’ll get so we can fine tune some things. The hope is to move beyond the pilot by mid-January and roll things forward. We think we’re on target for that to happen. As we say around here "this is getting real".

    Here are some photos of this month's testing of more cartridges (patron orders) at the same time on a larger scale.

    As cartridges are inserted The Scribe recognizes them each and, if all is well the light turns blue to indicate that the cartridge is seen and ready

    Notes From The Scribe - November 2018 

    All is working well. Cartridge slots filled with cartridges and all are blue indicating that the duplication process is beginning

     Notes From The Scribe - November 2018

    When a patron duplication job completes, and the cartridge is checked out, the light goes to green that tell you to pull it and send it out in the mail


     Notes From The Scribe - November 2018

    When a red light comes on it means there’s an issue with the cartridge or the patron account. These red cartridges get pulled and put to the side with the case (not shown) to be dealt with after the run. In this case there weren’t actually any books added to this new patrons service queue by staff.

    That's all for this edition of Notes From The Scribe. The next edition will come out with the next round of updates and new features.

  • Notes From The Scribe - October 2018

    Notes From The Scribe - October 2018

    Hi all,

    Here’s the Notes from The Scribe for October 2018.

    A couple of cool new features and some improvements to our own processes have happened since September. Let’s go over some brief highlights since I last updated you all.

    October saw the Inventory and Associate (IA) mode added. In this mode, you can add a cartridge to inventory and pair it with a patron at the same time. Meaning less worry about keeping an inventory available and also not having to tie up a staff member and their own computer while making cartridges available. To do this, you scan one barcode that puts The Scribe into Inventory and Associate mode. Then you take a batch of mail cards and cartridge labels printed out for each new patron added to this type of service and you pair them each to their own cartridges. When finished you scan another barcode, which puts The Scribe back into Duplication mode, and you’re now ready to duplicate items onto these cartridges.

    Notes From The Scribe - October 2018 

    In conjunction with this process, the set up for the patron process for setting them up on this service was refined, so that before the actual mail card and label set was run for a patron cartridge, a set of books is already waiting to be duplicated. All fine adjustment of what the patron will receive on their first run is worked out first. This way, when staff puts The Scribe into Duplication mode things will run smoothly and the patron’s first books will be on their way right then.

     Notes From The Scribe - October 2018

    Related to this is another cool feature. You may have noticed that The Scribe doesn’t have a monitor attached to view anything happens while it’s running. As it turns out there is a monitor app that you can use to see the status of the cartridge slots and see what’s actually happening at each slot. This is a quick screen grab to give you an idea of what this looks like. This isn’t necessarily the final version, but it’s very useful even as is.

    Notes From The Scribe - October 2018 

    Another feature that was added, that many of you have now heard about, is the Service Queue tab in the Patron Module. This makes adding items to be duplicated on cartridge more efficient and easier. A very useful feature. Since we are fortunate to be the first users (the Guinea Pigs) we have been able to try it out, test it, and provide feedback for improvements. Some of which will be seen as things evolve into the system that will go live in the near future. For specific information about this exciting new feature, check out Drea Callicutt's article - KLAS Service Queue Sneak Peak.

    Notes From The Scribe - October 2018 

    As a result of these enhancements, more processes were refined to match the workflow of our library and we held some more detailed staff training using these tools. Staff working together to put each other on the service so that we can all use the service ourselves and get a feel for what it will be like for patrons once we go live. This also gives us a chance to practice things in a more practical way.

    We have had questions about from other about whether actual patrons are using this service yet. We are considering taking 5 to 10 willing patrons and letting them try out the service before we go live. The only downside to this will be having to import whatever hashads for books received during this time into the live database to keep our statistics accurate and to present issues to patrons once we move to the new live version. This is why we would only do this with a rough handful of patrons.

    In any case, we are excited to move forward. That's all for this edition of Notes From The Scribe. The next edition will come out with the next round of updates and new features.

  • Notes From The Scribe - we go Live, Live, Live!!!

    Notes From The Scribe - we go Live, Live, Live!!!

    Here’s the latest Notes from The Scribe for February 2019.

    Where we're Live, Live, Live (on version 7.7)!!!

    What we've noticed so far, after some initial stability issues on day of launch, is that the connections are much faster now.

    This last month we transitioned from playing around with many more cartridge runs, thanks to having all 25 staff on the service now and our 12 pilot patrons are in full service mode now. Feedback, so far, has been mostly positive. We look to start all new patron on Books On Demand Service some time in March.

    Staff have test driven the release notes for Version 7.7 and issues have been addressed and corrected. We're in a pretty good place right now.

    With the latest update (Version 7.7.2), no more cross assignment of copies, which was an issue we initially had with the system assigning individual books available on the shelves even though someone was setup for duplication service. This doesn't happen anymore.

    The service queue and orders tabs work well. They are a good team. One thing we've been able to use them for is some testing to make sure things like the Book announcement file is added and to make sure that the correct number of books are added to the cartridge in the order specified. We are thankful that this is here because prior to this we had to go in by a more back door method to see what's happening.

    A recent article by Katy talked about series assignment and duplication service. I will tell you that, since having Nightly now being able to do series assignments as part of the duplication service, there are a couple of things to watch when you initially launch Version 7.7. First off, this way of assigning series books is new and was adapted from another type of Nightly process. We did discover something that will probably be addressed, but something to still check at first. Make sure that in your Nightly Setup you have the check box for Has Hads checked off. Otherwise, as we found out with our pilot patrons, they will probably be issued books they've had in a series before. Check the box and this goes away.

    Secondly, tuning the number of books per turn per series takes some time to get adjusted just right. We currently have chosen to make 2 turns per run on Series. This allows for 2 books per series to be run per service queue. We do have one or two patrons that will be binge people. For these you can go in to Nightly and adjust on a per patron basis just this rule. Which is pretty cool when you put it into practice.

    On a final note, I will say that you want to make sure you put good processes in place before you start using this system on a wider scale. Seeing how things will fit together and such is a good chance to update and take a closer look at how you serve patrons across your service. In our case we have a nice set of processes that we can look at for reference. The library's books on demand committee will be meeting again soon to talk about our steps of putting all new patrons on the service and moving forward with adding existing patrons. One area that looks good for this is our ILL patrons. I'm actually going through a list right now.

    That's all for this edition of Notes From The Scribe. The next edition will come out with the next round of major updates and new features.

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