Project Management

LORLS v6 unleashed

In the early hours of yesterday morning LORLS v6 slipped its keepers (Jon and Jason) and escaped into the wild. LORLS v6 is described as flexible open source resource/reading list management system. Alongside LORLS v6 its three children (LUMP, CLUMP and BibGrab) also successfully made their breaks for freedom.

Members of the public are advised to check the following safety guidelines before approaching the beast.

And we have a launch!

At approximately 11:40 this morning we launched LORLS v6 to students and academics at Loughborough. This was done using our standard importer which extracted data from our previous LORLS 5 installation. We then ran a number of local modification scripts (e.g. to remove years and alter the metadata layout).

This seems like an opportune moment to say a few thank yous to those who contributed to the development and implementation of this new version:

  • Jon and Jason, who in the best traditions of a pantomime horse developed the back and front ends
  • Ginny and Jenny, for producing promotional and training material
  • Theresa, Vicky, Karen, Lynne and Sue, for testing and critiquing the new system
  • Sue 2.0, for putting up with us during the database design war process
  • And to all the other library staff, academics and students who provided invaluable input and support for this new version.

And finally as it is Valentine’s Day a little (and I do mean little) poetry:

Roses are red, violets are blue,
LORLS 6 is here, just for you!

T minus 7 days (and counting…)

We are now just one week away from the new version of our reading lists system going into production use here at Loughborough. As part of the build up to this library staff have been engaged in various promotional activities such as: liaising with key staff in departments, distributing flyers to academics, attending departmental meeting and placing announcements on relevant noticeboards.

In addition to these activities, Ginny (Academic Librarian) and Jenny (e-Learning Officer) have produced an excellent four minute video demonstrating some the features of the new version.

When to implement?

LORLS v6 (aka LUMP + CLUMP) is now almost at a stage where we can consider going live with it here at Loughborough. Unfortunately we’re too late to launch at the start of the Summer vacation as we need time to fully advertise and train staff on the new system. That means we’ll probably launch the system at the start of the new academic year (October), Christmas or in time for the second semester (February 2011). We’re currently consulting with academic departments and library staff on when they’d prefer and are getting a strong steer that Christmas would be least disruptive for all concerned.

In the meantime we’ll obviously continue to develop and test the system. Alongside this we’re looking to create a sandbox so that staff can play on (and learn about) the system before the official launch – whenever that will be.

Meeting with Talis

Had a really interesting meeting this afternoon with a couple of folk from Talis. Mark Bush, who is new to the company, contacted me a few weeks ago to arrange it. The purpose of the meeting was to gain greater understanding of different approaches to reading list management. Mark was accompanied by Ian Corns who despite his job title of “User Experience Champion” didn’t arrive wearing a cape or with his underpants over his clothes.

The first part of the meeting turned into a show and tell: with me detailing the birth of LORLS and our ongoing project to redevelop the system, and Mark showing me a little of Aspire, Talis’ replacement for their existing Talis List product. The thing that struck me was how similar in concept their new solution is to what we’re doing with LORLS.

The second half of the meeting was given over to discussing the various possible strategies to use when implementing a reading list solution. Obviously selecting an appropriate system is important. However many of the key issues that will determine whether it is success are not necessarily system dependant.

For a listing of some of these key issues send £12.99 and a stamped self-addressed envelope to Ga… OK OK I’ll tell, please just stop hitting me Jon :-)

  1. Involve all stakeholder as soon as possible in the implementation process – pretty obvious I know but still important to remember
  2. From a Library perspective it’s much easier to work with academics if you’re not seen as the ones forcing the system upon them
  3. Pump priming the system with academics’ existing (often Word based) reading lists can be a real winner – once a list is on the system is much easier to get academics to update it or at least be aware if they haven’t so you can then nag them about it!
  4. Training, training, training
  5. Local champions can often do more for the success of a project than official promotions – identify your champions and support them
  6. It’s important to know the lie of the land – what may work with one department won’t necessary work with another. For example Engineers have a very different approach to reading lists than Social Scientists.
  7. Competition between academic departments or faculties can be a useful means of encouraging adoption of the system but needs to be done with care
  8. Use every opportunity to stress the importance of reading lists to academic departments, for example: bad module feedback, that’s because of your lack of reading lists on the system; external review approaching, why not invest some time in updating your reading lists to demonstrate clear communication between academics, librarians and students.
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