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Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County
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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Computer Data Migration

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 19, 2005

To the library staff, "migration" now means the movement of computer data and operations from one system to a new system. It has been a dozen years since we moved to an entirely new system.  In that time, upgrades and improvements were made, but a complete replacement has not been done.

We are part of a consortium of 68 libraries that shares the same system.  That means that there are 1,200 library employees around Ohio that had to be trained on the new system. That training took place beginning in March, and ending in May.  It was a great experience for staff from various libraries to meet other staff from across the state at the six training centers.

Six months of work culminated on June 9, when four of us sat poised at computers around our system.  It was 6 a.m., the scheduled time for the upload for our system, and the process needed to be completed before 6:30 a.m. We remained closed until 2:00 pm that day as the migration to allow the upload and processing of that information, and at 3:15 pm we scanned the first barcode to go online live with the new system.

The first couple of days were difficult.  Regardless of the staff training, the procedures were all new.  The computer screen was different. Old familiar keystrokes were replaced with Windows-based actions.

Change is difficult; we lose a level of comfort that is achieved with a computer system over the years. The bigger problem that emerged the first day of operations related to requests placed in the system by the public. 

Programming done a dozen years ago needed to be reconstructed for 2005 and a new system.  To place an electronic request, the system had to search through 1,400 codes to set parameters for the request. Programmers rewrote the code to speed up the process, working well into the night to have it ready for the next day.

Another problem specific to our system was the circuit connections to the State Telecommunications Center in Columbus. Our library system replaced all of the intra-county circuitry with direct trunk lines to Columbus through the e-rate discount program. While on one hand that simplifies our communications system, it also makes it more complex with routers and networks needing instructions on how to move computer traffic through the system.

Well, that's more than enough about computers for now.  What is important in this process is to realize that your public library system is at the forefront of information retrieval. All of these computers provide us with more tools for information retrieval.  It allows the public to locate and obtain materials from 68 libraries that own over 5 million items.

Later this summer we will likely add 3 more Ohio Libraries to the system, providing you with more information resources at your fingertips!