Running the Library, Technology

Tales of Migration, Part 11
In which In which Things Go Wrong

This is the eleventh in a series covering the library system migration of the Bartlett Library at the Museum of International Folk Art and our partner library at the Laboratory of Anthropology, aka “Museum Hill Libraries.”

You knew it had to happen. In every migration things go wrong. In a perverse way, I am happy when something goes slightly wrong early on because it gives me a chance to find out how the vendor will react.

We had a minor glitch right away when two tickets went unanswered for more than a week. The normal reply time is 48 hours at most. After pointing this out, we got a prompt response.

Then two and a half weeks after our initial meeting we delivered two sets of data (one for LoA and one for MOIFA) to ByWater via the Dropbox and opened tickets to say we had done so.

Nothing happened.

The LoA Librarian and I inquired separately about this and heard two different things – but neither of us knew the other had inquired because we were not being copied on each other’s tickets in the ByWater ticketing system. When we finally got together and talked, we realized there was a problem. Two problems, actually: first, communications were badly awry, and second, the vendor was not respecting the timeline in our contracts. We’d heard slightly different stories, but the upshot was that no one would be looking at our data for several weeks.

An email to the Operations Manager who is coordinating our migration at ByWater brought quick correction of the ticketing issue (part of which was definitely our fault for not completely understanding how their system works). It left us with the bigger problem of the timeline, the timeline we had slaved over and set up to allow us the time we would need to work with our data. We learned that the Operations Manager didn’t have copies of our contracts, and she was not working to our timeline. We thought we had discussed this in our opening meeting… but who knows?

We went back to the person we’d worked with in sales, the one who had negotiated and signed the contracts, and discussed the matter with him. I am delighted to report everything was happily resolved, and we were quickly back on schedule.

To be fair to ByWater, our schedule needs are unusual. We need much more time during the data mapping phase than most libraries. Our data is not in MARC format, so it needs a great deal of manipulation to be put in MARC. We had no way of knowing how much we would need to do manually and how much can be done through PERL scripting and MARCEdit. Also, we’re solo librarians. We have less control of our time than many librarians do because we are always juggling a lot of tasks. On my side, for instance, I am in the middle of a huge Archive re-housing project. Not great timing, but we all know that sometimes you have no control over these things.

I am happy now to know that if we have trouble again during this migration we can (probably) count on a concerned, quick, professional response from the vendor.

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