Friday, 19 August 2011

IS Oxford Open Day - 18th August 2011

Yesterday I got in a car, two trains and finally a taxi to arrive at the lovely chapel in Littlemore, Oxford, that is the home of the IS Oxford offices for their Open Day (unfortunatley the weather decided it wasn't going to be lovely!).  IS Oxford run the Library Management System Heritage.

The morning began with some good old mingling!  I spoke to a couple of librarians, both who singularly staff their service, so our conversation drifted into the differences between education provision on a small and large scale.  We also briefly discussed stock retention (it being A Levels results day I was asked how much of our overdue stock I thought would be returned by our A Level students), and I was interested to learn that one of the organisations had no security system in place, despite being single staffed.

At 10.30 we walked over to yet another grand building - the SAE Institute - for the main presentation.  Emma Duffield (Sales Manager) began by highlighting some of the interesting features of Heritage.  For example, using Enquiry Groups to provide different OPAC displays to different users; setting up search hints; and OPAC usage details for individual readers.  She was followed by Neville Jones (Development Manager) who demonstrated Heritage Cirqa - a new online version of Heritage that can be accessed anywhere.  IS Oxford also offer to host Heritage Cirqa for you so that your own IT department need never be involved again!  Neville showed us some of the improvements to Heritage that have been made as a result, such as the improved scheduler and catalogue record search, the ability to queue reports (which run super-fast!) and changes in the way report settings appear before running.  Eoin Garland (Support Services) finished the presentation with a very reassuring guide on how best to approach global changes and a quick look at managing user logins and audit logging for file areas.

The presentations gave me a lot to think about.  I like the impact that using Enquiry Groups to manage OPAC displays for different users can have, for example, our EFL/ESOL or Pathway students might benefit from a simpler view.  However, allocating students to particular enquiry group seems a very big job - possibly a global change job?! - and I'm not sure it's something we'd be that keen to implement.  However, I am keen to suggest setting up search hints to the rest of my team.  I think it could be a really easy and effective way of promoting other resources, particularly hidden resources.  For example, for a search that includes 'GCSE' or 'A Level' we could add a hint suggesting that the student may also be interested in the exam papers available and the online revision help in their e-resource Examstutor.  Or for a search that includes 'Biology' we could suggest the magazine 'Biological Sciences Review'.

I found the information about Heritage Cirqa very interesting.  The option for IS Oxford to host Heritage for you does sound very appealing I must admit!  Furthermore, after several recent instances of having to log on to another PC, access our Heritage server and run large, still quite slow reports from it, I also like the significant increase in speed which they seem to promise as well as the improvements to the reporting area.

I used the word "reassuring" when talking about Eoin's demonstration of global changes earlier, and it was.  I have never run a global change myself and the thought of doing so is very scary!  However, Eoin's suggestion of running a report to check how much data will be affected and having a practice run first on a copy of your data is very sensible and allows you to make mistakes safely!  I still don't think I'll feel comfortable doing anything in Heritage that involves the word 'global', but I'll be happier knowing I can have a trial stab at it first!

After the presentation we walked back to the Chapel for a good lunch and another chance to mingle as well as meet some of the support staff - it was good to be able to put some faces to names.  I spoke to some more librarians and gave some advice on how e-books work within Heritage.  Then at 2.00, those of us that had opted to, got on a coach and were taken into the centre of Oxford.  My group were dropped off outside Keble College where we walked into their Chapel and saw Holman Hunt's painting 'Light of the World'.  We then walked via Blackwell's Broad Street bookshop to the Ashmolean Museum.  I decided not to go in, but headed back to the train station to begin my journey home having soaked up some useful nuggets of information about Heritage as well as lots of rain!


  1. I was there yesterday too! Found the presentations very helpful - esp the sections abt reports. I am scared still of Heritage reports!

  2. Me and the Heritage Command Line Report Wizard are great friends! It's the global changes that I'm scared of, as I think most people are!