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Documenting King County Library System Going Live on Evergreen
Posted by Lori Ayre on October 3, 2010
I’ve been remiss about posting to this blog because I have some blogging responsibilities elsewhere, namely os-ol.org and rscel.evergreen-ils.org. Both of these blogs represent the work I’ve been doing with libraries moving to open source library systems (Koha and Evergreen). I’ve pulled a series from the RSCEL blog in which I documented the process of King County Library System (KCLS) going live on Evergreen. It was a momentous occasion because King County is, by far, the largest and busiest library to go live on an open source library system to date.
In other words…if Evergreen is good enough for KCLS, it is pretty likely to be good enough for you!
Here’s the story of how their Go Live process went, starting the night before the new system was going to brought up. The old system had been down already for a couple days while the final data migration occurred and the library had been operating in off-line mode during that time.
KCLS Go Live! Update #1
I’m in Issaquah today to document the process of actually going live on Evergreen here at KCLS. I got in at about 3:30pm today and they are thinking they might be able to bring up Evergreen tomorrow afternoon.
One of the things they were straightening out today was the communication between the Preston sort operation (54,000+ items are sorted per day) and Evergreen. Items are sorted based on SIP2 communication with Evergreen. Lyngsoe (formerly FKI Logistex) has been here for the last couple of days tweaking the system to work with Evergreen. The good news is that the new interface is much more straightforward and will likely serve as a template for other Evergreen libraries implementing an AMH system. The shenanigans that had been required in the old system have been replaced with some fairly simple, straightforward logic.
I took a little three-minute video to give you a sense of where things are on the day before Go Live here at the Service Center where Jed Moffitt, Matt Carlson, Karen Daniels and Kathy Agnew (just to name a few)…plus a full team of Equinox folks are working to ensure this thing goes as smoothly as possible.
Watch for more updates tomorrow!
KCLS Go Live! Update #2
At about 5:30pm last night, the KCLS Migration team met up with the public services and circulation folks to answer all their questions.
Videos of Status Update Meeting:
I wasn’t clear on how exactly the cutover works so I asked Matt. He explained that the data was migrated and testing all occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday and the libraries have been working in offline mode since Monday. So, the process of going live involves grabbing all that offline mode data from each library and injecting it into Evergreen.
Matt explains (video)…
And here’s the final Night Before video update. Grace of ESI, whose team is hacking away in the next room, explains it is all part of the process.
KCLS Go Live! Update #3
It’s Go Live day and I’m at the Preston Distribution Center where all the material that was in the process of filing a hold on Monday (when the old system was brought down) still sits. The plan is to point the sorter server at the new Evergreen system and start sorting this stuff. It couldn’t be done earlier than now because all of the data was being migrated to the new system on Tuesday and part of Wednesday. Lots of checking and testing Wednesday so running the sorter is really the first step of the actual move to going live.
Problem is the problem that everyone thought was solved yesterday isn’t quite solved. Turns out Evergreen is returning the owning library location to the sorter instead of their destination location (all the items here are “in transit”.) The folks at ESI are on the problem….trying to figure out why the wrong message is getting sent.
Here’s a video update. Check out this awesome sorter!
KCLS Go Live! Update #4
So here’s the latest. Since about 11am, there has been a lot of standing around by the Lyngsoe staff because there continues to be a problem with how the holds are being sorted. There’s something on the Evergreen side (or so that’s the current belief) and ESI has been working on finding the issue. Returns are being sorted just fine but not the holds. This is only in the libraries. The Preston central sorter has been chugging along since about 10:30 this morning and it is communicating successfully with Evergreen.
There was one little glitch on the KCLS side here in Issaquah. Turned out that the sort table hadn’t been updated like it was supposed to be. This is a job that is generally taken care of by the library (versus ESI or Lyngsoe) and since Issaquah was chosen as the first test site to bring up (bring up the AMH system that is), this problem slowed things down a bit. They Lyngsoe staff and the local library staff have had to rebuild that file. Another little but not disastrous oops.
I can feel a little bit of tension mounting here in Issaquah. Maybe it is just because there are a bunch of us here to do the next phase which keeps not happening. Apart from that sense of “something should be happening…right?” things are going fairly well in offline mode.
Herre’s a couple video clips to keep you up to speed:
KCLS Go Live! Update #5
Here’s what’s working:
- Central sort is working just fine
- Library Mates are cut-over and ready for action
- All of the offline mode data has been imported
- Check-in messages are registering properly now
The issue now is notices. Not all the notices associated with check-in are working exactly right so the ESI team is pounding away at the code to get those to where they need to be. Once Karen, KCLS Circulation Coordinator, gives the notices code a nod, everything goes live and all the backlog starts being processed.
Interestingly, the patrons are mostly just dandy because they are happily checking out material…on the new system. The only problem is that nothing is being checked-in yet. So, as Jed put it, it’s like eating and eating and eating but you can’t go ….nevermind.
Anyway, we are close to having all the pieces. They could still get the check-ins started tonight. That’s the hope. That would leave the new OPAC to focus on tomorrow.
Meanwhile, this documentarian is going to have some dinner. I hope all those people in that small little room (with no air but lots of candy bars) get to an acceptable stopping point tonight. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed throughout dinner.
KCLS Go Live! Update #6
Soon after that last post, the check-in notices got squared away and Karen gave the go-ahead to start checking in items. Here was Matt’s tweet:
We’re gathering around the console and watching transactions. Been a few crazy days but this is a great group to work with, Equinox rocks!
With check-in happening, a whole new round of testing begins. Here’s a video clip of Matt and Karen getting ready to start with that:
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the testing revealed some issues. Turns out holds aren’t getting triggered during check-in, and there are some backdating issues. These are all issues only with SIP2 based transaction…the AMH system.
So, now looking at logs and things and figuring out what isn’t happening in those transactions. Check-in stopped, per Karen. All hands on deck …..er, keyboard again.
KCLS Go Live! Update #7
It’s the start of day two of Go Live. Turns out going live doesn’t happen all at once like turning on a light. It’s more like the tide coming in.
I left our heroes last night after 9pm. They were still troubleshooting some holds issues related to check-in. The SIP server or SIP module (I don’t think its actually a separate server) isn’t handling every barcode number that comes through. Some were getting dropped. Like I said, at 9pm I left and they were in the process of setting up a test scenario at the Service Center there in Issaquah where they are all working (all means the ESI team and Jed and Matt and Karen). All the libraries were closed at 9pm so they couldn’t keep testing the check-ins in the library (their testing partners until 9pm were the Lyngsoe guys, Cory and Michael). So I don’t know what happened after I left.
Here’s what I do know. This group of people is incredible. I’m talking KCLS, ESI and Lyngsoe. They are all supportive, creative, committed, and continue to be positive and light-hearted throughout the process. I didn’t see any crabbiness, short tempers, or attitude coming from anyone involved in the technical process. If I were migrating, this is the group I’d want working with me. Even if I wasn’t migrating, I’d want them on my team.
So, can’t wait to see what happened after 9pm. I’m hoping they accomplished their goal which was to get to the point where the libraries can turn their AMH systems on and start cranking through their material. That’s kind of Go Live success. But then of course, we’ll have to turn our attention to the OPAC and the KCLS skin….but we can worry about that later.
KCLS Go Live! Update #8
It’s 9am and the libraries are opening here in King County and guess what…they are running their AMH equipment and checking in material!
Patrons are using the 24/7 automated check-in units, Preston is still sorting all the transit items, tote check-in is happening. This is a big step forward and you can feel the excitement starting to build.
And that’s not all. Besides the ESI team that is in the war room (aka 3C), there is more development happening as we speak from Georgia. For example, I sat in on a meeting with Shae (ESI) and Anne Hansberry (Library Technician from Selections and Orders). They were working on finalizing the Purchase Alert Reports using some of the new acquisitions module. Anne was loving what she saw. She described what she had to go through to do Purchase Alert Reports in the old system and it was pretty gnarly.
Anne (video)…about new Purchase Alert Report functionality.
And speaking of development, I realize I’ve been talking a lot of fixing this and tweaking that and troubleshooting and more troubleshooting. But the truth of the matter is that much of what is happening is still just-in-time development. Bill Ptacek has been pretty clear about being unwilling to push out the go-live date and so they aren’t. And that means that some things aren’t finished and so part of this go live process has been managing priorities without stopping progress. That’s why checkout was working for almost a day before check-in was happening. There were some development that literally happened while they waited (e.g. certain notices hadn’t gotten done that KCLS had to have before they would allow check-in to begin). And then once it started, there were the usual migration related tweaks.
Now that check-out AND check-in in going great guns, the staff in receiving are getting started. Cataloging will be next in line. And did you know that EDI support is now developed?! Acquisitions is fully functional as well (per Jed who has been working closely with his technical services team) but KCLS won’t be using it too much until they close out the current year.
So, you may ask, where are the fruits of all this development? The answer is that much of it is already in trunk, and if it isn’t there now, it will be very soon. None of this work is being held back. There is no KCLS fork. This is all Evergreen and anyone who knows how to download from trunk will be able to get at this code in very short order.
Okay, I’ve stalled on this update for an hour and half to make sure that going live with check-in and check-out at all 45 libraries (including their AMH systems in the libraries) on top of the Preston Distribution Center (cranking through their 8000 items per hour) is handling the load. So far so good.
Here’s what Lee, the engineer at ESI who is monitoring the databases, says:
It’s Going Great. We Love Evergreen!
It’s 2:30 in King County and the ESI team just went out for lunch. That’s right, Day One, and there is no panic. In fact, the feeling is closer to giddy. The people in charge of addressing the problems that arise on day one are handling them as they come in. There is no deluge of staff emails or patron complaints. It is just going along not feeling like a regular day exactly but not feeling like an ILS migration day either.
Someone just walked by and said “It’s going great. We love Evergreen!” I don’t know who he was talking to. Not me. Maybe he just couldn’t contain his excitement.
I received a special video request to see the Preston Sorter in action (my previous video provided a nice look at it but it wasn’t up and running). So, here you go: Preston Sorter Live on Evergreen (video). It was taken with my iPhone so forgive the quality. Turns out the FlipVideo took much better video but it’s such a pain to upload (compared to the iPhone option to shoot and upload directly to YouTube – sweet.)
Before I leave King County today, I’ll drop by one of the branches so you can see them up and running too. If anyone else has any special requests, let me know.
Now, I’m off to talk to the OPAC team….that’s live too. More on how that’s going shortly.
KCLS Go Live! Update #9
In keeping with my migration metaphor – that it’s more like the tide coming in than switching on the light – we are now in the second wave. The punch list is not short but there are no big, scary show stoppers on it. And honestly, the expectation is that the punch list will continue to expand and contract over the next several weeks and maybe even months. And then after that, there will be new development projects underway. Okay, let’s be honest, I’m sure the development projects will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. And that’s totally awesome.
But in case you are wondering what’s still on the punch list, here’s a few things:
- self-check sometimes prints receipts too long
- some OPAC display issues to resolve
- some items won’t sort in Preston
- sometimes tote check-in hangs after 30 items or so
There are other things of course but those are the ones I keep hearing about. I personally think #3 and #4 are related. And as to the OPAC display issues, those are getting punched down as we speak and the self-check problems are annoying but not the end of the world and the local KCLS staff is on that since they built those self-check machines themselves.
As to the OPAC, it’s really lovely and the additional functionality it provides is fantastic. AND, they have more in the works. Look to that to just get better and better. And, in case you haven’t heard, KCLS will be making that OPAC skin template available to others to use. Some more tightening up is needed before that happens (for example, it needs to interact more smoothly with Evergreen) but it will be another deliverable available to the community,
So, did you catch what I said about the self-check machines? They have 250 self-check machines here. And they built them themselves with a keyboard, scanner, and a modified OPAC. Late in the game, these self-checks had to be switched over to Firefox because of performance issues the KCLS OPAC was encountering with IE. This has made maintenance MUCH more difficult for the ITS staff (can’t push out the updates, they have to remote in to each unit to make certain fixes.) Okay, so it’s challenging to tweak these self-checks but the cost of each unit is about $500. Not $3000 for software you can put on your own hardware or $20,000 for the big pretty ones that many folks use. Welcome to the land of license-free software where creativity really (literally) pays.
And now everyone is getting ready to go home (ESI and Lyngsoe fly out tonight) and the calls have slowed way down (it sounds like a bad pledge day on a public radio station – very few calls now after a flurry of 4x the usual volume in the first 3/4 of the day.)
Everyone who has gone through a migration, and especially those KCLS folks who went through the last migration here, are dumbfounded at how well everything is going on this first day. No one. No one could have dreamed it would go so smoothly. Well, maybe Bill Ptacek. He’s really the only one.