In summer 2010 Libraries binding staff will begin using a new system to track items sent to the University Bindery, replacing the current Dataease system. Developed by University of Minnesota Auxiliary Services Technology staff in collaboration with the Libraries Binding System Development team, the new system is designed to improve system functionality and increase binding process efficiency.
In July 1, 2009, the University Libraries finalized a new contract for binding services with the University of Minnesota Auxiliary Services. The new agreement, which covers the period from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012, was needed largely due to the following three factors:
- Changes in binding trends. The shift to
offering more electronic resources has produced rapid binding declines.
Current binding volume is roughly half of what it was only five years
ago. At that time, the binding budget was approximately $500,000
dollars per year. Today, it is approximately $200,000.
- Need to switch from a DOS-based system.
Dataease, the current system, was developed in 1989 on a DOS-based
platform. Management was increasingly concerned that it would no longer
be able to interface with newer technologies.
- Desire of Auxiliary Services' Bindery management group to build a stronger relationship with the Libraries. The Libraries is a major supplier to the University Bindery and a closer working relationship was desired to better meet our unique binding needs.
Dataease is a DOS-based system that was developed in 1989 by the Libraries own Rod Rasmussen (UL IT Division). It was a soundly developed system that served the needs of Libraries binding preparation staff fairly well, evidenced by its very long twenty-year life. But, being DOS-based, it was never clear how long it would continue to interface with new technologies entering the computing environment. For instance, every time a computer running Dataease was upgraded to the newest version of the Windows operating system (Windows 98 to NT to 2000 to XP), there was always a risk that it would simply stop running.
Another issue was that Dataease offered only limited data aggregation and reporting options, and it could not print or export the information. If a data transfer was needed, the only option was to take a screen shot and paste it into another file.
Despite these issues, Dataease survived. When discussing Dataease with Amy Boemer (UL Binding Coordinator), Rod Rasmussen indicated that when he first developed the system, he anticipated that it might be used for five or maybe ten years. That the system remained in use for twenty is a feat few software applications achieve and a testament to Rod's proficient development skills.
The 2009 binding contract stipulated the development of a new binding system by Auxiliary Services. After the contract was finalized a cross-functional Binding System Development Team was created to steward and manage the process. This team included the following staff:
- Project Sponsors:
- Peggy Johnson, AUL for Access Service
- Sue Hallgren, IADS Director
- Project Manager:
- Amy Boemer, Libraries Binding Coordinator
- Team Members:
- Marc Flechsig, Univerity Bindery
- Dianne Gregory, Printing Services
- Laurie Jedamus, Libraries Binding
- Scott Montgomery, Auxiliary Services
- Pete Rosenthal, Libraries Binding
- Christina Ryan, Auxiliary Services
With a team in place, work on the new system began.
Two important goals were established for the new system. First and foremost, it needed to run on a Windows-based platform and acquire all the functions that a Windows-based environment offers. Of particular interest was the ability to highlight and copy information from the screen and paste it into another location. While a seemingly superficial improvement, this added functionality would mean the difference between a handful of key strokes and hundreds for binding staff. Second, it should add to the basic functionality of Dataease, improving processing time and increasing data accuracy.
Scott Montgomery (Auxiliary Services Technology), the main programmer on the project, worked closely with Amy Boemer last fall and winter to get the system requirements "spec'd" and drafted. Using the architecture of Dataease as a guide, Scott developed the new system using an application called Mocha. Because of its catchy sound, Mocha is also likely to be the name of the new Libraries binding system.
In its basic form, Mocha is a ticketing system which tracks materials sent to the Bindery to be bound (see screenshot). Each piece receives its own ticket that provides details about its condition as well as any special instructions for its binding treatment. Prior to the implementation of Dataease in 1989, Libraries staff would type up, print, and attach a ticket (a four-part carbon form) to each piece prior to sending it to the University Bindery. Upon arrival, Bindery staff would then enter the ticket information into their own internal ticketing system. This double-entry of data was not only labor-intensive, it also increased the risk of data error.
With Dataease, and now Mocha, the ticket information only needs to be keyed in one time. Libraries staff enter the ticket information into Mocha, which is then directly available to the University Bindery staff.
The implementation of Mocha is generating other kinds of efficiencies as well. For instance, the number of binding staff needed to prepare materials for binding will decrease by 44%, from eighteen staff to ten. The eight staff no longer participating in binding preparation will be able to redirect this work time to other projects. Further, the number of library locations at which binding preparation occurs will be reduced from fourteen to five. These remaining five locations, called "binding hubs", include Bio-Med, Magrath, Vet Med, Walter, and Wilson libraries.
Reporting options will also improve, eventually including an option that will allow departments to log in to a web page and view binding information. They will be able to see the items they currently have at the Bindery, the amount of money they have spent, and the amount of money they have remaining in their binding budgets. (This special feature is expected to be available several months after Mocha's release on July 1, 2010.)
Another important efficiency gained is the replacement of the old dot-matrix printers with new networked laser printers. The new laser printers will be faster and will not require the special carbon paper needed by the dot-matrix printers. This will result in a dramatic reduction of paper supply expense.
Other improvements include the elimination of data entry of accounting information and the creation of new quality control rules.
Mocha is expected to be released on July 1, 2010. Final testing is currently underway and is expected to be completed by the end of April. In May, training documentation will be developed and the new laser printers installed. Official training sessions will be offered to staff in June.
Binding staff are invited to attend an informational meeting on Friday, April 16 from 1:30-3:30 pm in Wilson S40.
Amy Boemer, Project Manager, would like to thank the entire development team for their hard work in making the project run smoothly and a success. She would particularly like to thank Laurie Jedamus and Peter Rosenthal for their thorough and diligent testing of the system. Their work will have greatly improved the functionality of the new system.
~ Submitted by Francine Dupont-Crocker, IADS Support Services. Edited by Dana Peterson, IADS Support Services, April 2010. Amy Boemer, Binding Coordinator, was interviewed for this article on March 30, 2010.