Binding System and Process Improvements

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

New Development

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.


[Click to enlarge]

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.

Special Thanks

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.

April 2010 Tidbits

Spring Cleaning: Free the Bunnies!

This time of year, people often make a point to clean. Out with the old, frozen season; in with the fresh air and sunshine! Communities everywhere organize events to get rid of trash that has been buried under piles of snow for the winter.

Pitch in to make your work place clean and fresh by signing up or simply cleaning a shared area, such as a break room or shared space in an office. You may have a built-in structure for facilitating this kind of cleaning, but dust bunnies have a way of hiding from even the most rigid system; seek them out, and this spring do a small part to free the bunnies.

ICC Meeting Agendas and Notes

Are you curious what discussions take place at the IADS Coordinating Council Meetings? The link to the meetings can be found on the IADS Planning Wiki page.

Librarians and Libraries in the Movies

Oscar Season has just ended, or started, depending on how much of a movie buff you are. Check out these links for a list of Librarians or Libraries in Film:

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." 

Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991

~ Submitted by Jackie Gulbranson, April 2010

Bio-Medical Library Remodels for the Future

The Bio-Medical Library has recently undergone many changes through remodeling and restructuring to better serve both the patrons and the staff who use the library. According to Steven Llewellyn, Head of Access Services at the Bio-Medical Library, the project began by shifting the entire print journal collection, which is over six miles worth of journals, and "by compacting the collection to decrease its footprint by 1,200 shelving sections in recognition of canceled titles, foreign language titles sent to MLAC storage, and the trend to e-resources."

Because of these shifting and compacting efforts, over two thousand square feet of floor space has been made into study space for patrons. In addition to these changes, the computer stations were remodeled with new furniture which allows for more work space and improved aesthetics.

The second floor of the Bio-Medical Library, which is the tunnel level connecting the library with Moos Tower and the surrounding area, has become the hub of the library with an integrated service desk featuring both circulation and reference services. Staff offices, including ILL staff, have been moved to put staff in closer proximity to patrons.

Construction Underway

With the new hub of the library on the second floor tunnel level, four thousand square feet have been opened up on the third floor for construction of office space for a new AHC interdisciplinary program, the Institute of Health Informatics. All these changes have put the Bio-Medical Library in a great position to meet the challenges of the future and the needs of the patrons.

These changes were brought about by trends seen over the last few years including reduced photocopier usage, declines in reference questions asked in person, and the declining use of print resources and the increasing use of electronic resources. These changes have fundamentally altered how the patrons view the library and the services it offers.

Old Rm. 270

New Rm. 270

Because of these trends a HSL Space Planning Team was created in 2007 to work on the goals of improving the computer areas, increasing study spaces, consolidating service points, providing more printing and copying options, moving staff closer to users, and to create space for the new AHC interdisciplinary program. Starting with the shifting of the journals in Fall of 2007 many people including student workers, HSL Tech Services staff, and HSL Access Services staff have worked hard to make this large project a reality.

With the loss of the third floor service desk, much work has been put into the integrated service point on the second floor tunnel level. Cross-training between Reference and Circulation Desk Services is underway to provide patrons the services they require more cohesively and efficiently.

Old Staff Area

New Staff Area

Additionally, work flow at the new service point will be monitored so that more targeted service can be provided when patrons need it most. No formal data has been collected from patrons yet, but anecdotal evidence has been positive on the new computer stations. The newly expanded study spaces are often filled with students too. The move to a self-service model for printing and copier service has made it possible to provide such services when other circulation services are not available. With all the work that has been done in the remodeling and restructuring, the Bio-Medical Library is well-situated to meet the changing needs of patrons both now and in the future.

~ Submitted by Nick Fugate, Magrath Circulation, January 2009

Aleph Testing in Israel

For one week, last November, Chris Rose was in Israel to conduct quality control testing for Aleph version 19. Chris, the Ex Libris Users North America (ELUNA) chair, was selected by the ELUNA steering committee. They believed that the software developers would benefit from working with actual Aleph users. While there he mainly focused on course reserves, but was also able to do some circulation testing. Additionally, Chris taught the developers about North American reserve workflow.

Of course, Chris was not working every minute of the day while in Israel, he did do some sightseeing. Chris said his most interesting experience was floating in the warm Dead Sea, "while everyone in Minnesota was experiencing single digit weather." We're glad he was thinking of us.

Chris at ExLibris Israel Office
Chris at ExLibris' Israel Office - Feb 2008

Dead Sea 
Flora and fauna in Israel - Feb 2008

~Submitted by Emily Riha, Feb. 8, 2008

Access Increased in Wilson Sub-Basement Collections

With apologies to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, "All we are saying, is give access a chance."

In Fall 2006 AP and IADS staff teamed up on a pilot to deliver increased access to and standardize hours in Wilson Library sub-basement units, including the Annex, Ames Library of South Asia, East Asian Library, and Map Library.

These units are open until 8 pm Monday-Thursday and from 1-5 pm during weekends. This represents a combined additional 33 hours of access to these units.

While keeping the doors open a few extra hours each day seems pretty straightforward, there were many operational details to consider: How would the units be staffed? How would users find assistance? What about advertising? How would data be collected and then analyzed to determine the efficacy of the pilot?

Stack services student workers have been tapped to staff the units after 5 pm and on the weekends, with the exception of the Map Library which staffs with a graduate assistant. Two students are assigned to the sub-basement each hour, one at a service desk and one as a rover. The desk student counts users as they arrive in the sub-basement and offers directional and paging assistance. The rover performs stacks maintenance activities. The hours of the sub-basement units correspond to hours that the main reference desk is staffed. If users need help beyond what the student staff can offer, professional librarians are at the ready.

Since the beginning of the semester the extended hours have been advertised on the holopro and on a centrally located poster in the sub-basement.

What does the future hold? AP and IADS staff recently met to review use statistics and decided to continue the pilot through the spring semester. At the conclusion of spring semester, two full semesters of data will aid in decision-making.

~ Submitted by Julia Kiple

Blogging: The Next Frontier

Are blogs are quickly taking over IADS, or is IADS quickly taking over blogging? Wilson Circulation recently launched Stardate 2006. As a tool to keep student employees up-to-date, Stardate is similar to the Bio-Med Access Services Blog and the Libraries Strength is in Reserve blog of Wilson Reserve & Periodicals. IADS bloggers are prolific, with Reserve & Periodicals staff alone authoring over 120 blog postings since their blog's inception in May 2006. Even more exciting, this blog has elicited nearly 500 online comments by student workers, truly meeting a unit goal of fostering communication between staff and students. "I wanted to create more ways for students to feel connected to one another and to the staff," says Emily Riha of Wilson Circulation as one reason she instituted a blog. From learning the meaning of orange stripes to the low-down on ILL processing times, students learn more through blogs that helps them serve users as effectively as possible. Students, especially visual learners, readily absorb information and provide detailed feedback in a blog's graphically-rich environment. Blogging is also an efficient use of prized staff time, with a 60-second blog post doing the job of 15 separate five-minute conversations with a unit's fleet of student workers.

IADS-related blogs are reaching not only workers but users as well, as the LexLibris Blawg created by Paula Seeger of Law Circulation demonstrates. This "bLAWg" keeps law students, faculty and staff abreast of recent developments in both legal research and library happenings.

Besides offering oodles of information, all of these IADS-related blogs contain a good dose of fun. Hilarities include the boy who ran like a deer, the birth of Quailman in the library, and a ode to Guy Fawkes night.

~ Submitted by Margaret Ostrander, Wilson Library Reserves & Periodicals
November 2006

Branches of IADS: The Mathematics Library

The Math Library, located in the middle of the third and fourth floors of Vincent Hall, houses over 44,000 periodical volumes and monographs. It supports research and curriculum of the school of Mathematics, Statistics and the Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications, with nearly 400 current journal subscriptions.

Although the Mathematics Library is part of the Academic Programs, 90% of the work is IADS related, including circulation service, stacks maintenance, course reserves, billing and fines and binding. The unit provides full reference service and processes journals, and some gift books, for Technical Services. Also, library staff work collaboratively with the academic departments to save money when building the Reserves Collection by obtaining free text books. The library is managed by a Librarian, Kris Fowler, a Library Assistant 3, Lynn Tran, and 6 FTE staff. Residing in the middle of the third and fourth floors of Vincent Hall, the Mathematics Library was not well known to the majority of students before 1999. As Walter Library and the Architecture Library prepared to move their collections for remodeling, the Math Library was the only library left on the Mall and was asked to provide paging and circulation services to the Institute of Technology faculty, staff and students. This event provided an opportunity to become more well known in the University community.

In the summer of 2005 The Circulation Desk and office areas underwent a facelift with the installation of a new circulation counter and new office furniture. The makeover gives the Library a new look and enhances services.

The Mathematics Library completes an incredible amount of activities for its size, coming in third in the number of circulation transactions and the total number of visitors in the seven branch libraries.

One of the greatest benefits of working in a departmental library is a "front-row seat" for helping the same individual use MNCAT, find the book and check it out. Another great benefit is the great working relationships the staff has formed with one another.

Mathematics Library staff know the Faculty, Staff and students very well, often chatting and joking about kids, family, work and life.

~ Submitted by: Lynn Tran, Library Assistant 3, Mathematics Library

Aleph Booking May be the Ticket

Library staff are currently busy testing Booking features in Aleph. Booking allows for materials to be reserved in advance for future use. For high use items like Reserve readings, rooms, and equipment, Aleph Booking can be an ideal way to ensure that these items are available for use when our patrons need to use them. While not yet available to our users in production, plans are underway to enable booking for our users in the very near future.

How does Booking work? For an example, say a faculty member wants to Reserve a video for class use during the 6th week of the semester. Library staff can book the request for the faculty member, but it is also possible for the faculty member to make the booking request directly within MNCAT. When booking an item, Aleph provides a schedule that allows users to view time slots that are already booked as well as ones that are still available. The booking can be for the full length of the normal loan period, but can be shortened as well. Once a booking request is in place, the video can continue to be loaned to other users, but as the 6th week approaches, any loan that would overlap with the booking period is automatically shortened by Aleph so that the faculty member will be able to have the video to show in class. As the date of the request approaches, staff at the owning library receive a report of the upcoming request from Aleph so that it can be delivered to the faculty member in time for the classroom showing. Reminders can even be sent to patrons letting them know that their requested date is approaching.

While our staff are testing Aleph Booking, the Duluth campus has been using Aleph Booking in production for the past six months. Their assistance and advice has been invaluable during our testing.

If you have items and/or equipment in your collection that you believe could benefit by being available for booking, please contact Chris Rose.

~Submitted by Chris Rose, IADS Aleph Coordinator

Are You Being Served?

IADS staff do more than duties as assigned. Sometimes they educate the masses on the wonders of MNCAT, or encourage staff to contribute to worthy causes, or put their energy into figuring out how to make all Libraries staff feel appreciated. Like many Libraries employees, IADS staff gets involved in service to the Libraries --it's not just all IADS, all the time!

When talking to several IADS staff members about their involvement and what motivates them, a common theme emerges. Extracurricular activities provide an opportunity to stretch themselves beyond usual work duties. Last summer, Jackie Purdie, of Wilson Stack Services, staffed the University of MN Libraries booth at the State Fair. She said doing this "gave me a chance to learn more about services available that I don't use on a daily basis at my job." Working on special projects also gives IADS staff the opportunity to work with people outside of their own departments. Barb Smith, Photocopy Services, who is on the Staff Awards and Picnic Committee, says "volunteering for extracurricular events is an opportunity to work with folks I would not necessarily talk to or work with in my capacity as a supervisor in the Copy Center." It gave Margaret Ostrander, who was new to her job in Wilson Reserves, the opportunity to meet people in other departments and find that she was working with a diverse community of people. Margaret worked on the Community Fund Drive.

Jackie, Barb, and Margaret expressed a common sense of having done something good for the University Libraries as a whole. Margaret said working on the Community Fund Drive gave her the chance to work with the Libraries community, while allowing her to put into action her belief that the University should be a "responsible community member." Jackie had a similar feeling when she worked at the State Fair booth, saying it was an opportunity to "serve as an ambassador for not just the University Library system, but libraries and education in general." And Barb said, "I feel good about contributing my time and ideas to the library."

IADS staff also stressed how much fun they had working on their projects. Barb enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and to discover how creative her coworkers are. Jackie said her time spent at the State Fair booth was so much fun she would definitely do it again.

Being involved in activities that serve the University Libraries community is challenging, a good way try something new, and have fun to boot!

~ Submitted by: Chris Schlief, Library Supervisor, Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library, July 2006

Branches of IADS: The Plant Pathology Library

There's no denying that the Plant Pathology Library is tiny. We do as much circulation all year as Wilson can do in two days. And as many people visit Plant Path in one month as Wilson sees in 1.5 days. Even compared to other branch libraries we are small; generally doing a quarter of the business of the other branches. Our collection consists of books and journals on only one topic: plant diseases.*

The benefits of being small are many, including an intimate understanding of the collection and user needs, and a streamlined experience for the library user--the same person helps them use MNCAT, find the book and checks them out. Obviously some economy of scale is lost, but because the Plant Pathology Department pays the staffing costs, the end result is that the Libraries gain another entry point with which to serve students, staff, faculty and the public. While our stats do not compare to the larger libraries, we provide the same levels and types of services to our users. Savvy library users expect comparable service, but just as many casual users are delighted to discover they can conduct their library research and receive assistance with circulation issues at this location. We provide full reference service, circulation service (except for fines & billing), and course reserves (except for e-reserves). Behind the scenes you will find the same staff activities as at the larger libraries; binding, stack maintenance, student training, basic technical services (cataloging is done at Magrath) and other non-IADS activities. The only difference is one person, myself, fills all of these functions; and even though I do all of this IADS work, my position and the library are actually positioned in AP (Academic Programs).

~ Submitted by Laura Wiegand, Library Assistant III, Head of Plant Pathology Library, May 2006