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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.

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

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

Billing and Item Process Statuses

IADS staff has been working on a project to clean up item process status information and to simplify item process statuses. Searches have been completed or are underway in several libraries for items marked NR or LO. If the item is found, the record is updated. Once searches are completed, the NR and LO statuses will be eliminated. We will begin using MS for items that are missing and MF for items that are not found after one year. This change is intended to make holdings records more accurate in the OPAC and eliminate some confusion about which item process statuses should be used.

IADS will also use some features in Aleph to automatically bill a patron replacement charges for items that are more than thirty days overdue and automatically cancel replacement charges when items are returned. Fines offices will depend on daily reports to manage the return of these overdue items. This will eliminate the need to physically handle NR and LO items, cutting out some of the lag time between returning and reshelving.

~ Submitted by Matt Bowers, August 2005

Book Sale News

In an effort to increase revenue and cut costs, the Spring 2005 University Libraries book sale was conducted in two parts, a dealer auction and a public sale. Prior to the sale, more valuable books were selected and divided into four lots of about 100 books each. Dealers were invited to examine and bid on these lots, which generated over $1700 in revenue for the Libraries. The public sale was held March 21 & 22, where items were sold for one dollar and fifty cents. This raised nearly $2000 in revenue. We will continue to hold public book sales twice a year, once during Fall semester, and once during Spring. We are investigating the possibility of holding book sales consistently on a holiday (e.g. Halloween and Valentine's Day) in order to minimize advertising (since the book sale dates will, over time, be planted in the public's mind). Since the dealer auction was a financial success, we expect to continue inviting dealers to bid on book lots prior to the public sale.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the University Libraries Book Sale, please contact Mark Desrosiers.

~ Submitted by Mark Desrosiers, May 2005

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