Come on in, the water’s fine

2017-08-03-Water's-fine-final

In the summer of 2016, I received a phone call from OCLC asking if I’d be interested in becoming one of the first early adopters for a service that would be replacing ILLiad. It would be an enhanced WorldShare ILL system that would include many of the unique features of ILLiad.

Move away from ILLiad? And do so at the “bleeding edge” of a new service? And being not much of a techie, the idea of changing any computer-based system always seems like a challenge. At that very moment, the idea seemed overwhelming and, frankly, hugely unsettling.

After giving it some thought, though, I considered that I actually like new challenges. The Interlibrary Loan office was slowing down a bit as the summer wore on, too. And it occurred to me that if all ILLiad libraries would eventually need to change, I’d rather be part of the first cohort with all the OCLC tech support behind me. I also thought that being involved in an early adopter program like this might be both professionally challenging and fun. So I said, “Yes!”

Diving in

On September 1, 2016, the first cohort began their implementation of Tipasa. It has been a journey of fits-and-starts (remember my lack of tech skills), but we emerged with a new platform that features a clean, simple interface that can easily be shared by all interlibrary loan workers in our library.

Many of our workflows have been simplified, too. We used this migration opportunity to finally implement patron Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) authentication, which caused some delays, as both Immaculata and OCLC needed to work out some wrinkles. We could have kept our manual authentication, but with great IT support on our campus, I believed the time had come to upgrade that function.

One lap at a time

Through the use of interactive webinars, emails and phone calls, we learned all about the new system. It was surprising to me how the six libraries in our cohort had such divergent workflows. That we all were using ILLiad in such different ways meant that Tipasa had to be just as adaptable. The OCLC team listened as we objected to a missing function here, protested a change there or recommended a brand new idea. OCLC also set up a Community Center page so that we could interact with and support each other. We also used an “Enhancement page” where we could post our desires for future improvements.

We are finished with our migration and things are running smoothly in Tipasa. The change was seamless for our patrons, even though we launched during a very busy time in the new spring semester.

While there are several functions we need that are not yet available in Tipasa, OCLC has committed to listening to us as we lobby for missing items. Some of those were delivered in the first big upgrade in May, I’m pleased to say.

Calming the waters

As a past chairperson of the Interlibrary Loan committee of our library consortium, I brought ILLiad to 11 of our libraries through consortia pricing and a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant. For that reason, I felt a responsibility to those libraries to help them through the transition to a new product.

Once we were fully operational, we held a video conference meeting on our campus, which we recorded for future reference. My objective was to calm any fears and encourage others to embrace this change. The event even attracted libraries from beyond our consortium. Clearly, Tipasa is a hot topic!

I gave a brief overview of how Tipasa works by actually using it. I pulled up my account, opened some requests, spent some time in the configuration pages (which are so much easier and customizable than ILLiad!) and fielded lots of questions.

I believe I accomplished my objective. And I also made myself available to those other libraries as they begin their own transitions.

Smooth sailing

ILLiad is now a distant memory for my library as we have become comfortably settled with Tipasa. It certainly had challenging moments, but I always felt supported by OCLC. With lots of humor and good communication, we did it! I learned so much from other libraries’ workflows, presented at a web conference for the first time and I now know more than I’d ever thought possible about authentication.

Being part of an OCLC early adopter program was a voyage of discovery for me. Challenging at times, yes, but in a good way. I’d recommend the experience to anyone looking for ways to learn more about how OCLC staff and members work together on new products and services. And, it was gratifying to know that our library could make a broader contribution to the library community; our feedback has resulted in a stronger product for our peers, both today and into the future.