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The Claremont Colleges

Automate library workflows by enhancing your systems

Students in The Claremont Colleges Library

“Utilizing several APIs developed by OCLC, our campus financial portal now ingests invoice data directly from WorldShare Acquisitions, saving us many keystrokes, ensuring accuracy, and simplifying the reconciliation process.”

Candace Lebel
Systems Coordinator, The Claremont Colleges

Each semester, the staff at The Claremont Colleges Library ensures that the library holds at least one copy of every title being used in classes across the seven campuses they support. “Some of our students cannot afford to purchase all their course materials,” explained Candace Lebel, Systems Coordinator. “We try to make sure we own a copy of all required readings, with a preference for an electronic copy over paper.” With shifting course requirements, it can be a challenge to confirm the availability of all these resources before the start of the semester.

After faculty have submitted their readings for the semester to the campus bookstore, a spreadsheet of ISBNs is compiled and provided to the library so local holdings can be determined. Since an ISBN can exist in multiple bibliographic records or may differ from one valid for a different format of the title, Candace and Sam Kome, former Director of Strategic Initiatives and Information Technology, developed a local program called Cabbie using the WorldCat Search API, which is included with the library’s WorldShare® Management Services (WMS) subscription and available on the OCLC Developer Network. This initial foray into programmatically accessing OCLC API data uses the ISBN to find and then output the corresponding OCLC number, limited bibliographic data, and an indication of whether the item is locally held. “Our intention was to extend the program to then retrieve the work ID and OCLC numbers of all related formats, which would then be used to find our local holdings,” Candace said, saving considerable staff time by eliminating the need for manual lookup.

The experience of writing the Cabbie program led Candace to the other OCLC APIs to streamline additional staff processes. “When setting a temporary shelving location in WMS, we are currently restricted to batches of 100 barcodes at a time,” she said. “But using the WMS Collection Management API would allow us to 'add' several thousand resources to our dedicated course readings location at the beginning of the semester and then 'remove' them at the end, which would greatly streamline the process.” And with the help of a student assistant, they’ve developed a successful proof of concept for this process, which Candace looks forward to implementing. “We have a few staff interested in learning to write code,” she said, “but with no dedicated staff position we have had to rely on student staff to explore the possibilities presented us by access to OCLC’s various APIs.”

“I love the fact that I can use the API Explorer to query my own data in production.”

With the experience gained in coding for the course readings workflow improvements, Candace also used OCLC APIs to gather invoice and budgeting information from WorldShare Acquisitions to load into the Colleges’ campus financial system, Workday. Prior to this improvement, all invoice data entered into WMS had to be manually entered a second time into Workday. “We’ve structured our budget in such a way that we are able to see our spending by subject, acquisition mode—approval auto-ship, demand-driven purchase, or librarian selection—and format,” she said. The budget structure, the matching of vendors and invoice numbers, differentiating two types of sales tax on each order, and automating payment for serials that span fiscal years made this workflow quite complicated and made reconciliation between the two systems quite involved.

To help automate the process, Candace worked with the acquisitions staff and Workday implementation contractors to map invoice data from WMS into Workday using the WMS Acquisitions API and the WMS Vendor Information Center API.

Including the acquisitions staff throughout the process was a necessity, according to Candace. “I wanted them to become invested in what we were doing and understand why we were doing it.” With the new workflow in place, the staff members appreciate the efficiency of no longer having to enter invoice and payment data into two different systems. “Now, the staff finishes in WMS, and Workday ingests that whole 100-line invoice and maps all fund data correctly,” she said. “So, it saves our library staff a lot of time.”

Map showing location of The Claremont Colleges

Library at a glance

  • Supports 7,700 students and 3,600 faculty and staff across The Claremont Colleges—a consortium of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions—from a central location
  • Strives to offer all course reading material for the more than 2,000 undergraduate and additional graduate courses available through The Claremont Colleges
  • Collections include nearly 2 million volumes in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences as well as more than 70,000 periodicals and hundreds of databases, e-books, and e-journals

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