SUL Web OPAC Development Process
Revision approved by PSPC on March 20, 2006 Conference Call
[It was approved with the understanding that we can always return to the issue, if it needs tweaking. The group will consider the report (including the appendices – Charge & Activities, and SUL Web OPAC Development Process) as the guide to its activities. It will be refined as feedback from the PSPC or CSUL is received.]


OPAC Interface Planning Principles
  1. Unlike the WebLUIS environment, files for each of the Aleph OPAC’s in the 11 SUL are completely separate from each other. Therefore, there are many fewer situations in which consensus should need to be reached by the SUL for technical reasons, and many more situations in which OPAC interface decisions may be made locally. As many decisions as practicable should be allowed at the local level.   
  2. At least initially, there will be no Aleph SUL Union Catalog to replace the WebLUIS SUS Union Catalog, and other systems that enable cross-searching of SUL catalog information may provide adequate cross-institutional access. The potential need to eventually plan for a common union catalog interface in the future should not limit or restrict the number of OPAC interface decisions that may be made locally by each SUL.
  3. Managing the files that make up the 11 SUL OPAC’s is considerably more complex for FCLA staff than in the WebLUIS environment. Complete sets of hundreds of files for the separate PRODuction, TEST, REPORT, and DEVelopment regions for each SUL, as well as additional files for varying numbers of institutional logical bases (i.e. searchable subsets of the full catalog), must now be managed.
  4. FCLA does not have access to the program source code for LMS (as was the case in NOTIS/WebLUIS), so is limited in what it can modify in the Aleph OPAC interface.
  5. Generally, any desirable features or presentation seen in any other Aleph OPAC interface should potentially be achievable in the SUL Aleph OPAC’s as well. Aleph OPAC’s derived from later (or earlier) versions of Aleph may include differences that are not achievable (at least until the relevant Aleph upgrade occurs in the SUL.)
  6. Upgrades to new Aleph versions will likely be more complex and time-consuming if previously made FCLA alterations to the OPAC (e.g. using Javascript to enhance presentation) require further modification to work with the new version.  
  7. The amount of FCLA staff allocated to maintain the 11 SUL Web OPAC’s will affect the extent of changes that may be made.  
  8. There will be regular opportunities to suggest OPAC (and other) Aleph enhancements for Ex Libris development, and to vote with other Aleph customers on shared priorities.
  9. New systems may be developed (e.g. by Ex Libris or other non-LMS vendors) that could work with Aleph to provide enhanced library catalog user interface presentation and functionality. NOTE: It’s not yet known if these might be add-on possibility each individual SUL could choose to fund, or might be adopted SUL-wide.

DETERMINING WHAT DECISIONS MAY BE MADE LOCALLY BY EACH SUL

1. The SUL PSPC OPAC Subcommittee will systematically review elements of the Aleph OPAC interface, recommend what can be decided locally, and communicate these options. They will also do the same with ideas that are suggested by others (as described below).

OPAC INTERFACE CHANGE SUGGESTIONS

2. Anyone may suggest a change/improvement to the Web OPAC interface by posting the idea to LIBOPAC-L (or asking an institutional representative to do so). Ideas developed by the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee will be posted to LIBOPAC-L as well.

LIBOPAC-L includes all members of the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee, all PSPC members, and many others who have expressed interest in being involved in this interface development: it is the appropriate place for discussions of this type. Any other interested SUL staff may be added to the list. The list archives are immediately updated online and are available for monitoring by any subscriber at http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/libopac-l.html.

3. Any interface ideas posted to FCLLIST or any other SUL listserv will be re-directed to LIBOPAC-L to centralize discussion about the Web OPAC. A message will be sent to the original listserv indicating that the idea is being forwarded there for discussion and that membership on that listserv is open to all SUL staff.

4. The SUL OPAC Subcommittee will discuss suggestions on its “business” listserv (SUSOPAC-L) to assess whether the idea is one that could be a local decision or should require coming to SUL-wide consensus. FCLA staff will promptly convey any concerns they have with technical implementation of the idea (including whether they believe that the idea is one which will need to suggested for Ex Libris development).   

5. After discussion, if a local decision is recommended, that will be communicated broadly via LIBOPAC-L. SUL PSPC OPAC Subcommittee members will insure that any needed discussions occur at the local institution, and that decisions to be implemented are sent to FCLA by appropriate local staff.

WHEN SUL-WIDE AGREEMENT IS NEEDED

If an idea will require SUL-wide agreement, the preferred approach is to achieve consensus without needing formal votes. The process in #6-#11 below describes how discussions should normally progress. NOTE: Few votes were ever taken in the WebLUIS development environment in which a similar process existed.  

6. The idea will be discussed on LIBOPAC-L for a week in order to determine interest in the suggested change, identify particular pros and/or cons to be considered, and suggest possible refinements/modifications to the original idea.

Many individual postings to the list are encouraged during this period to help others clarify their own thinking about the idea. Any list subscriber can reply directly to LIBOPAC-L or may direct comments to his/her OPAC Subcommittee representative. During this time, members of the OPAC Subcommittee will also coordinate any additional desired efforts to solicit local feedback from staff. NOTE: It is very important to try to use this period to think in depth about the idea and offer any suggestions for refinement before the idea becomes a formal proposal. Raising new issues during the period designated for voting on a proposal is potentially disruptive and confusing.  

7. Following a week of discussion:
  1. If initial discussions and suggested refinements continue to be active, the OPAC Subcommittee chair will extend the period of discussion.
  2. If initial discussions have been fairly substantial in number, have seemed to be generally positive, and have not had additional technical concerns raised by FCLA staff, the OPAC Subcommittee chair may propose (on LIBOPAC-L) that the idea be adopted by consensus without a formal vote of the OPAC Subcommittee. However, if any member of the OPAC Subcommittee or the PSPC requests a vote, the matter will become a formal proposal with an assigned Proposal Number. NOTE: The OPAC Subcommittee chair, as a member of the group, may also judge at this stage that the matter should become a formal proposal without first suggesting that the matter be adopted by consensus without a vote.
  3. If little discussion about the idea has occurred, the OPAC Subcommittee chair will ask for final comments before the idea is tabled. If this does not stimulate significant discussion, the idea will be tabled.
8. If an idea becomes a formal "numbered" proposal, it will be posted on a web page to track the status of proposals. The voting period will be one week. Any OPAC Subcommittee or PSPC member may request that the voting period be extended one additional week if it seems necessary for gathering local feedback. NOTE: "Numbered" proposals may include ideas that may be implemented by FCLA or ideas that may be submitted through appropriate channels to Ex Libris for development consideration.

9. OPAC Subcommittee members will submit their institution's vote on a formal proposal to LIBOPAC-L. NOTE: Each SUL institution, the Health and Law Libraries, and FCLA have one vote. If no response is received from an institution’s OPAC Subcommittee member (or PSPC member if s/he is unavailable), that will be interpreted as tacit approval of the proposal.

10. Following the voting period, the chair of the OPAC Subcommittee will report the result and the action to be taken to LIBOPAC-L. The web page to track the status of proposals will be updated.

11. If consensus does not appear to exist, the idea will be discussed further at a subsequent conference call of the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee. If consensus is achieved in that forum, the decision to implement the idea (perhaps slightly modified) will be posted on LIBOPAC-L. If the idea will not be implemented, that will be reported to LIBOPAC-L as well.

IMPLEMENTATION

SUL-WIDE DECISIONS

12. Once approved, FCLA will develop an implementation schedule for any ideas for which they are responsible. If possible, this will include some period of viewing the upcoming change in a test environment before implementation.

13. FCLA will post a message to LIBOPAC-L approximately one week in advance of the date of actual implementation in the production system. PSPC representatives will be responsible for insuring that these messages are forwarded to their constituencies.

LOCAL DECISIONS

14. Changes decided locally will be communicated to appropriate FCLA staff by appropriate local staff in a way determined most desirable by FCLA. NOTE: This may be using the RT system they introduced in Fall 2005.

15 SUL PSPC OPAC Subcommittee members should share local decisions on the SUSOPAC-L subcommittee “business” listserv (SUSOPAC-L) to help inform decisions at other SUL  

 
ADDENDUM – August 15, 2006

The following text existed before a decision was made to secure all listserv archives to prevent messages from appearing in search engine results (Google, etc.)  

OPAC INTERFACE CHANGE SUGGESTIONS


2. Anyone may suggest a change/improvement to the Web OPAC interface by posting the idea to LIBOPAC-L (or asking an institutional representative to do so). Ideas developed by the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee will be posted to LIBOPAC-L as well.

LIBOPAC-L includes all members of the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee, all PSPC members, and many others who have expressed interest in being involved in this interface development: it is the appropriate place for discussions of this type. Any other interested SUL staff may be added to the list. The list archives are immediately updated online and are available for monitoring by anyone at http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/libopac-l.html. A subscription is not needed to monitor the archives.

3. Any interface ideas posted to FCLLIST or any other SUL listserv will be re-directed to LIBOPAC-L to centralize discussion about the Web OPAC. A message will be sent to the original listserv indicating that the idea is being forwarded there for discussion, that membership on that listserv is open to all SUL staff, or that archives may be monitored without subscribing.