PSPC OPAC Subcommittee --  Update on ALEPH Web OPAC Development
February 26, 2003



A. ALEPH WEB OPAC DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION

1. ALEPH is delivered with a Web OPAC that includes a number of configuration options.

2. There are several hundred files involved in setting up and changing each SUL institutions separate Web OPAC.

3. There has been a very significant “learning curve” involved in this project at FCLA; setting up an ALEPH Web OPAC is very different from the work that has gone into creating and maintaining WebLUIS.

4. Some other institutions that have implemented the ALEPH Web OPAC have applied additional local javascript programming to enable a preferred interface (i.e. over what is provided through Ex Libris options). NOTE: These institutions, for the most part, only have one set of OPAC files to manage as compared to FCLA’s 10 sets. The multiple sets will significantly impact the workload to support javascript programming. ADDED NOTE (2/27/2003): 10 sets of files may actually be a minimum number; it's not yet clear how the Web OPAC files for course reserve and any other defined "logical bases" (e.g. for searching only within our journals) will be set up and maintained. 

5. Some interface elements recommended by the Joint SUL/CC OPAC Task Force in its report (http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/alephopac/report/) would require javascript programming by FCLA and CCLA.

6. There are concerns at FCLA about straying too far from the options Ex Libris has provided in its Web OPAC for the following reasons:

7. We will have the opportunity to affect Ex Libris’ future development of the ALEPH Web OPAC through the NAAUG (North American ALEPH Users Group) enhancement balloting process.
 

B . STATUS OF FCLA ALEPH OPAC DEVELOPMENT

1. FCLA is working on setting up the ALEPH Web OPAC using the Joint SUL/CC OPAC Task Force report (http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/alephopac/report/) as a guide where possible.

2. When the report doesn’t provide specific guidance, interface principles developed during the development of WebLUIS over the years are considered where feasible.

3. When FCLA has a prototype ready to react to, the SUL PSPC OPAC Subcommittee can have further discussions.

4. While some discussions by the OPAC Subcommittee can be held before implementation (still scheduled for May and June), we will definitely need to view this interface development as an evolving project (much as the WebLUIS development was). NOTE: This development will be without the benefit of the prior knowledge FCLA had when embarking on WebLUIS development (e.g. about how the search engine functions, about the basic NOTIS functionality, etc.)

5. The 3 Phase 1 Libraries (UF, UNF, and UWF) will, in particular, certainly want to understand and discuss options to be set up for the initial ALEPH Web OPAC  interface for each institutions' catalog.
 

C. SOME SPECIFIC DESIGN OR FUNCTIONALITY ISSUES

1. The intention is that there will continue to be significant similarity between the individual SUL library catalogs (as there has been with the WebLUIS library catalogs). Some local customization (e.g. logos, colors, and index limiting pulldowns) is anticipated. The ability to continue including local links in the header and footer areas (as is now done in our WebLUIS library catalogs) is an area FCLA is evaluating.

2. The text that displays on the various search, results, and error, etc. screens can be changed relatively easily.

3. We can decide the search and limit types that will appear in the drop-down menus on search pages; also the order in which they appear. NOTE: We will be collaborating with the Community Colleges on this over time -- at least concerning the major search types. NOTE: Search types will relate to indexes that have been created.

4. There is some new functionality in the ALEPH Web OPAC that will likely NOT be available “Day One”. This includes:

  1. Some display options users can save in a personal profile
  2. A "History" of saved searches they can re-use when logged on again.
  3. An "E-Shelf" of saved individual bib records they look at routinely for some reason (e.g. a record with an e-journal link).
  4. An "SDI" service described as enabling email notification of the user about new library acquisitions (according to user-defined profiles).
When asked about this functionality, FCLA responded by indicating that the “first priority for STP is to get the basic Aleph functionality in place.  By this we mean things like being able to check books in and out, output and input certain key data (patrons, bills/fines, new bib records) and allow users to search, retrieve and display records in your catalogs. OPACs that function consistently is also in this priority category. The features listed are not now available in WebLUIS and, thus, are not first priority. When and how they are introduced to the public is still open but they will not be available at the onset.  While the storage implications on the server are significant, this isn't the driving issue.  Staff resources to evaluate the impact, to test the features and to support these features once in production (e.g., what do we do if data is lost or corrupted?) are what is really the issue at this point.  When we do have the time to pursue these features, it may be that we'll want to introduce them separately and not necessarily universally if not all of you are interested in them.  E.g., SDI might be the last to be done and might only be offered to faculty and/or selected grad students.”


D. OTHER NEEDED DISCUSSIONS

1. WebLUIS Home Page changes to allow connection to all SUL Library catalogs (WebLUIS or ALEPH).

2. Union Catalog interface issues during the transition to ALEPH between 2003-2005.

3. WebLUIS screen or functionality changes needed in catalogs and indexes (e.g. “At Your Library?” or “At Any SUS Lib? commands).

4. Other?


Prepared by Rich Bennett (UF) in consultation with FCLA
Chair, SUL PSPC OPAC Subcommittee
2/26/2003