Here at Soutron we are increasing the number of communications via blog updates and also via our Support Portal to provide clients and librarians with more information targeted to their needs.
We would like you to stay informed of the changes in technology and systems that can affect the performance of a library and knowledge centre.
- Our Knowledge Base in the Support Portal holds many informative articles on how to exploit our systems and technology (easy to read and interpret is one of the measures by which these are judged).
- On-line Help that is built into Soutron provides functional descriptions of what the feature does but we believe that “How To” instructional guides introduces process improvements and guidance on how best to apply and use the facilities, not just describing them.
Anyone seeking to improve their processes or implementing a part of the system for the first time can use these guides to put new processes in place and to inform new staff. We are always keen to hear ideas about new “process guides” and what needs to be improved.
These meetings are a chance to get together informally to meet some of Soutron’s staff and other clients with the focus on sharing ideas and experiences. Graham Partridge R & D Director at Soutron leads the meeting and usually introduces some of the new developments that are being worked on. At the recent round of meetings in London, Toronto and Dublin, version 4 of the Soutron Library System was introduced and the ideas behind the new Search Portal were presented.
Soutron’s Search Portal is a new module that is in addition to the existing OPAC. It is built using the newest programming environment for web applications from Microsoft (MVC) that means it is immediately suitable for use on mobile devices (mobile responsive is the phrase used) and introduces simpler ways of searching with higher performance. This area of system development is now regarded as so important that Soutron has programming resources continually devoted to the Search function.
To meet our design goals when creating the Search Portal, it has been necessary to create a completely new Search Engine (the logic that indexes content and retrieves accurate data and presents it to the user). This also includes a new layout template design tool so that the Library can decide how best to layout forms and results without restriction. It is completely new code that is distinct from an OPAC, is more flexible and can be used to search a variety of data types. Helping the Library make life easier for users is a constant design consideration for our R & D team and working closely with clients on the development of the Search Portal paves the way for further initiatives that can be introduced in the year ahead.
So in keeping with our commitment never to remove functions that already exists, the OPAC can continue to be used and the new Search Portal can be introduced alongside it or to replace it.
Version 4 is now available to all clients and the vast majority have implemented and upgraded to this release. It is significant in that it introduces an agile upgrade process where as features are now developed, tested and approved they are immediately being applied to customer’s systems. This saves waiting for half a year or more for a release to be prepared with lots of features all issued at once. This makes it simpler for new advances to be examined and absorbed by Library staff as well as putting rich new features into play much sooner.
Free Report Building
The need for reports and management information is a key ingredient in Library system performance. The number of available reports in Soutron has been increased and an overhaul of the design and performance in producing reports has been undertaken in 2015. This area of the system is continually being added to as we operate a Help Desk that builds new reports free of charge for clients who request a particular report. This benefits the whole community and ensures a constant round of improvements to the reporting function.
Serials and Acquisitions
This part of the library system has seen some excellent enhancements in recent months. These have been based on Graham Partridge’s involvement with a number of clients where he visits and works alongside library staff. This has resulted in not only refinements in the software but also helped to maximise the benefits of the system for clients. The old way of doing things is not always the best or most efficient way and the process improvements we bring to this part of the system demonstrated major time savings for clients.
This is particularly true of the Serials Claims Process, described by clients as amazing! It brings time saving features and improves data accuracy of serials receipts.
Some clients do not use acquisitions and serials and continue to use spreadsheets to process this type of information. It is usually because the staff member is very comfortable with a spreadsheet and can see all of the information on it. The spreadsheet does not need knowledge of a “process” and is thus seen as simple. This may be true. However when a process is introduced and data elements are related, efficiencies can be gained for the library service as a whole and improved reporting is available to management.
As one new client put it after being introduced to the acquisitions part of the system to help control finances, “this is the first time I have ever known exactly how much I spend on serials!” Whilst the set up make take some effort, the payback is huge once processes are in place.
Inter Library Loans
The world of document requests and ILL is seeing a significant change as the British Library (BL) embarks on a completely new way of serving clients with their Document Supply Service. To help make this process completely efficient we are introducing a new module, Soutron ILL based on the proven and successful Clio Inter Library Loans system that is completely integrated with the BL API.
The benefits of this are immediately apparent to anyone who works in ILL. It saves a huge amount of time, gives a completely accurate picture of what is available and when and is completely web based. We have introduced this to a few ILL librarians and the response has been fantastic. We are now implementing this new system module that is integrated with Soutron’s technology and other sources to ensure that documents and books that are within the local stock are not requested.
If you need an overhaul of your ILL system, now is a great time to be investing in this area.
The Travelling Librarian!
Our desire to support and give excellent service is unabated. It is a mainstay of our business.
As part of the services we provide, Graham Partridge, our very own travelling librarian, is available to be booked for on site consultancy and assistance with your system and processes.
Graham has been around the country to meet and help librarians using Soutron. It has proved to be very popular as face to face meetings are still valued.
Many of you will have heard or met Graham and know of his enthusiasm and passion for library automation. It knows no bounds. A large part of what Graham likes to do is be in the library working and examining content and processes to see how he might bring about improvements. It may be that a review of procedures or a process in Soutron may be just the help you need. So we welcome enquiries if you feel you need some help or insight into your systems and processes.
New Web Site
The communications team at Soutron is now headed by Paul Johnson. A new web site is now in place, a blog and news updates are appearing regularly and we have more activity starting to be developed in respect of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
So whatever way you wish to engage and communicate with Soutron, we hope it’s easy for you to stay in touch.
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