Decisions Blog

Archive for August, 2009

Talis Decisions courses

There are a couple of Talis Decisions courses coming up in the Autumn which may be of interest.

Exploring the Talis Decisions Universes is a webinar intended for folk who create or modify reports in Talis Decisions. It goes beyond the basic course to explore the details of the Talis Decisions Universes, exploring issues such as “why are there several ways to get a postcode? What is the difference? or “why do I sometimes get fewer results than I expect?” Being a webinar there are no travel costs involved (all you need is an Internet-connected PC and a phone).

Making the most of Talis Decisions is a face-to-face event being run at several alternate locations. This is intended for practitioners (those who are concerned primarily with the management of libraries rather than the mechanics of report production). It is intended to augment understanding what Management Information is potentially available through Talis Decisions.

I’ll be at both. Looking forward to talking to lots of folk in that context.

Talis Bridge Management Information

I’ve talked quite a bit recently about retrieving useful management information from sources other than Talis Alto. I’d like to add one more to this list: Talis Bridge.

Bridge 1 Talis Bridge (for those not familiar with it) is in essence an adapter or go-between: it enables devices (such as self-service terminals) that understand the SIP2 protocol to talk to the LMS database directly.

Most of the key data from Self Service transactions can be reported using Talis Decisions: for example the loan transactions done at a self-service machine can be reported just like a manual loan – indeed, to the database the structure of such loans is just like that of any other loan, The usage of particular machines can be monitored by configuring the self service machines with unique operator IDs, and then filtering a loan transaction report by operator.

Bridge 2

This works well for many purposes but it is not possible to monitor failures this way: i.e. situations where a user went to check an item in or out, but was unable to do so for some reason. Many SIP2 devices have their own reporting, but clearly it is not possible for them to augment the reports with other data known to the wider LMS.

It is however possible in principle (although at present a slow manual process) to combine data from the Talis Bridge logs with other data in Talis Decisions. Here is an example: Bridge 4 

Because the LMS, knows more about the borrower (age, course, active borrowing history for example) and the item (type, format, Dewey etc) it is possible to segment this kind of report much more deeply within Talis Decisions, and start asking questions such as:

  • What is the age profile of borrowers who have trouble?
  • Do we need to improve our library orientation sessions for post graduates (because they have an abnormally large number of failures)?
  • If users fail to check an item in or out, do they normally go away and come back later, request a manual transaction or just give up?
  • Do we need to improve the marking of items where loans are restricted (because we are seeing an abnormally high failure rate for that item type)?

There are lots of possibilities, and for many libraries this might be a “nice-to-have” rather than a “need-to-have”, If you have any views on the usefulness of these data, please do comment on this blog or e-mail me directly.

Geographical Information Systems

GIS Example A Geographical Information System (GIS) typically overlays a map with a representation of some kind of location-based statistical data – such as customer density  or crime rate. The picture is of carp larvae density in a lake created by the FAO. The city of Denver in the USA actually has a local government website dedicated to GIS.

There are broadly two ways in which GIS’s could be relevant to libraries:

  1. Supporting library management choices. For example, a map overlaid with borrower density based on postcode and/or age group might be helpful in decisions on opening/closing sites or on site-related stock purchasing.
  2. As a service to library customers – especially in business libraries

A colleague recently brought my attention to an example of the latter; a system used in some US libraries providing consumer market data via a GIS. I have no knowledge of the particular system or its supplier, but the principle is interesting.

If you already use GIS in your library in either way (as management information or as a customer service), or if you have views on this, please do post a comment (click on the comment bubble on the top right).