Monday, 25 October 2010

The Consultation process

The consolation process for the development of the new catalogue was due to begin at the beginning of last term academic term of 2009/2010 and continue for the duration summer. Unfortunately, due to operational difficulties in completing the modifications required for a multi-LMS environment, consultation actually began after the end of the last academic term of 2009; as a result, the number of students and staff involved in the consultation process was dramatically reduced and less over all time was available for examining data presentation and identifying system bugs and problems.

The loss of “bulk” feedback from students was particularly troublesome as it meant that issues with system reliability under heavy usage were not uncovered until much later in the process- this in turn led to periods of system down time and service disruption.

To help offset these difficulties, an unobtrusive feedback form was added to each page of the beta catalogue to collect information from users who were not part of the official consultation process.

An extremely useful opportunity to ascertain the potential “market” for a multi-lms discovery catalogue was afforded by a trip to the VuFind 2.0 conference in Philadelphia. Though there is more scope there for implementation of VuFind in consortia which share the same LMS, sessions on the user interface revealed provided extremely useful best practice studies which the project team was eventually able to use in addressing some of the initial feedback.

One of the flaws in the consultation process was that too much focus was given to highlighting and developing the new advanced features of VuFind. The result was that not enough consideration was given to identifying services which were part of the existing catalogues such as Voyager’s Book Bag feature, which were not part of VuFind.

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