This is one in a series of reports from our funding awardees. Read on to learn what the WSU Riverpoint Campus accomplished with their Technology Improvement Award.
By Bob Pringle, Director of Nursing and Riverpoint Campus Library Service, Spokane, WA
Last fall, we submitted a Technology Improvement Award proposal to the Regional Medical Library. We needed to replace an old staff computer used for ILL processing, and wanted to add a new scanner for use with Odyssey software, in addition to our Ariel station. We received the award in October 2011. We purchased two pieces of equipment: a Fujitsu 6240 color scanner and a Dell computer with 4 GB memory, which meets current WSU Spokane IT standards, spending just over $3,500.
Once the equipment arrived and the computer was configured, our progress was interrupted by a mandatory upgrade of the ILLiad software, which we planned to use with Odyssey. Once we had something of a handle on the new ILLiad, we moved ahead.
We placed the scanner where it could be connected to the computer of either of our two primary ILL staff, Dee Rodgers and Nancy Wagner. Now that we’ve done it, I realize we could have considered purchasing a networkable scanner, which could have been used by either workstation without switching cables. I also wish we had reviewed the physical furniture layout of the ILL staff workspace. The stations and workspace make it difficult for two right-handed people to use the same scanner, so we have compromised by optimizing the space for one of the staff. We’ve retained the original Ariel scanner at a separate station. That’s proven a good arrangement, but further efficiencies might have been possible.
We also took advantage of an opportunity to send Ms. Rodgers to WSU Vancouver, outside the purview of the award, to attend an OCLC training day. It focused on the WSU Vancouver ILL operation, using ILLiad software (including Odyssey) to improve workflow. The training was most beneficial in improving our own work.
Once installation and some fine-tuning was done, we began using the scanner. We confirmed that one can switch between Adobe Acrobat Pro and Odyssey scanning without rebooting the computer (required between Ariel and Acrobat), which is beneficial. The scanner itself is much faster than the old Ariel scanner, especially with the document feeder. Since most scanning is from periodical issues or books, we use the flatbed, but it is still significantly faster than the older machine. Integrating scanning with Odyssey really helped staff workflow, time spent on each request, and general satisfaction with the way the work goes. A somewhat unexpected benefit has come from having two electronic delivery work stations. There are no longer long periods of “waiting for your turn” at the scanner. Both ILL staff can work simultaneously, a great boon to productivity.
We are now filling requests from other libraries using Odyssey as well as Ariel. Our Ariel work has diminished as fewer libraries use it; WSU Pullman’s main library has stopped using Ariel (WSU Vancouver still uses it), and I expect we will follow Pullman’s lead in the future. The improvement in efficiency and speed has meant an informal change in our policy of educating our users on how to find articles in our collection; we are now tending to fill document delivery requests from our own collection when feasible, rather than telling the user “Here’s how to find it yourself”. All such requests are filled using Odyssey. We used Ariel to fill about 50% of DOCLINE requests pre-Odyssey; that has been reduced to about 10%. Overall, just since installation, we’ve shifted to about 70% Odyssey use and about 30% emailed pdfs.
We also no longer have to “morph” images from one format to another, as we did with Ariel/Adobe, saving an additional step in the ILL workflow. Our delivery is faster to libraries, and we’ve improved service to our own users from our collections. The newer, more capable staff computer also improves workflow. As mentioned above, Odyssey is now accounting for about 70% of our electronically delivered items, or 446 of 637 items since February 1, 2012. Three hundred twenty-six of those were DOCLINE; Ariel accounted for not more than 35 of those.
The impact of this funding award has been significant and rapid. As noted above, we’ve cut our Ariel use down a great deal, and almost eliminated use of DOCMORPH. The new workstation is much more reliable (few if any lockups or slowdowns compared to the older machine) and offers faster searching, updating of records, etc. We are filling requests from other libraries more efficiently and therefore more rapidly, and have significantly improved the quality of service to our own users, by responding positively to their document delivery requests from our own collection, rather than denying them and providing instructional aid.
I’m positive this was a most successful award for us!