ready to throw the computer

All I want to know is how many videos we ordered last year, and what the average price was. That’s all. That’s all I want to know.

I’m a smart woman. I’m a skilled and experienced technical services librarian. As a cataloger and a member of this library’s administrative team, I have a solid layman’s understanding of how our ILS works. I understand MARC codes and standards and database hierarchies and the data structure of our system’s subsidiary administrative records. I have participated in data-testing and quality-control-checking on two ILS upgrades, and have been thoroughly trained by trainers and my own daily work in how to use the system. For all of these reasons, I know in which fields the data I’m looking for is stored. I know which ILS report is supposed to be able to harvest and produce that data.

And I cannot. make. it. work.

I have done enough troubleshooting with our systems librarian, and have been successful at enough reports-running to know that I am capable of completing this task. I am confident that I am not asking for the moon. I have double and triple checked my data entry. I have tried two similar yet distinct report forms, and two similar yet distinct sets of data in each. I have spent an hour on this task, which only warrants about 15 minutes of my day. I keep trying, varying my approach each time based on past experience, consultation with the help files, and inspiration of “maybe if I just…” It simply won’t work.

Hell if I know why.

I’ve run reports on the administrative side of three different ILSs — Sirsi Workflows in 98-99, III Millennium from 01-03, and now ExLibris ALEPH, v14 & v16, for the past 5 years. They have all had their strengths and weaknesses, but the way that data is organized, relates to itself, and is presented for use by the librarian in ALEPH compares to nothing I’ve ever seen.

And not in the good way.

I’m going to try one more time. I’m not going to swear at the software. I’m not going to speak harshly to the input forms, or the help screens. I’m going to be calm, collected, and effective.

And if it doesn’t work this time, I’m going home.

Listening to: Hole – Violet


  1. I feel your pain. Having been at an Aleph school and now (again) at a Voyager school, I find myself really missing the Aleph OPAC (at least as we had it configured). I find myself doing no better than a brand new freshman at searching our Voyager OPAC some days. Some of it is just how our consortium has it configured (argh) and some of it is the ILS. When will the big ILS companies get it–we want power and simplicity! I feel like WorldCat does pretty well, but that probably still presents challenges for our users.


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