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The FAILURE of software: Aleph500 cataloging program.

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Presentation on theme: "The FAILURE of software: Aleph500 cataloging program."— Presentation transcript:

1 The FAILURE of software: Aleph500 cataloging program

2 Outline The importance of software Software failure Library software Brooklyn College software specific functions Aleph500 Aleph500 software failure

3 THE IMPORTANCE OF SOFTWARE TO THE BROOKLYN COLLEGE LIBRARY Volume of books Retrieval time Unavoidable Automation

4 SOFTWARE FAILURE Introduction Bugs Organization specific Vs. User specific software failure Common reasons for software failure Some historical cases of software failure Relation to our presentation

5 Introduction Hundreds of thousands of software projects fail everyday Software companies, not eager to share disaster stories Reducing the number of software failures is one of the most challenging problems of software production.

6 Bugs Murphy’s Law Cost to U.S. economy “Death March mentality” Unachievable deadlines Too few programmers All-nighter credo of college-age jockeys Shrinking budgets Automotive aerospace industry study

7 specific versus User specific software failure specific versus User specific software failure What an organization needs might not be what a user needs What a section of an organization might need might not be what the organization as whole might need

8 Common reasons for software failure Software aging Data corruption Numerical error accumulation Exhaustion of system resources Programmer does not understand the project requirements Microsoft o/s XP

9 Some historical cases of software failure Knight Trading Group Inc FFASTFILL GET FURNITURELAND African Renaissance USMC Osprey crash Air-Traffic “glitch” INTIUT’s tax software Ebay

10 Historical cases of software failure cont ’ d London Stock exchange (Taurus)- book reviews London Ambulance Service dispatch project - book reviews Integrated reservation system -book reviews The Performing Rights Society -book reviews NASAs’ 1999 mission to launch craft into orbit of mars, $125 million YEAR 2K SATURDAY’S JAPANESE AIR TRAFFIC SUSPENDED 30 MINUTES SOFTWARE FAILURE TV GET PAPER

11 Relation to our presentation Software failure is a fact of life Automation exists due to software As a result software failure is imminent The library employs automation Therefore software failure should not be a surprise Rather, it should be a REALITY

12 LIBRARY SOFTWARE The good old days 3”x5” card catalogs- no more What would we do without automation? No more Automation can help locate books, journals etc, at light speeds. The electron travels fast. Library staff can efficiently manage their collections and better point students in the right direction

13 The history of cataloging at Brooklyn College Card catalog used until Microfiche 1988 first online system / NOTICE from Northwest university Technical service end of the program CUNY + student end of the cataloging tool Aleph500 January 2002

14 BROOKLYN COLLEGE SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS Cataloging Circulation Etc.

15 Library structure and needs Brooklyn college library structure Technical services function Technical services old software Technical services New software

16 Brooklyn college library structure

17 Technical services function Cataloging, Cataloging, and more cataloging

18 Technical services old software

19 Technical services New software

20 Technical services function and structure Cataloging R us User, PC, dot-matrix printer, Aleph500, Operating system Let’s get going

21 Technical services picture

22 Technical services New software Some companies that offer automated library software Aleph500

23 Some companies that offer automated library software Checkpoint MARC cataloging software Athena version 7.1 Winnebago Spectrum 4.0 All above are SydneyPLUS Horizon cataloging software Follet software ITS International Voyager MANDARIN M3 Version 1.5

24 Some more companies Via Surpass ILLiad Precision One “Impact”/ONLINE HomeMade software D – Wisconsin based school librarian Nels Akre MARCit inexpensive tool $50.00 for cataloging websites

25 ALEPH500

26 ALEPH500 Introduction Historical background Self advertisement Partnerships Organizations that chose Aleph500 Organization specific functionality Brooklyn College specific functionality

27 Historical background 1980: Created 1991: UNIX migration, 1 st library software 1996: Outside U.S. presence 1998: Notre Dame Library, Michiana Academic Library Consortium Chicago, Ex Libris Summer 2000 Boston office

28 Self advertisement Manages all aspects of the library, for staff and patrons (cataloging?) Flexible Open Scalable Expandable Trustworthy Multilingual Client/Server Cataloging with extensive control Customer support Internet Live sessions

29 Partnerships SF-Systems : library binding SFX provides reference linking services among electronic vendors even if they are from different vendors Sweet Blackwell : serial invoicing

30 Organizations that chose Aleph500 London University of East Anglia Summer 2002 PALNI (Private Academic Library Network of India) DELCAT SUNY CUNY University of London Universidad Nacional de Columbia (UNAL) Brandeis University, MA The Universidad Russian state university

31 Some more organizations Biblioteca Nacional de chile (BN) Mcgill University Notre Dame University Sorbonne Nouvelle Univesity (Paris) University of East Anglia (London) Univesity of Iowa Brandon University Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany Center for Advanced European Studies and Research (Bonn)

32 And some more organizations Harvard University MIT University of California UNILINC LTD. CA digial University of Delaware CO CONSORTIA

33 Brooklyn College specific functionality Cataloging tool Automation makes it easy, or does it? Label dispensing

34 A cataloging tool, what is it? Automated system for creating and editing complex records in MARC format Has to have a highly trained individual who knows cataloging practices in general and AACR2 specifically It must take a significant amount of time to create each record

35 Automation makes it easy, or does it? Aleph500 promises the ease of use of its system to create labels for our library resources, namely books DOES IT?

36 The Problem Conversion of Aleph generated script in the form of a Microsoft Word document into two pocket labels and a spine label

37 Problem background The following is a listing of steps necessary to complete the task

38 We start by retrieving record by bardcode

39 Enter barcode

40 Information is displayed/double click label

41 We get a Microsoft word document

42 Pocket label

43 Spine label

44 Combined label

45 Software Failure Timeline Old system rendered not operational and removed from Technical services office New system rendered operational and fully implement able with Windows XP XP is installed on almost all machines in Technical Services office Installation of new Aleph500 cataloging software takes place Information that was migrated from old system into new system is present and all seems well

46 Users try to print complete labels, but can not. Users seem to think that it is their inexperience in software that hinders their tries Head of Technical services contacts Library director for assistance Library directors assigns associate director to handle the problem.

47 Associate director arrives at technical services to apply his knowledge of computers into solving the problem Associate director discovers that Aleph can only print spine labels and not pocket labels. Also, the spine labels that Aleph prints are out of order and rendered useless to Brooklyn College format.

48 Associate director begins to read the Aleph manual, he soon discovers that through a maco, it might be possible to generate labels Associate director assigns a software developer to work on the problem Through the work of the developer it is discovered that printing of labels could not be done in Microsoft XP or Microsoft 2000 platforms, since necessary driver for controllling custom paper size is not supplied by printer manufacturer.

49 From initial time of Aleph deployment to discovery that Macro will not work, 3 months have passed Technical services has become a very slow moving machine. Users can not use the old system They resort to manually typing cataloging information

50 The last time that regular type writers have been used to type cataloging information was 30 years ago As a result, books are not returning to shelves quickly enough Technical services is back to using “stone age” tools Manpower is lost Technical services, a viable department is shutdown

51 Technical services is to the Brooklyn college library what air traffic control is to an airport The work of 10 is done to achieve the work of 1 Frustration is in the air Tensions between the library executive branch and technical services department are rising Resources of other departments are being exploited and pointed towards fixing a problem that is a result of an outside agency

52 In conclusion The systems office of the library is now involved, a software developer and a technical engineer are working concurrently on the problem of software failure and hardware compatibility Aleph500 software failure has caused havoc in the flow of information of the library, the core of the library, the controlling unit of the library Software failure is inevitable and a fact of life, we have witnessed it in this case

53 Technical services is an important branch of the company It was practically shutdown Software was not able to meet needs of technical services, the chief operator of the software An alternate software solution needed to be developed Alternate solution was developed but it was discovered that it could not work due to hardware compatiblity issues

54 Even if the Aleph500 software problem could be solved through Aleph implementation, their software does not support fully the Windows XP enviornment. The windows XP operating system is the only supported platform of the Brooklyn College Library It looks like older is still better The Brooklyn college library is a technological achievement, but its software is a technological nightmare

55 Summary Software problems are inevitable They exist in every organization, no matter what the cost of the software Aleph500 was touted as a great cataloging program It did not provide for the complete needs of the Brooklyn College Technical Office The office that is the lifeline of the library It was not completely hardware compatible as it is self advertised and sold

56 It did not provide for complete organization specific task management It caused the effectual slow down of work It was supposed to be a tool of automation but it became a tool that is useless Countless worker hours were lost Resources of other departments were wasted

57 The functionality that it provides still does not work You as a student might be feeling the effects of this failure the next time you approach a librarian and ask the following question “Where can I find this book?”

58 I hope that this presentation has made you understand The causes for software failure The reality of software failure And the effect of software failure on your school


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