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ILS Research

The Process

The process of migrating to an OSS ILS includes numerous steps. First, libraries must evaluate the OSS ILS to see whether it fits the needs of their institution, how it will need to be customized, and how much time and money will be required for that customization. The next step is a test installation and test migration, which allow staff members to get accustomed to the new system, test functionality, and determine what kind and how much data preparation is needed. If this preparatory step is thorough, the actual process of installation, data preparation, and migration will be much smoother. Throughout the migration process, it is also important to train staff members on the new system and allow users to test the system before it goes live. Once the software installation and migration are complete and the staff  members and users have become acquainted with the new system, the library will be ready to "go live" with its OSS ILS.

Researching OSS ILS options before choosing and implementing is a vital step in the process. There are various resources available on this website to aid in this research process. In addition, contact information for libraries currently using OSS ILS is available; making connections with these libraries can help answer questions about OSS ILS functionalities and also develop potential partnerships and consortia.

One of the most common comments we have received in our research on OSS ILS is that librarians choosing to move to an Open Source platform should be aware of the technical skills and talents that their staff possesses. While there are several vendors who can manage the entire process, having knowledgeable staff who understand the terminology and play a part in maintaining the system can go a long way toward making the process smoother. Training is essential for each of the various elements of the ILS.

After researching and choosing an ILS and analyzing your library's technical expertise, it is important to create an implementation plan to spell out the various steps in the implementation process and who should be responsible for them. Tasks to complete include the following:

  • Evaluation
  • Demonstration site and data preparation
  • ILS installation
  • Data migration and testing
  • Staff training and user testing
  • Going live

Planning for each of these steps involves deciding upon expectations for the expected time range, action items by individual role, deliverables, and best practices. Some steps like data preparation and migration can take months, whereas training materials can be developed in weeks and taught in days.