If you followed my Twitter feed at all last week, you probably know that the metro library system I work for went live with a new cataloging and ILS (interlibrary services) software. That was Wednesday. Before that, we had to go dark on Monday and Tuesday while the last of the databases underwent migration from the old system and into the new.
Allow me to paint a picture for you: I had a total of four hours of hands-on training with the new software and catalog before Wednesday’s launch. So did most everyone else. This was a classic case of “hitting the ground running,” and we— that is, the rest of the staff at my branch and I— knew it. We had a plan in place for our downtime, and we had a plan for getting caught up once we were able to use the new circulation system. And we just had to hope it would be enough.
In fact, I had apparently signed off one of my emails to the branch with, “May the Force be with us,” which is really just a more PC way of saying, “God help us.” My boss came up to me later that day and asked me to Jedi-ify the door to our staff room. Now our door— which originally had little bumblebees, a queen bee, a beehive, and a sign that said “Welcome to the Hive”— has a bunch of papercrafted lightsabers attached to our bees, plus the following sign:
The hours I worked during downtime involved a lot of talking. People, understandably, had questions. Given the resources I had, I explained the process to patrons in the only way I knew how… through video games, of course.
This was obviously the first time I’d been a part of a large transition in a library. But this wasn’t the first software launch I had ever been a part of— not by a long shot. I began telling people about my experiences as a gamer and every game I’d played since its Day 1. That list included all World of Warcraft expansions from TBC to Cata, D3, and ME3. So, I regaled them with stories about server crashes, emergency maintenance times, humorous bugs, and not-so-funny glitches. Most importantly, I told them the bulk of major issues were resolved over the course of a few weeks.
And, wouldn’t you know it? People understood. In fact, I had a lot of people express relief after hearing my experiences. Best of all, I imparted to patrons that the transition was going to take a lot of patience. They were afraid of the unknown and how it would affect service, if it would give them exorbitant fees, etc. Giving them an idea of what to expect helped allay a lot of those fears, even if it wasn’t directly related to the new system or type of software.
The staff I’m a part of runs like a really good raid team. I’m not joking. Despite the fact that we’re the highest circulating branch of our network, second only to the main buildings downtown, we were the first to catch up on discharging returned materials and entering backlogged checkouts after Wednesday. Yes, we claimed server first and we’re quite proud of it! I hope that doesn’t make me a library elitist.
Catching up was a multi-boss fight, much like Illidari Council in Black Temple or Iron Council in Ulduar. I got to reprise my role as DPS-turned-off-tank, spotting where the work was piling up and relieved the main tanks of aggro when they needed help. And there were times where I sniped down potential threats in the workflow before they could become a problem. We all had our consumables: coffee, cookies, chips, dips, and other goodies to keep us going. We economized our focus, energy, mana, and occasional rage so we didn’t burn out before the boss was dead. There was joking and bantering, copious cursing at the computer, and everyone kept their heads even when it looked like we were about to be overwhelmed by adds.
By Saturday, our branch was pretty much back to business as usual and we were working on current tasks. We had the occasional server crash, and we received earfuls from patrons who didn’t like the changes. It’s now a running joke amongst the staff that, lately, we’ve been sleeping very well because we’re just that tired at the end of the day.
Whew. It’s been a hell of a week. And it’s time to get back to it. /salute