September 10, 2014

From the State Librarian

To:              NHAIS Member Libraries
From:         Michael York
Subject:      NHU-PAC Holdings Maintenance
Date:          September 10, 2014

The last three months have been difficult for all of us regarding the holdings maintenance system in NHU-PAC.  The State Library has been working during that time with the NH Department of Information Technology (DoIT) to resolve the problem with the holdings maintenance server and have not been able to get it back online. We have determined that repairing the old holdings maintenance system is not possible and we need to continue to move forward with the alternate solutions that have been found to  let NH libraries maintain their NHU-PAC holdings.

I think it is instructive to give some background on our Sirsi Dynix system to explain where we are at with the restoration of the holdings maintenance system. The current Sirsi Dynix System was installed in 2002 and the system was selected after developing an RFP with the help of a broad-based committee of NH librarians who represented large, small, urban, and rural NH libraries.  A critical specification for the system was interlibrary loan. We need a system that will allow all libraries to borrow and lend materials easily.  The ability of our over 450 libraries to maintain accurate information about their holdings in NHU-PAC is critical to a healthy interlibrary loan system. When we developed the specs for the system we required a holding maintenance module that was platform-independent, web accessible and web enabled. There were no vendors at the time that had a system that had a holdings maintenance module that was fully web enabled. Sirsi Dynix won the contract to supply the system to New Hampshire because they were willing and able to custom design and build what was needed to meet the project specifications. They did this by creating a set of ASP pages that NHAIS member libraries could access over the web to add and delete information from the main NHU-PAC server with individual passwords. We purchased the system and the custom scripting and it has worked well for us for many years. 

The scripts used for holding maintenance are now recognized as posing a threat to the state network and because of this the DoIT cannot support it any longer and will not allow it to be on the State Network. A lot has changed in information technology in the last 12 years and cyber security is a major concern for NH state government and specifically DoIT.  

The NHAIS Services staff have been working on finding new ways libraries can do the work they previously did using the holdings maintenance scripts. We believe that the solutions that have been found, which were originally expected to be temporary workarounds, will in the long term actually be more efficient and user friendly.  Using Z39.50, an industry standard which most library automation systems include, to find and export records from the NHU-PAC and then adding holdings to NHU-PAC with periodic extractions of records from a library’s local system is a move toward a simpler cataloging process for NHAIS libraries. A free Z39.50 client has also been identified for use by libraries which don’t have such a local automation system. Finding an easy way to delete holdings without the holdings maintenance scripts has been more challenging, but a workable solution has been found and we hope to improve on it in the future. All of the functionality previously offered by the holdings maintenance module has now been tested and found to work satisfactorily. We recognize the difficultly that this situation has caused and as we have been working on solutions we have tried to communicate our progress using the NHAIS Notes blog. We will continue to use the blog to keep libraries up-to-date.

Questions about implementation etc. should be directed to the NHAIS Help Desk. Questions, complaints, and suggestion on the general state of affairs regarding this situation should be directed to me at   

Michael York
State Librarian
New Hampshire State Library
20 Park Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
603 271 2397
Cell 603 419 7100
Fax 603 271 6826

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