Monday, March 03, 2008

There Ain't No School Like the Old School

So I've started using old-school Unicorn (ie, Workflows). I mentioned before that it feels outdated. It's really easy to use, once someone has explained how to use it and what the words mean. It's kind of reminds me of databases that we used in junior high, which makes sense, since Unicorn is a pretty old system. I'm currently learning how they copy catalog here, so the work is not terribly challenging (although it does give me a good chance to relearn my leader/directory/008 fields). Their system here is so streamlined...the vendor has a relationship with OCLC, so the copy catalogers' job is really to just check the cataloging that's already in the Sirsi system--there's no uploading by our library, unless OCLC has a poor record or no record to use at all.
So I've been spending time today using a light wand (I know!), and using the "public access" part of Unicorn, which is laughably old. The face that actual users today see is fine--it looks like any regular ILS front end. But the public access module in Workflows that the librarians use has those picture buttons, like an Athena system or something. The "reserve desk" has a picture of an apple, "search catalog" has a picture of a girl in 1993-era clothing studiously looking at books in a library. "Browsing" has a pair of binoculars floating free above the Earth (I assume that these are some kind of super spy satellite binoculars). For some reason, the "subject" search has a picture of the Space Shuttle launching. Don't ask, because I don't know. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Workflows is fairly customizable, even though I would never have imagined that to be the case when I first saw it. You can put in whatever menus you want. I also learned today that if you want to do an import, though, Workflows go really, really 1993 on you. The first step is to tell it you want to import a certain file, and then you have to schedule the upload. I imagine that back in the day this was necessary so you could upload everything at 3am when no one was using the system. Of course now it's just silly, and makes the catalogers sigh.
I'm looking forward to using Java Workflows a little more...just to see what kind of changes they made to the system. It has to be better than old Workflows, if even just in the feel of it.

1 comment:

Dan Scott said...

Ah, too true, the import process makes me laugh. "Is your disk ready?", it asks, expecting you to carefully pull your 5 1/4" floppy from its dust sleeve and insert it into the disk drive. "Umm, yes," I respond, "the 500GB SATA-II drive on which the file I pointed to in the file-picker is quite prepared to upload a few paltry megabytes of MARC data. Let's go already!"

"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.