Extending the implemented technologies to automate the Library’s workflow processes

Presenters:  Filippos Kolovos, Paraskevi Vozana

The task of migrating existing workflows to the machine automation realm, or creating new ones with the concept of their tasks being carried out almost automatically, is a challenging process. In the Library and Information Centre of the University of Macedonia, recognizing the altered and more demanding needs of our users, who expect their library to be where and when needed, we have begun altering the workflow logic of many of our processes, which were previously time consuming and error prone. Tasks that require user input, coordination among the Library staff, the Library and the departments’ secretariats, or simply providing an informative role, have been semi and fully automated in most of their workflow steps by using the open source technology platforms and other elements of the digital era, such as the QRCodes and RFID tagging technology.

Via a special administrative interface, implemented in the Library’s technology infrastructure, members of the personnel are able to perform several tasks that previously required a lot of “manual” steps to complete, such as the printing of applications and certificates and the verbal coordination among the staff members, who may not necessarily reside in the Library, but on other external University departments.

To begin with, users are able to register with the library by simply filling – in and submitting a form request, while the personnel proceeds and registers them to the Library system automatically with the click of a button, via the administrative interface. Coordination between the Library and the departments’ secretariats is also now carried out automatically in all the cases where a secretariat wishes to be informed for the status of a Library member. Such cases include the status of any economic obligations that a member may have with the Library, or if she/he fulfills the necessary prerequisites for receiving points as a diploma supplement to the bachelor or Masters degree.

In addition, the automatic management of the users’ participation to the Library’s information literacy seminars has also been automated in many areas. The users are able to register for a seminar of their choice and the system automatically checks if they are members of the Library and if they have already registered for the seminar before. These are two obligatory requirements for the participation, which otherwise would have to be manually checked by the library staff.

Also, through the administrative interface, one is able at any time to check the number and retrieve any data regarding the attendees of a seminar and can also manage the participants’ absence or not to a specific seminar, by deleting those who were not present. This is very useful, because after the seminar is completed, the participants can automatically retrieve a signed certification of attendance via the Library’s online services infrastructure, if and only if they were present and only after a number of days after its completion. The certification retrieval by the users is carried out automatically with no staff intervention at all.

Other technologies that have been enhanced through automation are the Library’s digital repository (Psepheda), where the students can self submit their dissertations, with the staff members intervening only to double check the metadata entered and that the file naming rules have been followed. This procedure used to consume a lot of time, since the Library personnel had to upload and describe each and every one dissertation that had to be submitted to the repository.

Finally, the Library has implemented the use of automation through physical items, such as printed QRCodes and RFID tags. Printed QRCodes have been positioned at the bookstands, which the users can “scan” with their mobile phones and automatically navigate to the central library catalog. This is currently in a pilot phase and as future work we plan to enrich the collection of bookstand QRCodes to include more information, such as specific details concerning the collection of physical items on specific bookstand, etc. On the other hand, regarding specificity, RFID tags are being implemented on the Library’s books and other items, such as CD-ROMS, where further information concerning the item is stored. Currently, only the barcode is stored, but in the future we plan to include more information for each item, which not already present on it, such as reviews, author information, possible points of sale (i.e. direct link to Amazon.com for the item), etc.