Change is never easy in an institution (especially one where, as I have pointed out previously, people have worked for a long time). We get used to the way things are and we get good at our jobs because we know how things work. Then they go and give us all new software and expect us to be happy about it.
My responsibility in the migration was to schedule the reference staff time for training and to model a good attitude about change. The latter was the more important of the two! Our staff had been through an ILS migration before, and remembered how painful it was. They really needed to see how excited the library administrators were about the product and be constantly reassured that their mind would be blown at how AWESOME it would be.
Here’s the ugly truth: I did not vote for this product. I was on the review committee and this particular system was actually my third choice. I was overruled in part due to budget and company loyalty, and I’m ok with that because the other truth is that this system is still waaaay better than what we had been using. I didn’t want staff to necessarily know that it was my last choice of the products we looked at. I wasn’t hiding that fact, but I didn’t offer it up as common knowledge, either. Instead, I focused on how much better it would be than our current system and joyfully expressed how much everyone was sure to love it. (Of course, most of them hadn’t seen the other options, so they had no idea what the others were capable of!)
Then there was the public. They don’t like change any more than staff do. Their links! Their precious links! WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO THEIR LINKS?? Staff now had to be cheerleaders to the public, as I had been for them. We asked for their patience as we figured things out. We promised that their links were New and Improved. We showed them features they had never dreamed possible.
And then the catalog broke.
And we fixed it. The point is, changes like this come with a few speed bumps, but if we can all just stay calm and be positive, those speed bumps don’t turn into mountains. There are no library catalog emergencies. We can deal with just about any thing that can go wrong. We can waive fines and give extra renewals. We can give guest passes when library cards don’t authenticate properly. We can smile and thank our patrons for their patience. We can promise to keep working on it so we – and the system – get better and better.
It is day two on the new system, and we’re better today than we were yesterday. I call that a victory.