Improving Library Tech weeknotes w/e 10/01/20 and 17/01/20

We’ve had a couple of weeks of not being together as a team and in formal sprints as we’re still in the re-grouping stage, however this doesn’t mean no work has been happening. 

Tl;dr version: 


Staff PC work: 

  • I’ve been in a bit of a quote-a-thon with some suppliers due to Intel chip shortages.
  • Nigel has been a star in working with us to get the PCs delivered when they arrive.  
  • 12 week wait for delivery.  

Kiosk work: 

  • Rabbit hole of understanding the network design and how this can be done better due to other implications it has on public accessing sections of the Library Catalogue. 
  • Slow response from suppliers on possible card payment configuration options. 

Public PC work: 

  • Met with Ian Holland to help shape what this work’s priorities will be. 
  • Met with Richard Smith to discuss the first steps in getting the user research underway
  • Steve Addison gave us useful info on printer contacts and timerames and Eko was also able to give us lots of data on printer usage. 
  • Meeting with Margaret and James from libraries who are joining the project to explain what it’s about, how we work, priorities and objectives. 

Up next: 

Kiosk work:

  • Handover with Saeif in libraries of the Libraries Management System to Apps Management. 
  • Getting final information from suppliers in roder to make decisions on hardware and support contracts. 
  • Handover planning with Bibliothecha to understand kiosk fault reporting and current support contract agreements. 

Staff user research:

  • Show and Tell for Ian and Sue on this in the next couple of weeks. We will then present to ICT soon afterwards. 

Public PC work:

  • User research kick off meeting booked in next week with Richard and Thea 
  • Understanding more about the printers using data and finding out from other councils how they do this. 

Long read version: 

What we’ve done:

Henry and I met with Sue Comitti and Ian Holland, Head of Libraries, to really understand priorities, timeframes, issues, expectations and library staff involvement and input on the project. This was a really positive meeting and really helped us understand the full scope and also potential limitations, but allows us to navigate these better going forward.

Starting getting team members together: Sue will be sharing the Product Owner role with Margaret Sinn, libraries operations manager. James […] will be joining the team from libraries. These changes will hopefully mean they’ll have  more time and flexibility to offer the project as well as new insights. 

Staff PCs: It turns out there’s a worldwide shortage of Intel processing chips. Apparently, Intel can’t manufacture enough to meet demand which has left all suppliers out of/low on stock. This unfortunately has implications on the delivery of the remaining 39 PCs for the staff roll out: a 12 week wait. We looked into getting an alternative AMD processor, but Mario, Erdem and Nana concluded that as we hadn’t tested it, there wasn’t the confidence in it being able to perform the same and we’d have to retest. In addition, as everyone else in the PC ordering world had similar ideas, this has a knock on 4-6 week wait for AMD machines. After discussing with Sue, she decided we should go for Intel and wait ensuring the right machines are delivered for staff. 

Kiosk work: The suppliers have been staggeringly slow in giving us information we need to understand if we can have a card payment solution attached to these machines. This is utterly frustrating and really feels like we’re wading through treacle with this a bit now. It doesn’t help as there aren’t competitors we can leverage some get up and go ness from them with. 

Now down the rabbit hole: part of what we want to do is understand how the kiosks are networked and if this is the best solution. There is an issue with the functionality of some of the online library services on Hackney WiFi that we need to try and understand, but seems it’s linked to how it’s been networked. 

What we’re doing next

Kiosk work: Rasit is meeting with Saeief to understand the LMS more ready for handing it over from libraries to Apps support. This application has never been supported in ICT before, so any problem or issues with ti has always been resolved by libraries themselves, but in order to ensure consistency and better understanding, this will move into apps management portfolio. We need to understand it before we can support it though, and these are out=r first steps to doing this. 

Understanding why the kiosks are networked in the way they are, do they have to be and can we do this differently. This will enable us to manage the hardware better and also resolve the issue of library users not currently being able to access their library accounts. 

Meeting with the suppliers to establish a relationship with ICT in order to support the kiosks moving forward. We need to find out lots of information on them such as what faults are reported and how often; details of support contracts; how they support the hardware currently and how we’ll work together going forward. 

Staff user research: We did this just before Christmas and as yet not been able to plan and do a Show and Tell, but we’re going to present the findings back to Ian and Sue in the next couple of weeks. Once we’ve done that we’ll present it to ICT too.

Public PC work: We’ve got a session booked in with Richard and Thea to work out as a team what we want to be asking the public about PCs and printer services and how best to approach it.

Once the research has been done, we’ll be able to start working on users stores and success criteria. 

We’re gathering data about the printers to understand a bit more about usage that’ll be used to plan next steps. We’ll also be asking other libraries what their printing offer and solutions are.

Improving Library Technology weeknotes w/c 09/12/19 w/c 16/12/19

This is a bit of a double issue to take us to the end of the year, but as most of you will be rushing out of the door to enjoy the break, I’ve done a bit more of a tl;dr version: 

We did: 

Cracked on with the new approach – got the last of the issues fixed with the new PCs and team are happy they meet user needs. 

Workshopped all the feedback from the staff research with the team, surfacing all the issues and pinch points staff currently face with using their current IT. 

Kiosk info is taking longer than expected to get together due to liaising with third party suppliers. 

The team did their first Show and Tell to libraries staff at Dalston library. 

We failed Sprint 5.  We overestimated our available time we had to get stuff done, and this led to lots of tasks outstanding. So, this final week is a bit of a mop-up period to make sure what needs to be done, is. 

What we’re doing next: 

In the New Year, we’re going to focus the public PC work, which as well as the actual computer hardware also will include connected services such as Netloan and the printing services. 

Yet not forgetting the staff PCs, these will be delivered and installed by devices team, meaning the project team can focus on the public work. 

The lending kiosks usually take 6-8 weeks to be delivered and they install and set these up. This gives us time to understand and set up the card payments process and as the supplier installs everything, we’re able to keep our focus on the public. 

Pull together and synthesise the staff user research and present the key findings. 

What we learned:

We do need to be more realistic about available time and communicating with each other generally. Really felt the last sprint lost all of its gust, and we had a good retro this week to talk that through.  

Learning how the library staff felt about ICT and how it affects their working life, had a big impact on us. This reinforced the ICT teams commitment and drive to make things better for library staff. 

That printing is a big, big issue with libraries staff and users.  

So, I’ve finished my first 3 months and I’ve learned so much along the way. It’s been brilliant working with Sue Comitti, Anthony Kane, Mario Kahraman, Rasit Arif, Nana Duncan and Erdem Cankiran. They’ve taught me loads about IT and libraries I never knew before and the ICT team members have learned a lot from libraries staff about how they work and how that can improve. 

And, I’m sure we’ll learn loads more as 2020 rolls out…

Improving Library Technology: weeknotes w/c 02/12/19

What we did: 

We did our sprint planning session in Hackney Museum. I expected it to be a ‘Night at the Museum’ event where I’d be chased out the building by a dinosaur skeleton* covered in post-it notes and a Sharpie in its mouth. But, alas…

This sprint is again focused on things we need to know as the work we did last time, made us realised we needed to do more understanding. It’s not clear to us as a team what the priorities are and what we need to know in order for Sue the Product Owner to give us the direction we need. We need a lot of information about the different areas in order to know what needs to be done next. 

A major part of this project is looking at the hardware the public use throughout the library service. This is something we’ve not been able to look at yet due to the work on staff PCs and self-service kiosks we’re currently doing. We’ve little understanding of public need yet, and as it’s a mayoral priority we need to kick this off soon. 

Due to this, we’ve slightly changed the way we’re approaching the self-service lending kiosks and deliver the staff PCs so as soon as we know they meet our acceptance criteria we can get these moving; freeing us up to focus starting on the public hardware in the new year. 

We’ve started the ball rolling on what we need to do in order to introduce card payments to the self-service lending kiosks too. Currently, customers can only pay fines or for reservations using coins. So, for a myriad of reasons, we’d like to add card payments to these too. We need to know more about how this works and interacts with our financial systems so we order the right hardware and use the right processes. 

We had a session together to try and understand the vision of what this project is trying to achieve and how the activities we’ve done so far fit into that. More of that below.

We got a lot out of it, despite not getting to the end of it, but I think one thing became clear: there was a lot of ‘stuff’ and this work will really help us in the public-facing part of the project. 

I’ve also learned how to publish these on the HackIT blog too! Go me.

What we learned:

The session we did together to understand our vision, really helped us to realise that the reason why we just weren’t able to gain momentum or clarity was because we’re looking at three different problems wrapped together into one not-quite-fitting-together-goal. Therefore the approach we were taking just wasn’t working! Despite being very similar, they actually require different activities to tackle them, and our ‘one thing at a time’ approach means it’s difficult to balance the competing priorities and frustrations coming out as work was becoming choked in the lack of clarity of what the priorities are. So rather than trying to ram the square peg in the round hole, we needed to stop, look at how we could break up the big square peg into smaller round legs and get them through the hole ok. 

We’re not changing what we’re doing – we’re still in sprint and aiming for the same goal, but just managing the competing issues better. This’ll speed up the delivery of the staff PCs and solving the issues surrounding the kiosks, enabling us to fully concentrate on the public PCs in the new year. We’ve already done the staff research, which will be an important part, as the staff supporting the public to use the new hardware solutions is integral to its success. 

What we’re doing next:

The new approach means we’ll get the results of the staff PC testing and if it passes the acceptance criteria we can get ordering all new PCS for all the libraries. They’ll arrive over the next week or so, giving time to get them set up and coordinate delivery and installation to the 7 libraries in the new year. Once these are done, they move into service support and this part is complete! 

Some of the kiosks need operating system upgrading to Windows 10 so we’re finding out which ones need this before Windows 7 stops being supported. We want to standardise the software running on them too. ICT has never supported these kiosks before as libraries managed all the issues with the supplier themselves. We’re taking over this relationship and management so we’re ensuring we’ve got a standard service to start from.  Some of the others are near to ‘end of life’ and need replacing so we’re finding out when this is before making decisions on how many we replace overall in this project. It’ll take 6-8 weeks to get these delivered so this will take a bit longer to complete, but we don’t need to install or set up, so this frees us up massively. 

We’re working with Thea this week on understanding the results of the staff user research as this will really help us understand the support the staff may need to help the public with new hardware solutions. 

*Just in case you thought it would be a real dinosaur.