April 2000 Activities Report



This is the first of thirty monthly reports on the status of the Yale University Library’s migration to a new Library Management System (LMS). These reports will be posted to YULIB and will also be available on the LMS Migration Web site:

These reports will provide a convenient summary account of LMS migration activities and the thinking that informs them. The reports and the numerous documents that will be available at the Web site are meant to help support the library-wide learning that is essential to a successful migration effort.

Comments about this material and the library’s migration activities are most welcome. Such comments can made publicly on the YULIB listserv or addressed individually to Audrey Novak, the LMS Migration Project Manager, by using the reply function at the Web site or by sending a message directly to Audrey at


A group of about 30 library staff responded to invitations sent to every library department to participate in a pair of April planning sessions. These sessions were designed and facilitated by Kate Reynolds, Staff Training and Organizational Development Officer, to stimulate library-wide thinking about how the library might best organize itself for its LMS migration work. Chris Weideman, Assistant Director of Manuscripts and Archives, assisted the group discussions by scribing participant responses.

13 April meeting (full day)

Participants in the 13 April meeting identified a set of capabilities the library needs for LMS migration. They also identified a set of values that should inform the migration and a set of predictors for success. Closely allied to all of these were some themes that played through the 13 April meeting.

Organizational Capabilities

The organizational structure put in place for LMS migration should be capable of:

Organizational Values

The capabilities just specified carry with them a strong set of explicit or implied values, such as innovation, efficiency, decisiveness, and cross-functional interaction. Beyond these values, and above all, the organizational structure put in place for LMS migration should strengthen the library’s:

Predictors of Success

Past experience with projects similar in scope or consequence to LMS migration suggests the following attributes of project management are good predictors of success:

Some important but inescapable tensions that might limit success must be managed. These include:

Recurring themes

Some ideas that found voice several times at the 13 April meeting were:

Changing character of migration tasks

Participants on 13 April also described how the nature of LMS migration work will change over the course of the project. These changes were characterized as follows:


In response to the views expressed at the 13 April meeting, Scott Bennett, Audrey Novak, and Chris Weideman advanced a set of Four Propositions about an organizational structure capable of seeing LMS migration through to successful completion:

  1. Structures should be as finely tuned to individual tasks as possible and should change as the task changes. This proposition will require that individual tasks be defined as crisply and discretely as possible; timelines and the terms of success must be made clear. Work groups should be constituted in ways that reflect the project values identified above as well as with regard to the expertise needed for the particular task. Assignments to work groups will reflect the need to engage both wide participation and to secure continuity of knowledge throughout the migration project. Work groups should be explicitly charged with advancing the project values appropriate to their tasks as well as with completing their substantive assignments.

  2. The results of such task work should be as widely communicated as possible, to foster organization-wide learning. Such learning must itself be understood as being one of the key ways in which individuals will participate in LMS migration. While the primary goal of the project is the successful migration to a new LMS, the project should also be managed to create (1) new or enhanced expertise throughout the library on a wide set of issues, ranging from work flow design to systems interfaces, and (2) a deepened understanding of library-wide process redesign opportunities for working more effectively and improving reader services. We will feel the value of these learning outcomes long after we have completed the specific tasks of LMS migration.

  3. A Migration Management Group should be created that is no larger than necessary to:
  4. The Migration Management Group should report its activities on not less than a monthly basis to the Library Management Council and to a key set of library standing committees, including the Cataloging Coordinating Committee, the Acquisitions Support Group, the Circulation Support Group, the Collection Development Council, the Service Quality Initiative Council, the Library Systems Steering Committee, and whatever Process Redesign Working Group may exist by this summer. (It is likely that one or more members of each of these groups will serve on the Migration Management Group.) These groups will almost certainly wish to reshape their agendas so that they can play a useful advisory role in migration matters. None of them will, however, have oversight or management responsibility for LMS migration.

At the same time, Audrey, Scott, and Chris prepared an Orbis 2 Project Plan identifying individual tasks and a timetable for completing these tasks. Necessarily, the Project Plan is more detailed for the work to be done in the first several months. Among other things, the plan responds to the advice given at the 13 April meeting that we should shorten as much as possible the time required to identify the vendor for our new LMS, to advance the date when we start our implementation activities.

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