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New Year, New Inventory Workflows

January at the library is traditionally a quiet time of year when staff can catch up on projects and begin thinking toward future initiatives. During these less busy times and to kick off the new year, inventory projects are a great way for libraries to start the year with an accurate collection and to ensure everything is in place. January is the perfect time to begin putting the chaos of 2020 in our collective rearview mirror.

With libraries quarantining returned materials, fluctuating between periods of partial and full closures to the public, and the constant stress that many staff faced throughout the year, we are reminded how turbulent a year it was and the importance of a reset that the new year can provide. Plus, an increase in holds-based services (such as curbside pickup), means more demand for items to have a correct availability status in the online catalog when patrons are searching and to be in their correct locations when staff are searching the shelves.

One of the ways TLC can help your library achieve its shelf management goals is through the latest LS2 Inventory features offered in the 5.6 release of LibrarySolution®. We streamlined shelf management and inventory workflows for operational efficiency, so that library staff can spend more time with customers and less time ensuring the statuses of library resources are accurate.

LS2 Inventory allows library staff to scan the items on your shelves, update the date inventoried in the item’s record and the last-seen-date of the material on the shelf, and get alerts to any exceptions in real time while the item is in hand. The count of items in the inventory process are available with greater clarity, and users can collaborate on collections with access to detailed reporting.

In addition to this streamlined workflow and in collaboration with our partners at Tech Logic, TLC developed functionality to incorporate Tech Logic’s award-winning circTRAK Shelf Management RFID scanner into LS2 Inventory workflows. Now LibrarySolution® customers can quickly scan through their shelves with an RFID wand to complete a real time inventory project at a faster pace.

The RFID option also allows for a minimum-contact method to complete an inventory project quickly. Although we didn’t plan this development to coincide with the pandemic, we are proud to be able to offer this solution to our LibrarySolution® customers with similar development on the roadmap for our CARLConnect customers too.

circTRAK

📣 Don’t forget the AV carts and scanners from TLC•SmartTECH and the award-winning circTrak wand from Tech Logic to make a completely portable Inventory station!
📣 Interested in a demo? Contact a sales representative today.
📣 Ready to upgrade to the latest version of LibrarySolution®? Contact support to learn more.

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Three Benefits of eBiblioFile
All RBdigital Customers Should Consider


TLC’s eBiblioFile MARC record service just became available to a new cohort of libraries and media centers with OverDrive’s recent acquisition of RBdigital. This extension of service is timely, as we all grapple with the effects the pandemic is having on libraries. Libraries need their borrowers to have the best discovery tools available in order to find content. That means having good data, and eBiblioFile will help.

eBiblioFile is an on-demand service that creates and delivers MARC records with enhanced RDA fields for eBooks and other downloadable library titles.

Automatic Ready-to-Load Records
When a library places an order with OverDrive (including former RBdigital customers), eBiblioFile automatically receives that information and delivers ready-to-load records for each title directly to the library. Records are RDA-ified, authority controlled, contain the library’s predefined custom fields, and have a URL link to the title on the eResource vendor website.

In addition to Overdrive, this service works with cloudLibrary™ by bibliotheca, as well.

Full Records in Less Than Two Days
Unlike other MARC services, the library receives a record for every title within two days of eBiblioFile receiving an order from the library’s eResource vendor. When there is not enough metadata to create a full record, a minimal RDA MARC record is created with all the standard fields except topical subject headings. Libraries then have the option to get full replacement records for minimal records if they become available.

Cheaper than the Competition

Full records are $1; minimal records are free of charge.
With full coverage of each order and a 48-hour turnaround time, it’s no longer necessary for a library to load the minimal “on order” placeholder records from their eResource vendor.

RDA-ified Print Titles

Additionally, libraries can use eBiblioFile to receive RDA MARC records for previously ordered eResource titles, and can utilize the optional RDAExpress service to convert MARC records for traditional print titles to the RDA cataloging standard.

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/data-services.

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The Next Generation of Innovation



About this time last month, The Library Corporation (TLC) hosted a webinar on their recurring Webinar Wednesday series to bring awareness to the new TLCCloud Services platform powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and to discuss the benefits this new hosting environment brings to both the company as a whole and their library customers.

The webinar was hosted by TLC’s Director of Marketing, Jamison Reynolds, featuring Chief Operating Officer, John Burns, and Chief Technology Officer, Justin Duewel-Zahniser, as expert panelists.

The following includes the highlights from the webinar. Some content has been edited and adjusted for clarity and length. To watch the webinar in its entirety, you can find the recording at the TLC Webinar Wednesday archive at TLCdelivers.com/webinars.

Meet the COO and CTO

To kick off the webinar, Reynolds introduces TLC•Cloud Services, an improved hosting platform:

TLC has teamed up with Oracle to redefine hosting library services. TLC•Cloud Services utilizes Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to provide our customers with unmatched control, security, and predictability to deliver high-performance, Cloud-based infrastructure services. OCI is a deep and broad platform of cloud services that enables TLC to design and build our applications in a scalable, secure, highly available, fault-tolerant, and high-performance environment.

He shares that TLC’s current products offering TLC•Cloud Services include CARLX™, LibrarySolution®, and LibrarySolution® for Schools. TLC offers ILS hosting in multiple regions of North America and globally, providing support for regions and countries who prefer or require local data residency.

Reynolds then introduces the panelists.

John Burns, Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Burns has over 20+ years of experience with TLC, having built his career in a range of roles within the organization: primarily within sales and marketing capacities. He was recently promoted to the role of COO as of January 2020. Prior to that, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing.

He shares anecdotally that his mother was a librarian in the K-12 and Public Library systems. “As irony has it … technology forced my mother into early retirement in the library industry … and here her son is 30 years later doing a webinar on OCI and technology in libraries.”

Justin Duewel-Zahniser (DZ), Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

DZ originally worked for TLC from 2003 to 2006, as one of his early technology jobs. With his computer science background, he started as a software trainer for LibrarySolution® before moving into technical product management. In 2006, he left TLC and spent a little over a decade working on global supply change and reverse supply chain solutions, in a technical product management capacity.

He rejoined the TLC team in 2017 as the Chief Technology Officer. In that time, one of his focuses has been the Cloud platform migration and transition, directly relevant to the topic of the webinar.

A Long History of Innovation

TLC’s history with hosting does not begin with the OCI initiative. Burns elaborates on the 46+ years of innovation that came out of TLC within the library technology space, following this general decade-at-a-glance timeline. Interspersed here are high-level descriptions of major generations of data hosting models from DZ.

  • TLC was founded in 1974 by the family that still owns and operates the company today.
  • In 1985, TLC introduced the original data platform, BiblioFile, which started on microfiche. Later, TLC was the first company to use CD-ROMs for data.
  • In 1995, TLC was the first vendor in the world to build their ILS platform natively from the ground up for the Microsoft Server operating system, beginning the initial partnership with Oracle for the underlying RDBMS structure. Soon after, TLC introduced its first data hosting platform, ITSMARC.

This time in TLC’s history corresponds with our Gen 1 data hosting model. DZ elaborates on the data center built out of the TLC Headquarters office in Inwood, West Virginia and defines an on-premise (or library-hosted) solution. The library provides the hardware locally and TLC installs the software and supports it. Libraries still have this option today.

  • In 2005, TLC began hosting their first customers from the corporate internal hosting facility

  • Within five years (2010), demand for hosting increased and TLC moved to a Tier 3 hosting service, co-located in Ashburn, VA for LibrarySolution® customers and around the Denver area for CARL customers.

This corresponds with our Gen 2 data hosting model, the co-location (or co-lo) model. DZ outlines the responsibilities of each facility and highlights the main difference from Gen 1 is the move to virtualization. Both the software installation and the database (part of that software install) run on the virtualized hardware in the data center.

  • Fast-forward to today, 2020, TLC partners once more with Oracle to leverage the power and scalability of cloud hosting.

This corresponds with our Gen 3 data hosting model: the Cloud model, expanding the virtualization model.

Leveraging the Power of Oracle

Reynolds poses the question: Why did TLC choose to move to OCI as opposed to someone else in that space, like AWS or Azure?

DZ addresses the value proposition for using Oracle to provide cloud hosting: If you’re using Oracle as your back-end database, who better to provide hosting and cloud solutions than the database provider? “Really no one is ever going to beat Oracle [as] the most performant, most secure, most integrated operating environment for Oracle-based products.”

Burns recognizes the cognizant choice to make an objective decision during the marketplace assessment and how Oracle’s performance and costs compare to other platforms: “It just made sense for both of our ILSs.” With the move to cloud hosting, TLC can focus less on the hardware and apply resources more toward its expertise — library software and technology.

Choosing OCI over competitors in the market was also acutely observed with one of TLC’s CARL customers, who had the option of going from an on-premise solution to a city managed hosting model provided by AWS. This customer selected to move forward with TLCCloud Services provided by OCI.

See additional comparison information in the Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers section below.

In addition to the benefits to TLC customers, described below, TLC will be a customer of its own TLCCloud Services platform. DZ explains how TLC uses Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for its internal development environments and the operational benefits that it provides.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting for TLC Customers

“How does this directly affect TLC Customers?” Reynolds asks before expounding, “Many times people think to parse that out, whether we’re speaking about LibrarySolution®, LibrarySolution® for Schools, or CARLX™. How does this affect everyone?”

DZ and Burns lay it out with these primary benefits to TLC Customers:

Geographic Redundancy and Improved Latency

By moving to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, TLC immediately gains access to all the data regions offered with no difference in implementation. Rather than managing a number of co-location hosting facilities in multiple locations, TLC gets the exact same configuration, deployment model, network and hardware performance — in all regions, globally — from one service provider.

Customers, historically, would have needed to connect to either the Denver, CO or Ashburn, VA hosting facilities respective of their ILS product, and had the potential to experience some network latency depending on their physical distance from that location. Now, TLC can provide its customers with a closer network endpoint, supporting decreased network latency.

Improved Application Performance

TLC developers can take advantage of the scalability and improved client performance, based on the Oracle expertise and how that platform is developed, in order to improve application performance.

DZ references these side-by-side speed tests from the marketplace evaluation.


Latest Hardware, Newest Software: Effective Budgeting

With TLC•Cloud Services, TLC customers will always be using and leveraging the latest and greatest in their hardware capabilities: Solid State Drives (SSD), storage, processing, and computing power.

In comparing the on-premise model to the TLC•Cloud Services hosting model, elaborated more later, Burns expresses that libraries can spend more time doing the things libraries want to do, and less time tending to on-premise servers. “The efficiencies libraries gain through this and the mental relief they gain,” he thinks is well worth the cost.

Burns keys in on the fact that customers will no longer need to go through the budgetary refresh cycle of hardware. The cost is spread out over time through a small increase yearly — more effective than the larger cost required in the typical 5-8 year rolling budgetary schedule to replace hardware.

Upgraded hardware has a direct impact on budgets, as well as the capability of the software itself. “We can develop software now faster than your hardware can keep up with.” On-premise libraries get locked into their budgetary cycles and are unable to afford newer hardware and are, therefore, unable to upgrade to the newest versions of software.

TLC takes into context these older, antiquated systems while developing new features. DZ reassures the audience that TLC does work to maintain that backwards compatibility with the on-premise deployment.

Disaster Recovery, Backups, and Data Security

Burns shares that TLC•Cloud Services provides customers with data-at-rest encryption capabilities, multiple levels of disaster recovery options, and improved data backup across multiple domains. OCI gives TLC more flexibility and options for its customers’ needs.

DZ elaborates on the inherent level of security as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is being used by enterprise-level clients with demanding security requirements. TLC customers benefit indirectly from this, as TLC is able to take its own secure application environment and deploy it into a platform managed by the security requirements Oracle instills as a baseline for everyone who uses that infrastructure.

Reynolds asks DZ about data privacy concerns. With Oracle’s strong database encryption and data separation built into the platform, customers deployed into that environment automatically benefit from data-at-rest and database-layer encryption.

Additionally, TLC is already intentional with its logical and security separation between any given customer instances, from both a privacy and security standpoint; this level of separation is built into the underlying infrastructure of the Cloud platform.

Migrating to a New Platform

From On-Premise to Hosted

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, Reynolds asks: What difference can library customers see when switching from an on-premise solution to a hosted solution with TLC•Cloud Services?

Burns spotlights the library’s relationship with their on-premise IT support: “You offload that responsibility for all of the hardware, all of the OS maintenance, all of the updating.” He reiterates the budgetary cycle and the benefit of disaster recovery mentioned earlier in this article.

“When you’re on-prem, even though we provide full services here through our client services, there’s still a level of liability that you hold in housing that hardware in your facility.” He shares an anecdote of how TLC has worked with customers who had to use stacks of books to elevate server equipment off the floor during hurricane flooding.

DZ elaborates, stating that customers in the cloud platform would only be responsible for maintaining a sufficient internet connection — and that’s it — from a simplified IT infrastructure standpoint.

He further explains keeping up with data security standards in the library industry and shares TLC’s role on occasion during times of data crisis, such as when customers over-commit to their on-premise infrastructure. He also references this case study, where TLC moved a customer quickly and diligently into a hosted environment, restoring data following a severe ransomware attack on their local system.

Reynolds expounds on the thought, adding a sentiment from a customer who moved from an on-premise environment into TLC•Cloud Services at the start of the year. In the era of COVID-19 with patrons accessing more digital content like ebooks and e-resources, the customer felt it was nice knowing that traffic was going through a dedicated OCI network, rather than hitting the library’s network and network resources.

Reynolds takes a question from the audience: “Does this mean that the on-premise model will be phased out? At what point will TLC clients be required to move to Cloud?” Burns responds with a resounding, “We will never tell our client when they have to move from on-prem to hosted. We don’t force our customers to upgrade.”

However, Burns emphasizes that being in a cloud environment means faster upgrades with fewer hours of downtime. He references comments made by TLC Customer Matthew Mattson of Los Angeles Public Library from this interview.

From TLC’s Co-Location Hosted Model to TLC•Cloud Services

Reynolds takes a multipart audience question: Are you migrating all hosted clients to the new hosted platform? Any expected downtime? How will this affect pricing for renewals?

Burns states that TLC’s longtail plan is to migrate customers out of the current co-location facility into Oracle cloud, but that there is no end-of-life deadline. TLC will reach out to clients during their renewal and upgrade processes and initiate a conversation at that time regarding the library’s needs. “This isn’t just a mass exodus… This will be a strategic type of process.”

Downtime would be no more than what a library can anticipate for a large system upgrade. DZ answers first from the context of a customer already using TLC’s co-location hosted services: the transition is a standard maintenance window. Downtime is required as TLC performs a transformation of the library’s current transactional data state.

Transitioning from an on-premise environment into a co-location hosted environment is not very different from transitioning into the cloud hosted environment. Which is to say that both transitions require a more complex data migration project. For those considering this option, TLC has a very high success rate for data migration as well as additional data services.

Another audience question comes in: Are you required to have the latest software version in order to go into the Cloud? DZ confirms that TLC will be supporting both versions of the Library•Solution® product — 4.x and 5.x — but that there may be a minimum version within each major product line. For a more tailored response based on your own version, please reach out directly to your TLC Support team.

Future Implications for TLC

To close out the conversation, Reynolds asks Burns what potential future implications may be for TLC moving forward with TLCCloud Services. Burns reiterates that TLC does more than integrated library systems — the first 25 years of the company were predicated upon data services. As TLC continues to evolve more innovative products, they want to take advantage of Oracle’s scalability.

His final sentiment sums up TLC’s excitement for the future:

Be on the lookout for new products coming from TLC based on Oracle Cloud. Be on the lookout for existing products to be modernized in that environment — like our ITSMARC data service. … As an organization at large, we’re going to benefit from this and our consumers and clients are going to benefit from this in meaningful ways. … We’re very excited about this big, strategic intent for the company. It will deliver meaningful benefits to our end users and our internal workforce.

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/TLC-Cloud-Services or email us anytime at info@TLCdelivers.com. The unedited version of this webinar can be viewed in its entirety from our Webinar Wednesday archive.

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Success in the Cloud: A TLC Customer Interview

“You know, obviously, this is going to be more difficult,” begins Matthew Mattson at the start of his interview with Jamison Reynolds (Director of Marketing) and Rhia Stark (Digital Engagement Manager) of The Library Corporation (TLC). “Because I’ve been on CARL a lot longer than I’ve been on the Oracle platform,” he finishes with a laugh.

As a long-standing user of the CARLX integrated library system, and with responsibility over Web Technologies at Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), Matthew is used to being a reference for the CARL ILS but has only been in a hosted environment since February 2020.

The three have gathered remotely to discuss LAPL’s transition from an on-premise environment to hosting through TLCCloud Services, powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Matthew shares how the library planned for this momentous move, how to expect the unexpected, and what other libraries can gain from life in the cloud.

Some content has been edited for clarity and consistency.

Moving 27+ Years of Data Into the Cloud


Los Angeles Public Library has been a CARL customer since 1993, with local servers out of the Central Library that entire time. Tell us about the plan to switch to a hosted environment.


We’d always been on-premises, and we were scheduled to go hosted in the Fall to the previous host.


You were prepared to make this move into TLC’s previous hosted environment before we selected to move forward with OCI. What happened next?


We postponed. We understood the reasoning and the logic was sound, but we didn’t want to be the first due to our size. So we waited until Somerset moved to Oracle. When TLC had that one completed, then we went next.


After the delay and the pivot toward OCI, how did the implementation go? What was your overall perception of the process?


In all honesty, we had a little bit of an advantage of having been stopped late in the previous move, that we had a lot of our checklist already completed. Now granted, we had to go back and redo things with new addresses and stuff, but it was almost like we had a trial run of almost moving to the other one. So we kind of had to restart the process, but the advantage of it was that we’d already thought of most of the things that we needed to do and so we were very confident in our checklist of moving to the Oracle platform because all the things that we were thinking about previously, they were already on our list.


What were some of the items on your checklist?


Our biggest thing was all twenty-seven years’ worth of stuff that we’ve put in that we suddenly had to start thinking about again. We have Ad Hoc Reports that aren’t just talking to the quote unquote “CARL database.” They’re talking to a bunch of different stuff. And vendors! All the vendors who either run our client or SIP2.

Most of our checklist was not: does it checkout a book?. I mean, that was very quickly: Yup — the CARL client works as we expect. Moving on now. What about these literally eighty-seven different Ad Hoc Reports we’re running that are talking to a bunch of different stuff? Do we even know where all of them are running these days? And all the scripts we have to change?

So we had to think about everything that we’ve ever set up in twenty-seven years that was used to talking to ourselves that now had to talk to someplace else. That was really what was most of our time was just trying to make sure that we thought of all that stuff.


If we could zoom out for a second, let’s put this into a percentage chart. If you’re thinking about the active time that went into the OCI migration, what percent of that was re-thinking about processes that had to happen? What percent of that was testing? And what percent of that was smooth sailing after go-live?


In planning, I would say 80% of it was trying to think of all of these things: Who do we have to talk to, what needs to be changed, who has to know the new address, who has to talk through the VPN tunnel, and who can go public. That was a new thing for us: the fact that there was a public and a private address, and that you had to know who you wanted to route through the tunnel versus what could go through the public.

In terms of planning, that was absolutely the biggest chunk. If you do that part right, once you move, it’s all good.

Quite honestly, we didn’t really concern ourselves with the functionality testing in that way. Maybe we should have more, but in general as long as your connection’s there, it’s going to work. CARL didn’t suddenly switch how it works; it’s just talking to a different endpoint.

The rest was more, What does the staff need to know?

View from the Cloud


Can you compare the performance of CARLX while locally hosted to the performance after the implementation and after some of the configurations were finalized?


We haven’t noticed any problems, any issues. If the staff members didn’t know we moved, I don’t think any of them would tell you that anything changed in terms of the Client performance. If you’re at a Circ desk, there is absolutely no difference from when they were talking to Central Library versus when they’re talking to wherever the hosted facility is.

And part of that is because we actually reduced the amount of traffic on our own network. All the public that’s accessing the catalog and the SIP2 clients and everything, that’s not going through us anymore. That’s going directly to the hosted facility.

As big as we are, any traffic that’s not on our network is good! Because we’re always running at capacity on our network, anything that we could offload like that was great. Now obviously all the staff communication is still going through the VPN and that’s going through our firewall. But I got two hundred people at a time on my catalog in peak hours, and they’re not using my network anymore!

The other thing that the hosted facility does for us is that not only does it make maintenance easier in the terms that we don’t have to be a part of it (it used to be that someone had to be on-call in case they needed physical access), but it has speeded up. When we do our quarterly updates, just the fact that the hosted facility has so much bigger pipe and bigger servers, we’ve gone from being down for like six hours for the updates to less than two.

There is no time during a twenty four hour, seven day, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year that someone isn’t using our system. So obviously the less down time we have, the better. For a place like us, that’s important because every time we’re down, we hear about it.


How has your staff adapted to the hosted environment?


TLC was primarily responsible for the servers themselves in terms of doing the quarterly updates and stuff, but the servers were here and that does entail staff time. If there was a problem, first of all, we had to determine: Is it us? Is it our network? What’s going on? And then even if it was the server: Is it something that we can do locally?

Obviously there is a tremendous amount of staff time that isn’t concerned anymore with the CARL system. And it’s not that they’re now sitting around twiddling their thumbs because, believe me, they have plenty of other stuff that’s requiring their attention.We run probably a good twenty-five dedicated servers that are doing various things.

So the fact that we don’t have eight more of them to worry about is a good thing.


Can you quantify the amount of staff time saved in hours per week?


I don’t know that I could because it wasn’t a consistent thing. We might go weeks that we don’t really have anything, but then we might have staff have to devote a significant amount of time to working with CARL to do whatever. So it’s very hard to quantify that but even if I can’t put a number on it, it is just one thing we don’t have to think about anymore. We don’t have to worry about it.

Only thing that we have to maintain is that VPN tunnel and basically once we got it right, there’s no maintenance involved in that. It’s just there. It’s not like a server or anything; it’s just a configuration on the firewall. It doesn’t change. You don’t have to do anything to it. You don’t have to update it. You don’t have to babysit it. It’s just there.

We just don’t have any staff time, in that kind of a sense, making sure that people can get to the CARL system.

Advice for Other Libraries


What advice can you share for other libraries considering moving to a hosted environment?


Do a complete inventory of your processes.

Because, like I said, it’s just so easy to forget about something that’s just been sitting there doing stuff for ten years. It’s not enough just to say, “Oh well, it’s the CARL system. Here’s all of the stuff that’s the CARL system.” Because I guarantee you, if you’re a library that’s been running it for a significant amount of time, you’ve got stuff that you’ve forgotten about that is touching the CARL system in some way. Whether it’s Reports, whether it is a vendor, whether it is how you’re doing authentication for some of your databases.

You’ve got something out there that just is not on your day-to-day radar, and so you really do need to do a complete, thorough inventory of your system to see what all really is touching your ILS system. Because it’s more than you think it is. Like I said, if you do that part right, once you move, it’s all good.

It just becomes so much less of a concern on your part because everything is now in OCI’s hands. This is what they do. They’re better at security than you are. They’re better at uptime than you are. Just because that’s their business. As good as any library is in its IT department, they’re not going to compete with a professional hosting service for all of those intangibles and all of those tangibles.

That’s something that you just are freed from. And as long as you get it right in the planning, once you make the move, things become very easy.

 

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/TLC-cloud-services

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The Might of Oracle: A TLC Customer Interview

“Putting on the pressure!” jokes Lynn Hoffman, Director of Operations at the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) as Digital Engagement Manager for The Library Corporation (TLC), Rhia Stark, presses record on the virtual meeting platform. Lynn reports from her bedroom-turned-office in New Jersey, Rhia reports off-camera from her home-office in Colorado, and they are joined by TLC’s Director of Marketing Strategy, Jamison Reynolds, from his dining-room-office in West Virginia because his deck-office was being rained on.

It’s the middle of July 2020, and the three have gathered remotely for an interview in the time of COVID-19. Six months prior, the library had the distinction of being TLC’s first hosted library on the newly re-envisioned TLCCloud Services hosting platform, powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

As the first TLC customer to migrate onto the OCI platform, Lynn Hoffman discusses the benefits of switching from an on-premise solution, how the support of the CARLX integrated library system team made a difference in migration, and what libraries can expect if they make the transition to TLCCloud Services.

Some content has been edited for clarity and consistency.

Where SCLSNJ Likes To Be


Let’s start first with your history in libraries and how you have come to be so well-versed in both the administrative and the technical aspects of this project.


I’m a librarian by trade and everything I know about technology has been learned on the job. I love technology though. I started my career as a children’s librarian, but I was tinkering around with the children’s department website back in 1996. So, I’ve had a long history of using technology and kind of exploiting it for the things it can do. And in my current role it very specifically falls under my umbrella.

We’ve gone through a lot of change in the five years that I’ve been at Somerset County, and a lot of that has been a learning process for everybody. And I am a big nerd, so I loved learning new things. I love having a question of like, “I wonder if this can do this…” and then seeing if it can do that — finding documentation, or digging stuff up online, or whatever the case may be.

And I think as a whole, that’s the approach that our technology staff tend to take. I would put our tech team toe-to-toe with IT professionals in a heartbeat.


Somerset County Library System was the first TLC customer to migrate onto the new TLCCloud Services platform. Can you talk to us about the timeline of the project?

This year’s TLCU will be virtual – check it out at LSCommunity or CARLCommunity


We heard about TLC’s desire to move everything over to OCI at TLCU [TLC’s annual user conference] in October 2019. I sat in on Justin Duewel-Zahniser’s [Chief Technology Officer] session about tech updates and he spelled that out. Don West [Director of Operations, TLC Denver] reached out to me probably a couple weeks later and said, “You know we’re moving forward, do you want to go?” And I of course said, “Sure, we’ll do anything!” From there it really turned around pretty quickly. We made the transition mid-January.


What was that like?


We were the first of CARL customers to move and so there were some growing pains, but that’s kind of par for the course. And that’s actually where Somerset County Library really likes to live: “We’ll try it. We’ll try anything!”

I think from our perspective, one of the reasons that we, as an institution, like being a guinea pig is because we a) like playing with new things and figuring things out but also b) if what we are able to find out as part of that process helps build kind of a structure for that transition for other libraries, we’re happy to contribute to that from a greater good kind of perspective. So, I know that lessons were learned from the process of our migration that absolutely will have come into play down the road as other customers have migrated


That’s a great perspective, and we do very much appreciate that philosophy. I’m sure many of our customers appreciate that you can share what you’ve learned.

Migrating from On-Premise to Hosted


So let’s back up a moment. SCLSNJ migrated to TLC’s CARLX integrated library system about two and a half years ago from a locally hosted, on-premise solution, right?


Yes, that was on-premise. We made the decision to go hosted as part of our migration; that was one of the requirements of the successful solution. And I say this often about our migration process: it was project-managed like nobody’s business. It was extremely successful and smooth, and a lot of it comes down to the project management on the TLC end.


Thank you! How did you feel about moving to a hosted environment?


The entire concept of having a hosted ILS makes me very happy. I do not enjoy being in the business of the care and feeding of servers, so having gone live with CARL two and a half years ago as a hosted system was awesome.


Prior to implementing CARL, who on your staff was responsible for maintaining the server?


So that would be Wendy Clarkson, she’s our Automation Manager. She is, for all intents and purposes, our official sysadmin for CARL; although there’s a team of us who really contribute to that. But she’s been in the ILS sysadmin business for, I want to say, twenty five years. That’s been her career.


From your perspective, how has her role evolved in the library, having gone from maintaining a server to a hosted platform? How has her work-life changed?


Moving from an on-premise to a hosted solution, it made really a very big difference.

I know that in the back of Wendy’s mind all of the time was, “Is our server ok?” We had it in our server room; the room has a UPS [Universal Power Supply] and all that kind of good stuff, but there’s always that sort of nagging feeling.

Like if there was randomly a leak in the ceiling because of air conditioning condensing problems, then our server may have been at risk. Or if someone was fiddling in there who shouldn’t be and unplugged something — because we had other vendors coming in and doing stuff with our equipment with other things that plug into it — that’s something she didn’t necessarily always have control over.

So just from a peace of mind standpoint, I think it’s huge for her. That’s a big thing that kind of took up more mental space than I think she might have realized until it was taken off her plate and wasn’t there anymore.


That sounds like a lot of anxiety.


Yeah. Well, I don’t think it was ever really like active anxiety. I think three years ago she wouldn’t have said, “You know, I love my job but I’m really anxious about maintaining an ILS server.” After we moved to a hosted solution, she’s like, “Oh! That’s a big thing I don’t have to think about any more.” 

Editor’s Note: During the review process, Wendy shared, “You’re totally right, it’s just a weight I don’t have to carry anymore and that’s been great!”


What does that look like for her now?


Things like backups and OS updates on the server all used to have to be carefully timed and scheduled by our sysadmin. Knowing that’s happening out there somewhere that we don’t have to worry about, and that TLC’s taking care of all of the scheduling and making sure that we’re up-to-date on OS means that those tasks are now off our sysadmin’s lap, and that’s really huge.

And one of the things that that’s done is it’s freed up some time for her and she has been boning up on her SQL skills. So instead of spending that time on a server that didn’t necessarily add much in terms of value to patrons or to staff — like, they don’t care — instead she’s been able to do some poking around in ad hoc [CARL Ad Hoc Reports] and come up with things that actually do have a useful basis.

It’s a skillset that she didn’t have before, and I know she was a little anxious coming into it, but she’s getting pretty good with SQL.


Can you quantify that? How many hours a week were freed up?


I’m going to say, probably as much as two or three hours a week, which isn’t a ton. But when it’s suddenly empty, you can do something with that amount of time.

From Host to Host


So you originally migrated to a hosted platform as part of your ILS migration to TLC. Can you talk to us more about what the migration process was like going from one hosted platform to another?


Moving to a new host is a more straight-forward procedure than if you’re on-premise and moving to hosted. We did have some technical details to work out and part of that is just a function of making that shift.

Our state library is heavily involved in providing our connectivity, and so they were very helpful in making sure that all of the third party connections worked correctly. But there were a couple of things there where it took some tinkering and poking at settings and stuff to figure out why the connection wasn’t working in the way we expected it to right up front. It was great: the network team in the CARL office was happy to talk directly with the JerseyConnect team, so I know they put their heads together and solved a lot of those problems really, really quickly.

When we did go live, really we didn’t have any issues to speak of. We decided to sort of NAT some of our third parties’ stuff through our existing VPN tunnel, and then migrate them slowly sort of after-the-fact. And that seemed to work out really well. We didn’t cut everybody off and say, “Ok, everything has to work going through this new IP immediately,” which I think was a big help.

The data transition was fine. We didn’t see any issues with that at all. And then there were a few things on our end just in implementation that we overlooked because we’d never done this before. Like we have a bunch of internally built scripts that make fancy things happen for staff. And a couple of them broke and —  oh yeah, no doubt — it’s because we have to change the way that we are hitting the Ad Hoc server in that script.

We were all in brand new territory. I fully expected that there would be things like that, so it didn’t come as any particular surprise to me and it certainly didn’t provoke any anxiety on my part. It was just, “Ok these are the things that happened, so we’ll figure them out, and everything will be fine.” Once we got it working though, everything’s great. It’s humming along like nothing.


That’s excellent news!


I will say, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the expertise in the CARL office. You know, if something didn’t work with our first attempt to solve a problem, I had no worries at all about whether TLC would keep digging at it until we figured out what the solution would be. They were fantastic!

And knowing that the mighty weight of Oracle is behind our hosted site makes me feel extremely confident in the uptime and security of the system. Having the might of Oracle behind this whole solution gives it a lot of credibility in terms of being able to scale as needed, being able to redirect traffic as needed from one data location to another, and in terms of uptime and delivering on those promises.

Advice for Other Libraries


You’ve shared that SCLSNJ is keen on trying new things, and everything you just said is from your library’s experience. What do you think could be a hesitancy for other libraries going hosted?


I’m sure that some of it is about control. That you always know what’s happening if your server is in your server closet. It may be nothing happening or it may be something bad happening, but you always know what’s happening. You have that control over it. And I think that’s part of it.

I also think latency is another potential issue. That data traffic is inherently going to be faster on a local area network than it is coming across a VPN or somewhere else outside of the world.


Is that perception? Or is that reality?


It’s perception. I would say it’s perception, for sure. That may have been an issue five or ten years ago, but we’re not seeing it. We’re not hearing it from staff that, “This takes too long. I have to wait forever for x to happen.” It’s just not happening.


What would you tell libraries that are thinking about migrating?


From the perspective of migrating from an on-premise solution to hosting through OCI, just do it. Don’t wait. I think it will be amazing how much kind of hidden time you spend on server-related stuff that you don’t realize you’re spending that time on until all of a sudden it goes away. There’s no downside in my opinion to making the switch to hosted. And there are lots and lots of benefits.

 

 

For more information, visit TLCdelivers.com/TLC-cloud-services

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The Librarian’s Guide to Cloud Hosting

What is TLC•Cloud Services?
TLC has teamed up with Oracle to redefine your experience with hosting library services: introducing TLC•Cloud Services, an improved hosting platform.

TLC•Cloud Services are powered by the highly trusted Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and managed by data and library experts at TLC, to ensure that your library servers have high performance with the latest, next-gen hardware and your network and data remain secure.

Comparing an On-Premise Solution to TLC•Cloud Services
Some libraries choose to utilize an on-premise solution for their library network and data needs, and TLC continues to support that model as we always have.

For libraries looking to move to a hosted solution, TLC•Cloud Services provide the newest hardware with annual next-generation upgrades, giving your library the fastest performance. By using TLC•Cloud Services, our customers can expect the latest CPUs, GPUs, off-box networking, and NVMe SSD based storage services.

With TLC managing the firewall and day-to-day server responsibilities, as well as secure daily backups, the need for constant server repairs, upgrades, and purchases is eliminated, and threats to cybersecurity are minimized.

This is what they do. That’s their business. As good as any library is in its IT department, they’re not going to compete with a professional hosting service.”Matthew Mattson, Los Angeles Public Library

“Just do it. Don’t wait. I think it will be amazing how much kind of hidden time you spend on server related stuff that you don’t realize you’re spending that time on until all of a sudden it goes away.”Lynn Hoffman, Somerset County

Comparing TLC’s non-Cloud hosting model to TLC•Cloud Services
TLC has been a leader in data hosting services for over 20 years, and our hosted customers know and expect the outstanding and high level of service that we provide. By partnering with Oracle, TLC is able to expand on its already exceptional service offerings to provide an unmatched and highly efficient cloud hosting environment.

Employing an OCI environment for our TLC•Cloud Services results in an optimized solution for our customers and company, allowing TLC to focus on projects and innovation which make a positive impact for our customers.

TLC utilizes the same Oracle Cloud-based infrastructure for its own internal development environments, relying on Oracle’s RDBMS capabilities and leadership to power its library management and data services products since 1995. OCI is the premier platform for managing the Oracle Database, and a logical choice for continuing to power Oracle-based products into the future.

“The entire concept of having a hosted ILS makes me very happy. I do not enjoy being in the business of the care and feeding of servers.” Lynn Hoffman, Somerset County

“We’re about to embark on a project to move our servers to an OCI environment and we’ve been able to go into that with confidence because of previous TLC projects on that kind of scale.” Kathleen Lockett, Wellington City Libraries

For Libraries Ready to Migrate
TLC is very excited about the opportunities that OCI will bring to our customers. For additional information or to begin planning your migration to the new TLC•Cloud Services, please contact your Project Manager, or reach out today to speak with a representative. We are in the process of migrating customers now, and look forward to chatting with you further about what TLC•Cloud Services can mean for you.

For more information, visit  https://tlcdelivers.com/tlc-cloud-services/.

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Things they did not prepare me for in Graduate School

Things they did not prepare me for in Graduate School
Megan Fisher, Bee Cave Public Library

  1. The intricacies of trying to build a walk through Sneetch-bot from scratch.
  2. How much I would overuse 586 field (it’s my favorite) or how many times I would yell at my computer screen because I totally fixed the problem in the record and why won’t it just save already.
  3. How to deal with a global pandemic.

I’m writing this blog from a makeshift standing desk. It’s made up of a cafe table, a small decorative trunk and a bunch of halloween light boxes. My at home coworkers keep trying to attack the images of glow in the dark spiders and won’t stop laying on my keyboard demanding attention. They are also fluffy, have tails and have no useful opinions with regards to how to increase digital literacy.

I’m one of the lucky ones: my director and city manager have been more than accommodating in making sure we can all work from home; I have fast wifi at my current location; and I was able to outfit my personal laptop with everything i needed make sure I could function during the duration of the shelter at home policy.

My job as a cataloguer should make working from home nearly impossible. I have several colleagues from around the country lamenting about how they don’t have a viable way to work from home right now, due to the nature of their ILS system and the need to have the books physically on hand. But like most of you out there, my job has many hats, some of those hats are amazingly suitable for working from home and can be worn with fuzzy slippers.

I’m taking frantic calls from patrons that have never used our OverDrive system before but need to find books to distract them or their family because they already read all 20 books they checked out before we closed.

I’m working on collection development, despite not knowing when the items I am listing will go on the shelves. This also seemed like the perfect time to really dig into the LibrarySolution cataloging system and prepare for migration. If I mess up now, there will be plenty of time to fix things. There are all kinds of continuing education classes in Excel that I am moving off my “to-do” list. Ya’ll, I can do very fancy spreadsheets now.

After trying to coax my coworkers into using Teams for the past year, now finally seems like the right time to really start to use the program. I’m thrilled mostly because now I can send them endless gifs of Fiona the Hippo… but also so we can hold conference calls and I can teach everyone what I am learning about the new TLC system even though we aren’t face to face.

During these online meetings with coworkers, these calls with patrons, and the messages sent back and forth with the TLC team as we work towards migration, I’ve noticed something…. no one wants to stop the conversation. We want to talk to someone because we’re all feeling the strain of not being able to go anywhere or see other people outside of our bubble. We want to know how other people are doing, WHAT they are doing. No one knows how long this will last, or what’s going to change day by day. It’s fair to say it’s a bit scary out there right now.

Asking someone “Are you OK?” at the start of a call and ending it with “Stay safe” are the new Hello and Goodbye. Asking if someone’s local store has restocked on toilet paper and pepperoni is the new “do you need anything else?”.

I don’t think anyone was prepared in grad school for the day when we would have to debate how we protect our staff and the public and still serve them all. No one could have the foresight to stop in the middle of a lecture on the organization of information and say “by the way, if all the libraries have to close because of a pandemic here is the universal list of do’s and don’ts”. After all of this is over, I’m not even sure we could compile  that list. There is no one-size-fits-all. There is no RDA manual to tell us where to put the comma and how long to stay closed.

So for now we muddle through and do what we can. We hope that the powers that be remember how bleak things were without us when it comes to next year’s funding. We binge watch continuing education videos so we can come back with a new skill (sorry, I don’t think binge watching “the walking dead” counts as continuing education…yet.). We contact coworkers and friends to check on them. And in return our nonliterary related friends probably ask us how the heck they can access digital items and send us that picture of the library cake (you know the one). We carry on as best we can, like we did that one time we got a shipment where all our preprocessed books came in with the wrong spine labels. We got through that catastrophe and we can get through this pandemic.

This is our current normal. And we are prepared to adapt as best we can. We may not have a manual for how exactly to get through this, but we will because just like how we build entire candy lands out of cardboard, or how we can plan programs based on whatever we have on hand, we can duct tape this thing together from our living rooms.

So maybe Grad School did prepare me for this in some ways.

  1. It taught me to be flexible, because things don’t always work out the way you intended and unexpected obstacles are just part of the job.
  2. It taught me that sometimes you have to take what you have and figure out how to make it work.
  3. It helped me develop a “I don’t know that now, but I will figure it out”

But seriously, if anyone knows of where I can get some pepperoni, let me know because my store is empty and my at-home co-workers are totally unsympathetic.

Megan Fisher
Bee Cave Public Library
Bee Cave, TX

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TLC Welcomes Two New Members to its Board of Directors

The Library Corporation is pleased to announce two new members to their Board of Directors. Patricia Culkin, a founding partner and former lead developer for the CARL Corporation, and Calvin Whittington, a long tenured TLC employee who worked as the Director of Finance and Administration since 1987.

Ms. Culkin previously served as the Vice President of TLC’s Denver office when TLC acquired the Carl Corporation in 2000. Her expertise as a lead developer was critical in delivering ILS solutions for academic and public libraries, including Denver Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Phoenix Public Library and the National Library of Singapore.

“My interest in ILS solutions actually started at Columbia [University],” where Ms. Culkin earned her MLS in Information Science, she said. “I was in library school and took my first programming courses … it was a perfect match—the role computers could play in library management was pretty obvious—and I was hooked.”

Calvin Whittington served as TLC’s controller since joining the company in 1987. He also served as controller of CARL Corporation in Colorado and Tech Logic in Minnesota. In his position he directed the Accounting, Administration and Finance departments, overseeing budgeting, cost management, general accounting, data processing, inventory control, and purchasing for TLC. 

During Mr. Whittington’s previous tenure, he was responsible for the financial health of budgets and revenues concerning TLC’s ILS solutions and RFID technology. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Shepherd University and an MBA from Shenandoah University in Virginia. 

“We welcome Patricia and Calvin to TLC’s board of directors.  Their knowledge of ILS platforms and experience within the library software industry will be valuable additions to the board,” said CEO of The Library Corporation, Annette Murphy.

About The Library Corporation:
TLC has operated continuously under the same ownership since 1974 and employs over 200 people dedicated to delivering enterprise software and hardware solutions to public, school, academic, and special libraries worldwide. TLC’s cumulative products are deployed in more than 1,100 organizations, representing over 5,500 locations in North America. TLC is certified by the U.S. General Services Administration, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program. TLC’s Headquarters is based in Inwood, W.Va., and has additional offices in Denver, Minnesota, and Singapore.  To learn more, visit TLCdelivers.com.

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What I Learned as a Vendorbrarian

What I Learned as a Vendorbrarian; or
my written apology to every vendor I dissed when I was a librarian

After ALA Annual, while preparing for the influx of state and regional conferences, I am reminded of how different it is on this side of the exhibits. All of my library friends visit or go out with me, “even though you are in the exhibits/a vendor,” they say. 

You know the drill, librarians.  

You go to the exhibits, walk down the center of the aisle, check out the cool stuff but avoid eye contact with anyone in the booths. THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE ME BUY SOMETHING!

Or the phone call. 

“Hi! I’m Melissa Powell from The Library Corporation—” 

“We aren’t interested!” *click* 

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it can feel that way. If I get you on the phone at all, anyway. 

As a librarian, I know this all too well. The random calls while you are working. The sales person who won’t take no for an answer. The guilty feeling when you say “no.”

Having recently become a sales consultant, I have dreaded making the “cold call” knowing how it feels on the other end. However, I now realize the importance of contact. 

Vendors need to know what you are thinking, working on, and needing.  They need to know this to create the products and services that you really need we have to get to the heart of what libraries and library staff need.  To do that, we need to talk to you.

Here are a few things I said in the past and what I know now:

“I’m too busy!”
Maybe the few minutes spent talking to me will help you be less busy now or in the future. Or let me know a better way to communicate with you, a la email, sending a packet, whatever. 

“You act like my schedule isn’t important.”
Then tell me a better time to talk with you. I would MUCH prefer to schedule a time when you can really talk. In fact, I would love to give you the time to think so you are able to really communicate your needs. If I leave a phone number or email please contact me at your convenience. I am going to continue to reach out so you might as well take control of the conversation.

“I don’t make the money/purchasing decisions.”
However, you still use the products and what you can tell me is extremely valuable! We are always in development and we would much rather be developing products and services that you actually need.

“We aren’t interested.”
How do you know what I am going to talk about?  And even if you do, as librarians we believe in information and getting some is always useful.  As a vendorbrarian I see things very differently from a regular vendor. 

“We aren’t looking to buy [insert product name here].”
As the manager of a library, especially a public library, it is part of your job to keep up with what is new in the industry to better serve your community. Let me do the work for you! I can sum it up, give you references, come up with talking points. . .whatever you need to take to your administration, your board, your city government for when you are looking to buy.

During the last years that I spent as a library manager, I realized the importance of the vendor-librarian relationship. Vendors are generally a font of information and the good ones will follow through and get you answers and the information you are interested in. Sales is a long game. We don’t expect you to pull out the credit card and buy on the spot. You may never buy our product; however, we can still work together empowering librarians. 

More and more librarians are becoming vendors and it’s time to take advantage of that! You have people on the “inside” now. Help us change the industry to be what you need it to be. 

In this age of less funding and tenuous support, vendors can be a strong partner, especially those with vendorbrarians. Our survival depends on your survival. We are here for you. Take advantage of it.

Melissa Powell is a Librarian Sales Consultant eager to learn and share.
mpowell@tlcdelivers.com

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Why We Don’t Need the GMD/Subfield H in Cataloging Anymore

As a cataloger, I remember the constant complaints from staff about the General Material Designator (GMD) in the MARC record:

“What KIND of Sound Recording?”
“Videorecording is WAY too broad!”
“Why can’t it just say ‘blu-ray’?”

GMD was one of those many things we added to the MARC record to make an ancient and out of touch software work for our changing technological libraries. Like ‘Notes,’ GMD was a limited solution created at the time librarians first began needing to add additional information about our resources. HOWEVER, this was merely a temporary fix because MARC was still based on a 3×5 card concept, even though it hasn’t been used to print cards for decades.  Our cataloging brains were still packed within the 3×5 margins.

RDA came along and I was SO relieved. We could now add more specifics for all the characteristics of the varying resources!  We added the 33x lines for content, media, carrier, and then the 34x lines that drilled down even further in each of those categories.  FINALLY! We could give staff and patrons the detailed information they wanted. I was downright giddy!

To top the new improvements off, TLC developed a MARC agnostic cataloging interface so that we could start using any Linked Data format when that time came, including BIBFRAME.  As a long time TLC fan—and now an employee—I was really excited to present this new interface to serve our patrons!

Here comes the irony.  After years of complaints about the lack of detail with the GMD, suddenly librarians were pushing back and clamoring for their GMDs:

“We can’t get rid of the GMD!”
“How can we keep our subfield h when we migrate?”
*Insert shocked face here*

After a lot of discussions, I realized that so many librarians had no idea about the amazing changes that occurred in cataloging that make it so much easier for us to help our patrons. So many of the things we always wanted to do for cataloging… we can do now!

So, in a nutshell, here it is:

  • GMD is limited to EIGHT characteristics (because GMD actually has controlled vocabulary even though people don’t follow it)
  • RDA fields have dozens of characteristics that can be combined in numerous ways in the various fields and subfields and displayed to the patrons.  
  • BIBFRAME will change the $h [GMD] to a line 380, however there is no need to add it to an existing RDA record because the 380 is already there.  In fact, you run the risk of it becoming part of the title line permanently. This just makes me cringe thinking about it. 
  • RDA standards recommend that catalogers DO NOT use the 245$h for the reasons listed above.

There you have it. 

Here are some visuals to illustrate my point:


So, eliminating the $h [GMD] and using the RDA facets allows your patrons and staff to get the rich data they need in choosing their materials. No more confusing [soundrecording] [videorecording] in the records.  Just real language.


By hanging on to the GMD, you are actually denying yourself the very things you and your patrons have always wanted. 

If you are reading this and saying, “Why doesn’t my ILS make use of these characteristics?” Give me a call. It may be time for a change. 

Melissa Powell
Sales Consultant
mpowell@tlcdelivers.com

With input from Kim Mumblower, TLC Product Owner and Cataloger Extraordinaire

 

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