Case Study: Migrating from Millennium to Sierra at the Australian National University Library


The Australian National University Library (ANU) serves one of Australia’s leading research universities and is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities. The ANU Library collection holds more than 2.5 million physical items and provides access to more than 63 million electronic resources, including full-text journal articles. The collection is distributed across five branches and an external repository on a subject and useage basis and can be accessed by searching the Library catalogue, e-journal, and e-resources database.


The ANU Library started working with Innovative in 1993 and installed the Millennium ILS in 2003. Although Millenniumserved ANU well, University Librarian Roxanne Missingham and her staff saw the need to move to a more open and flexible system that would allow the ANU library to implement new systems and meet the evolving needs of faculty and students.According to Mark Huppert, the University’s Library Systems and Web Coordinator, there was also a clear imperative (and apush from the campus IT department) for the library system to become more interoperable with other campus systems such as that used for Human Resources and Finance. Moving to Sierra, with its open data structure and streamlined work processes, seemed like the obvious choice. The challenge for the ANU library staff was to make the switch to Sierra as smooth and seamless as possible to minimize disruption to library users and staff.


The migration took place in a single day on July 31, 2013 and was a surprisingly easy process, according to Roxanne and Mark. The system worked well at launch, allowing library patrons and staff to use Sierra right away. The self-checkout machines functioned properly. WebPac looked and in the same way as it had with Millennium. There were no problems with renewals, records, or ILL.

The entire outward-facing process was smooth, and library users were impacted in a minimal way. Roxanne and Mark appreciated the careful preparation by III staff over the preceding three months in advance of the move — the project had run smoothly, with high quality testing and socialization of both user and staff interfaces.

Of course, a few glitches are always expected and did occur. The staff hoped the system would be operational before the library opened, but a four-hour delay in the go-live process meant a later launch. An issue with the keyword index, which was not fully indexed until that afternoon, was quickly resolved and became the only issue with a direct impact on users.

Mark reports that the library staff responded to the new Sierra system in a positive way and that they were pleased that things worked as expected. The first day was exciting for the entire library team; aside from the late start, the migration process went very smoothly.

One of the positive outcomes in moving to Sierra? No need for retraining and, consequently, very little impact on staff productivity.

“At best, they had a 20 minute presentation – no training – and then sat down and started working with few questions – quickly getting over the slight differences from Millennium,” says Mark.

Mark relates that, as time went by, the staff began to run into some minor issues, which they communicated to the Innovative Help Desk. Mark and his staff were closely engaged with the Help Desk during the first few weeks addressing the technical issues that did arise, including tweaking the settings on individual accounts to get everyone properly enabled. He notes that, once a Help Desk ticket opens, a lengthy discussion may be held to find the best outcome or solution, but overall, he was pleased with the level of response.


According to Mark, the Millennium to Sierra migration at ANU was quite straightforward and a very positive experience for the library staff. He reports that ANU benefitted from libraries that had gone live previously and worked out the bugs – helping things go smoothly at ANU.

“We had a very good conversion,” Mark says. “Nothing is going to work absolutely perfectly. We had some small things, but the rest of it went really well.”