Backlog Monster! Or, The Virtue of Muddling Through
There is something big lurking in your backlog, something that darkens your every work day. Maybe it’s remediation you’ve been putting off for years, or unfinished business from a big migration. Nothing depends on taming the monster, but life would be easier if you did.
In our case it was barcodes—tens of thousands of off-site barcodes in the ILS but unavailable to the Aeon requesting system. Every request fulfillment necessitated a tedious manual lookup. Merging the data by hand would have taken untold months of staff hours, and with no common identifiers across systems an automated solution seemed out of reach.
By piecing together and adapting tooling from other efforts (Python, Google Sheets, regex), we struck a productive balance between automation and manual work and, while working remotely during COVID-19, added 25K barcodes to our most in-demand collections.
The presentation outlines the solution we landed on and makes a limited case for an ad hoc, “bricoleur” approach that eschews sustainability in favor of near-term effectiveness and progressive learning. You may never use your one-off tools again, but you will carry forward something for the next project, and further lower the barrier to taming the next backlog monster.