Q&A with Workshop Leader, Brian Jennings

Gallery Systems is gearing up for another round of training sessions that focus on the skills you need to build the best strategy for your collections care. In January, Gallery Systems will offer several hands-on TMS training courses, including a one-day course to acquire proficiency in SQL, and master the basic functions to advance and enhance your work in TMS.

Structured Query Language (SQL) has been described as the motor that powers every TMS search, making it a key tool for registrars, TMS database administrators, and any users who employ advanced search features in their work.

Led by Gallery Systems’ Support Services Manager Brian Jennings, the hands-on class will provide participants with opportunity to train on a fully-configured individual workstation. By day’s end, trainees will have a working understanding of SQL for TMS, and be able to build on queries, as well as write their own basic queries.

SQL for TMS users

We sat down with Brian to learn more about SQL for TMS Users, and get his thoughts on why this is an exceptional opportunity for professional development.

What should users expect from this training session?

The core idea behind this training is to be able to read a SQL statement and understand the different parts of it, very much like when you’re learning a foreign language. My hope is that after the full day you can write some simple SQL statements yourself, know all the parts of a SQL statement, and identify what is going on. By the end, attendees can read much more difficult queries and understand how they work.

What do clients look forward to learning?

I’ve worked with many power-TMS users who want to know a deeper level of the application. I think it helps enhance their professional competency when talking with the database administrator, or their IT department about what they want. They’re at a point where they know TMS back and front, but now they want to take it to the next level. The few who arrive knowing how to write a report bring more specific questions, like uncertainty about some syntax, or maybe a desire to practice something. As the person leading the training, I try to ask questions to get them moving in the right direction.

What are the basics that potential trainees need to understand about SQL before the class?

This course assumes users have little to no SQL experience, so there’s no prerequisite. If you have a familiarity with TMS, and how your institution manages data, that would be a very good starting point for this class.

SQL training for TMS Users

Brian supporting TMS users at the Gallery Systems User Conference

What are your favorite tips to give new SQL for TMS trainees?

In the slides, I put up “measure twice, cut once.” You start with a simple query, and then you add more things, rather than trying to write one massive, complex, killer query. Start from simple and build up.

Are there any unexpected lessons clients get from this training?

When it comes to updating something in the back end, like manipulating the data, I emphasize that trainees should be careful. What are the differences between inserting, updating, and deleting data? We talk about the dangers and precautions, how to make sure that you’re not accidentally updating too many records. Clients end up with a healthy respect for what SQL for TMS can do.

After training is over, what items are clients excited about bringing back to their institution?

At the end of the training, I put together a care package for every attendee: a PDF of the slides we use, and the notes that I’ve kept and annotated from topics that came up in discussion during the class. It’s like a chronological ticker-tape of all the things we covered. People in many different positions within an institution sign up for these trainings—Registrars, Collections, Help Desk Support, even someone who may work more indirectly with a SQL server.

Is this class appropriate for clients with some prior understanding of SQL for TMS?

For users who’ve had a little bit of SQL knowledge but never did a formal training, this can be a bit mind-blowing for them. One of the last topics we work on is “date manipulation.” With the full-day class, by the end we’re playing around with dates, and parts of dates, and functionality. All these things that can count, and group, and give you genuine insights into your collection. That’s the next level—understanding how powerful SQL can be to provide a real answer. We can create queries that are way beyond even a Crystal report.

Visit our training page to see the full list of TMS courses being offered in the new year.