Breeding, Part 1

The role technology plays in the creation, retrieval, and delivery of technology resources, functions, and services.

Website: Library Technology Guides

Business Landscape

  • Library Journal Automated System Marketplace:
    • An industry redefined (April 1, 2007)
  • increasingly consolidated industry
  • venture capitol playing stronger role than ever before
  • moving out of phase of fragmentation in the industry; differentiated systems in a limited market moving to consolidations
  • Narrowing of product options
  • Open Source becoming a measurable part of library market

Amazing graph of the various sales and consolidations of the various and sundry library automation systems. The graph goes from many small systems to a few large systems, as companies acquire another and merge.

When does the tipping point happen when the founder of a company – the one with the vision – gets outvoted by the shareholders?

ILS trends for public libraries: 81% of Minnesota libraries run Horizon, 20% Unicorn, 19% Library Solution. Obviously, the latest news from SirsiDynix was disruptive to the state’s public libraries. (Wry chuckle from the room on that one.) 80% of the libraries in the state will have to do a migration they weren’t prepared to do.

Overall, the level of innovation is below expectation. Boilerplate library ILS RFPs mean we keep asking for enhancements based on the old model, and therefore they don’t spend money on innovative developments, but stay more conservative. They are building what we ask for.
Consolidation among libraries for automation

  • More libraries banding together to share automation environment
  • reduce overhead for maintaining systems that have decreasing strategic importance
  • need to focus technical talent on activities that have more of an impact on the mission of the library
  • pooled resources for technical processing
  • single library ILS implementations becoming less defensible
  • essential for libraries to gain increased leverage relative to large companies

OCLC in the ILS arena?

  • Increasingly overlapped with library automation activities
  • WorldCat recently announced
    • penetrating deeper into local libraries
  • Library-owned cooperative on a buying binge of automation companies:
    • Openly Informatics
    • Fretwell-Downing Informatics
    • Sisis Informationssysteme
    • PICA
    • DiMeMa (CONTENTdm)
  • WorldCat Local went live this week; search all WorldCat libraries with your library first. Seems to be first step into local libraries.
  • ILS companies concerned about competing with a non-profit with enormous resources and the ability to shift costs

Key Business Perspective – what does all this tell us?

  • Choosing the right automation partner is more important than splitting hairs over functionality
    • understanding of library issues
    • vision and forward-looking development
  • Buy from a company you think is viable and understands libraries from your perspective. If they understand academic libraries, but not public libraries or consortia (and you’re one of the latter) then they’re not aligned with you.
  • The costs of choosing another system more than outweigh the costs of what you’re paying to the vendor. An unplanned change is very costly.

Product and Technology Trends

Current State of the ILS

  • The core ILS is focused mostly on print resources and traditional library workflow processes – pretty much what we’ve asked for
  • Add-ons available for dealing with electronic content:
    • link resolvers
    • metasearch environments
    • Electronic Research Management
  • A loosely integrated environment
  • Labor-intensive implementation and management which puts the library in the role of administrator.
  • Most of the add-ons are”must have” products for academic libraries with significant collections of e-content.

How do you let a system be what it was designed to be? We’re forever tinkering, making things more complex. Simpler makes it easier to use, but reduces the amount of customization in a system.
Library OPAC

  • evolved from card catalogs and continues to be bound by the constraints of that legacy
  • complex and rich in features
  • interfaces often do not compare favorably with alternatives available on the Web
  • print materials becoming a smaller component of the library’s overall collections

We’re basically just computerizing our catalog cards. Does this make sense anymore?

The ILS is not dead…..a well-functioning automation system is essential to the operation of the library, and libraries have never needed automation more than today. We used to have automated systems that were comprehensive in their scope; back when collections were largely print, virtually everything was automated.

ILS characteristics

  • shared bibliographic database
  • holdings records
  • copy records
  • circulation transaction file
  • patron database
  • acquisitions: vendor database, financial transaction files
  • Serials: volume holdings records, etc.

Categories of ILS

  • Standalone PC-based systems
  • Multiuser systems
    • Unix
    • Windows server
  • Web-based systems

OpenURL Link Resolver – Context-sensitive linking; links to resources that are built dynamically. Benefits for library users:

  • A more seamless and unified interface to assist users with their research using library resources
  • Need to present the user with the appropriate copy
  • Ability to offer other services and options
  • Multiple copies available for any given document or resource

Benefits for library staff:

  • Static URLs becoming untenable in electronic publishing environment
  • Placing static links in 856 fields increasingly untenable
  • URLs change – direct deep linking unstable
  • Libraries change sources for content
  • Single point of management for article databases and e-journal holdings
    • can be populated and updated by providers

The downside:

  • A database populated with data about the library’s electronic resources
    • what aggregation the library owns
      • which titles available in each aggregation
        • what years available for each titles
      • which stand-alone e-journals?
      • A&I databases
  • Metadata harvested from a citation and passed through OpenURL syntax
  • A resolver that turns metadata into a specific link to the appropriate link
  • Resolver can provide links to other services
    • ILL/Document Delivery request
    • Holdings lookup in library catalog
    • Web search

Metasearching/federated searching

  • allows the user to enter a search once to search multiple databases
  • all selected resources searched simultaneously
  • single user interface
  • results presented through the metasearch application, not their native interface

From OCLC Perceptions of Libraries: Where do you typically begin your search for information on a particular topic? 2% of college students start at the library website; 1% of general public. Don’t count on users beginning their research with library catalogs or web site. Consider the library’s website as a destination. Make it a compelling and attractive destination that users will want to explore more. Web users have a low tolerance for ineffective and clunky interfaces.

Through search engine optimization, you can attract users to your collection.

Do not give up on library search technologies! Libraries must also build their own discovery, search, and access services. Should be effective, elegant, and powerful. Once users discover your library, give them outstanding services: catalog search, federated search, context-sensitive linking, etc.

Web services is the essential enabling technology for the delivery of library content and service to external applications. The library community lags years behind other IT industries in adoption of Service Oriented Applications (SOA) and Web services.

Working toward the next generation of library interfaces:

  • redefinition of the library catalog
  • more comprehensive information discovery environments
  • better information delivery tools
  • more powerful search capabilities
  • more elegant presentations

In an environment where millions of books are being digitized as we speak, do we have a search interface prepared to deal with that? If Google can search inside the book, it’s embarrassing that libraries can’t do that. We need a more comprehensive search model. We need better search interfaces, with faceted navigation that drills down into the results. (See North Carolina State University’s catalog for an example. Uses Endeca Guided Navigation. Also see the Queensborough Public Library, which uses AquaBrowser and a search cloud. Cool.)

Millenial generation library users are well-acclimated to the Web and like it.

Interface expectations:

  • relevancy rating,
  • rapid responses.
  • Prefer visual information.
  • Let users drill down through the result set incrementally narrowing the field
  • faceted browsing
  • navigational bread crumbs
  • ratings and rankings

We are living in a post-metadata world. Have metadata helps, but it’s not completely necessary, since you can search the digital object itself.
Multi-layered information discovery

  • Global (Google)
  • Institutional/Regional (Primo)
  • Granular: individual catalogs and repositories
  • Broad to Precise
  • Offer both the ability to “find a few good things” and to “find exactly the right things (and all of them)”
  • Appropriate avenues for both the undergraduate learner and the serious scholar

Whew! Quite a morning.

Time for lunch – back soon with parts 2, 3, and 4.


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