Speaker: Susan Stearns, VP of Strategic Partnerships of Ex Libris Group
Both library as a percentage of university expenditures and the number of library staff per student have been going down. The percentage of library expenditures spent on electronic resources has been going up dramatically.
There is a need to eliminate the duplication of data and workflows, and the silo systems in libraries today. Alma intends to unify both the data and the data environment: acquisitions, metadata management, fulfillment, and analytics.
Collaborative metadata management is a hybrid model to balance global sharing with local needs. In English, this means you can have a catalog that includes both an inventory of locally owned items and a collection of items shared by one or more “communities.” Multiple metadata schema are supported within the system in their native formats — no crosswalks required.
Individual library staff users can set up “home pages” within the system that includes widgets with data, alerts, and reports. This can help with making decisions about the collection. Analytics are also embedded directly in the workflow (i.e. a graph representing the balance remaining in a fund displayed when an order using that fund is viewed/entered).
Speaker: Maria Bunevski, Ex Libris
Preparation for moving to a new system, particularly a radically new system like Alma, requires spending some time thinking about workflows, data, technical aspects (integration points, etc.), and training.
Project initiation phase requires a lot of training sessions to fully grasp all of the change that needs to happen.
The implementation phase involves a mix of on-site work and remote tweaking. At some point work has to freeze in the old system before cutting over to the new one.
VCU is currently in the post-implementation phase. This is the point where un-configured things are discovered, along with gaps in workflow.
Speaker: John Duke, VCU Libraries
They had Aleph, SFX, Verde, MetaLib, Primo, ARC, ILLiad, university systems, etc. before, and they wanted to bring the functions together. They didn’t end up with a monolithic system for everything, but they got closer.
Workflows and other aspects have been simplified.
The system is not complete, either because Ex Libris hadn’t thought of it or because VCU hasn’t figured out how to incorporate it. Internet outages, security issues, and conceptual difficulties have thrown up road blocks along the way.
“Educational Utility Computing: Perspectives on .edu and the Cloud”
Mark Ryland, Chief Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services
AWS has been a part of revolutionizing the start-up industries (i.e. Instagram, Pinterest) because they don’t have the cost of building server infrastructures in-house. Cloud computing in the AWS sense is utility computing — pay for what you use, easy to scale up and down, and local control of how your products work. In the traditional world, you have to pay for the capacity to meet your peak demand, but in the cloud computing world, you can level up and down based on what is needed at that moment.
Economies, efficiencies of scale in many ways. Some obvious: storage, computing, and networking equipment supply change; internet connectivity and electric power; and data center sitting, redundancy, etc. Less obvious: security and compliance best practices; datacenter internal innovations in networking, power, etc.
AWS and .EDU: EdX, Coursera, Texas Digital Library, Berkeley AMP Lab, Harvard Medical, University of Phoenix, and an increasing number of university/school public-facing websites.
Expects that we are heading toward cloud computing utilities to function much like the electric grid — just plug in and use it.
“Libraries in Transition”
Marshall Breeding, library systems expert
We’ve already seen the shift of print to electronic in academic journals, and we’re heading that way with books. Our users are changing in the way they expect interactions with libraries to be, and the library as space is evolving to meet that, along with library systems.
Web-based computing is better than client/server computing. We expect social computing to be integrated into the core infrastructure of a service, rather than add-ons and afterthoughts. Systems need to be flexible for all kinds of devices, not just particular types of desktops. Metadata needs to evolve from record-by-record creation to bulk management wherever possible. MARC is going to die, and die soon.
How are we going to help our researchers manage data? We need the infrastructure to help us with that as well. Semantic web — what systems will support it?
Cooperation and consolidation of library consortia; state-wide implementations of SaaS library systems. Our current legacy ILS are holding libraries back from being able to move forward and provide the services our users want and need.
A true cloud computing system comes with web-based interfaces, externally hosted, subscription OR utility pricing, highly abstracted computing model, provisioned on demand, scaled according to variable needs, elastic.
“Moving Up to the Cloud”
Mark Triest, President of Ex Libris North America
Currently, libraries are working with several different systems (ILS, ERMS, DRs, etc.), duplicating data and workflows, and not always very accurately or efficiently, but it was the only solution for handling different kinds of data and needs. Ex Libris started in 2007 to change this, beginning with conversations with librarians. Their solution is a single system with unified data and workflows.
They are working to lower the total cost of ownership by reducing IT needs, minimize administration time, and add new services to increase productivity. Right now there are 120+ institutions world-wide who are in the process of or have gone live with Alma.
Automated workflows allow staff to focus on the exceptions and reduce the steps involved.
Descriptive analytics are built into the system, with plans for predictive analytics to be incorporated in the future.
Future: collaborative collection development tools, like joint licensing and consortial ebook programs; infrastructure for ad-hoc collaboration
“Cloud Computing and Academic Libraries: Promise and Risk”
John Ulmschneider, Dean of Libraries at VCU
When they first looked at Alma, they had two motivations and two concerns. They were not planning or thinking about it until they were approached to join the early adopters. All academic libraries today are seeking to discover and exploit new efficiencies. The growth of cloud-resident systems and data requires academic libraries to reinvigorate their focus on core mission. Cloud-resident systems are creating massive change throughout out institutions. Managing and exploiting pervasive change is a serious challenge. Also, we need to deal with security and durability of data.
Cloud solutions shift resources from supporting infrastructure to supporting innovation.
Efficiencies are not just nice things, they are absolutely necessary for academic libraries. We are obligated to upend long-held practice, if in doing so we gain assets for practice essential to our mission. We must focus recovered assets on the core library mission.
Agility is the new stability.
Libraries must push technology forward in areas that advance their core mission. Infuse technology evolution for libraries with the values needs of libraries. Libraries must invest assets as developers, development partners, and early adopters. Insist on discovery and management tools that are agnostic regarding data sources.
Managing the change process is daunting.. but we’re already well down the road. It’s not entirely new, but it does involve a change in culture to create a pervasive institutional agility for all staff.
This year I participated in the “set your own challenge” book reading thinger on Goodreads. Initially, I set mine at 25, as a little stretch goal from my average of 19 books per year over the past four years. But, I was doing so well in the early part of the year that I increased it to 30. The final total was 27, but I’m part-way through several books that I just didn’t have time to finish as the clocked ticked down to the end of the year.
What worked well for me this time: audiobooks. I read more of them than paper books this year, and it forced me to expand to a variety of topics and styles I would not have patience for in print.
What failed me this time: getting hung up on a book I felt obligated to finish, but did not excite me to continue on it, so I kept avoiding it. To be fair, part of what turned me off was on disc two, I accidentally set my car’s CD player to shuffle. This is great for adding some variety to music listening, but it made for confusing and abrupt transitions from one topic/focus to another.
I read a lot of non-fiction, because that works better in audio format for me, and I read more audio than printed (either in paper or electronic) books. For 2013, I’d like to read more fiction, which means reading more in print. Which means making time for my “must read the whole book cover to cover” method of reading fiction.