NASIG 2008: Next Generation Library Automation – Its Impact on the Serials Community

Speaker: Marshall Breeding

Check & update your library’s record on lib-web-cats — Breeding uses this data to track the ILS and ERMS systems used by libraries world-wide.

The automation industry is consolidating, with several library products dropped or ceased to be supported. External financial investors are increasingly controlling the direction of the industry. And, the OPAC sucks. Libraries and users are continually frustrated with the products they are forced to use and are turning to open source solutions.

The innovation presented by automation companies falls below the expectations of libraries (not so sure about users). Conventional ILS need to be updated to incorporate the modern blend of digital and print collections.

We need to be more thoughtful in our incorporation of social tools into traditional library systems and infrastructures. Integrate those Web 2.0 tools into existing delivery options. The next NextGen automation tools should have collaborative features built into them.

Open source software isn’t free — it’s just a different model (pay for maintenance and setup v. pay for software). We need more robust open source software for libraries. Alternatively, systems need to open up so that data can be moved in and out easily. Systems need APIs that allow local coders to enhance systems to meet the needs of local users. Open source ERMS knowledge bases haven’t been seriously developed, although there is a need.

The drive towards open source solutions has often been motivated by disillusionment with current vendors. However, we need to be cautious, since open source isn’t necessarily the golden key that will unlock the door to paradise. (i.e. Koha still needs to add serials and acquisitions modules, as well as EDI capabilities).

The open source movement motivates the vendors to make their systems more open for us. This is a good thing. In the end, we’ll have a better set of options.

Open Source ILS options: Koha (commercial support from LibLime) used mostly by small to medium libraries, Evergreen (commercial support from Equinox Software) tested and proven for small to medium libraries in a consortia setting, and OPALS (commercial support from Media Flex) used mostly by k-12 schools.

In making the case for open source ILS, you need to compare the total cost of ownership, the features and functionality, and the technology platform and conceptual models. Are they next-generation systems or open source versions of legacy models?

Evaluate your RFPs for new systems. Are you asking for the things you really need or are you stuck in a rut of requiring technology that was developed in the 70s and may no longer be relevant?

Current open source ILS products lack serials and acquisitions modules. The initial wave of open source ILS commitments happened in the public library arena, but the recent activity has been in academic libraries (WALDO consortia going from Voyager to Koha, University of Prince Edward Island going from Unicorn to Evergreen in about a month). Do the current open source ILS products provide a new model of automation, or an open source version of what we already have?

Looking forward to the day when there is a standard XML for all ILS that will allow libraries to manipulated their data in any way they need to.

We are working towards a new model of library automation where monolithic legacy architectures are replaced by the fabric of service oriented architecture applications with comprehensive management.

The traditional ILS is diminishing in importance in libraries. Electronic content management is being done outside of core ILS functions. Library systems are becoming less integrated because the traditional ILS isn’t keeping up with our needs, so we find work-around products. Non-integrated automation is not sustainable.

ERMS — isn’t this what the acquisitions module is supposed to do? Instead of enhancing that to incorporate the needs of electronic resources, we had to get another module or work-around that may or may not be integrated with the rest of the ILS.

We are moving beyond metadata searching to searching the actual items themselves. Users want to be able to search across all products and packages. NextGen federated searching will harvest and index subscribed content so that it can be searched and retrieved more quickly and seamlessly.

Opportunities for serials specialists:

  • Be aware of the current trends
  • Be prepared for accelerated change cycles
  • Help build systems based on modern business process automation principles. What is your ideal serials system?
  • Provide input
  • Ensure that new systems provide better support than legacy systems
  • Help drive current vendors towards open systems

How will we deliver serials content through discovery layers?

Reference:

  • “It’s Time to Break the Mold of the Original ILS,” Computers in Libraries, Nov/Dec 2007.

CiL 2008: Woepac to Wowpac

Moderator: Karen G. Schneider – “You’re going to go un-suck your OPACs, right?”


Speaker: Roy Tennant

Tennant spent the last ten years trying to kill off the term OPAC.

The ILS is your back end system, which is different from the discovery system (doesn’t replace the ILS). Both of these systems can be locally configured or hosted elsewhere. Worldcat Local is a particular kind of discovery system that Tenant will talk about if he has time.

Traditionally, users would search the ILS to locate items, but now the discovery system will search the ILS and other sources and present it to the user in a less “card catalog” way. Things to consider: Do you want to replace your ILS or just your public interface? Can you consider open source options (Koha, Evergreen, vuFind, LibraryFind etc.)? Do you have the technical expertise to set it up and maintain it? Are you willing to regularly harvest data from your catalog to power a separate user interface?


Speaker: Kate Sheehan

Speaking from her experience of being at the first library to implement LibraryThing for Libraries.

The OPAC sucks, so we look for something else, like LibraryThing. The users of LibraryThing want to be catalogers, which Sheehan finds amusing (and so did the audience) because so few librarians want to be catalogers. “It’s a bunch of really excited curators.”

LibraryThing for libraries takes the information available in LibraryThing (images, tags, etc.) and drops them into the OPAC (platform independent). The display includes other editions of books owned by the library, recommendations based on what people actually read, and a tag cloud. The tag cloud links to a tag browser that opens up on top of the catalog and allows users to explore other resources in the catalog based on natural language tags rather than just subject headings. Using a Greasmonkey script in your browser, you can also incorporate user reviews pulled from LibraryThing. Statistics show that the library is averaging around 30 tag clicks and 18 recommendations per day, which is pretty good for a library that size.

“Arson is fantastic. It keeps your libraries fresh.” — Sheehan joking about an unusual form of collection weeding (Danbury was burnt to the ground a few years ago)

Data doesn’t grow on trees. Getting a bunch of useful information dropped into the catalog saves staff time and energy. LibraryThing for Libraries didn’t ask for a lot from patrons, and it gave them a lot in return.


Speaker: Cindi Trainor

Are we there yet? No. We can buy products or use open source programs, but they still are not the solution.

Today’s websites are consist of content, community (interaction with other users), interactivity (single user customization), and interoperability (mashups). RSS feeds are the intersection of interactivity and content. There are a few websites that are in the sweet spot in the middle of all of these: Amazon (26/32)*, Flickr (26/32), Pandora (20/32), and Wikipedia (21/32) are a few examples.

Where are the next generation catalog enhancements? Each product has a varying degree of each element. Using a scoring system with 8 points for each of the four elements, these products were ranked: Encore (10/32), LibraryFind (12/32), Scriblio (14/32), and WorldCat Local (16/32). Trainor looked at whether the content lived in the system or elsewhere and the degree to which it pulled information from sources not in the catalog. Library products still have a long way to go – Voyager scored a 2/32.

*Trainor’s scoring system as described in paragraph three.


Speaker: John Blyberg

When we talk about OPACs, we tend to fetishize them. In theory, it’s not hard to create a Wowpac. The difficulty is in creating the system that lives behind it. We have lost touch with the ability to empower ourselves to fix the problems we have with integrated library systems and our online public access catalogs.

The OPAC is a reflection of the health of the system. The OPAC should be spilling out onto our website and beyond, mashing it up with other sites. The only way that can happen is with a rich API, which we don’t have.

The title of systems librarian is becoming redundant because we all have a responsibility and role in maintaining the health of library systems. In today’s information ecology, there is no destination — we’re online experiencing information everywhere.

There is no way to predict how the information ecology will change, so we need systems that will be flexible and can grow and change over time. (Sopac 2.0 will be released later this year for libraries who want to do something different with their OPACs.) Containers will fail. Containers are temporary. We cannot hang our hat on one specific format — we need systems that permit portability of data.

Nobody in libraries talks about “the enterprise” like they do in the corporate world. Design and development of the enterprise cannot be done by a committee, unless they are simply advisors.

The 21st century library remains un-designed – so let’s get going on it.

acrl northwest 2006 – day two

Panel: Using New Technologies for Teaching
Dr. Shaun Huston, Western Oregon University
Anne-Marie Dietering, Oregon State University
Elizabeth Breakstone, University of Oregon

Huston:

  • Uses blogs in the classroom: Teaches students how to write in multiple ways by providing informal writing opportunities that incorporate group feedback and interaction, as opposed to paper journals. Also teaches students how to write in an online environment, particularly for those who come from the other side of the digital divide.
  • Key concerns:
    • Platform: Go to IT department? No, they don’t have it now, so use something else. Now uses TypePad and LiveJournal, both of which are no cost to the student (has own subscription to TypePad).
    • Assignments: Structured assignments so that the students are logging in and participating regularly, rather than dumping the content in all at once.
    • Introduction to blogging: Had to instruct students on how to set up accounts and use the blog tools – does this in the first class.
    • Use campus blogging tools v. outside tools? TypePad allows for more customization and limiting to specific users for privacy. LiveJournal doesn’t allow for this as much and it’s in the hands of the students to set it up properly.
  • Blog use varies depending on the class and the students. Some are interact more in person than on the blog, and vice versa.
  • Based on the study he and Dietering did, students seem more comfortable with expressing themselves in the informal environment of a blog than they are in the classroom.
  • Blogs seem more intentional than email lists. You have to actually go to it to participate. And it’s more dynamic than a bulletin board. He uses the blog in team-taught classes to post assignments from the syllabus.
  • Categories and recent comments lists allow for non-linear interaction.
  • Social bookmarking: Set up an account for a specific class for course readings and information related to assignments to help understand the material.
  • Not sure if students are using each other’s bookmarks or if they are just contributing their own. Required students to cite a source from the bookmarks list in their paper.
  • del.icio.us is not screen-reader friendly, so take care if you have visually impaired students.

Dietering

  • Writing 121 – only required composition course at OSU, and librarians get a week of that for information literacy
  • Want to teach research as a learning process. Research as a conversation: eavesdropping to entering to engaging and back to eavesdropping on a different conversation. Students are not used to the eavesdropping/information gathering part.
  • Needed assignments that modeled exploratory research process at the beginning before coming to the library for more advanced processes. Works closely with the TA on developing topics.
  • Delivers assignments through Blackboard (meh).
  • Initial assignments involved doing broad exploratory searches, but the students didn’t know how to do that and were looking for specific items for their papers. Instead, they send them to reference sources online, so they sent them to Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Many students ended up using Wikipedia instead, so the librarians worked on a guide to doing exploratory research in Wikipedia. As it turns out, Wikipedia was more useful for new researchers because it is easier to find topics and has better navigation.
  • The assignment sends the students to the discussion and history pages so they can see the petty discussions and how the page is constructed over time.
  • Wikipedia will win because it has navigation and hyperlinks. Easy to go from broad topics to what the student is really interested in.
  • Assignment asks the student to note something they learned and something they need to explore. The assignment also has the student evaluate the history page and who has been editing the entry.
  • Students don’t use Wikipedia in their paper. It becomes background information.
  • “We can’t use Wikipedia because it’s terrible. I know because I write on it.” – the Resistance
  • Students learn how to evaluate the authority of sources.
  • Go to YouTube and search for wikiality

Breakstone (and channeling Annie Zeidman-Karpinski)

  • Podcast: Oral history project on the Willamette
    • Download files to listen to while at certain points along the river
    • Website included a map of the places
  • Advantage of wikis in the library: different people can use it on different computers/platforms; ideal for posting updates without having to funnel through one tech person
  • Ref desk wiki: keep track of resources for class projects
  • IM at UO – launched last spring
    • Staffed by whomever is on the desk (librarians and/or students)
    • Uses Trillian – tried GAIM, but it kept breaking
    • IM screen names included on Ask a Librarian page (should also have status indicators, but they don’t at this point)
    • Created Hello My Name is kind of stickers and put them on the public PCs to publicize the screen names.
  • Have seen a dramatic increase in use this term.
  • Future issues
    • Training use for logs – how to improve ref student instruction
    • Privacy and records retention policy (could remove identifying information for archiving the chats)
    • Centralization v. specialization
  • IM etiquette allows for gaps in conversation, which is good for desks that have only one person staffing them.
  • Could set up to forward to libref email account when logged off.

Group Discussion – all of the presenters

How do you decide what 2.0 tools to use?
When you have a need, you’ll use it.
How do you teach students how to do formal writing along with informal assignments?
Blogging in conjunction with formal assignments in writing-intensive courses hopefully will teach them the difference.
If they write more, the will become more familiar with it.
Writing on a blog is a public space, so even if you are using the vernacular, you have to learn how to construct and argument.
What role do librarians have in bridging the digital divide?
WSU-Vancouver offers workshops for their students.
Find faculty who are interested in teaching technology, or at least are interested in expanding instruction beyond the classroom.
How do we harness the knowledge of students to instruct other students on technology?
student IT helpdesk
Classmates are sometimes reluctant to help each other with technology if they aren’t completely comfortable with it.
Do people IM from in the library?
Yes! Don’t want to get up and go to the refdesk b/c computers/space are a high commodity.
It can also be useful for IMing with colleagues in the building rather than calling or running around.
Make sure your policy allows them to IM in the library.
What about our catalogs? Where do they fit in?
LibraryThing has interesting implications for traditional ILS systems
NC State front-end to ILS – Andrew Pace’s snazzy coding covering up ugly Sirsi
Evergreen open source ILS from Georgia