First of all please allow me to say thanks to the ZSR Library’s leaders and in particular my supervisor Erik Mitchell, Susan Smith, Wanda Brown and Lynn Sutton for giving me the opportunity to attend such an informative and rewarding conference on Library Resource Management Systems, so beautifully organized by NISO.
NISO is the National Information Standards Organization that provides information professionals, publishers, and software developers with information industry standards that allows them to work together. Its goal is to eliminate barriers to discovery, retrieval, management and preservation of published content.
For clarity purpose, I have structured this report into two main parts: “Day One” as the first day of the forum and “Day Two” as the second.
The first day started off with a continental breakfast that allowed conference attendees to get acquainted and get comfortable with one another. It was an occasion to start networking with some of the participants. That is how I got to meet Grace Liu, Systems Librarian from the University of Winsor who later gave a presentation on her institution’s experience with migrating from Voyager to Conifer.
From Grace’s presentation, I learned that her library, the Leddy Library, switched from Voyager to Conifer because of highly problematic upgrades of Voyager. The ILS industry has not been able to develop structures necessary to face the increasing expectation of libraries and users. In fact the needs and complexity of information management has grown beyond the ability of vendor’s integrated library systems to respond efficiently to users’ demands. In addition, it is now clear that vendors have not adequately invested in their ability to provide quick support to libraries faced with an overwhelming need for information process. Vendor ILSs’ back-end as they are currently and have always been could not sustain patrons current need for an inclusive ILS that will not only support processes like acquisitions, cataloging, ILL and circulations but also include friendly and social features similar to Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Amazon. The open source community has so far provided more improved features when it comes to integrated library systems and Evergreen is one of them.
The project conifer understands the power of collaboration and includes three other universities, all members of the Ontario Council of University Libraries. This group believes in the importance of in house support and that is why the Leddy Library has 2 systems librarians and 4 technicians who respond quickly to fix bugs and maintain conifer’s vital systems. They use:
Verde for ERM shared with other 6 institutions
SFX as context sensitive link resolver shared with other 19 academic organizations (some universities have more than one library)
Evergreen as ILS shared with 3 other institutions
The keynote presentation of day one was given on Toward Service-Oriented Librarianship by Oren Beit-Arie, Chief Strategy Officer, Ex Libris, Inc. He talked about more interdisciplinary activities and change in scholarly communication models. He mentioned that new models are taking advantage of networking technology and extending the traditional benefits of print journals while facilitating the exchange of findings and preservation of scholarly records. The technology models are, among other:
Computing as a service (cloud computing)
Service oriented architecture
He also said that Moore’s Law is still working and therefore technological limitation are now going away making what would not have been possible before, possible today. For him, new form of scholarship implies new form of librarianship and to get there, we need to focus on collaboration. Continuing he added that doing so could generate savings that libraries could use towards other means that have been neglected like teaching for example. In addition, he mentioned that from Ex Libris interviews, users have prescribed a to-do list. I talked about this in a previous post (NISO Forum Day One).
Oren emphasized that open (platform) is really important now as it gives the ability for users to build collaborations. In addition, he talked about Digital Library Federation (DLF), which is a consortium of libraries and related agencies that are pioneering the use of electronic-information technology to extend collections and services, with its ILS Discovery Interfaces (ILS DI). Continuing, Oren mentioned other initiatives like Open Publication Distribution System (openpub) and the need for new methods of interoperability and pointed out three areas of focus:
Traditional: doing same things differently utilizing the wisdom of the clouds: (network level, cloud computing). Here, Oren thinks that there are great opportunities in some traditional URMs through “rethinking” by streamlining production and supply chain of bibliographic metadata, lowering costs, increasing utility and productivity. However he noted the need to go beyond the traditional by including more “granular items”, new types like research data and data sets, complex distributed data and he recommended looking into OAI-ORE. Although Oren does not believe that there will be one single index that will do it all, he supports user side of aggregated indexes like new discovery tools which enable indexing of article data with availability and affordability.
Transitional: Oren is advocating for new support for library tasks and wants to leverage the capabilities of a network deployment to improve support for traditional activities. He gave examples like usage-driven collection development, content selection, integration with vendor systems and shared purchases. He also talked about Flickr Commons and appreciated the ability for users to share photographs. He even pointed out that the Library of Congress updated records based on information on Flicker. Oren added that we have to meet the users where they are and gave the example of the Ex Libris URM Dissemination Control. He concluded that we need to focus on the unique (the institution) and integrate the global.
Transformational: this involves scholarly communication, mining usage data to enhance library services and recommender services like BibTip, LibraryThing, and bX Service. Oren also talked about project MESUR looking for validation, and long term digital preservation through sustaining the digital. Finally, Oren emphasized on the library as middleware (between publisher and user).
Thomas Wall, University Librarian from the Boston College who was previously scheduled to present, received (as we were told) an invitation from his provost to attend a budget meeting and instead, Bob Gerritty, the Associate University Librarian, gave the speech on What Do Libraries Want to Achieve with Their Library Systems?
I learned from his presentation that their institution uses the Ex Libris Aleph ILS and MetaLib for federated search. They are doing all they can to accommodate users who are looking for a one stop shopping solution. They use overlay services, add-ons, and widgets to add value to current systems and local developments. In addition, their library has developed a feature to orient/guide new students to understand call numbers and find items on the shelves quickly.
Kevin Kidd, Library Application and Systems Manager at the Boston College presented on the Project Aerie which is a next generation of service oriented librarianship. According to Kevin, the purpose of this project was to create a framework or portal to deliver online library services that take into account the users (student, faculty, and staff) and to decouple these services from the Aerie framework and reuse them in other environments to meet the library’s overall service goals. For him, it is all about services and data and library resources in the network environment. Traditionally, we have been cataloging, collecting, providing access to information/knowledge. Now we have the internet and the primary problem to solve is no longer access. He believes libraries can now do the following:
- Filter information and help patron make information choices
- Provide resources where and when they are likely needed and he called this contextualization.
He concluded that to do this, libraries should:
- Organize online information to help our decision systems
- Provide resources utilizing web 2.0 applications
- Systematically acquire and prepare data to facilitate all of the above
After a quick break, Judi Briden, Digital Librarian for Public Services, University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries presented on User Perspectives: How our Patrons Interact with Our Services.
Judi talked about a usability test for the OPAC and from that experience, users are not sure what the OPAC is because results are not obvious, unclear where items are, and assume libraries just don’t have anything on their topics. I believe the result of this usability test is pretty much what motivated us at the ZSR Library to seek a more user-oriented front-end to our catalog. After studying students, they realized that students would rather use a system that they are already familiar with. I believe our choice of VuFind was cleaver as the use of VuFind will not be a much difficult task for a student who is already familiar with Google and Amazon. Judi also talked about XC (eXtensible Catalog) User Research and referenced the project’s preliminary report and pointed out that the focus of XC is interest in user research by focusing on the OPAC and solving known problems for casual, and non-expert users.
John Culshaw, Professor and Associate Director for Administrative Services, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries presented on Build it or Buy it.
John talked about ILS platforms. He mentioned CARL‘s public access catalog and said that their library implemented PAC in 1984 and migrated to INNOPAC (an Innovative Interfaces integrated library tool) in 1994. Other critical services that they use are the digital library LUNA‘s INSIGHT that allows users to build, manage, and share digital collections no matter how big they might be. John noted that the reason why they buy is functionality: need for stable, consistent systems, and Millennium continues to meet needs and also because open source ILS platforms cannot fully support their needs at this time. He also expressed their positive experience with partnerships. He thinks they work well and they have a strong user community. He gave the example of ENCORE that their library (with other partner libraries) is using to connect users to trusted resources that the library collects. He pointed out that the encore selection was due to the following reasons:
- Seamless integration with Millennium platform
- Real time circulation information:
- No need to unload and reload
- Implementation was straight forward
- Invested in LDAP solution
- Based on evaluation, ENCORE was found to be the suite for their need
- Single sign-on electronic resource data
John also commented on their campus environment and said that his campus also advocates the “buy it” approach. The campus is using SIS PeopleSoft, tested Sakai but went for WebCT (or Blackboard Learning System). John brushed finances and staffing and noted that his institution lacks the people to be able to give back to their community and therefore they experience challenges acquiring the human resources to manage their rich materials. Their university belongs to the Association of American University (AAU) and he couldn’t help saying that, compared to other peers in this association, they are really behind in staffing. He concluded his presentation by saying that their strategy is to continue to buy and maintain strong partnership with vendors.
A panel discussion was held on Open Source Systems: What is Working? What is Progressing? by Tim McGeary, Team Leader, Library Technology, Lehigh University and Andrew Nagy, Senior Discovery Services Engineer, Serials Solutions.
Tim talked about the OLE project and noted that they have finished publishing their project this summer and the project will start in February next year. They are looking to form the FLUID Project in a partnership. He referred to other projects but held back on disclosing them at this time. He concluded by saying that the OLE project will support ILS discovery API and other discovery interfaces but will not be developing a discovery interface.
Andrew gave a history on VuFind. The idea behind the interface was to integrate with Integrated Library Systems, authenticate via SIP2, and interoperate with major ILS platforms. VuFind uses the MARC Import Tool, SolrMARC that indexes a large marc collection of data. He noted that the project is a done project but the VuFind community is growing and that the leadership needs to grow as well. In September 2009, there were seven team members and about ten volunteers that narrowed down to seven. Members are voted by the community and renewed each year. Andrew also mentioned that many institutions have tweaked and modified VuFind and there is a work being done to regroup and merge to “trunk”. He also signaled that they began to gather statistics from VuFind sites and compile stats to evaluate VuFind performance. He said that according to Amazon, only 2% of users use facets for browsing.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked some questions based on our experience with VuFind and his answer was that server configuration causes indexing to take too long. However, he has seen institutions where indexes of millions of records would index in a very short time. He is pretty certain that our VuFind troubles are server configuration related and not programming.
Annette Bailey, Digital Assets Librarian at Virginia Tech presented on Bringing Open Source to the Library: Lessons Learned.
She talked about her institution’s experience with open source and in particular with LibX browser plug-in and edition builder for libraries. They are using web services and widgets like MAJAX and MAJAX2 and Google book resources like TICTOCLOOKUP. She stated that open source software can work with vendor systems to enhance existing OPAC and link users to vendor systems. Then she pointed out some of the challenges setting up OPACs in LibX. They have difficulties with how to ask a system for information (request syntax issues). They believe that the following must be documented by the vendor or reverse engineered:
- Document Type Definition for III Millennium needs to be configured
- Figuring out settings for catalogs takes time ( time that could be used for developing new features)
- Requires auto-detection and fingerprinting
- Non-disclosure agreements have a chilling effect on development
- Standards can be better like OpenURL syntax, NISO Z39.88, and emerging services like Widgets (MAJAX2) and Mash-Ups used to combine information from various online sources into new or existing web environments.
Continuing, Annette found that getting information from the ILS needs some work. She condemned the fact that most vendors provide no API or service at all and some that do provide services don’t provide enough and libraries are dying for standards on a functionality that a vendor can offer. She expressed disappointment in some existing standards that do not define holdings. She also thought standards must define not just functionality but also syntax.
Annette’s presentation led to the Library Management Systems Business Model Roundtable facilitated by Marshall Breeding, Director for Innovative Technologies and Research, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University. The panelists were Talin Bingham, Chief Technology Officer, SirsiDynix; Neil Block, Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Innovative Interfaces, Inc; Galen Charlton, Vice President of Data Services, Equinox Software, Inc; Paul R. Cope, President, Auto-Graphics, Inc; Carl Grant, President, Ex Libris North America; Andrew K. Pace, Executive Director, Networked Library Services, OCLC.
The discussion was pretty interesting and they all recognized the importance of open source software and their ability to address certain features that vendors do not provide. According to Tolin, SirsiDynix is investing in virtualization to better satisfy users because there are servers out there that are underused and it is a waist for the owning institution. He said that they are in the process of moving most of their products to a virtual server in order to apportion server use and therefore save money for the customer. The panelists added that they leverage open source in their productions and they embed open source software in their technologies and this is proof that they support open source very much. However, they pointed out that if a system does not integrate Acquisition, Cataloging, and Circulations, that system is of course going to be less expensive but at the end of the day it is not going to meet libraries’ needs. They noted that libraries have to make the decision based on whether or not open source is meeting their business needs. According to Galen, big open source applications have a good community of support that reacts quickly to solve technical problems. For Carl, Ex Libris opened their API to offer flexibility to the user and has commitment to support open source. Overall, the group thought vendor and open source have to work together and libraries owe it to themselves to exercise due diligence with their vendors.
The keynote presentation of day two was given by Rachel Bruce, Program Director, Information Environment, JISC.
She talked about Investing in a time of disruptive change. They think about content as a utility and the web is their mode of distribution. At the UK they start actively collaborating with other institutions and share resources. They have started bringing in new processes to improve services within their libraries by including more electronics. According to her, the problem in relation to managing and sharing research data is that some people think that this is something for scientists. She found that it is important for us to learn about what type of resources we need. She also talked about Open Source and Open Education Resources: OpenWetWare, OpenSpires, myexperiment are entities involved. It is all about sharing these resources on the open web and they now anticipate web 3.0. She said that they need to keep in mind that the speed of young people’s web searching means that little time is spent in evaluating information either for relevance accuracy or authority. They want it quickly and they want it now. She referred to young people as “Generation Y” and found that they are thinking and processing information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. For her, the future of libraries is that for scientific research, the library is probably becoming obsolete. There is a need for purchasing which should be done nationally by specialists but most of the rest will be web based. She also talked about digital divide and thought that needs to be address efficiently. She signaled that we are in a perfect storm with our technological changes and we don’t really know which side to turn as there are a lot of directions that we haven’t even explored yet. Then she summarized that this is the UK situation and they don’t really know where to turn. Continuing, she said that this radical change is a total chaos for everyone and the current system is so brittle, and the alternatives are so speculative, that there’s no hope for a simple and orderly transition from state A to state B. Chaos is the UK lot; the best that can be done is identify the various forces at work shaping various possible futures. She added that they have noticed that the use of LibraryThing has not exceeded the use of WorldCat. They believe libraries can do much more to open up their metadata for reuse. OCLC and TALIS already offer platforms that enable library data to be reused. She talked about connectedness, platform, and network effect and pointed out that we need to work at the network level. She mentioned that further insights are gained by analyzing borrowing histories, facilitated by the use of library cards. She mentioned 4 library vendors holding 80% of the market. She thinks we should make our assets available to the world through linked data and be resource oriented. In the UK, they are even supporting making government data part of the linked data for the whole world to see! When I asked about how they are doing their filtering so it is not disclose sensitive data to the general public, she said that they have people who do that filtering. She mentioned sustainable scholarship. She said that TALIS is very present in the UK.
Ivy Anderson, Director of Collection Development and Management Program, California Digital Library, presented on Whither ERMI?
According to Ivy, the Digital Library Federation’s Electronic Resource Management Initiative (DLF ERMI) provides tools for managing the license agreements, related administrative information and internal processes associated with collections of licensed electronic resources. She talked about ONIX for publication licenses (ONIX-PL), LEWG (Land for Environmental Working Group) and added that LEWG is sponsored by NISO, DLF, and PLS. She encouraged libraries to enter the Shared E-Resource Understanding (SERU) in order to reduce costs for library and publisher and therefore speed up access for users at subscribing institutions. She mentioned standards post ERMI like COUNTER for counting online usage of networked e-resources, SUSHI used to automate request and response model for the harvesting of electronic resource usage data utilizing a web service framework, KBART (Knowledge Base and Related Tools) which is a joint effort of NISO and UK serials group, CORE, I2 (Institutional Identifiers).
MacKenzie Smith, Associate Director for Technology, MIT Libraries, and Diane C. Mirvis, Associate Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, Magnus Wahlstrom Library, University of Bridgeport, addressed The Library System in a Broader Context: Interaction with Other Library Systems.
MacKenzie Smith presented on Integrating Library Resource Management Systems into Campus Infrastructure for Research and Education. She clearly expressed frustration with their resource management system as it is so big and includes so many entities she thinks could stand on their own to make things much simpler. They use DSpace to archive theses. She thinks we should build on and harmonize bibliographic data models, define new conceptual data models, and focus on the data in a data oriented architecture where the web is the architecture. She anticipates data processing to become much more complicated in the future.
Diane C. Mirvis presented on Considering a New Information Topology. According to her, the University of Bridgeport (UB) is a content driven university. She believes it is important to rethink how work is being done by their scholars and their students. She believes information is everywhere and owned by everyone. UB has not been embracing open source very much and they like their partnership with their vendors. They use Voyager, Primo discovery, MetaLib, SFX (all form Ex Libris), and institutional repositories.
Kat Hagedorn, HathiTrust Special Projects Coordinator, University of Michigan presented on Seamless Sharing: NYU, HathiTrust, ReCAP and the Cloud Library.
She talked about Cloud library and said that it is not Cloud Computing although it has some similarities but involves the necessity/desire to share resources: leverage shared investment, reduce local cost. It also involves multiple digital and print repositories that can now move into a cloud that will become a shared network resource. She stated that the infrastructure needed for that includes:
- Understand preservation and make it available for collection development
- Understand what consumers need and emphasize on information access quickly and make print and digital library part of the cloud library
- Outside collections.
She noted that there are perceived needs: they already have ILL including Document Delivery. They also need to make what exists outside their repository that is not currently accessible, accessible. She listed their partners in pilot:
- NYU, model customer
- ReCAP, model supplier, large scale shared academic repository
- HathiTrust, model supplier, large-scale digital repository
- OCLC research and CLIR, consultant and convener
Kat also pointed out that institutions will be interested in being part of a cloud library because of the following reasons:
- Preserving titles that are rare and/or special in some manner
- Remove titles that are duplicated across many institutions
- Added value of shared materials in digital repositories (discovery, search)
- Contributing to a public good
She added that the value of partnership increases as the number of members increases.
Kyle Banerjee, Digital Services Program Manager, Orbis Cascade Alliance, presented on Large Consortium Systems.
She shared some lights on what should motivate an institution to become a member of large consortium systems; they provide:
- Better patron experience: one set of credentials gets you everything, a patron who needs two books should use the same mechanism to acquire it
- Strategic benefits, reduction of redundant systems and workflows, Leadership opportunity, partnership with OCLC: standards based solution resent for long term viability and bringing disparate services together.
However, she objected, this change requires training and communication. She also talked about SUMMIT, the union catalog and browsing system with 9.2 million titles representing 28.7 million items. In addition she found consortial workflow and fairness important:
- Load balancing ensures all institutions benefit/contribute
- After using automatic load balancing for two months, 86% of membership has seen improvement
According to her, in the future, with network ILS, there will be no need to catalog the same record several times and noted that network circulations allow easy formation of arbitrary groups and therefore many things should not be so different at different institutions.
The end of the day two also included a group activity that I talked about in a previous post (Day Two at NISO).
The NISO forum was such a wonderful learning experience for all participants and I believe we all left Boston with a lot of new knowledge that will certainly help us improve processes at our respective institutions.