A Note to ILS Vendors: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In the course of putting together the JISC/SCONUL Library Management Systems Study, the authors interviewed the four major vendors of integrated library systems in higher education in the U.K.: Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix and Talis. Among the “who are you” and “what do you do” questions were two that get to the heart of what many of us are clamoring for from our vendors:

  • How do your products interoperate with products those from other LMS/ERM vendors?
  • Do you have partnerships with other LMS/ERM vendors?

Since three of the four are also leading vendors in North America (and I’m betting the fourth would like to be one as well), I think it is instructive to look at how these four vendors answer these two questions.1

A “Vision for Development” — Excerpt from the JISC/SCONUL Study

As our profession re-examines itself and the services we provide to users, we seem to spend a great deal of time concerned about the way our “web front door” looks and operates. That is, we expect web users to come through the front page of our website and so we agonize over the features as well as the look-and-feel of our portal of information. A section of the JISC & SCONUL Library Management Systems Study1 released last month suggests a different path for our information environment: one where the content is not bound to the confines of our web portals. This is the first in a series of posts over the next few days and/or weeks that explore this and other observations and commentary found in the JISC/SCONUL report.

Selling Placement in Library Search Results

This morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus blog has a story with the title “Should Colleges Sell Ads to Pay for New Technology?” that links to a blog posting by Martin Weller of the Open University in the U.K. As it happens, a colleague and I were talking about a strikingly similar topic at lunch yesterday: not just that advertisements could pay for new technology but that ads could pay for content in the libraries. I felt strangely uncomfortable with the concept, and I still do, so (in jester fashion) what better way to explore the discomfort than in a posting here on DLTJ.

On Innovation in the ILS Marketplace

Last month the ILS Discovery Interface Task Force of the DLF called a meeting of library system vendors (including one commercial support organization for open source ILS software) to talk about the state of computer-to-computer interfaces in-to and out-of the ILS. The meeting comes as the work of the task force is winding down. An outcome of the meeting, the “Berkeley Accord,” was posted last week to Peter Brantley’s blog. The accord has three basic parts: automated interfaces for offloading records from the ILS, a mechanism for determining the availability of an item, and a scheme for creating persistent links to records.

New Blog for Ebooks in Libraries: “No Shelf Required”

Sue Polanka, head of reference and instruction at the main library of Wright State University, sent a message to the OhioLINK membership today about a new blog she is moderating called No Shelf Required:

No Shelf Required provides a forum for discussion among librarians, publishers, distributors, aggregators, and others interested in the publishing and information industry. The discussion will focus on the issues, concepts, current and future practices of Ebook publishing including: finding, selecting, licensing, policies, business models, usage (tracking), best practices, and promotion/marketing. The concept of the blog is to have open discussion, propose ideas, and provide feedback on the best ways to implement Ebooks in library settings. The blog will be a moderated discussion with timely feature articles and product reviews available for discussion and comment.

Note to Future Self: Use `ssh -D` to bypass annoying interception proxies

Dear future self,

If you are reading this, you are remembering a time when you ran into a really nasty interception proxy1 and you are looking for a way around it. Do you remember when you were sitting in the Denver International Airport using their free wireless service? And remember how it inserted advertising banners in HTML frames at the top of random web pages as you surfed?

Soundprint’s ‘Who Needs Libraries?’

OhioLINK’s Meg Spernoga pointed our staff to a 30 minute audio documentary called Who Needs Libraries? from Soundprint.org:

As more and more information is available on-line, as Amazon rolls out new software that allows anyone to find any passage in any book, an important question becomes: Who needs libraries anymore? Why does anyone need four walls filled with paper between covers? Surprisingly, they still do and in this program Producer Richard Paul explores why; looking at how university libraries, school libraries and public libraries have adapted to the new information world. This program airs as part of our ongoing series on education and technology, and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.

Google Sets Its Sights On Hosting Knowledge

Google is typically known for its advertising, search engine, and news aggregation services. From Geoffrey Bilder on crosstech comes word of a new Google effort called “knol” that will “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” Sound familiar? We typically call such a thing an “encyclopedia” and it is a new in-road into information hosting. Details are scarce beyond the posting by Udi Manber (VP Engineering at Google) linked above (which also says “The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing.”). But one of the key aspects known is that articles will come from signed authors (more like Citizendium than Wikipedia), not anonymous or pseudo-anonymous editors (“We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.”). Here are some other key aspects extracted from the blog posting:

Getting On With ‘The Future of Descriptive Enrichment’

Roy Tennant is advocating the phrase “Descriptive Enrichment” over “Bibliographic Control” in response to draft report from the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, and I’m stepping up to say — I’m right there with you, Roy!1 Your analysis reminds me of statements made by David Weinberger in the Google Tech Talk in response to his book Everything is Miscellaneous. David offers new definitions to words that we use regularly: “metadata” is what we know and “data” is what we want to find out. In the talk, he gave an example (29 minutes and 25 seconds into the playback; this link will take you right there) of using something you know — like a quote from a book — to find something you don’t know — like the author — by putting the quote into a search engine. The “metadata” (the quote) was used to find the “data” (the author) that was being sought.

Undergraduates Own More Laptops than Desktops

The Chronicle of Higher Education today reports on a study by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research on the usage of information technology by undergraduate students. Page three of the key findings report [PDF] contains this graph. Change in Technology Ownership from 2005 to 2007, from ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007 One of the key findings that shocked me was the predominance of laptop computers over desktop computers for undergraduate students. Students reported last year an ever-so-slight ownership of desktop computers (68.9% versus 68.3%). Laptops overtook desktops this year, with three-quarters of students reporting ownership of a laptop and just over half reporting ownership of a desktop. (These numbers would also seem to indicate that a significant number of students own both a laptop and a desktop machine.) Another interesting finding is the growth in “smartphone” devices in the past two years. These are hand-helds that combine the functions of a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) with that of a mobile phone. One wonders if this number will jump significantly with Apple’s marketing push to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of next year