Seeking Details About Mystery Discovery Layer Company

There is a message floating around the net with a link to a survey about “a completely new online resource discovery service.” There is no identifying information information on the survey; obviously the entity that commissioned it wants to remain private. I, however, want to know who this organization is. (I have some questions to ask.) Think of it as a game — a treasure hunt of sorts. Speculations welcome, either publicly in the comments or privately.

The message going around says:

Subject: REMINDER: Take a library survey – you may earn a $100 Amazon voucher

Video Tour of OPAC Discovery Layer Tools

In March, I gave a presentation at the NISO forum on Next Generation Discovery Tools: New Tools, Aging Standards. For those that were there, you may remember the bulk of the presentation was in the screencast tours of the functionality of 10 OPAC enhancement tools. Topping out at over 750MB, the presentation file was too big to share, but I promised to put together a combination of the presentation audio and the screencast videos in a much more manageable size. That video, along with a cleaned up version of the audio, is posted below.

A Catalog for the “Next Generation” or the Current Generation?

Are we building the “next generation” catalog for us (librarians) or our users? As a read a report from the Next Generation Summit Search Interface Working Group of the Orbis/Cascade Alliance, I have to wonder. Portions of this report are dated1 other portions are timeless. In particular, this section from page 2 (emphasis added):

How do we define “next generation”?

Links to OPAC Enhancements, Wrappers, and Replacements

Below are the supplemental links for the presentation at the NISO workshop on discovery layers in Chapel Hill, NC, on March 28, 2008.

Update 20080404T1124 : Carolyn McCallum at Wake Forest University posted a great summary of day two of the NISO discovery layer forum, including an overview of my talk. Thanks, Carolyn!

Foundational Pieces


The presentation started as an extension of a DLTJ blog post. I also mentioned Marshal Breeding’s Library Technology Report published in July/August of 2007 and available from the ALA store.

NISO Workshop Exploring the Discovery Layer; March 27-28, 2008; Chapel Hill, NC

NISO is conducting a workshop later this month called Next Generation Discovery: New Tools, Aging Standards. The workshop is described this way: “Discovering scholarly information and data is essential for research and use of the content that the information community is producing and making available. The development of knowledge bases, web systems, repositories, and other sources for this information brings the need for effective discovery — search-driven discovery and network (or browse) driven discovery — tools to the forefront. With new tools and systems emerging, however, are standards keeping pace with the next generation of tools? What’s coming up and where might standards fit to assist in this arena? The forum will include both a look at the current state of discovery tools and at new visions of what these tools might look like in the next several years.”

Schemes to Add Functionality to the Web OPAC

Schemes to add functionality to the web OPAC fall into four categories: web OPAC enhancements, web OPAC wrappers, web OPAC replacements, and integrated library system replacements. I’m outlining these four techniques in a report I’m editing for an OhioLINK strategic task force and a bit of a reality check on this categorization is desired, so if I’m missing anything big (conceptually or announcements of projects/products that fall into these categories), please let me know in the comments. Generally speaking, this list is ordered by cost/complexity to implement — from lowest to highest — as well as the ability to offer the described enhanced services from least likely to most likely.

Services in a Service Oriented Architecture

This post is the second in a series about the application of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) system design pattern to library services. The first post in this series focused on defining “Service Oriented Architecture” using the analogy of a transportation network. This post goes into some detail about what makes a “service” in this architecture and offers an example using a hypothetical use case: a union library catalog (Open WorldCat) making a statement about the availability of a book.

A Known Citation Discovery Tool in a Library2.0 World

When it comes to seeking a full-text copy of that known-item citation, are our users asking “what have you done for me lately?” OpenURL has taken us pretty far when one starts in an online environment — a link that sends the citation elements to our favorite link resolver — but it only works when the user starts online with an OpenURL-enabled database. (We also need to set aside for the moment the need for some sort of OpenURL base resolver URL discovery tool — how does an arbitrary service know which OpenURL base resolver I want to use!) What if a user has a citation on a printed paper or from some other non-online form? Could we make their lives easier, too? Here is one way. (Thanks go out to Celeste Feather and Thomas Dowling for helping me think through the possibilities and issues.)

Just In Time Acquisitions versus Just In Case Acquisitions

What of a service existed where the patrons selected an item they needed out of our library catalog and that item was delivered to the patron even when the library did not yet own the item? Would that be useful? With the growth of online bookstores, our users do have the expectation of finding something they need on the web, clicking a few buttons and having it delivered. When such expectations of what is possible exist, where is the first place a patron would go to find recently published items — the online bookstore or their local library catalog? Does your gut tell you it is the online bookstore? Would it be desirable if the patron’s instinct were to be the local library catalog?