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Working toward a new model of library automation: . Opportunities to break free from the traditional mould. Marshall Breeding Director for Innovative Technologies and Research Vanderbilt University Abstract.

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Working toward a new model of library automation l.jpg

Working toward a new model of library automation:

Opportunities to break free from the traditional mould

Marshall BreedingDirector for Innovative Technologies and Research

Vanderbilt University

Abstract l.jpg

Libraries today find themselves facing many challenges in the way that they deliver content and services to their users. Relative to the pace of change on the Web, the automation products available to libraries have evolved rather slowly. Much more rapid change is in order. Breeding will review the current state of the library automation arena and suggest some of the possible strategies for achieving a new generation of library automation products more in tune with current and future challenges. These strategies include a reworking the basic models of library automation systems, working toward more open systems, and engendering more effective partnerships with vendors. We're already seeing incredible progress on the front of next-generation catalogs. The presentation will include analysis of the current state of the library automation industry, a review of the technologies that show promise for supporting next-generation libraries, and perspective on the recent open source LMS alternatives.

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Technology Landscape

  • Most ILS products from commercial vendors mature

    • None less than a decade old

    • Approaching end of life cycle?

  • Evolved systems

  • No success in launching new systems in the commercial sphere

    • Horizon 8.0

    • Taos

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Current Vintage

  • ALEPH 500 1996

  • Voyager 1995

  • Unicorn 1982

  • Polaris 1997

  • Virtua 1995

  • Koha 1999

  • Library.Solution 1997

  • Evergreen 2004

  • Talis 1992

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Business Landscape

  • Library Journal Automated System Marketplace:

    • An Industry redefined (April 1, 2007)

  • An increasingly consolidated industry

  • Moving out of a previous phase of fragmentation where many companies expend energies producing decreasingly differentiated systems in a limited marketplace

  • VC and Private Equity playing a stronger role then ever before

  • Narrowing of product options

  • Increasing dissatisfaction with purely commercial, closed source options

  • Open Source opportunities rise to challenge the grip of traditional commercial model

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Other Business Observations

  • Level of innovation falls below expectations, despite deep resources and large development teams.

  • Companies struggle to keep up with ILS enhancements and R&D for new innovations.

  • Pressure within companies to reduce costs, increase revenue

  • Pressure from libraries for more innovative products

  • Some companies investing in technology; expanding markets

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ILS Migration Trends

  • Can’t expect rapid changes through a new generation of ILS

  • Few voluntary lateral migrations

  • Forced Migrations

    • Vendor abandonment

    • Need to move from legacy systems

    • Exit from bad marriages with vendors

    • Exit from bad marriages with consortia

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Role of the ILS in Library Automation Strategies

  • It’s never been harder to justify investments in ILS

  • Need for products focused on electronic content and user experience

    • Next-gen interfaces

    • Federated search

    • Linking

    • Electronic Resource Management

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A new direction in library automation

  • A successful pitch for new automation software is one that enables significant transformation toward current visions of the library.

  • Can’t keep doing the same thing in the same way

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An age of less integrated systems

  • Increasingly dis-integrated environment

  • Core ILS supplemented by:

    • OpenURL Link Resolvers

    • Metasearch / Federated Search

    • Electronic Resource Management

    • Next Generation Library Interfaces

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No longer an ILS-centric industry

  • Portion of revenues derived from core ILS products diminishing relative to other library tech products

  • Many companies and organizations that don’t offer an ILS are involved in library automation:

    • OCLC

    • Cambridge Information Group / Bowker

      • Serials Solutions – Syndetic Solutions – AquaBrowser, etc

    • WebFeat

    • Muse Global

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Open Source Alternatives

  • Explosive interest in Open Source driven by disillusionment with current vendors

  • Beginning to emerge as a practical option

  • TOC (Total Cost of Ownership) still roughly equal to proprietary commercial model

  • Open Source still a risky Alternative

  • Commercial/Proprietary options also a risk

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Open Source Initiatives

  • Multiple projects to develop Open Source ILS

    • Koha Zoom

    • Evergreen

    • OPALS-NA (K-12 Schools)

    • Delft Libraries

  • Multiple projects to develop Open Source Next-gen Catalogs

    • VU Find (Villanova University)

    • C4 prototype (University of Rochester River Campus Libraries)

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Market share / Perspective

  • Open Source ILS implementations still a very small percentage of the total picture

  • Initial set of successful implementations will likely serve as a catalyst to pave the way for others

  • Successful implementations in wider range of libraries:

    • State-wide consortium (Evergreen)

    • Multi-site public library systems (Koha)

    • School district consortia (OPALS-NA)

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Open Source Companies

  • Index Data

    • Founded 1994; No ILS; A variety of other open source products to support libraries: search engines, federated search, Z39.50 toolkit, etc

  • LibLime

    • Founded 2005. Provides development and support services for Koha ILS. Acquired original developers of Koha in Feb 2007.

  • Equinox.

    • Founded Feb 2007; staff formerly associated with GPLS Pines development team

  • Care Affiliates

    • Founded June 2007; headed by industry veteran Carl Grant.

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Impact of Open Source

  • Formidable competition to commercial closed-source products

  • Pressure to increase innovation

  • Pressure to decrease costs

  • Pressure to make commercial systems more open

  • Disrupts the status quo

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Open source ILS Benchmarks

  • Most decisions to adopt Open Source ILS based on philosophical reasons

  • Open Source ILS will enter the main stream once its products begin to win through objective procurement processes

    • Hold open source ILS to the same standards as the commercial products

    • Hold the open source ILS companies to the same standards:

      • Adequate customer support ratios, financial stability, service level agreements, etc.

  • Well-document total cost of ownership statements that can be compared to other vendor price quotes

  • Do the Open Source ILS products offer a new vision?

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Working toward a new ILS Vision

  • How libraries work has changed dramatically over the last 20 years.

  • ILS built largely on workflows cast more than 25 years ago

  • Based on assumptions that have long since changed

  • Digital resources represent at least half of most academic libraries collection budgets

  • The automation needs of libraries today is broader than that provided by the legacy ILS

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Libraries ready for a new course

  • Level of dissatisfaction with the current slate of ILS products is very high.

  • Large monolithic systems are unwieldy—very complex to install, administer and maintain.

  • Continue to be large gaps in functionality

    • Interlibrary loan

    • Collection development

    • Preservation: print / digital

    • Book binding

    • Remote storage operations

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Less Proprietary / More Open

  • Libraries demand more openness

  • Open source movement greatest challenge to current slate of commercial ILS products

  • Demand for open access to data

    • API’s essential

    • Beyond proprietary APIs

    • Ideal: Industry-standard set of API’s implemented by all systems

    • Current NISO effort to define API for an ILS for decoupled catalogs

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Open but Commercial?

  • As library values evolve toward open solutions, commercial companies will see increasing advantages in adopting more open strategies

  • Open Data

    • Well documented database schemas

    • APIs for access to all system functionality

  • More customizability; better integration

  • Open Source Software?

  • Key differentiation lies in service and support

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Comprehensive automation

  • Need the ability to automation all aspects of library work

  • Suite of interoperable modules

  • Single point of management for each category of information

  • Not necessarily through a single monolithic system

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More lightweight approach

  • More elegant and efficient

  • Easier to install and administer

  • Automation systems that can be operated with fewer number of technical staff

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Redefining the borders

  • Many artificial distinctions prevail in the legacy ILS model

  • Online catalog / library portal / institutional portal

  • Circulation / ILL / Direct consortial borrowing / remote storage

  • Collection Development / Acquisitions / budget administration

  • Library acquisitions / Institutional ERP

  • Cataloging / Metadata document ingestion for digital collections

  • Digital / Print workflows

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Separation of front-end from back-end

  • ILS OPAC not necessarily best library interface

  • Many efforts already underway to offer alternatives

  • Too many of the resources that belong in the interface are out of the ILS scope

  • Technology cycles faster for front-end than for back-end processes.

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Service-oriented Architecture

  • Work toward a service-oriented business application

  • Suite of light-weight applications

  • Flexibility to evolve in step with changes in library services and practices

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Enterprise interoperability

  • Interoperate with non-library applications

  • Course management

  • Accounting, finance, ERM applications

  • External authentication services

  • Other portal implementations

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Massively consolidated implementations

  • State/Province-wide ILS implementations

  • Increased reliance on consortia

  • Increased Software as a Service / ASP options hosted by vendors

  • Radical simplification of library policies affecting services offered to patrons

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Fitting into the Global Enterprise

  • Leverage capabilities of search engines:

    • Google, Google Scholar, Microsoft Live, Ask, etc

  • OCLC WorldCat

  • Sort out the relationships between the global enterprise and local systems

  • Leverage the content in enterprise discovery systems to drive users toward library resources

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Revise assumptions regarding Metadata

  • Reliance on MARC widely questioned

  • XML widely deployed

  • The next-gen ILS must natively support many flavors of metadata: MARC, Dublin Core, Onix, METS, etc

  • Library of Congress Subject Headings vs FAST

  • Approaching a post-metadata where discovery systems operate on actual digital objects themselves, not metadata about them

    • High-quality metadata will always improve discovery

  • Incorporate content from mass digitization efforts

  • Increasing proportions of rich media content: audio, video

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Competing in an crowded field of information providers

  • Commercial Web destinations increasingly overlap with services offered by libraries

  • Expectations of users set by their experiences with commercial destinations

  • Web-based library services need to be on the same level

  • Pressure to revamp library interfaces, discovery, and delivery tools

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New models of Software Development

  • Role of commercial partners

    • Break out of marketing / consumer model

    • Substantial dialog that shapes the direction of product development

  • Increased partnerships

  • Accelerated development cycles

  • Cost-effective / realistic cost expectations

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Evolution vs Revolution

  • What we have today is a result of 35 years of evolution

  • Is it possible to break free of the constraints of these evolved systems toward a new generation that will offer a fresh approach?

  • Are libraries now willing to let go of the of ILS legacy of times past and move forward with library automation cast in a new mould.

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A unique opportunity

  • Web 2.0 has invigorated libraries toward more open and collaborative strategies

  • Service Oriented Architecture provides a platform for assembling library systems more in tune with the needs of today’s libraries

  • Intense interest by both libraries and vendors to catch up and move forward in delivering library interfaces that work better for today’s Web-savvy users