Thursday, March 6, 2008

Talis Insight 07 Conference - Marshall Breeding - Working toward a new model of library automation

Marshall Breeding is well known in the field of library automation, maintaining the website His talk is based on a recent survey of librarians attitudes to current
systems/vendors and the emerging open source market.
His scan of the current state of the market pointed out that no successful recent new systems (e.g. latest version of Horizon was abandoned), the current crop date mainly from
the mid-90s. Recent mergers have reduced choice, and even newer systems such as Evergreen are doing the same things as existing systems.
This has been accompanied with increasing dissatisfaction as they fail to keep pace with customers expectations of innovation. Nowadays there are very few voluntary migrations to lateral systems. There is a need to focus on e-resources, the user experience etc, and this could encourage less integrated systems with a core system to which is bolted on a discovery layer, link resolver, federated search tool.
Companies are beginning to get involved in library automation who are not traditional system vendors e.g. OCLC, Bowker.
Marshall spoke at length about the Open Source alternatives which are garnering a lot of attention. Ultimately the Total Costs of Ownership are similar to that of a proprietary system. OS will penetrate the mainstream when TCOs are well documented enough to stand up to objective procurement. Currently OS systems are very similar in functionality to commercial systems but their impact could disrupt the status quo by
injecting competition into the market
increase pressure to innovate
increase pressure to decrease costs
make systems more open

We need to work towards a new ILS vision, e.g. current systems are based on workflows cast > 25 years ago, e-resources now represent >50% of our resources, many systems have large gaps e.g. ILL, collection development,
binding, remote storage.
Alongside OS software we need to consider more open access to data open APIs, ideally industry standard which would allow access to all components of functionality
Can these be open and commercial? Marshall advocates ILSs becoming more lightweight as modules become interoperable, with a single point of management for each function.
Our current legacy systems have created artificial boundaries we need to redefine these i.e.
PAC / portal
Circulation / ILL / Remote Storage
Collection Development / Acquisitions / Budget management

The first stage of this has begun with the separation of the front-end (PAC) by using next-genration discovery tools/interface. Technology cycle is much faster at the front-end and this is only a small part of the library ILS

We should see a move towards service-oriented business architecture where web services allow the flexibility to weave a fabric of changing applications. This could lead to greater enterprise operability and open the door to massively consolidated implementations, of scaled up consortia.

The 'Global Enterprise' of Google, OCLC, Worldcat etc has to be tackled - what is our relationship with these? How can we leverage our content in enterprise discovery systems to drive users toward library resources e.g. by exposing the metadata.

We have to consider the place of MARC not only in an XML- based world, but also in a post-metadata world where users are searching the digital objects themselves.

'Web destinations' such as Amazon are now competing with libraries, increasing the pressure on us.

We have to break out of the marketing/consumer model when dealing with vendors and move towards dialogue and increased partnership.

Evolution or Revolution? Web 2.0 has invigorated libraries and it may be has provided the catalyst for the latter.

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