Systems Librarian column

Marshall Breeding has writen the Systems Librarian column since January 2000. It was published in Information Today through December 2002 and has appeared in Computers in Libraries magazine since January 2003.

The terms of my agreement with Information Today allow me to publish the full text of these articles 90 days after they appear in the printed magazine.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Shape up your Skills and Shake Up Your Library
January / February 2014
Libraries benefit from having specialists within their organization tasked to manage all the various aspects of technology with the ability to shape it to their specialized requirements. A skilled individual or team tasked and enabled to design and implement the library's technological infrastructure can mean the difference between efficiency and frustration. To handle this role effectively, those responsible need to have an in-depth knowledge of technology a keen understanding of the strategic and operational needs of the library, and the insight to ensure that technology operates in ways that respect its key principles and values. While libraries resemble service-oriented businesses in some ways and seem to be increasingly managed according to business principles, their value and efficiency cannot be measured economically, but according to how well they create meaningful collections for their clients or stakeholders, distribute or provide access to information resources, and provide effective services.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library Technology Forecast for 2014 and Beyond
December 2013
Libraries continue to face enormous challenges as they continue to deal with woefully inadequate budgets at the same time that almost every aspect of their work has become more complex. In these times when search engines, social networks, and ecommerce sites set an almost unreachable bar for user experience and breadth of content, libraries have to make extraordinary efforts to impress their patrons with the information resources and services that they offer on the web while remaining true to core library values. Thus, the stage is set. I'll discuss some of the trends that I see playing out on the library technology front as we look ahead for the next couple of years.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Technology Alternatives for Special Collections
November 2013
In recent years, many special collections have also had to extend their efforts into the digital realm. Since the creation of content has been performed for a few decades now through some form of computer technology, it's not at all surprising that these special collections are now seeing increasing proportions of their acquisitions arriving in the digital form, and the digitization of extant materials for access and preservation has become a routine activity.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library Technology: The Next Generation
October 2013
Next-generation library automation products and services have been the focus of attention in the library community for the last few years. It seems that there is tremendous interest in systems that are better aligned with the issues libraries face today. New discovery and library management platforms have emerged from research and development stages into real-world use in libraries. People are seeing intense competition among these new systems and between them and the new versions of established products. The author see them as being at a critical time in the realm of library technologies, with many organizations working to break out of established conceptual, functional, and technological bounds. Sweeping changes in libraries drive the urgency for a new generation of technology products and services to support them. The composition of library collections have changed to include higher proportions of electronic and digital materials relative to print. Some of the subsequent generational cycles were based largely on transitions in computing platforms.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Tech Trends and Challenges for K-12 School Libraries
September 2013
Though all libraries share some core objectives, each type of library has a distinct set of issues that shapes the nature of its collections and services, which, in turn, brings different requirements to its technology environment. In the most basic terms, academic libraries focus on the management and access to scholarly materials, public libraries foster engagement with their communities through vigorous circulation of collections of broad popular interest, and special libraries have gravitated into the realm of enterprise knowledge management. Likewise, school libraries have their own distinct concerns, which are closely tied to the support of learning and the provision of resources selected for the levels of students served. The distinctive role of school libraries has fostered the development of a variety of specialized technology products. At the same time, school libraries can benefit from close collaboration with other libraries in their communities. This month's Systems librarian column explores some of the trends underway in the school library arena, including a few interesting partnerships that have emerged to strengthen their capacity to serve their students.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Mining Data for Library Decision Support
June 2013
A library's technology infrastructure should be well-aligned with its broad strategic mission, providing support for its operations in ways that results in the best possible service. In today's economically challenging environment, libraries lean on technology to automate their daily activities and to accomplish as much as possible with the fewest number of people, stretching their collection funds as far as possible. Each of the layers of technology in place must also provide the strongest tools possible to yield analytical data in support of measuring the performance and efficiency of the related areas. The churn of daily activity performed on a system produces an incredible amount of data that, with the right tools and processes in place, can be exploited to refine workflows, analyze budget allocations and expenditures, or inform other operational or strategic decisions. Libraries increasingly strive to follow data-driven management of their resources as they shape their collections, deploy their personnel, and design their virtual presence.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Pressing Limits of Scale for Library Technology (full text Full text available)
May 2013
I see libraries in a time where it's important to question all of the assumptions that we have held regarding technology and the automation products in which we invest. Many of the current automation scenarios were informed by inherent limitations of computing of times past and models of functionality and processing workflows that may no longer apply. Some of the key issues in play today deal with the scale in which technology can be implemented to support libraries or groups of libraries and how different areas of functionality are organized within automation products.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Linked Data: The Next Big Wave or Another Tech Fad? (full text Full text available)
April 2013
Semantic web. Open linked data. These concepts dominate conference presentations and technology conversations almost as much as Web 2.0 did a few years ago - with the promise of taking the web beyond its current limitations of manually coded hyperlinks to a system based on exploring paths of related resources based on meaningful associations encoded in storehouses of content, lbday both on the general web and in most library environments, the discovery of resources takes place mostly through the harvesting and indexing of the content of pages. Such search and retrieval services provide very effective ways for persons to find items of interest from within very large bodies of content, such as the entirety of the web or representations of the print and electronic materials that comprise library collections. But even with the most sophisticated relevancy algorithms, index-based search and retrieval lacks the ability to lead users to the potential related content. Semantic web technologies, in conjunction with repositories of open linked data, promise to deliver significant new capabilities in exploring and exploiting information resources on the web.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Digital Archiving in the Age of Cloud Computing (full text Full text available)
March 2013
Whether the concern is protecting data at the personal, professional, or institutional level, digital storage services provide thorough cloud computing technologies that can deliver extraordinarily high levels of protection. The LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe; lockss.org) project initiated by Stanford University for the preservation of primarily ejournal content, operates on the basis of a distributed set of replicates across many low-cost computers and associated storage devices among participating institutions.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Technical Infrastructure in Libraries: To Tweak or Transform? (full text Full text available)
January/February 2013
The combination of integrated library systems, electronic resource management utilities, OpenURL link resolvere, e-resource knowledgebases, digital collection management platforms, institutional repositories, discovery services, and other library-specific and general-purpose applications represents an approach for providing technology support that has evolved somewhat haphazardly. The way that a library describes its expectations when going out to acquire its next automation system provides critical information to the development community.\n Electronic resource management, OpenURL link resolution, digital collections, and other essential functions have been accomplished through separate systems.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Tech Review and Forecast for 2013 (full text Full text available)
December 2012
The four major web-scale discovery products, WorldCat Local, EBSCO Discovery Service, Serials Solutions Summon, and Primo Central from Ex Libris, have each achieved high levels of maturity, each well past the stage of appealing mostly to early adopters, and they should be considered safe bets for most academic libraries. Innovative Interfaces, long a holdout away from founder ownership, was acquired by a pair of private equity firms, Huntsman Gay Global Capital, LLC and JMI Equity, with Jerry Kline retaining a minority stake and turning over the management of the company to new hands.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Preserving Library Value Through the Shifting Tides of Technology (full text Full text available)
November 2012
Shifts in technology and the context of commercial services and other factors have an enormous impact on what services remain in the purview of libraries. As content becomes less physical and more virtual, library services become more fragile and demand continuous vigilance to fill in the gaps that would otherwise remain in an environment of purely commercial activity. The technical, legal, and business context surrounding opportunities for library services seem more challenging than ever before. The core mission of libraries has always centered on making content and related services available to patrons. The form in which that content is delivered has changed continually. In recent decades, libraries have worked their way through a succession of changes in technology and in media that creates opportunities for library services that may or may not endure. This article discusses computing resources and connectivity, media lending and the challenge of e-books. Adapted from the source document.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Managing Mission-Critical Infrastructure (full text Full text available)
October 2012
In the library context, they depend on sophisticated business applications specifically designed to support their work. This infrastructure consists of such components as integrated library systems, their associated online catalogs or discovery services, and self-check equipment, as well as a Web site and the various online tools and services needed to manage and provide access to library resources. These systems work together to support the behind-the-scenes work, in-person services for patrons and virtual mobile and Web-based services. In this month's column, the author explores some of the layers of attention that need to be in place to ensure that technology contributes its full potential to the success of the organization. Some of these layers fall into the area of routine, but often deferred, maintenance, as well as larger-scale renovation or rebuilding projects. A stable, reliable, and well-designed technical infrastructure doesn't happen by itself. It requires that the library address the layers of routine maintenance, incremental improvements, and periodic reinvestment appropriate for such mission-critical assets.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Coping With Complex Collections: Managing Print and Digital (full text Full text available)
September 2012
Library collections are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of the many different formats represented, and each brings its own challenges for management and access. The cumulative process of the proliferation and electronic formats in addition to the physical materials present libraries with significant challenges in managing these heterogeneous collections; it demands a technical infrastructure that can provide appropriate tools for management and facilitate access. Libraries will have to deal with an increasingly complicated set of processes for selecting and acquiring their materials. This complicated matrix of content formats, procurement methods, and delivery methods presents enormous challenges for the technical infrastructure that a library needs to support the management and access of its collection. In this current phase of library technology development, the emerging model for academic libraries brings the management of print and electronic collection components into the same platform. Rather than having entirely separate platforms for dealing with print and electronic materials, these emerging library services platforms support many different processing workflows, metadata formats, and fulfillment policies. Adapted from the source document.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
New Library Collections, New Technologies, New Workflows (full text Full text available)
June 2012
In the past year or so, I've been doing a lot of speaking and writing about the new wave of library automation applications. It's a topic that seems to have great interest in the library arena in many parts of the world, as I have observed during my recent travels. I have seen many libraries at the juncture where they need to develop plans relative to these new products. Do they see themselves staying with their current systems for a few more years, or will they be considering a change? In every change cycle, there are some libraries eager to be early adopters, and many more that prefer to wait a bit for the products to mature and to prove themselves. I would also suggest that libraries might look beyond the automation systems they use and the consideration of whether it's time to replace them. Perhaps it's also time to reevaluate the patterns of work that surround their automation systems and to evaluate if those systems still make sense.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
新馆藏,新技术:新工作流 (full text Full text available)
June 2012
Traditional library business was well aligned with integrated library system (ILS) over the past decades. However, with the changing of library collections, the library can’t separate library business based on the formats of materials. Under the promotion of the cloud computing, ILS is evolving into library service platforms which can provide opportunity to redesign workflows most suitable for its needs, and will be well re-aligned with library reality in the future.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
From disaster recovery to digital preservation (full text Full text available)
May 2012
Over the course of my career, I've seen libraries increasingly involved in digital content. Today, hardly any aspect of what libraries do remains untouched. Collections have shifted from physical to digital forms, though not necessarily uniformly. This shift has reshaped many aspects of how libraries operate, with profound implications not only for how they provide access to materials but, especially, in how these digital collections will be preserved for future generations. Libraries face enormous challenges in finding ways to preserve their collections as they move more deeply into the digital arena.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Lowering the Threshold for Automation in Small Libraries (full text Full text available)
April 2012
It's striking to me that here in the U.S. - the world's wealthiest country - so many small public libraries in rural areas and small towns either rely on outdated systems or have no automation at all. We have some of the world's most technologically advanced libraries, but we also have some for which state-of-the-art technology tools remain out of reach. As I track the automation trends in libraries, I have been concerned for a long time about how many public libraries in the U.S. lag behind in automation and that these "have note" are skewed primarily toward those that support small communities. One of the outstanding challenges today is reducing the barriers that impede small libraries with very limited resources from having access to technologies that can help them deliver better services to their communities.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Looking Forward to the Next Generation of Discovery Services (full text Full text available)
March 2012
Discovery services have come a long way in improving the ways that libraries provide patrons with access to their collections. This genre of software has become pretty well established since its introduction almost a decade ago. Libraries are increasingly abandoning the ILS online catalog modules or relegating them to specialized use. Discovery services take a broader view of library collections, attempting not just to address the materials managed directly in the library's ILS, but also to find ways to incorporate the content available to users by virtue of subscriptions to electronic resources and to specialized collections of digitized documents, images, sound recordings, and video.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library Web-Scale (full text Full text available)
January 2012
We've been hearing a lot about a web-scale" lately. It has become one of the buzzwords of the library technology arena, and it's often used rather loosely. While the term has taken on something of a marketing bent, it also characterizes some important trends and strategies for libraries to capitalize on today's large-scale technology platforms. Though web-scale is not necessarily a term that lends itself to precise définition, it represents an important shift in the way that libraries engage with technology. Within the realm of library technologies, web-scale is a concept worth exploring as one of the new alternatives on the horizon.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Forging Ahead Through Times of Major Transitions (full text Full text available)
December 2011
Despite many factors that present libraries and librarians with challenges of enormous concern, I continue to be optimistic that the institution and the profession will prosper well into the distant future. The siege against library funding continues. How libraries manage the shifting legal and licensing scenarios of ebooks will be a key factor in our future success. As the prevailing paradigm of technology enters a new phase favoring cloud-based technologies, the dominance of the current client/server library automation products will inevitably wane as new products enter the market and existing products evolve. The era of cloud computing brings change to the ways that libraries deploy technology and how they engage in their own development. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that we're in a time of epic transitions. In this month's column, we'll explore a few of these trends and transitions and their implications for libraries.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Ebook lending: asserting the value of libraries as the future of books unfolds (full text Full text available)
November 2011
A statement that I've heard lately asserts that the need for public libraries will recede in the future once ebooks become the dominant media. Its proponents suggest that online outlets such as Amazon and Apple will obviate the need for libraries. I don't necessarily question whether ebooks will eventually prevail, though I think that it will take many years before publishers abandon the printed page. Even granting that ebooks will one day become dominant, I anticipate that librarians will continue to deal with at least some proportion of printed books and other physical materials indefinitely. But even in this unfolding realm that will increasingly favor electronic distribution of published content, I believe that libraries will continue to play a vital role in our society. We must be thoughtful and strategic regarding these issues. I hope that librarians develop and employ technologies that will allow them to use ebooks to fulfill their traditional roles as the move away from print continues. Throughout my entire career, I've seen libraries steadily move toward increased involvement with electronic and digital content. The rise of ebooks is just the latest chapter in the story.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library Tech Strategies: Efficiency or Innovation (full text Full text available)
October 2011
How libraries use technology to manage their work has been one of my key interests. I follow with great interest the developments of new library automation products and discovery services, especially with respect to how they help libraries operate more efficiently and to achieve their strategic goals. I’m also interested in how libraries can use technology in creative and innovative ways that enable libraries to offer new kinds of services or to revitalize an existing activity in a way that becomes more interesting and appealing to library users.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
A Cloudy Forecast for Libraries (full text Full text available)
September 2011
This new wave of library tech products will phase in slowly. We're just now at the beginning of a product and technology cycle that will play out through the next decade. The uptake of new kinds of products can be a bit slow. Libraries tend to hold on to their automation products until the last possible moment of their usefulness. I observe only a small minority of libraries able to engage as early adopters of new technologies. The majority follow later in the product development and deployment cycle when the products have matured and pose lower thresholds of risk.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The Special Challenges for National Libraries (full text Full text available)
June 2011
National libraries perform some of the most interesting, important, and challenging roles and likewise are involved in some of the most fascinating uses of automation and technology. These libraries face incredibly difficult tasks associated with building, preserving, and enabling access to collections at a national level and with providing relevant services throughout a nation. While each library has its own distinct character and scope of responsibilities, there is much they have in common. For example, on the technology front, these libraries make use of some of the most sophisticated automation systems available, and this benefits all types of libraries. All libraries derive some level of benefit, either direct or indirect, from the efforts of national libraries.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Desafíos especiales para las bibliotecas nacionales (full text Full text available)
June 2011
Las bibliotecas nacionales llevan a cabo funciones de lo mas interesantes, importantes y desafiantes; además, están envueltas en algunos de los mas fascinantes usos de la automatización y la tecnología. Estas bibliotecas enfrentan tareas increiblemente difíciles, asociadas con construir, preservar, y facilitar el acceso de colecciones a nivel nacional y proveyendo servicios relevantes en cada rincón de una nación. Mientras cada biblioteca tiene un carácter distintivo y un rango de responsabilidades propios, ellas tienen también mucho en común. Por ejemplo, en el frente tecnológico, estas bibliotecas hacen uso de algunos de los mas sofisticados sistemas de automatización disponibles, y eso beneficia a todos los tipos de bibliotecas. Y todas las bibliotecas derivan algún nivel de beneficio, directo o indirecto, de los esfuerzos de las bibliotecas nacionales.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Transformations in Academic Libraries Demand Transformed Automation Support (full text Full text available)
May 2011
A growing disconnect exists between the strategic priorities of academic libraries and the technology environments in place to support their work. Academic libraries struggle to find the most effective technologies that will help them to fulfill their missions within their larger institutions, to manage their internal operations as efficiently as possible, and to optimally deliver access to their collections and services to their users. One of the overarching concerns involves narrowing this chasm between the pressing realities of academic libraries and their supporting technologies.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Using Technology to Enhance a Library as Place (full text Full text available)
April 2011
Technology can play an important role in the ways that libraries make use of their physical spaces. I have seen some great examples of the ways technology can add to the vitality of a library's facilities, both in conspicuous and dazzling ways and with more subtle approaches. When I visit a library, I'm always interested to learn about how the librarians there use technology, both behind the scenes in the ways that they manage their operations or build collections and in their public spaces to enhance their patrons' experiences. Libraries today have to seek out strategies that promote stronger engagement with their users. In these times where so many public libraries face threats of budget reductions, it's important that they demonstrate vigorous use of their facilities and services and satisfy patrons who will help defend them and lend support when needed. Smart use of technology can help libraries strengthen their programs and facilities in ways that foster better services, higher patron satisfaction, and more positive perceptions.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Discovering Harry Potter (full text Full text available)
March 2011
In recent years, libraries have turned away from the traditional online catalog to embrace a new genre of public interfaces that go by names such as next-generation library catalogs, discovery interfaces, or discovery services. These new products aim to revitalize the stodgy online catalogs of the past to deliver to library patrons an experience of the collections and services of the library more in tune with the expectations set by the mainstream web. With increasing overlap and even competition to serve the information needs of library patrons by commercial destinations, it seems essential for libraries to offer the most compelling approaches possible for providing access to their valuable resources.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Preparing for the Long-Term Digital Future of Libraries (full text Full text available)
January / February 2011
Let's turn the calendar forward a decade or so and consider that libraries might face relative changes that might take place in the reading and entertainment materials that make up their collections. We can project at least some aspects of this world based on trends well underway today. Although many things could happen to impact the kinds of change and the timetables, it's important to begin thinking now about long-term library futures.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The Value of Libraries (full text Full text available)
December 2010
I've been fortunate to find a career in a kind of organization that makes a positive contribution to society. Of all the ways to make a living, working in a university whose mission involves teaching and research appeals to me more than other career paths. Within the university, Tve found libraries to be a great way to contribute, as well as to develop my career. The libraries of Medellin provide a powerful example of the incredible contribution that libraries can make to society.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Ensuring Our Digital Future (full text Full text available)
November 2010
I observe that the unique and special collections in the custody of libraries receive excellent attention and will last long into the future through both physical conservation and ever-improving digital preservation processes and infrastructure. Libraries increasingly have access to trusted digital repositories that implement the best practices available to ensure that digital materials will survive into the distant future, migrating digital content forward through continuous cycles of technology. While the current state of the art in digital preservation falls short of an ideal system that guarantees permanent survival, much has been done to address the vulnerabilities inherent in digital content.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Architecting New Library Frameworks (full text Full text available)
October 2010
We live in an era of social, enterprise-oriented, and increasingly cloud-based technology; a dramatic shift away from stand-alone isolated silos that previously dominated. Computing systems can flourish today only when built to easily exchange data and services. An application that stands alone may provide practical functionality but may not live up to the full needs of organizations, such as libraries, involved with complex computer needs. Most libraries today operate in partnership with a variety of other organizations, including their parent institutions such as universities, colleges, agencies, or local government; other peer libraries; and suppliers of all varieties. More importantly, library users access our services with an ever-broader array of devices - some with desktops, laptops, smartphones, or tablets and others through some intervening application such as their academic courseware system, corporate intranet, or even social networking sites such as Facebook. This reality of interconnectedness should shape the way that libraries adopt technologies as well as guide those who create software for libraries.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Taking the Social Web to the Next Level (full text Full text available)
September 2010
One of the ideas that I have been cultivating for the last few years involves taking the investment that libraries have made in social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies to a more sophisticated and mature stage. It's clear that social network concepts have taken strong hold throughout so many aspects of our world. Facebook and Twitter have propelled far beyond their narrow niche of tech- or mediasawy enthusiasts to the mainstream of society. From its early beginnings as a service for students from a few ivy-league universities, today, Facebook finds use by more than 400 million individuals, spanning all generations (www.facebook.com/press/info.php7statistics). Twitter claims about one-fourth as many users and pervades a wide range of interests from popular culture to big business. Linkedln and hundreds of web destinations likewise bring together communities of individuals with common interests. Social networking isn't a passing fad - it now ranks as a fundamental characteristic of successful technologies. We're at a time when libraries need to move beyond ad hoc and informal uses of social technologies and make them an essential element of the way that libraries implement technology.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
A Time of Opportunity for the Library Programmer (full text Full text available)
June 2010
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with technology in a library involves finding ways to solve day-to-day problems and to shape its computing environment to best meet the needs of its staff and users. It’s great to find ways to support the organization in ways not necessarily possible with the out-of-the-box automation systems that comprise its official technical infrastructure. For a library to be able to extend and enhance its technical environment, it’s helpful to have one or more staff members with the ability to write or modify scripts and programs.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Professional Development for the Library Technologist (full text Full text available)
May 2010
The last couple of months have marked several personal milestones. I’ve had my 25year anniversary of employment at Vanderbilt University, I will soon attend my 25th Computers in Libraries conference, and I’ve been involved with this column for slightly more than 10 years. The passing of these dates calls to mind some of the strategies I have found important to building a career focused on technology in the library profession. For others either considering a career in library technology or those already in the field thinking about their next steps, I will reflect on some of the phases of my own career and offer some thoughts on what I view as helpful strategies. While I write mostly in regard to building a tech-focused career in libraries, these ideas may also apply more generally.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Leveraging Technology for Success in a Challenging Economy (full text Full text available)
April 2010
The global economic crisis of the past 2 years has brought harsh circumstances to most libraries, calling into question many of the ways that we allocate resources. Lean budgets force us to devise strategies that make the very most of the resources available. Many libraries face the reality of doing more with less, often much less. It seems like each week brings news of libraries forced to close branches, reduce hours, trim their work force, or reduce or eliminate new collections acquisitions. Even in the best of times it seems that libraries find themselves making due with fewer resources than optimal. I’ve rarely encountered libraries flush with generous levels of funding such that they don’t have to make painful choices among competing priorities. In recent times, this pain has been extreme. This context of libraries struggling through the economic downturn makes it necessary to consider the ways that technology can be used not only to reduce costs but, hopefully, to strengthen libraries’ standing relative to more prosperous times.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Can We Future-Proof Library Automation? (full text Full text available)
March 2010
Librarians today find themselves dealing with collections of ever larger proportions of electronic content. The degree to which that shift has already taken place varies from one type of library to another. Some organizations, especially those involved with specializations in biomedical, scientific, or business, may already handle electronic content almost exclusively. Each component of the collections of academic libraries may vary according to discipline. Public libraries today continue to manage printed materials in very high proportions. In the public library sector, the circulation of physical materials continues as a key activity, supplemented by increased involvement with the delivery of electronic information to users in most of the forms seen in academic libraries. Public libraries have long been in the business of providing access to ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital versions of long-form monographs. While I don’t have precise projections for the proportions of formats that will constitute public libraries in the future, I am confident in a growing shift toward electronic content while maintaining significant holdings in print for the foreseeable future. But more than anything else, I’m sure that the wheels of change we see today will turn ever faster as the years move on.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
State of the Art in Library Discovery 2010 (full text Full text available)
January / February 2010
Resource discovery tops the charts as the foremost issue within the realm of library automation. As a new year commences, I see a more pressing need to accelerate the pace with which libraries deliver content and services in ways that our users will find compelling, relevant, and convenient. The evolution of the web advances relentlessly, and librarians have to work hard to ensure that our offerings stay reasonably competitive among the wares of the many information providers on the web. In this month’s edition of The Systems Librarian, well review the current state of discovery tools for library content and consider some of the challenges that need to be addressed this year

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The Advance of Computing From the Ground to the Cloud (full text Full text available)
November / December 2009
A trend toward the abstraction of computing platforms that has been developing in the broader IT arena over the last few years is just beginning to make inroads into the library technology scene. Cloud computing offers for libraries many interesting possibilities that may help reduce technology costs and increase capacity, reliability, and performance for some types of automation activities. Cloud computing has made strong inroads into other commercial sectors and is now beginning to find more traction in the library technology sector.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Social Networking Strategies for Professionals (full text Full text available)
October 2009
Social networking brings a new dimension to the professional lives of those involved with libraries, collapsing the latency of information exchange from months or years to almost instantaneous impact. Yet it’s also hard to imagine keeping up with current trends and technologies without the continual infusion of up-to-the-second information possible through social networking sites.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The Elusive Cost of Library Software (full text Full text available)
September 2009
A question that I’m often asked involves how much a library should expect to pay for automation software. As much as I try to understand all the various aspects of the library automation industry, I have never been able to discover a great deal of data describing what libraries actually pay for their automation products. While I have an informal sense of initial license payment and annual support fees paid by libraries of various types and sizes, it’s based only on sketchy information.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Libraries Thrive Through Enterprise Computing (full text Full text available)
June 2009
Enterprise computing ranks as one of the most firmly established trends in IT over the last decade. This approach involves building a single technical infrastructure, designed as an organic whole, that spans an organization. Enterprise networks address each aspect of computing with a single industrial-strength solution, rather than having individual units within the organization each solve the same problem. Libraries gain many benefits as they shift from self-contained silos to full partners within the enterprise networks of their parent organization.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Moving Forward Through Tech Cycles (full text Full text available)
May 2009
It’s a given that technology changes continually. Fve been working with automation in libraries long enough to have experienced a number of major changes in technology. I started in the days of mainframe computers, which gave way to midrange systems, which were later replaced by client/server systems. Today, the preferred technology platforms involve web-based systems, service-oriented architecture, and cloud computing. These preferences in technology shall also pass and will be replaced by new approaches to computing not yet invented

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Maximizing the Impact of Digital Collections (full text Full text available)
April 2009
Libraries have been increasingly involved in the creation of digital library collections and other content repositories. It’s not unusual at all for libraries to be involved in digitizing collections of manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, postcards, or multimedia content such as audio recordings and radio or television programming. Academic libraries have become increasingly active in building repositories of content produced within their institutions and in other aspects of publishing scholarly content as well. While books and journals - both the print and electronic variety - stand as the mainstays of library content offerings, it’s the collections of rare, historic, or local material that provide the greatest opportunity to increase the impact that the library makes on its community. These collections of nontraditional content provide the best jewels of the library, and delivering them digitally can amplify their impact tremendously.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library automation in a Difficult Ecomomy (full text Full text available)
March 2009
The downturn in the economy has taken its toll on libraries. Even in the best of times, most libraries have to work with budgets that are barely adequate to support their essential activities. In these recent months, the recession has subtracted significant funds from the parent organizations of many libraries: city, county, and state governments; public and private colleges and universities; schools; and corporations. In the sphere of libraries with which I’ve interacted, some have faced drastic budget cuts, including givebacks in their current fiscal cycle; others have been more lightly touched, facing only a year or so of zero-growth budgets. I’ve not heard from any libraries that expect increases in funding on the order of what they had a year ago.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Opening up library automation software (full text Full text available)
February 2009
One of the major themes that I’ve observed in the recent era of the library involves the demand for more openness in all aspects of the technology infrastructure. Libraries often articulate frustration at automation systems that fail to offer adequate access to the data and functionality of their automation systems. Libraries increasingly resist rigidly closed automation products that do not provide flexible access to the data and provide ways to connect to other products. Today’s library automation environment favors systems that can deliver, in one way or another, products that break away from closed, proprietary systems to allow libraries more liberal access to their data. Open source software has caught on in a big way within the library automation arena, but we’ll see that this is not the only approach possible as libraries seek options to gain more access and control over their data and other aspects of their technology environment.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The growing trend toward larger-scale cooperative library automation (full text Full text available)
January 2009
As I follow the library automation arena, one of the trends that I notice involves the movement toward more libraries cooperating to share automation systems. Libraries have a long history of cooperating in order to provide improved services to their users and to reduce their costs. In my area of interest - library automation - consortia and other cooperative arrangements provide opportunities to deliver access to broader collections to library users at lower costs to participating libraries.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Library Technology International (full text Full text available)
November / December 2008
I’ve been extremely fortunate over the last few years to have had the opportunity to travel to many different parts of the world and speak and work with librarians in many countries. It has been great to have the chance to see firsthand some incredible libraries that demonstrate creative approaches to library services, innovative uses of technology, expansive resource sharing, and pragmatic approaches to library automation. Let me give you a quick tour.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Digitizing Brings New Life to Video Collections (full text Full text available)
October 2008
For the last 5 years, the Vanderbilt Television News Archve has been working to digitize its collection of national news broadcasts. In 2002, the National Science Foundation funded a 1-year project to explore technologies and methodologies that could be applied to begin recording newscasts digitally and to digitize our existing videotape collection. The Archive won two sebsequent grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize its collections of evening news and special news broadcasts.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Managing Resources Comprehensively (full text Full text available)
September 2008
Breeding considers some of the broader issues at play in the way that libraries manage and provide access to electronic resources versus how they manage their print collections.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Winning the competition for attention on the Web (full text Full text available)
June 2008
Those involved in developing library Web sites can consider a number of measures to ensure that their own site runs counter to this trend and sees increased use over time.Some helpful techniques include search engine optimization to ensure the best possible exposure in the search engines and the highest rate of delivery of users from search engine results to your Web site, help out the Search Engines through XML Sitemaps, make good use of meta tags in Web page headers, leverage social bookmarking, and use RSS to draw users to your site. But more then anything else, the key to increasing interesting your library’s Web presence involves offering compelling and interesting content. Design your site to enhance, promote, and deliver access to the library’s collections and services

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Beyond the current generation of next-generation library interfaces: deeper search (full text Full text available)
May 2008
One of the top issues in the library automation arena in the last couple of years involves the development of a new generation of interfaces to replace online catalogs that have fallen behind the expectation of Web savvy library users. This aspect of library automation currently attracts incredible interest—almost all libraries are giving consideration to how they can bring the search tools they offer for their collections and their overall Web presence up to the level expected on the Web today. Even in this early point in the adoption cycle of new library interfaces, it’s time to press onward toward even more effective and powerful search tools. In this month’s column I’m especially interested in exploring the expansion of metadata-based search into deep search based on the full content of digitized materials.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Content, Community and Visibility: a winning combination (full text Full text available)
April 2008
Today’s libraries operate in a dual existence, divided between in-person and online services. In the business realm it’s not at all unusual to have brick-and-mortar establishments and to offer ecommerce on the web. Library-asplace and the delivery of excellent service to patrons visiting in person remains the heart of most libraries. I think the need to deliver the library’s content and services both physically and virtually is just part of our reality. The online presence of a library is increasingly important and demands the same degree of creative thinking and planning as that devoted to its physical facilities and activities. This month’s column explores some issues related to attracting a growing and engaged community of patrons surrounding the library’s web presence.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Making a Business Case for Open Source ILS (full text Full text available)
March 2008
We’re living in a phase of library automation characterized by an increased interest in open source-not just in back-end infrastructure components but also in the mission-critical business applications such as the integrated library system. Open source library automation systems, including Koha and Evergreen, have been propelled into the limelight. Recent survey data fails to corroborate broad interest that libraries are ready to adopt open source ILS. The success of early adopters of open source ILS now serve as a catalyst for others. Paths now exist with more mature systems and professional support options. As the open source movement matures, these system will need to compete on their own merits and not solely on a philosophical preference.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Circulation Technologies From Past to Future (full text Full text available)
February 2008
Breeding examines the circulation function of library automation, first taking a look at technologies used in the past, and then looking at some of the technologies that find use today. He discusses the interoperability available through protocols such as SIP2 and NCIP, the benefits offered through the use of RFID technologies, and how some libraries can gain efficiences through automated material handling systems. Moving in to the future, libraries need to reconceptualize this aspect of automation, looking toward solutions less compartmentalized then those in use today.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
An analytical approach to assessing the effictiveness of Web-based resources (full text Full text available)
January 2008
In order to determine whether a site’s new service or design change has a positive or negative impact, it’s important to have a good understanding of what constitutes normal patterns of use. Sources of this data might include web server logs or the logs and statistical reports from applications such as online catalogs, search engines, federated search tools, or any other applications with interfaces that the public uses. Some of the other patterns that I look for include the average time for a user session, which individual pages get the most use, the number of items viewed per session, which pages are most used to enter the site, and which pages are common exit points. After some investigation, I eventually realized that no personally identifiable information was being recorded or transmitted and that utilizing this tool did not violate the privacy of the site’s users. For search-oriented applications such as online catalogs and digital repositories, you can study the percentage of searches that produce no results and the ones that return too many.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
It's Time to Break the Mold of the Original ILS (full text Full text available)
November / December 2007
Breeding anticipates that the next cycle of library automation developments will focus more on the ILS, but hopefully in a completely redefined form. The basic structure of today’s ILS was cast more than 20 years ago. The next generation of library automation systems needs to be designed to match the workflows of today’s libraries, which manage both digital and print resources. In order to provide efficient and effective support, the software needs to be designed around the processes and tasks that meet the goals of the organization. The current slate of ILS products works on many assumptions about library workflows that have long since changed. The next generation would benefit from a thorough re-examination of the day-to-day work that takes place inside libraries.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The Birth of a New Generation of Library Interfaces (full text Full text available)
October 2007
A new vision of library interfaces has emerged, and it’s more in tune with current Web technologies and user expectations. It’s broader in scope, takes advantage of search technologies and techniques that are closer to the state-of-the-art, and offers more dynamic interactions with library users. A new genre of software is being defined, and it may displace the traditional online public access catalog. Today’s environment of diverse resources demands a library interface that spans many different sources and types of content.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Librarians face online social networks (full text Full text available)
September 2007
Breeding provides an introduction to onine social networking using Facebook as an example that my be of interest to libraries. Facebook.com, originally established as a site for college students, has recently burst beyond its roots and captured broad interest. In academic libraries, Facebook plays a part in the lives of almost all of our student clientele. The more that library professionals use social networking environments like Facebook, the more that they will discover good ways to use it to improve library services and to expand their outreach.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The sun sets on Horizon (full text Full text available)
June 2007
SirsiDynix announced that it had discontinued development of Horizon and would consolidate its future ILS efforts on Unicorn. Events such as SirsiDynix’s decision to consolidate to a single product cause a great deal of uncertainty and disruption for libraries and detract from the trust that’s necessary for a successful relationship between a library and its automation products supplier. SirsiDynix faces a large challenge in shoring up the trust with the Dynix/Horizon half of its customer base. The prompt delivery of truly outstanding replacement products is the only salve that will heal the wound.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
We Need to Go Beyond Web 2.0 (full text Full text available)
May 2007
Web 2.0 risks hampering the true potential of the Web by casting a particular approach or subset of technologies as preferred and neglecting others that may have higher strategic value. While the technologies branded as Web 2.0 represent a positive step in the evolution of the Web, they are but an incremental shift in a much larger continuum of progress. Web 2.0 has become a trendy marketing concept. The emerging generation of interfaces sports much-needed improvements such as relevancy ranking, faceted navigation, visual search, user tagging, and results delivered through RSS. It’s even more important to go beyond superficial user interface features and to develop library automation technologies that fully embrace the architecture associated with Web 2.0 and beyond, that of Web services and the service-oriented architecture.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Thinking About Your Next OPAC (full text Full text available)
April 2007
We’re seeing a tremendous amount of effort being put toward creating new library interfaces, both by the commercial automation vendors and in the open source arena. Each of these endeavors focuses on a different set of assumptions, features, and functions related to the ideal library Web environment, but each of them advances the state of the catalog far beyond what we’ve seen in the previous round of offerings. Characteristics of the new generation of library interfaces include: relevance ranking, faceted navigation, search result clustering, breadcrumb trails, and a faster, more comprehensive search environment.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
An Update on Open Source ILS (full text Full text available)
March 2007
While open source software has flourished for a number of years for infrastructure-level components, it has not gained a stronghold in the library automation arena. The overwhelming majority of library automaton software is offered through commercial companies as propriety, closed-source software. Though that continues to be true, in the last few years some viable open source integrated library systems have emerged to challenge the commercial offerings. While Breeding still doesn’t expect open source to become the dominant model for library automation software anytime in the near future, he expects the numbers to continue to increase much faster than we’ve seen in the past.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Working toward transparency in library automation (full text Full text available)
February 2007
Breeding asserts the need for transparency with regard to the automation systems used in libraries. Librarians need to have access to information about the financial interests of the companies they do business with. As librarians make decisions regarding automation software and services, they should have convenient access to information about how other libraries have done in similar circumstances. The library automation arena stands at the cusp of several important changes. Industry consolidation, strategic acquisitions by major private equity firms, and breakthroughs in open source library automation stand to effect significant changes over the next few years. Now is the time to gather data and to closely track the trends so that librarians will be well informed and better prepared to deal with the changes that lie ahead.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Spam Wars: the battle of the formbots (full text Full text available)
January 2007
There seems to be no end to spam, phishing, viruses, worms, and other malicious activity. Much of the spam out there relates to phishing and identity theft, which causes economic and personal damage to its victims. Fill-in Web forms have become the favorite targets of spammers for the last year or so. It’s often necessary to implement a captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing) in order to deterring formbots. The battle against the purveyors of spam and other forms of attack on the Internet continues. While we’ve looked at some small tricks that help in the current round, we can be sure that it’s good only for the short term. The main point is to stay vigilant, monitor the threats of the day, and implement the appropriate security responses. While time and resources for library systems always seem to be stretched too thin, we can’t afford to neglect important security issues.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Technology for the next generation (full text Full text available)
November / December 2006
It’s important for libraries to understand how persons from the millennial generation deal with information if we are to succeed in delivering our services to them. To appeal to millennials, library interfaces need to have: more intuitive library interfaces, relevancy ranking, improved search models, more digital content, and better coherency. Millennials have less of a tolerance for slow, nonintuitive, and unattractive Web sites and will quickly turn to other sources if the library’s doesn’t meet their expectations.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Knitting systems together (full text Full text available)
October 2006
While the specifics vary from one library to another, these systems and their associated databases serve as an example of the intricacy of managing and providing access to complex collections with both physical and digital components. In contrast to the earlier, more monolithic approach, the various applications in the modern library environment operate in a loosely coupled, often nonintegrated way. The functionality involved in managing electronic resources has been addressed by the development of separate products rather than as evolutionary extensions to the existing ILS architecture. The library’s environment must be seamless and simple for patrons to navigate. When implementing the multiple components necessary for managing and delivering both print and electronic content, it is important to avoid redundant work and counterproductive work flows. The modern environment of complex collections and the multiple products to manage and provide access to those collections place the librarian in the role of systems integrator. We have to select, configure, and administer a number of applications to create an environment that meets user expectations.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
High-Tech, low power: how to reduce computer-related energy costs (full text Full text available)
September 2006
Breeding offer suggestions on ways to reduce the amount of energy consumed by library computers. Reducing energy consumption not only makes sense from the environmental perspective, but it’s increasingly a major budget concern. In order to save power, PCs need to be off when not in active use. That’s no longer in question. This practice reduces energy consumption, saves money, and extends computer and monitor life. While the benefit for a single PC may be small, the aggregate effect among all the computers in an organization can yield measurable, even significant, savings.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Comprehensive cost planning yields successful tech projects (full text Full text available)
June 2006
It is important to consider all the cost components of a technology project. At least some of the costs may be hidden, and it’s easy to overlook them. Trying to anticipate all the cost implications of a technology-related project is common sense. The total cost of ownership model can be applied to library technology projects. TCO just reminds us to think broadly and long-term. You don’t have to be an economist to incorporate this broader view into the budget projections of a library technology project proposal.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Web 2.0? Let's get to Web 1.0 first (full text Full text available)
May 2006
It seems that everyone is talking about Web 2.0. This new vision of the Web enables greater interactivity, more user control of information, radical personalization, the development of online communities, and more democratic management of information. Supporting technologies include blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, tagging, XML, and Web services. Today, there’s an uneven deployment of Web technologies in libraries. On the one hand, I see many well-designed Web sites that deliver library services to users. Lots of these sites already embrace many aspects of Web 2.0.1 also see a large number of libraries that either have no Web site at all or that try to get by with a site that’s underdeveloped and not able to meet the expectations of the current generation of Web users.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
How we funneled searchers from Google to our collections by catering to Web crawlers (full text Full text available)
April 2006
To reach more potential users, we needed to expose the content of our database to the open Web and allow Google and other crawlers to harvest and index it. The goal was to seed as much information into Google as possible and to design a path that would lead users through the front door of our Web site. To achieve this, The Vanderbilt Television News Archive implemented an automated system to facilitate the harvesting and indexing of its metadata in a controlled way in order to increase the number of visitors to its Web site funnelled through Google and the other search engines.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Musings on the state of the ILS in 2006 (full text Full text available)
March 2006
While librarians may quibble about how any given piece of functionality works, one cannot deny the extensive capabilities of the major ILS products, especially for the treatment of traditional library materials. [Editor’s Note: see the Nov./Dec. 2005 issue of CIL for our Helping You Buy installment on ERM.] These systems provide a specialized application for managing electronic subscriptions, which involve a number of additional complexities not applicable to print content. Marshall Breeding is the library technology officer at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and a consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of library automation.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Addicted to Data (full text Full text available)
February 2006
All of these, including a directory of the companies that produce library automation software, a bibliographic database of literature of the field, and a full-text archive of news releases and announcements from all the automation companies, are related to library automation in some way. lib-web-cats functions as a standalone directory of libraries, but its primary purpose is to help me track the automation systems used in libraries throughout the world. The NCES listings come with basic information, such as the library’s name, organization, and address, but they lack the info I track in lib-web-cats, such as the URLs of the libraries’ Web sites and online catalogs and various details regarding their library automation environments.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Designing Web sites for distributed content (full text Full text available)
January 2006
Library Technology Guides, a Web site that I created and maintain to provide access to information related to library automation, and Abzu, a guide to information on the Web related to the study of the ancient Near East, offer quite different types of information, but they share a similar technology platform-a content management system that I have been developing over the course of the last 6 or 7 years. From the perspective of layered technical components, the search options specified in the link are passed to the Web server through the standard CGI (common gateway interface) as name/ value pairs, which are parsed by a Perl script and translated into a database query statement expressed in SQL.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Unconventional and innovative: the Open Croquet Project (full text Full text available)
November/December 2005
Although computer technology appears to advance quickly, it seems that most of the progress lies in speeding up or adding features to existing hardware or software components. Here, Breeding describes the unconventional and innovative Open Croquet Project.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Analyzing Web server logs to improve a site's usage (full text Full text available)
October 2005
With his involvement as systems librarian with Vanderbilt University’s Television News Archive, Breeding says that the effectiveness of the TV News Archive’s Web site can ultimately be measured in the number of successful searches that are performed and the quantity of videotape requests that are placed. He discusses the methods of analysis available to study the usage of the site, which are necessary to identify any problems and to make improvements to its use and visibility.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The new landscape of the automation business (full text Full text available)
September 2005
The Big news that broke just before this year’s ALA Annual Conference, which was held June 25-28 in Chicago, was the acquisition of Dynix by rival Sirsi. The combined company, Sirsi-Dynix, is by far the largest in the library automation industry. Here, Breeding discusses the new landscape of the automation business.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Building trust through secure Web sites (full text Full text available)
June 2005
Electronic commerce transactions that require the exchange of money and/or sensitive information require a very high level of trust between the consumer and the company that is offering its services on the Web. Here, Breeding discusses some basic components that one can employ to strengthen one’s sites security to help one earns one’s patrons’ trust.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Looking toward the future of library technology (full text Full text available)
May 2005
Breeding makes some forecasts about what might play out in the next few years as he observes the current state of the art in library automation. One could argue that library automation cannot and should not exist as an independent endeavor. Rather, it needs to be tightly integrated with the other business systems of an organization.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Reflecting on 20 Years of Library Technology (full text Full text available)
April 2005
Breeding relates that his career in the Vanderbilt University Libraries that span 20 years has taught him a few successful strategies. Here, he shares a few lessons that he learned including seeing the big picture by maintaining a broad awareness of the key trends and the latest hardware and software developments.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Implementing wireless networks without compromising security (full text Full text available)
Mar 2005
Breeding examines the details underlying each of the basic networking concepts and understanding the security issues involved with wireless networks (Wi-Fi). Among other things, Wi-Fi offers great benefits to which library users increasingly have the interest and the means to take advantage of this technology.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Plotting a new course for metasearch (full text Full text available)
Feb 2005
Breeding discusses the limitations of distributed search and the advantages of centralized search, which are the competing approaches of metasearch. He also weighs on what approach should library-oriented metasearch products rely on.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Re-Integrating the integrated library system (full text Full text available)
Jan 2005
Breeding discusses the integration and cohesiveness of the automation environment that enable librarians to deal with the better and new world of Web-based electronic content. Among others, he also stresses the historical roots of the integrated library system.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Now that it's all digital, where do I put it? exploring data storage technologies (full text Full text available)
Nov/Dec 2004
Breeding explores data storage technologies. Among other things, optical storage solutions include optical discs that have taken over as the preferred media for portable storage.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Wireless networks connect libraries to a mobile society (full text Full text available)
October 2004
Today, mobile wireless computing seems to be expanding quickly beyond the domain of the professional business class; it’s being adopted by computer users of all kinds, from geeks to grandmothers. In an era where the entire service industry seems to be Web-based, it’s becoming increasingly inconvenient to be disconnected.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Custom applications that power the Vanderbilt Television News Archive (full text Full text available)
Sept 2004
Building a customized application lies in selecting the right technical components for the project and using a modular programming technique. Here, Breeding relates how he has performed his responsibility in Vanderbilt Television News Archive and shares some tips in building customized applications in news archiving.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Platform evolution: from dumb terminals to PCs to the Web and beyond (full text Full text available)
Jun 2004
The advancements in computing power and communications speed are impressive, it is even more amazing to consider the enormous expansion of information that libraries make available to their users relative to earlier times. Here, Breeding shares that twenty years ago, libraries struggle to provide a basic online catalog to their users, but now the key automation issues revolve around dealing with information overload and providing users with tools to effectively search a vast array of information.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The trend toward outsourcing the ILS: recognizing the benefits of shared systems (full text Full text available)
May 2004
Breeding talks about the lib-web-cats directory, which does not only offer the general public an easy way to find libraries on the Web, but also provides trend data for studying library automation. The database tracks each library’s current automation system, any previous ones, and the years in which these systems were implemented. It also records whether the library implements its own automation system, gains access through a consortium, or relies on its automation vendor to host its system.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Protecting personal information (full text Full text available)
April 2004
Libraries are confronting new challenges and privacy concerns regarding protecting the privacy of users and staff. Breeding shares his personal perspectives on the need for librarians and other library personnel to simultaneously preserve patron privacy, protect networks against security threats, and defend users from spam, scams, and identity theft. He says that it takes a proactive effort to ensure that the technical operation of various systems within the library’s environment is consistent with the library’s policies and expectations regarding patron privacy.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The challenge of integration (full text Full text available)
March 2004
Breeding comments that using the Web should be easy and libraries should offer simple information-retrieval interface so that users will not transfer elsewhere. He also adds that providing consistency among the basic pages of the libraries Web site and the pages generated by each library application will create a unified Web Presence for the library.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Essential elements of a library Web site (full text Full text available)
February 2004
In today’s world, a library’s presence on the Web ranks only slightly behind its building in shaping its user’s impressions. Library Web sites do an impressive job of representing the library in a positive and effective way. Breeding offers some of his observations and tips on issues that strike as essential elements of a library Web site.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The many facets of managing electronic resources (full text Full text available)
January 2004
As libraries build ever-larger collections of electronic resources, finding ways to manage them efficiently becomes a major challenge. Managing these electronic resources involves providing the library’s user with convenient ways to find and access them and providing staff with tools to keep track of them. Two fundamental aspects in managing electronic resources: back-end acquisition functions and front-end content delivery, are discussed.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Instant messaging: it's not just for kids anymore (full text Full text available)
November / December 2003
Breeding discusses the significance of instant messaging (IM) in communication today. By anyone’s definition, IM counts as "hip technology" and although it rides on technological components, IM is really about an interactive style of electronic conversations, replete with its own linguistic conventions.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
The right technology: no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech (full text Full text available)
October 2003
Breeding discusses the importance of considering the right technology as a solution to problems encountered by the systems librarian. He cites that technology is not always the answer to all problems, and that less is usually better and simplicity wins over complexity.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
ILS update from ALA/CLA 2003 (full text Full text available)
September 2003
The American Library Association Annual Conference usually provides the best opportunity to gather comprehensive information about the library automation industry. This year’s ALA/Canadian Library Association joint conference suffered from bad luck, with many potential attendees kept away because of concerns related to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Building a digital library of television news (full text Full text available)
June 2003
Breeding comments on his latest project, the creation of a large-scale digital collection of video content from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. He shares the different phases of his project and offers the various costs and challenges during the development.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Defending your ILS against security threats (full text Full text available)
May 2003
Breeding discusses how to defend a library’s integrated library system (ILS) against security threats. A list of top 10-server security tips designed to protect ILS is offered.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Ramblings on the current library automation scene (full text Full text available)
April 2003
Breeding discusses the corporate trends in the library automation industry, as well as the level of functionality available in the major automation systems. Library computer systems upgrades are opted to avail of the improved and user-friendly Web searching features. The standards of meta-searching capabilities of online topical searching have to be enhanced and a dynamic link using the OpenURL specification has to be developed.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Benchmarking technology: A theory of penultimacy (full text Full text available)
March 2003
Breeding discusses the theory of penultimacy, the principle of choosing "second to the last" technologies. Buying a notch down from the top computer equipments could provide best possible technology for libraries at the lowest cost, though, thorough study of available options is still important. The cycle of technology development is described.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
Protecting your library's data (full text Full text available)
February 2003
As long as Breeding has been managing technology in libraries, one of his main concerns has always been ensuring that libraries manage their data well. In his experience, the only effective way to manage library data involves using network servers.

Click to view article from Computers in Libraries Breeding, Marshall
What you can expect from The Systems Librarian (full text Full text available)
January 2003
Breeding discusses the job description and requirements of a systems librarian. A systems librarian may not always be a true librarian, they can also be network managers or automation specialists.

Breeding, Marshall
Know your users: monitoring the use of your website (full text Full text available)
December 2002

Breeding, Marshall
Using the lib-web-cats directory (full text Full text available)
November 2002
The lib-web-cats directory is mainly used by the general public to find libraries and their catalogs on the Web, but it also serves as a tool for tracking automation systems. The newly redesigned site (www.librarytechnology.org/libwebcats) is a completely voluntary, nonprofit endeavor, maintained to support the author’s interest in library automation and to provide a service to those who find it useful. As an academic discipline, library automation has few devotees lately. It is more of a practical interest that comes to the fore when one gets involved in selecting a new system. That is when a tool like lib-web-cats is especially helpful.

Breeding, Marshall
An update on Open Source ILS (full text Full text available)
October 2002

Breeding, Marshall
The never-ending battle against spam (full text Full text available)
October 2002
The spam problem threatens the overall usefulness of e-mail. When one has to spend large amounts of time browsing through hundreds of worthless, unwanted, and even offensive messages just to find the few that are important, the efficiency of e-mail is significantly compromised. Some tips on how to avoid spam are presented, such as keeping e-mail addresses away from spammers’ sight and offer only the essential information when conducting online transactions.

Breeding, Marshall
The challenges of converting to digital video (full text Full text available)
July / August 2002

Breeding, Marshall
The benefits of library partnerships (full text Full text available)
June 2002

Breeding, Marshall
Digital preservation: building digital collections that will outlast current technologies (full text Full text available)
May 2002

Breeding, Marshall
The Open Archives Initiative (full text Full text available)
April 2002
One of the most interesting recent developments in the digital library arena involves the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). Developed only within the last few years, many of the major players in digital libraries and scholarly communications have lent strong support to this new approach to information discovery, search, and retrieval. While still in the early phases of its deployment, we can see this initiative gaining significant momentum, and will likely be a key piece of the future digital library landscape.

Breeding, Marshall
The Benefits of Wireless Technologies (full text Full text available)
March 2002
Marshall Breeding presents an overview of wireless applications and discusses some of their library-specific uses

Breeding, Marshall
Expanding the systems librarian's toolkit (full text Full text available)
January 2002
Marshall Breeding gives a backgrounder on Perl and suggests that librarians who are interested in developing their technical skills might want to learn this language to gain programming experience.

Breeding, Marshall
Demise of the WINGS ILL System (full text Full text available)
December 2001
Marshall Breeding discusses this interlibrary loan solution, created by Pigasus Software, Inc., and its subsequent sale to Auto-Graphics

Breeding, Marshall
Update on technology trends and events (full text Full text available)
November 2001
Marshall Breeding provides some new information about several library industry topics and issues he has recently covered.

Breeding, Marshall
OCLC announces the demise of SiteSearch (full text Full text available)
July/August 2001
Marshall Breeding discusses OCLC’s impending discontinuation of the SiteSearch suite of products and speculates on the implications for its users

Breeding, Marshall
Offering remote access to restricted resources (full text Full text available)
May 2001
Authentication, authorization, and proxy are the keys to success.

Breeding, Marshall
Perking up library applications (full text Full text available)
December 2000
Marshall Breeding gives a crash course on Java and explains what it is, what it does, and how it works in the library environment.

Breeding, Marshall
Need information about libraries? (full text Full text available)
July / August 2000
Marshall Breeding describes how he created lib-web-cats, a database of libraries, for his university’s library system.

Breeding, Marshall
The battle for bandwidth (full text Full text available)
May 2000
THE SYSTEMS LIBRARIAN column discusses the lack of adequate bandwidth to support library applications, and some recent developments that exacerbate the problem. Says that there is a need for libraries to have sufficient Internet bandwidth to support the information services they provide to their users. Notes that most libraries have become increasingly dependent on the Internet, and it is strategically important to provide sufficient bandwidth for these services. Describes bandwidth-hungry applications, including those that distribute MP3 files. Relates that networks have used filters to block them, and users have become more aggressive in defying these efforts. Advises libraries to plan their acquisitions of Internet-based resources in coordination with proportional increases in bandwidth, and to be prepared to lobby for increased bandwidth to support the library’s operation.

Breeding, Marshall
Helping us keep track of it all (full text Full text available)
March 2000
See how Web-enabled databases can make for smarter work~THE SYSTEMS LIBRARIAN column focuses on a project that might be of practical use to a systems librarian or to someone managing a systems office. Says that author chose this project to write about because it involves exciting technology - Web-enabled databases - and practical experience the author has gained by providing support for the Vanderbilt University libraries. Explains how the library technology team developed a Web-based problem-tracking system (PTS) and the features needed to make it effective. Notes that the technical portion of PTS consists of a database that holds information about each task, Web forms for retrieving information, Perl scripts that process the requests, and a piece of middleware that allows information in the database to be presented on the Web. Says that the project is just one example that demonstrates how useful Web-enabled databases can be.

Breeding, Marshall
epixtech: a new beginning for ALS (full text Full text available)
January 2000
Ameritech Library Services (ALS) has been sold. It has undergone a major transition from being a subsidiary of Ameritech—a large telecommunications corporation—to that of a privately owned company. On November 5, Ameritech announced the sale of its ALS division to a pair of investment companies, the 21st Century Group, LLC, and Green Leaf Ridge Co., LLC.