Library Technology Guides

Blog content

Profile


Photo of Marshall Breeding author of

Name: Marshall Breeding

Title: Publisher

Organization: Library Technology Guides


GuidePosts

Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

subscribe to GuidePosts via RSS


Integrating with your ILS through Web services and APIs

GuidePost Picture

I am in the process of writing an issue of Library Technology Reports for ALA TechSource titled ďHype or reality: Opening up library systems through Web Services and SOA.Ē Today almost all ILS products make claims regarding offering more openness through APIs, Web services, and through a service-oriented architecture (SOA). This report aims to look beyond the marketing claims and identify specific types of tasks that can be accomplished beyond the delivered interfaces through programmatic access to the system internals.

As part of the research for this article I am soliciting feedback from libraries that taken advantage of Web Services or other APIís in conjunction with their core Integrated Library System (ILS) to meet specific needs. Iím interested in hearing about how you might have been able to integrate library content and services into applications, extracted data, automated processes or other novel applications.

Please tell me about your experiences with your ILS in regard to the APIs it offers:

  • Do you feel like you can pretty much do anything you want with the system, or do you feel constrained?
  • Are the APIs offered able to address all the data and functionality within the ILS?
  • On the flip side, do you feel like your ILS is too closed?
  • Do you find the APIs offered by the developer of the ILS to be well documented?
  • What programming languages or other tools were you able to use to take advantage of these APIs?
  • What level of programming proficiency is required: Systems librarian with scripting languages, software development engineer, or something in between?
  • Whatís on your wish list? What kind of APIs would you like to see incorporated into your current or next ILS?
  • Iím interested in responses from those that use open source ILS products as well. Are you able to programmatically interact with the ILS?
  • Do you consider your ILS as embracing a true Service-oriented architecture? Systems vendors increasingly promote their ILS as SOA. Can you provide examples where the ILS does or does not exhibit traits of SOA in your environment.

While itís important for the ILS to offer support for standard protocols such as Z39.50, NCIP, and OAI, thatís not the core of the issue here. What Iím looking for are APIís that allow the library to get at data and functionality not addressed by these protocols.

Summary excerpt:

Libraries increasingly need to extract data, connect with external systems, and implement functionality not included with the delivered systems. Rather than being reliant on the products developers for enhancements to meet these needs, libraries increasingly demand the ability to exploit their systems using APIs, Web Services, or other technologies. Especially in libraries that exist in complex environments where many different systems need to interact, the demand for openness abounds. As libraries develop their IT infrastructure, itís imperative to understand the extent to which their automation products are able to interoperate and thrive in this growing realm of Web services. This report aims to assess the current slate of major library automation systems in regard to providing openness through APIís, Web Services, and the adoption of SOA.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences in ILS APIís with me for this report.

Aug 14, 2009 07:38:52


Hello Marshall,

SUNY Geneseo took a slightly different track with APIs that may interest you, we decided that within the request interface and system of ILLiad, to adapt its request workflow flexibility to include various APIs to transform both ILL and acquisition request services. We see the request venue as a fantastic place to resolve some of the complexity in information supply. GIST Details: http://idsproject.org/Tools/GIST.aspx

Do you feel like you can pretty much do anything you want with the system, or do you feel constrained?

With ILLiad, almost anything is possible, albeit we want to add and assign new fields that can trigger new business rules. That said, ILLiad is extremely flexible and we don't feel terribly constrained. Rather, the various APIs with there terms of use, speed, and their periodic changes, make relying on APIs more vulnerable than desired.

Are the APIs offered able to address all the data and functionality within the ILS?

On the flip side, do you feel like your ILS is too closed?

Mostly because the user gets their customizable view of the API data, while the staff client view is also customizable around the fields we repurposed, and many functions created, adapted, etc. We are actively interested in getting more book jobbers to provide APIs, but also more free web content services (We are very pleased with Index Data for their Zoom search across Gutenberg, Internet Archive, OCA, etc.)

Do you find the APIs offered by the developer of the ILS to be well documented? In this case, since we created GIST ver. 1 as a customizable enhancement of ILLiad, we released our own: http://toolkit.idsproject.org/doku.php?id=wiki:gist

What programming languages or other tools were you able to use to take advantage of these APIs?

Mainly .NET (so that ILLiad hosted by OCLC could use GIST) and JAVA

What level of programming proficiency is required: Systems librarian with scripting languages, software development engineer, or something in between?

Expert to create GIST, but now that the configuration file is packaged neatly and downloads well, very little for a library to download, adapt, etc. Essentially, anyone who can edit an ILLiad web page.

Whatís on your wish list? What kind of APIs would you like to see incorporated into your current or next ILS?

Big wish is that ILS and request management systems focus their next design effort around the end-user and service array like customer relations management systems do. Add to that; if travel and hotel web services can resolve the best price, why can't we do the same for various information suppliers; borrowing, free, rent, etc. Ok, but what you are probably most practically asking are for the next steps with APIs though...

Purchasing APIs (like EDI) so we can easily purchase from vendors such as Amazon, publisher pay per view and content rental sites, etc.

User tool APIs, so users basically can have their tools; mobile phones, Kindle, etc. engage our systems services. Thanks for asking - best wishes, Cyril

Cyril Oberlander Aug 20, 2009 22:08:36

Login or register to leave a comment.



Archive

Oct 2014 (2 posts)
Aug 2014 (1 post)
Jul 2014 (3 posts)
Jun 2014 (1 post)
Apr 2014 (1 post)
Mar 2014 (1 post)
Feb 2014 (1 post)
Dec 2013 (1 post)
Nov 2013 (3 posts)
Aug 2013 (2 posts)
Jun 2013 (1 post)
Apr 2013 (1 post)
Jan 2013 (2 posts)
Dec 2012 (1 post)
Nov 2012 (1 post)
Oct 2012 (1 post)
Sep 2012 (1 post)
Aug 2012 (1 post)
Jun 2012 (2 posts)
May 2012 (3 posts)
Mar 2012 (1 post)
Feb 2012 (1 post)
Jan 2012 (2 posts)
Dec 2011 (3 posts)
Nov 2011 (3 posts)
Oct 2011 (1 post)
Aug 2011 (1 post)
Jul 2011 (1 post)
May 2011 (1 post)
Apr 2011 (1 post)
Mar 2011 (3 posts)
Jan 2011 (1 post)
Dec 2010 (2 posts)
Nov 2010 (2 posts)
Sep 2010 (1 post)
Aug 2010 (2 posts)
Jul 2010 (1 post)
Jun 2010 (2 posts)
May 2010 (1 post)
Mar 2010 (2 posts)
Feb 2010 (1 post)
Jan 2010 (3 posts)
Dec 2009 (2 posts)
Nov 2009 (2 posts)
Oct 2009 (3 posts)
Sep 2009 (2 posts)
Aug 2009 (1 post)
Jul 2009 (1 post)
Jun 2009 (1 post)
May 2009 (1 post)
Apr 2009 (2 posts)
Mar 2009 (1 post)
Feb 2009 (1 post)
Jan 2009 (2 posts)
Dec 2008 (1 post)
Oct 2008 (2 posts)
Sep 2008 (2 posts)
Aug 2008 (5 posts)
Jul 2008 (1 post)
Jun 2008 (4 posts)
May 2008 (2 posts)
Apr 2008 (3 posts)
Mar 2008 (2 posts)
Feb 2008 (2 posts)
Jan 2008 (2 posts)
Dec 2007 (2 posts)
Nov 2007 (3 posts)
Oct 2007 (3 posts)
Sep 2007 (1 post)
Aug 2007 (3 posts)
Jul 2007 (1 post)