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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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Making a business case for Open Source ILS

For the March 2008 issue of Computers in Libraries my Systems Librarian column focused on the topic of "Making a Business Case for Open Source ILS." Iím concerned that many of libraries that have decided to move to open source library automation systems have done so mostly on philosophical grounds. They truly believe that open source software provides a better alternative than traditionally licensed software from the incumbent automation vendors. I donít want to argue that point, but I also see that for most libraries, the choice of their core automation infrastructure must be made through official procurement processes that include rigorous assessments of the features and functionality of the software, the long-term stability of the business providing the software, and on a competitive cost analysis. Open source software alternatives will find a broader audience in the library once it can succeed in an open procurement process. In this column I give some of my thoughts on this issue.

Computers in Libraries Mar 2008

The full text of this article is now availble on Library Technology Guides.

Itís not that libraries arenít moving to open source automation systems in fairly high numbers lately. The Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island recently became the first academic library to go live with Evergreen. Iíll be writing a more detailed article on this libraryís migration in for the July 2008 of Smart Libraries Newsletter. The SITKA consortium in British Columbia continues to bring new libraries on board, with the Terrance Public Library as the most recent of the fifteen planned to go live in 2008.

Jun 5, 2008 09:10:46
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The Library 2.0 Gang now on Library Technology Guides

Richard Wallis has been hosting a monthly conversation among individuals interested in current library technology issues. He calls this group of participants ďThe Library 2.0 Gang.Ē Richard records these sessions and makes them available as podcasts on a site hosted by Talis. In order to provide a wider audience for these podcasts, they will also appear on Library Technology Guides.

Library 2.0 Gang on Library Technology Guides

The original Library 2.0 Gang site provides the following description:

The Library 2.0 Gang is a regular monthly round-table podcast hosted by Richard Wallis, joined by several contributors drawn from a pool of regulars from the world of libraries and the technologies that influence them, to discuss the topics of the day. Each month The Gang will be joined by a guest relevant to one of the topics under discussion. The Library 2.0 Gang is produced by Talis and syndicated by Library Technology Guides.

Although Richard works for Talis, these conversations do not promote the products or services of that company, and the presence of these podcasts in no way implies an endorsement of Talis or its products by Library Technology Guides or Marshall Breeding. Some of the gang regulars work for other companies in the industry including OCLC, SirsiDynix, Innovative Interfaces, and Ex Libris. After participating in the last couple of Library 2.0 Gang sessions, I feel comfortable with the objectiveness of the forum. They have been lively conversations touching on topics that should be of interest to the readers of Library Technology Guides.

Jun 11, 2008 15:45:53
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Beyond Web 2.0: Taking the social read-write Web to the enterprise level

On Friday June 13, 2008, I gave a Webinar presentation as part of the SirsiDynix institute titled Beyond Web 2.0: Taking the social read-write Web to the enterprise level. With all the interest in Web 2.0 in libraries today, I think that its time to start thinking about what follows. It was a good chance for me to organize my thoughts a bit regarding the ongoing evolution of Web technologies as used in libraries. I don't presume that anyone should my view of this as authoritative, but hopefully as part of a conversation on how we can expand what we've learned from Web 2.0 and apply it to strategic library automation technologies as they move into their next generation.

Here is the abstract of the presentation:

Image for Beyond Web 2.0: Taking the social read-write Web to the enterprise level
Over the last few years, many libraries have eagerly embraced Web 2.0 technologies--blogs, wikis, and social engagement with patrons have become commonplace. This approach to the Web can no longer be considered new and cutting-edge. Change on the Web move along at a fast pace. It's time to consider what comes next. Breeding will give his view of how libraries can take Web 2.0 technologies to the next level and integrate them into their core automation infrastructure to better support their strategic missions. Today's Web 2.0 technologies have been implemented mostly through informal processes. As the Web 2.0-inspired technologies mature, they need to become more central to a library's strategic mission and become integrated into its fundamental infrastructure. Tune in for Marshall Breeding's view of life beyond Web 2.0.

I've written a couple of other essays related to this topic, including Web 2.0? Let's get to Web 1.0 first (Computers in Libraries May 2006) and We Need to Go Beyond Web 2.0 Computers in Libraries May 2007), both from my Systems Librarian columns.

The link to the SirisiDynix Webinar is here. The recording of the session will be available soon.

Jun 14, 2008 13:29:36
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LITA Top Technology Trends: it's all about openness

Iím delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the LITA Top Technology Trends panel at the ALA conference in Anaheim.

Here are some of the trends that I plan to mention:

The last year has been one of altered trajectories in the field of library automation. Several of the trends that have been steadily heading one direction have taken a new turn. This new course presents new opportunities and challenges for existing products and technologies. I believe, however, that itís beneficial to see some disruptions in the standard way of doing things to break us out of the molds of complacency.

LITA Top Technology Trends

The open source software movement has hit the library automation arena in a big wayóespecially among public libraries. As I monitor the announcements of system commitments for new library automation systems, the majority are going to open source systems such as Koha and Evergreen.

Not quite as much progress among the academic libraries. About 21 academic in the United States have announced commitments to implementing Koha. Only one academic library has gone into production with on Evergreen: the Richardson Library at University of Prince Edward Island implemented Evergreen following a dramatic four-week sprint from decision to switchover. The WALDO consortium has committed to Koha with a pilot library by fall and others to follow in the next year or so. A group of libraries in Canada plan an eventual migration to Evergreen, dubbed Project Conifer. .

The standard model of licensing library automation software from specialized development firms has seen some intrusion by a new clique of companies providing support services for open source software. LibLime has grown to be the largest company supporting open source software with Equinox Software also gaining customers at a quick clip. Index Data stands as the veteran company in developing open source software, serving essentially as the research and development partner for many other companies. Care Affiliates, with Carl Grant at the helm, is the new comer with plans to help libraries with federated search and institutional repositories.

Other aspects of openness prevail as well. Itís great to see movement toward open APIs (application programming interfaces) for library automation systems. The specific development worth noting involves the ILS Discovery Interface working group charged by the Digital Library Federation. This group has developed proposals for ways for library automation systems to interoperate with the new breed of discovery layer interfaces. The group developed a document that suggests specific bindings that might comprise such a protocol. The committee met with a group of potential implementers, including developers of both ILS and discovery-layer products. Some modest agreement emerged out of the meeting, now often termed the ďBerkeley Accord.Ē I mentioned this effort in an earlier blog post.

A multi-institutional effort, led by Duke University, plans to flesh out the ďOpen Library EnvironmentĒ working toward the requirements for a next generation of library automation based on modern digital and print workflows in libraries expressed anew in the service-oriented architecture. A longer term effort, but one looking toward an open source library automation environment shaped much differently than the current slate of open source and traditionally licensed products. The Duke project is seeking funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This new path toward openness canít help but benefit libraries. In a time where we have seen an uncomfortable level of narrowing of viable products through business consolidation, itís an inevitable reaction to see new options emerge. No one is complacent. Open source efforts are blustering forward. Traditional companies and products strive to compete in an environment that demands openness on many levels.

Jun 26, 2008 22:29:22
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Name: Marshall Breeding

Title: Publisher

Organization: Library Technology Guides


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