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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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Beyond the current generation of next-generation library interfaces: deeper search

My Systems Librarian column for the May 2008 issue of Computers in Libraries discusses the impact of the availability of the full text of books through mass digitization projects on library search tools. The ability to perform deep searching based on the full text of books has become common place on commercial Web destinations such as and Google Book Search. As new generations of library interfaces evolve, I think that it's important for them to incorporate this style of deep search.

Computers in Libraries April2008
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 interestóalmost 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, itís time to press onward toward even more effective and powerful search tools. In this monthís column Iím especially interested in exploring the expansion of metadata-based search into deep search based on the full content of digitized materials. continue reading...

(The full text of my Systems Librarian columns are available on Library Technology Guides 90 days following thier original publication in Computers in Libraries magazine.)

Aug 3, 2008 14:13:29
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Civica Transitions to Private Equity

For the June 2008 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter I contributed a story that describes the acquisition of Civica, a UK-based company that offers the Spydus library automation, by a private equity firm named 3i Group. Prior to this transaction Civica traded on the AIM stock exchange in London. This transition serves as yet another example of the trend toward private equity involvement in the library automation industry.

Although not well known in the United States as a library automation company, Civica ranks globally as one of the largest companies that provide software to libraries. Although based in the United Kingdom, Civica currently has its largest base of library customers in Australia. It has a growing presence among UK libraries, however, with only a small handful of library clients in the United States. Civicaís Spydus automation system has been adopted by libraries in many regions of the globe. The company and its antecedents have been involved in library automation for almost 30 years. continue reading...

(The full text of my contributions to Smart Libraries Newsletter are available on Library Technology Guides 90 days following their original publication.)

Aug 3, 2008 14:29:59
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Calling all LIS students and faculty

As I monitor the use of Library Technology Guides, I observe that this Web site finds use in many library automation courses offered in graduate school of library and information science. I see many in-bound links coming from course pages and I get many inquires from graduate students on a variety of issues related to library automation. Iím always delighted to receive these requests and I try to respond to the best of my ability and time constraints.

It would be great, however, if those that make use of the resources in Library Technology Guides could provide some assistance in its maintenance. One of the most time-consuming aspects of the site, for example, involves maintaining the lib-web-cats database. Iím working to make it a much more comprehensive resource of libraries throughout the world and the automation systems they use.

If you find Library Technology Guides to be a worthy resource as a LIS student or faculty member, please consider lending a hand in the expansion of lib-web-cats or any other aspect of the site.

Possible contributions might include:

  • Class projects focused on adding libraries and automation data from a particular geographic region not already well represented. The database currently covers the English-speaking world better than others. (See: Site Statistics)
  • Those with skills in other languages are especially encouraged to submit data on libraries in their areas of interest and expertise.
  • Systematic review of the libraries using any given automation system, helping to identify all the libraries that use it currently or have used it it the past.
  • Systematic reviews of the entries of selected states and countries to fill in any missing data, especially for those where the automation system used continues to be undetermined.
  • Gathering detailed information on the history of companies involved in library automation.
  • General assessment of the Web site and recommendations for improvements.
  • I would also be happy to support any student interested in a more in-depth assignment involving Library Technology Guides or other research projects in library automation as an intern or practicum assignment.

Please contact me if you would like further information on ways that you can contribute to Library Technology Guides. I really appreciate your assistance.

Whether or not you are able to contribute, I encourage you to drop me a note if your class makes use of Library Technology Guides. As I seek ways to sustain the site, it would be very useful for me to be able to document the way library schools make use of its resources.

Aug 3, 2008 19:14:16
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Major headlines in the library automation industry

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This week saw the dissolution of Care Affiliates, with its founder Carl Grant returning to Ex Libris to once again head its North American operations. LibLime will assume selected assets of the company. Grant, through the founding of Care Affiliates, became established as a strong advocate of open source software for library automation. Ex Libris takes a somewhat different approach offering traditionally licensed software, but with a strong corporate strategy for library access to data and functionality through its "Open Platform Program." Robert Mercer, president of Ex Libris North America since May 2007 exits the company.

Ex Libris also gains new ownership with Leeds Equity acquiring the company from Francisco Partners. This shift from one private equity firm to another should not result in immediate changes in the operation of the company. The existing management and business strategies will continue.

Over at SirsiDynix, we note that the company announced the appointment of Stephen C. Erickson as its new Chief Financial Officer on July 16, 2008. By July 29th, company officials confirmed that Erickson had left the company for personal reasons. Erickson replaced Douglas R. Maughan appointed as CFO in June 2007.

In the special library world, one of the pioneering companies, Cuadra Associates was acquired by SydneyPLUS, another veteran company.

VTLS announced the implementation of a customized version at Queens Borough Public Libraries, known for having the largest volume of circulation of any library in the United States. This implementation was held under wraps until its completion. This news comes at the same time that Oxford University Libraries announced that they have abandoned their effort to implement Virtua for their 100 campus libraries announced in Oct 2005. NYU also selected Virtua in June 2004 and did not put it into production, instead selecting Ex Libris in Dec 2007. Virtua continues to prosper in the international library automation arena.

Aug 5, 2008 11:48:32
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Open Library Environment (OLE) launched

A new $475,700 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support an initiative to design a next-generation automation environment for libraries, not built on the legacy of current software products, but thought anew given the realities we currently face. The types of content managed by libraries and the workflows involved to support library operations have changed radically since the mold that underlies current automation systems was cast decades ago.

OLE Press Release

The OLE project goes forward under the leadership of Duke University with Lynne OíBrien, the Director of Academic Technology and Instructional Services, as the principal investigator. Other Core Partners participating in the project include University of Kansas, Lehigh University, University of Pennsylvania, and National Library of Australia, Library and Archives Canada. I am working with OLE as part of this leadership group. The project also includes a group that participates at an advisory level, including the Orbis Cascade Alliance, the University of Chicago, the University of Florida, Columbia University, Whittier College, and the University of Maryland.

The project involves a careful analysis of business process workflows leading to the development of a set of requirements for an automation environment, based on the service oriented architecture, for modern libraries. Participants come from a variety of library types, including those from large public and private universities, smaller private colleges, consortia, as well as national libraries. In addition to the institutions involved directly, the project will actively seek input and participation from the broader library community through regional meetings, virtual Web casts, and open discussion groups. The group will solicit discussion, reactions, and comments to the documents and concepts that emerge through its efforts.

Though the current project focuses on the development of a conceptual framework and functional requirements, it works towards the opportunity for a follow-on effort to build a system with involvement and support from a community of interested organizations and individuals.

The OLE project provides additional information about its activities at

Aug 16, 2008 17:10:27
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Name: Marshall Breeding

Title: Publisher

Organization: Library Technology Guides


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