Following an active period in which major news in the ILS domain erupted almost every month—a wave of consolidations and buy outs rolled through the vendor library-automation industry in 2006—this year began with a period of relative quiet. The companies involved in these business transitions seem to be busy with sorting out their new organizations.
Given at least a brief respite in major events to report, this month in The ILS Scoop I will focus on reporting smaller developments and progress on ongoing initiatives.
In response to end-user expectations for easier-to-use search interfaces as well as to the overall widespread dissatisfaction with the previous generation of online catalogs, those in the library field are witnessing a flurry of vendor activity toward the development of new frontend interfaces. These new interfaces aim not only to be better online catalogs, but to also more fully encompass all aspects of the content that libraries offer to users. Speaking broadly, these new interfaces aim to bring together the online catalog, subscribed resources, and/or locally created content, using search technologies and interface techniques that have been well established in Web-based services outside the library domain. Today, Web-savvy users expect relevancy ranking of results, faceted navigation to drill down through result sets, comprehensive search domains, and a visually rich environment.
In 2006, Endeca's ProFind and Guided Navigation products attracted a great deal of interest. The launch of a new catalog based on Endeca technology at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries in January 2006 was followed by implementations at the Phoenix Public Library, and others are underway as well. In October 2006, those at McMaster University Library in Canada announced intentions to implement an Endeca-based catalog. The Endeca approach so far has found an audience among libraries with significant technical expertise and relatively deep pockets.
TLC and AquaBrowser Library
AquaBrowser Library has gained an even broader following among U.S. public libraries, ranging from Queens Borough Public Library (one of the largest and busiest public libraries in the country), to dozens of small and mid-sized public libraries.
The Library Corporation (TLC) holds an exclusive contract to license the AquaBrowser Library product in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Philippines from its developer, Netherlands-based Medialab Solutions. To date, TLC has sold AquaBrowser Library to more than120 libraries; in 2006 alone it garnered 71 sales. Recognizing TLC's successful marketing, Medialab Solutions renewed its contract (which commenced in January 2006) for another three years.
The Library Corporation also markets the Endeca technology through an agreement established in June 2004. Libraries can acquire the Endeca technology either directly from Endeca or through TLC. Although NCSU obtained the technology from Endeca, Phoenix Public went through TLC.
Two library-automation companies have efforts underway to develop even more ambitious library interfaces. In other articles I've written for SLN, I've covered the announcements of Encore (developed by Innovative Interfaces, see SLN July 2006) and Primo (from Ex Libris, see SLN March 2006), in which I described the architecture and features of each. There has been a flurry of activity on both of these product-development fronts to engage libraries as development partners and to ready the products for general release. Encore and Primo are expected to be delivered for production use in 2007.
Following the May 2006 Encore announcement—which positioned it as a “unified search and access tool” —Innovative Interfaces, by October 2006, had enlisted an initial cadre of libraries to partner in its development. These libraries included: Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system that uses ALEPH from Ex Libris as its integrated library system (ILS); Deakin University in Australia; Deschutes Public Library in Oregon; Georgetown University; Michigan State University; Nashville Public Library in Tennessee; Scottsdale Public Library in Arizona; Springfield- Greene County Library in Missouri; the Tri-College Library Consortium in Pennsylvania (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore); University of Glasgow in Scotland; University of Queensland Library in Australia; Westerville Public Library in Ohio; and Yale University's Lillian Goldman Law Library.
In mid-December 2006, Innovative announced the University of Kentucky Libraries (which uses Voyager as its ILS) had joined the Encore development group. In January 2007, Jefferson County Public Library in Colorado, Miami University in Ohio, University of Western Ontario, and Wright State University in Ohio had also signed on as development sites. Previews of Encore were given to library staff at the Scottsdale Public Library in Arizona and the Yale Law Library in mid-December 2006. The Encore partner libraries now total eighteen (including twelve academic libraries and six public). Of these, sixteen libraries utilize Millennium as their ILS, one runs Voyager, and one runs ALEPH.
Ex Libris began its efforts toward developing components of Primo—its new “user-centric discovery and delivery” tool—with hbz (the University Library Center of North-Rhine Westphalia), a large consortium in Germany. In June 2006, the company announced two U.S. development partners, Vanderbilt University and the University of Minnesota. An additional partner comprised of several entities, the “Primo Charter Members Program,” was announced in January 2007. The Primo Charter Members Program includes Boston College; the College Center for Library Automation, a consortium of twenty-even community colleges in Florida; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Iowa State University; the University of Iowa; and the University of East Anglia.
In addition to partnering with hbz to advance Primo on the international front, Ex Libris has also partnered with a Danish consortium of research libraries that includes The Royal Library, The Technical Knowledge Centre of Denmark, Aalborg University, and the Danish Administrative Library.
SirsiDynix has been working to develop a number of interface and portal products. Although the company has been promoting its Rooms interface since about 2003, it has had limited sales results. In 2006, the company created a specialized version of the product tailored for school libraries. Called “School-Rooms,” this version of the product found a more enthusiastic response.
INFOhio, a cooperative network for schools in Ohio, was one of the earliest adopters of SchoolRooms. Among other activities, INFOhio provides a shared library-automation system used by 480 school districts representing more than 2,400 individual school libraries. Originally, INFOhio implemented a MultiLIS automation system from DRA in 1994; in 2003 migration began to Unicorn. Beginning in 2005, INFOhio partnered with SirsiDynix to create a specialized version of Rooms for schools, collaborating with the company to identify content in order to create and populate virtual rooms with appropriate content. By year-end 2006, SchoolRooms had been deployed to two of the school districts in INFOhio, a step on the way to deploying the product throughout the network.
The Boston Public Library selected SchoolRooms to provide a learning portal for K–12 students throughout the city. It will provide access to the K–12 students and teachers in each of its 27 branches and in homes and classrooms through the library's Web site. Philadelphia Safe and Sound, a child advocacy agency that operates 135 afterschool programs, selected SchoolRooms to deliver hand-selected appropriate content to the students it serves. SirsiDynix has launched a new Web site, www.schoolrooms.net, devoted to this product.