7 Open Source Library Software to Consider…07.22.09

22 07 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very useful post by Brett Bonfield on In the Library With a Lead Pipe titled W-E-B-S-I-T-E, Find Out What It Means To Me:

It’s interesting how many people don’t really understand the concept of open source. People often describe freeware as open source, or they’ll describe free web-based applications as open source, or applications with APIs that allow for mashups. There are articles all the time, on some of the most popular websites, that recommend free software but don’t distinguish programs the authors gives away for free from software that is actually open source.

For a program to be open source, it has to meet two basic qualifications

  1. The author has to provide full access to its source code
  2. The software has to be accompanied by a license that protects the contributions and rights of the community…

In my opinion, there are seven open source software projects worth considering

There’s some apples-and-oranges going on here, in that some of these packages are just components of a website and require other software in order to do everything a library website needs to do (such as inventory management). Other packages cover the entire process…”

OCLC’s Cloud Computing for Libraries – Ramifications…06.10.09

10 06 2009


OCLC seems to jump from one pan on the fire to the next this year. Let me point out below the Library 2.0 gang post Library System Suppliers View of OCLC Web-Scale about their most recent interesting podcast about another recent and potentially controversial announcement. It is worth a listen when you find the time.

“In last month’s show there was some speculation as to what reaction there would be from the organisations that supply ‘traditional’ library systems to the OCLC announcement of their web-scale, cloud computing, library system initiative.

In an attempt to answer that speculation I took the unusual step of bringing together a specific set of Library 2.0 Gang members from that community as against our usual open house of whoever is available.  The result was an interesting conversation between Ex Libris’ Carl Grant, Nicole Engard from LibLime, Talis’ Rob Styles and newcomer from Axiell, Boris Zetterlund…”

Library 2.0 Gang 06/09: Library System Suppliers view of OCLC Web-scale [00:50:35m]: Download

FREE Webcast “Consider the Source: The Integrated Library System Marketplace”…06.02.09

2 06 2009


Consider the Source: The Integrated Library System Marketplace

Sponsored by Polaris Library Systems. Starts June 16, 2009, Tuesday, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

When it comes to selecting an Integrated Library System (ILS), there are many factors to be considered with respect to both commercial and open source solutions. Customer support, third party integration, consortia concerns, underlying platform, and institutional stability are key parts of the equation. More than ever, libraries must consider the source of the software applications that keep all library resources accessible, manageable, and affordable, with the ILS at the center of its operations.


Ross McLachlan, Deputy Director, Technical Services, Phoenix Public Library (AZ) – McLachlan will discuss the library’s recent integrated library system conversion, and how Phoenix Public Library reached their selection decision. Phoenix Public Library is using application programming interfaces (API) to foster a Web 2.0 friendly environment for both its staff and patrons. In this environment, PPL is able to take advantage of open source applications and discovery level search tools such as Endeca which can enhance the library’s service and content management.

Jim Duncan, Director, Networking and Resource Sharing, Colorado State Library – Duncan will discuss the process being used by the state of Colorado in its investigation of the feasibility of a state-wide integrated library system. Categories of concern include support issues and funding sources. Concerns of existing consortia must also be considered. Proprietary/licensed and open source solutions are being reviewed, as is the success of several hybrid systems currently in operation.

Scott Reinhart, Assistant Director, Carroll County Public Library (MD) – Carroll County Public Library is currently in the process of reviewing both proprietary and open source integrated library system solutions. Reinhart will report on the findings, present an overview of ILS options for libraries today, and how to identify the right technology partners for your library.

Moderator: Josh Hadro, Technology Editor, Library Journal

The inaugural showing of Considering the Source: Integrating Library Systems, sponsored by Polaris Library Systems, is on Tuesday, June 16, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. If you can’t join us on June 16, register now and we’ll send you an email when the archive is ready to be viewed, at your convenience.

“Implementing a Next Gen OPAC”…05.17.09

17 05 2009
Implementing a Next Gen OPAC
  with Jeff Wisniewski  
Technology, Social Networking
Audio Conference
  Tuesday, May 19, 2009
1:00 pm ET
One Hour
  Member: $54.00
Non-Member: $74.00
Interested in wading into the next generation OPAC waters? From selection to implementation to federated search integration to evaluation, learn valuable information on the state of the market and get tips on everything from integrating cool free content to promoting your new system to ways to insure your implementation runs smoothly. Find out what you should know, what your vendors aren’t telling you, and get insights into all that is Next Gen OPAC.

The Benefits

  • Learn about the next generation OPAC marketplace
  • Get insight into how to select, implement, and promote a new system easily and effectively
  • Take away valuable tips on everything from how to compare products to enhancing your new catalog with free content

Who Should Participate
Any staff interested in this exploding area of library technology will benefit from this session. If your library is thinking about investigating this landscape or is in the process of selecting or implementing one of these tools then this program will be of particular use.

Key Topics You Will Explore

  • What current products can, and can’t, do
  • How to implement a next gen OPAC with a minimum of time and effort
  • How to promote and encourage buy-in from both staff and users
  • Ways to enhance your catalog data and to make your content mixable and movable

Jeff Wisniewski
Jeff Wisniewski received his MLS from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. He is the Web Services Librarian for the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, where he maintains the Library System’s public Web site, staff intranet, coordinates technical support for Pitt’s University-wide ETD program, and project manages new technology initiatives.

Developed for the Education Institute by Darlene Fichter’s Northern Lights Internet Solutions, Inc., in Saskatchewan

FREE Online Discussion April 21, 22- Open Source Integrated Library Systems…04.15.09

15 04 2009

Thanks to Rick Mason on Libology:

For those interested in Open Source Integrated Library Systems such as Koha, Evergreen, Open Library Environment Project (OLE), OpenBiblio, etc., the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) will be holding an e-forum on April 21st and 22nd. From the announcement:

Please join us for a free ALCTS e-forum discussion!   Participation is open to all.

April 21-22, 2009:  Open Source ILS and Technical Services:   High Risk or High Reward?

Moderated by Clint Chamberlain, University of Texas Libraries, and Rob Van Rennes, University of Iowa Libraries, members of the ALCTS CRS Acquisitions Committee.

Over the past few years, many librarians have expressed dissatisfaction with our current ILS, citing inflexible systems, high costs, and lackluster vendor service.  Some libraries have consequently pursued Open Source ILS such as OLE, Koha, and Evergreen.  Join this e-forum to share your experiences with and your questions about Open Source ILS and your thoughts on the future of the traditional, proprietary ILS.   We are particularly interested in hearing about experiences with the technical services aspects of Open Source ILS:  acquisitions, management of continuing resources, and cataloging.

Discussion will start Tuesday, April 21, 9AM EST and will conclude Wednesday, April 22, 5PM EST.

You can sign up at http://lists.ala.org/sympa/, go to the ALCTS section, then select alcts-eforum@ala.org…”

Library Catalog OPAC “Juice Project”…04.09.09

9 04 2009

defaultlogoThe Juice Project

Here is an excerpt of a post titled Juice Up Your OPAC bt Richard Wallis on the Panlibus blog today about adding “juice” to your library catalog’s OPAC which I find very interesting and potentially helpful:

“…The Juice Project is an open source initiative, which I launched at the recent Code4lib conference, with the specific objectives of making it easy to create extensions for web interfaces such as OPACs and then make it even easier to share those extensions in an open community of those who want to enhance their interfaces but do not have the skill or experience to do so.

Open and easy are two key facets of the approach used for this project.  JavaScript code gurus may find the way Juice is implemented a little over complex, but it is that approach which should make it simple for the non-gurus to adopt and use.

Duke_icons_screenshotThe design of the extension framework, which is Juice, separates the extension itself from the code that interfaces to a particular web application.  The result being that an extension created to be used on say a VuFind OPAC can be re used to extend a Talis, or a Horizon, or any other OPAC or indeed any other suitable interface.

Obviously if you are going to make changes to your interface, you need some ability to access and change the mark-up that creates the web pages.  Many libraries have staff that are capable and confident enough to make a simple change to an interface – adding a link to another site in the footer, changing a bit of text on the home page etc.  Juice is targeted at exactly those staff.  On the Juice Project site there are simple ‘How-to’ documents, that step you through how to add the couple of lines of code to introduce Juice in to your interface, and then how to copy & paste examples into your version of Juice to add shared extensions…

So, calling all those that want to add value to library and other web interfaces, take a look at and join the Juice Project.   It is early days and we haven’t as yet got many interface types identified and supportable in Juice, but the more that join in and share what they know the sooner we will be able to share the innovation between all libraries.”

Read the Latest Edition of The International Survey of Library Automation…04.05.09

5 04 2009


(Image:  ihome.ust.hk/…/diploma/libauto/libauto.html)

Here is Marshall Breedings 2009 summary of his latests “International Survey of Library Automation “…regarding the perceptions of libraries toward their automation systems, the organizations that provide support, and the quality of support they receive. It also aims to gauge interest in open source library automation systems”…


Most Positive Perceptions

Polaris emerged this year as the ILS product with the highest positive ratings in the categories of product and company satisfaction. Libraries using AGent VERSO from Auto-Graphics gave the highest rankings for customer support and loyalty to the company for future business. Library.Solution from The Library Corporation received highly positive marks from its customer libraries in all categories. Libraries using Polaris, AGent VERSO, and Library.Solution showed the least interest in open source ILS products. These three companies received extremely high satisfaction ratings from their libraries, with average scores separated by very thin margins.

Negative Perceptions

The survey results reveal high levels of dissatisfaction by libraries running legacy ILS products. Athena and Winnebago Spectrum, both systems acquired by Follett Software Company that will not receive ongoing development, received the lowest ILS satisfaction scores and indicated the least likelihood that they would purchase an ILS in the future from this company. Libraries using Dynix gave low marks regarding their satisfaction with the product (5.14) and for SirsiDynix as a company (4.81), but rated support more moderately (5.76). Horizon libraries gave SirsiDynix very low marks as a company (4.32) but registered moderate satisfaction for the product itself (5.68).

The number of negative comments provided on the survey forms overwhelmingly exceeded positive ones.

ILS Satisfaction

Polaris ranked as the product that received the highest score in response to the question probing satisfaction with the library’s Integrated Library System with a median rating of 7.73. Fifty-one libraries using Polaris responded to this question. Last year a total of 59 responders rated Polaris 7.78, reflecting remarkable consistency across the two years. AGent VERSO earned second highest marks in this category (7.26), with Library.Solution from The Library Corporation only a fraction lower (7.20). Millennium from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. also attracted highly positive ratings (7.09).

Company Satisfaction

Polaris Library Systems also won the highest score for company satisfaction (7.76) with Auto-Graphics (7.68) and The Library Corporation (7.33) only slightly less favored. Libraries using Millennium gave Innovative Interfaces solidly positive ratings (6.44), though a notch below the top three companies. Libraries using legacy products not surprisingly noted their vendors as least satisfactory, including those using Athena (3.92), Horizon (4.32), Winnebago Spectrum (4.52), and Dynix (4.81). The middle tier of company satisfaction included those using Koha supported by LibLime (5.84), Virtua from VTLS (5.79), Voyager (5.59) and ALEPH 500 (5.20) from Ex Libris, and Unicorn from SirsiDynix (5.05).

Satisfaction with Customer Support

Libraries using AGent VERSO rated Auto-Graphics as the company providing the most satisfactory support (7.81). Polaris (7.41) and The Library Corporation (7.07) also earned highly positive ratings for customer support, just below that of Auto-Graphics. Innovative received strong marks in this category (6.46), though again just a notch below the top tier. Users of Athena (3.63) and Winnebago Spectrum (4.57) gave Follett low ratings for support.

Company Loyalty

In response to the question probing the likelihood that the library would purchase future ILS products from their current vendor, Auto-Graphics received the highest marks for customer loyalty (7.64) only slightly edging above The Library Corporation (7.50) and Polaris Library Systems (7.33). Libraries using Millennium gave mixed results, but overall indicated strong loyalty to Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (6.54). Libraries using Athena (4.32), Winnebago Spectrum (3.95), and Horizon (4.37) seem on average not inclined to purchase their next system from their incumbent vendors.

Open Source Perceptions

It’s not surprising that the libraries already using an open source ILS registered the strongest interest in future consideration of an open source ILS, with Koha as supported by LibLime toping the list (8.05). Other than these open source true believers, libraries running proprietary systems submitted responses reflecting much lower interest, with even those most dissatisfied with their current product such as Winnebago Spectrum (4.95) indicated relatively weak interest. We also observe that libraries most satisfied with their current situation, including Polaris (2.29), AGent VERSO (2.63), Library.Solution (3.00) showed little interest in open source alternatives…”

“LibraryThing for Libraries”…03.25.09

25 03 2009


LibraryThing has been around for quite a while though I haven’t heard much about the “LibraryThing for Libraries” addition that can be added to your ILS OPAC so I thought I would include here some information about it from the source.

Here are some basics from the LibraryThing for Libraries FAQ page:

“…What’s the difference between LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries?

LibraryThing is the main site, meant for all people to come and share their books. Learn more about LibraryThing here.

LibraryThing for Libraries is a product, built by us at LibraryThing, for public, academic and special libraries with existing library systems (ILS/OPACs).

What does LibraryThing for Libraries do:

LTFL has two awesome OPAC-boosting products:

Catalog Enhancements package

This provides more valuable data for each book, and more points for searching. All of the search information – recommended titles, similar editions, tag search results – relate back to what can be found in your OPAC.

  • Book recommendations. High-quality “recommended” or “similar” books, like reader’s advisory that points to books available in your library.
  • Tag-based discovery. Tag clouds for books, and tag-based search and discovery, drawn from the 41 million tags added by LibraryThing members.
  • Other editions and translations. Provides links to bib pages of other editions and translations of a work that can be found an your library. (This works much like the FRBR model.)

Reviews Enhancement package

  • Patron reviews. Let your patrons rate and review right in your catalog.
  • Already full. Comes with over 200,000 high-quality reviews from LibraryThing.com.
  • Widgets. Patrons can show off reviews and their library with library-branded “blog widgets” and a Facebook application.

You can choose to moderate reviews, and create multiple moderator accounts for other staff…

How does LibraryThing for Libraries work with my OPAC?

LibraryThing for Libraries adds information to your catalog with a few lines of HTML. Installation is extremely easy to add to your OPAC/ILS. Read more in the technical FAQ.

Will LTFL work with my OPAC?

LTFL will work with every major OPAC/ILS, and most of the minor ones too. See the list of libraries using LTFL here...

Can I see a live example of LibraryThing for Libraries in an OPAC?

The Danbury library in Danbury CT has become the first library in the world to put LibraryThing for Libraries on its live catalog. Play with their catalog(complete with LibraryThing for Libraries’s other editions and translations, similar books, and tags and tag browser), and read our blog post.

Other libraries that have gone live with LibraryThing for Libraries:

The Bedford Public Library (catalog) in Bedford TX (blog post).

Waterford Institute of Technology (catalog) in Waterford in south east Ireland (blog post).

Deschutes Public Library (catalog) of Deschutes County in Oregon (blog post).

Is there a list of all libraries participating in the LibraryThing for Libraries?

Yes! Go check it out...”

Coming April 1, 2009 Library Automation Systems Marketplace Report…03.23.09

23 03 2009

Marshall Breeding posted the following on Library Technology Guides about the release of his latest automation report in Gathering library automation Data which is excerpted here:

“I’ve recently finished my eighth version of the ‘Automation Systems Marketplace which will appear in the April 1 issue of Library Journal. This article provides a great opportunity for me to get detailed data from the companies involved in the library automation industry regarding their activities over the last year. Each year companies respond to a survey where they are asked to respond to specific questions regarding the numbers of systems sold, the personnel employed, and the like. In general, the companies involved cooperate very nicely in responding with information that seems accurate and complete.

In addition to the self-reported information provided by the companies involved in the industry, I aim to gather data from other perspectives. The “Perceptions 2008: An international Survey of Library Automation” aims to gather information from the libraries’ perspective. While the data from this survey isn’t comprehensive, it has been helpful in identifying or confirming broad trends…”


Image: “…the history of mergers and acquisitions in the library automation industry”

Marshall Breeding

Jean and Alexander Heard LibraryVanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Copyright 2007

FREE Webinar – Libraries and Open Source Software…03.11.09

11 03 2009



From Karen at the Evergreen blog:

Understanding Open Source, Tues, March 17, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Join us for a Webinar on March 17 about open source software! Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


This webinar will answer the most commonly-asked questions about open source software, such as…

* What does “free” mean?
* Why are libraries using open source software?
* What kind of open source software is available for libraries?
* Do we have to maintain it ourselves? (Quick spoiler: no.)
* What are the characteristics of good open source software?
* What are some easy ways to learn more about open source software?

Bring your own questions, as well!

This webinar offers flexible access options. You can:

1. Use a computer headset with a microphone to both listen and speak

2. Phone in to a toll-based conference line, or

3. Listen in on computer speakers and text your thoughts in a chat window.

The session will open up 15 minutes early for people who want to practice their webinar skills or test their equipment.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements

(Note: we have had trouble finding affordable webinar software that supported Linux workstations — let alone a satisfactory product that was itself open source. If you have suggestions, we’re all ears.)

PC-based attendees:

Required: Windows 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh-based attendees:

Required: Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or newer

FREE Webinar Reminder-Next Generation Library Catalogs…03.02.09

2 03 2009


(Image: © 2008 SLS Library Technology Group)

Here is a reminder about an interesting FREE webinar over at OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) taken from their schedule page:

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and 7:00 p.m. GMT:

    ALA Connections Salon: The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding   Marshall Breeding has been studying, tracking, and writing about the online library catalog industry for years. Join us for an informal conversation about the promise, trends, and challenges of next generation library catalogs. 

    Host: American Library Association 

    Location: ALA OPAL 100 Room

FREE Webinar on OPAL – “The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding”…02.20.09

20 02 2009

This from an email notice today from OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries):

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and 7:00 p.m. GMT:

    ALA Connections Salon: The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding 

    Marshall Breeding has been studying, tracking, and writing about the online library catalog industry for years. Join us for an informal conversation about the promise, trends, and challenges of next generation library catalogs. 

    Host: American Library Association 

    Location: ALA OPAL 100 Room

“Extending the OPAC”…02.10.09

10 02 2009

Richard Wallis’ post on the Panlibus blog called Extending the OPAC  here is a subject of interest to me because of my limited technological expertise and the limitations of my organization’s current ILS OPAC. I will look forward to his future posts.

“Every library’s needs are different when it comes to what they want to display to users in their OPAC – beyond the basic bibliographic information that is.  Although I must admit that I’ve been a few mind numbing meetings over the years about the ‘most appropriate’ way to display a record on screen.

Scattered around the web you will find many examples of how OPACs have been extended to enable the user link in to other services such as Amazon, or AbeBoooks, or LibraryThing, or Google Scholar, or Yahoo images, or Google Book Search, or del.icio.us, or … [insert you favourite 3rd party service here].  For most developers in the library code community, adding these extensions to their OPAC is a comparatively simple exercise

I believe that in the wider world, most of the folks responsible for an individual library’s OPAC would not consider themselves as coders, and would at most only be comfortable copying and pasting small bits of html in to their interface.  So how do they get these features in to their systems.  It is unlikely that you would get much help from the system vendors, as it would be difficult for them to build a product roadmap around the ever changing multiplicity of extensions and combinations of thereof.  The coding community are good at sharing code with other coders, but not necessarily in a form that is either consistent between extensions or OPACs.

I’m working on a way that will hopefully make it easy for innovators to share what they are doing not only with others in their community, but most importantly with those less code-aware OPAC managers, who may even be using different systems. 


The screen shot above shows Google Book Search preview service embedded in a Talis Prism OPAC.  What is not obvious is the simple way that it was added.  I will be going more in to depth on this open source sharing approach to OPAC extension at Code4Lib 2009 at the end of the month...”

“Perceptions 2008: An International Survey of Library Automation” Released…01.20.09

20 01 2009

Because I had to select and implement our ILS software and may have to do so again in the future,  Marshall Breeding‘s the annual survey of ILS software from Library Technology Guides [http://www.librarytechnology.org] is of great interest to me. “Perceptions 2008: An International Survey of Library Automation” [http://www.librarytechnology.org/perceptions2008.pl] is excerpted here but I would suggest reading the article in its entirety.

“…This year, I received 1,450 responses from libraries in 51 different countries. The countries most strongly represented include the United States (1,150 responses), United Kingdom (49), Canada (99), Australia (44). As with the general demographics of the lib-web-cats database, the respondents of the library primarily come from libraries in English-speaking countries. Survey results were gathered between October 31, 2008 and January 16, 2009.

The survey attracted more responses from libraries using Millennium (293), Unicorn/Symphony (233), and Horizon (206). There were fewer than 100 responses for each of the other ILS products represented in the survey. Systems with less than 20 responses did not appear in the main statistical tables. These responses can be seen through the individual ILS Product Reports available…

The number of negative comments provided on the survey forms overwhelmingly exceeded positive ones

Polaris ranked as the product that received the highest score in response to the question probing satisfaction with the library’s Integrated Library System with a median rating of 7.73. Fifty-one libraries using Polaris responded to this question. Last year a total of 59 responders rated Polaris 7.78, reflecting remarkable consistency across the two years. AGent VERSO earned second highest marks in this category (7.26), with Library.Solution from The Library Corporation only a fraction lower (7.20). Millennium from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. also attracted highly positive ratings (7.09)…

One of the major movements in the library automation industry in the last few years involves the entrance of open source ILS products as a mainstream option. That libraries using these products now appear in this survey reflects that this approach has made inroads among the long-established proprietary systems. The three open source ILS products represented in the survey results include OPALS, Evergreen, and Koha, though only Koha received sufficient responses for inclusion in the primary tables…”

Maintained by Marshall Breeding

Jean and Alexander Heard LibraryVanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Copyright 2007

Ex Libris Rosetta Released–Digital Preservation System (DPS)…01.09.09

9 01 2009

From an Ex Libris press release yesterday [http://www.exlibrisgroup.com/?catid={916AFF5B-CA4A-48FD-AD54-9AD2ADADEB88}&itemid={9B1F2C8A-3B03-459F-A2B4-4425A4D79689}]:

“…Ex Libris™ Group is pleased to announce the release of Ex Libris Rosetta for digital libraries, which will providenational and academic libraries and archives around the world with a solution to support their task of collecting and preserving cumulative knowledge in digital format for the enjoyment and use of generations to comeJust as the Rosetta Stone held the key to enabling early 19th century scholars to understand Egyptian hieroglyphic script, which died out in the fourth century AD, Ex Libris Rosetta provides today’s libraries with the infrastructure and technology needed to preserve and facilitate access to and understanding of the digital collections under their guardianship–in perpetuity.


Ex Libris Rosetta supports the acquisition, validation, ingest, storage, management, preservation and dissemination of different types of digital objects while enforcing the relevant policies that can vary from one institution to another. Numerous people within and outside of the institution can contribute to the system. Objects are first loaded to a depository, in which the validity and origin of the assets are verified, enabling the institution to record when, how, and by whom the item was created. These assets are then enriched, to ensure that the institution has all of the descriptive and technical metadata needed to preserve the assets for the long-term. Finally, digital resources are saved in a sustainable format, and continually evaluated to guarantee their ongoing usability.

Based on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model and conforming toTrustworthy Repositories Audit and Certification (TRAC) criteria, this end-to-end solution offers full security, auditing, and integrity checks that maintain the safety of collections over time. A set of tools including Application Programming Interfaces (API) and deep linking through persistent identifiers, enable institutions to make their collections even more easily accessible to users…”

“How Easy is Your Catalog to Search?”…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Here is an excerpt of a helpful post about considering the user’s catalog search from the Remixing Libraries blog entitled “How easy is your catalogue to search?” [http://librarymix.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-easy-is-your-catalogue-to-search.html]:

“…Recently, however, there have been more attempts to provide a coherent – and contextual – approach to the OPAC. Let’s face facts: No one reads help pages or FAQs. It’s true – check your own web logs. So how do you help your users to get the most out of their search (and most importantly, not just walk away)? Here’s some ideas.

Little and Often 
Ok – so the big chunks of help don’t work but there’s nothing wrong with a nudge in the right direction. Check out any popular website and you’ll see succinct clues to how and why results appear as they do. The best trick I’ve found is to try and write a short sentence to explain a function and then cut it down to half the time. 
Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!
Take a look at the University of Huddersfield Catalogue (the work of Dave Pattern) – data’s been pulled from search and usage logs to create neat little features like the Tag Cloud on the front page and the Amazon-style ‘other people also searched with’ feature on the results page.
Don’t Fight Google
It’s done. People expect your search box to work like Google. In fact, not just like Google butbetter than Google. We can moan about the ‘dumbing down’ of researchers but as soon as people see that empty white box they expect to stick a string of (misspelled) keywords into it and get a result they like within the first page of hits. The sooner we learn to work within these parameters, and not fight them, the sooner we can build better mechanisms for search.And don’t even think about making the default search anything except keyword.
Know Your Data (& Fix Your Indexing)
In any kind of searching consistency is everything so we all need a firm grip on our data. A beautifully constructed catalogue record is one thing but if your search parameters and indexing are so complicated that complex combinations are required to achieve useful search results perhaps it’s time to reflect on the value of that data. A few coherent indexes with consistent data will always beat a hundred ‘correct’ ones.
Accept the Complexity 
Sometimes, however the gap between user expectations and the data is just too vast. Say, for example, that you’re predominantly a science library but you’ve also got a small audio collection – how do you provide a straightforward service to your 90% of science users but also support the 10% of audiophiles? Sometimes it comes down to accepting that you’re going to hit issues and making innovative use of zero results pages, 404s, ‘Email a Librarian’ functions and hey – maybe even a live ‘search help’ facility…”

World Library Automation Systems and Services Market Report Availaible…12.04.08

4 12 2008

LIS Wire reported today [http://liswire.com/node/295] on the release of the April 2008 “World Library Automation Systems and Services Market” 225-page report which appears to be a valuable resource for those investigating ILS software options and is available for ONLY $3,950.

LIS Wire reported: “The report analyzes the North American market for Library Automation Systems and Services in US$ Million. The major product segments analyzed are Integrated Library Systems, Non-Integrated Library Systems, System Maintenance Services, Others (includes Hardware and Associated Library Services). Annual forecasts are provided for for the period of 2000 through 2015. The report profiles 51 companies including many key and niche players such as Auto-Graphics, Inc., Book Systems, Inc., Brodart Co Automation Div, CASPR Library Systems, Inc., COMPanion Corporation, CyberTools, Inc., Eloquent Systems, Inc., Ex Libris Group, Electronic Online Systems (EOS) International, Inc., Follett Software Company, Infor Library and Information Solutions, Inmagic, Inc.., Innovative Interfaces, Inc., Insignia Software, ISACSOFT, Inc., Keystone Systems, Inc., LibLime, Mandarin Library Automation, Inc., New Generation Technologies, Inc., Open Text Corporation, Open Text, Inc., Polaris Library Systems, SirsiDynix, Softlink America, Inc., Surpass Software, SydneyPLUS International Library Systems Corporation, The Library Corporation, and Visionary Technology In Library Solutions Inc.”

I’m sure the report was primarily generated for and will be useful to those in the ILS competitive marketplace and they can more likely afford to acquire it.  

However, for those to whom the data could help in determining which ILS software packages and companies to investigate for possible use, the cost is likely prohibitive, especially to smaller libraries or systems.  From my experience in 2006 trying to ascertain which ILS packages were available, sufficient for my application, technically compatible to my IT Dept., and would meet my organization’s budgetary constraints, this kind of information would have been invaluable. Knowing the history and longevity of various vendors, their place and role in the marketplace, and their plans for the future are also contributing factors in the ILS software selection process. Of course, I would have never been able to convince the “powers that be” in my institution to pop for a $3950 report.  Our eventual ILS software purchase and installation was only a few thousand dollars more.

There are other sources, however, so those who cannot afford such reports must be resourceful—LIKE A LIBRARIAN! :-)

Open Source ILS in Library Technology Reports lastest issue…12.04.08

4 12 2008

A Bibliographic WIlderness blog post “Library Technology Reports on Open Source ILS” [http://bibwild.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/library-technology-reports/] says,

“The newest issue of Library Technology Reports is now available in ProQuest.

Library Technology Reports; Chicago, Nov/Dec 2008; Vol.44, Iss.8

(EBSCO carries fulltext for LTR too, but their latest issue online is 14:7 as of this time.)

This issue is about Open Source Library Automation (ILSs), and is written in it’s entirety by Marshall Breeding.

As usual, Breeding does an excellent job. He delineates the open source ILS landscape, writing clearly, concisely, and accurately.  Probably not too much new information in there for the techies among us who already know this stuff (although I learned about two existing open source ILS options I hadn’t known about, one used in K-12, and the other internationally, both developed by an existing vendor, rather than customer-developed like Koha and Evergreen).

But it’s perfect for sending to administrators and non-technical librarians to understand what all this open source stuff is all about. If they don’t trust and/or understand us when we explain it, maybe they’ll trust the respected name of Breeding, and understand his very clear prose.”

Open-Source Risk Management…11.18.08

18 11 2008

On occasion, I will relate information about Evergreen, Koha, and other “open source” products that are of interest to me.  The IT Dept. here it seems would never consider using open source tool.  I collect information on these products, however, with the idea that 1) I need to stay accurately informed and 2) maybe one day I might need to make a valid and convincing argument for such items.  Anyway, here is an an excerpt from a useful post [http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/itbloggingsection/2008/11/risk-management.html] on the blogging section of the SLA IT Division about managing risk when considering using open source products:

“Jonathan Rochkind has written an awesome article for Library Journal about risk management when it comes to open source software. Jonathan walks librarians through all of the levels of risk you might be taking choosing open source software – most of which are the same as the risks you take with any software (for home, office or library).  He also defines the different levels of open source software you’ll find out in the wild:

  1. Homegrown products are used and developed by only one or very few libraries. They are usually written to meet very local requirements without much effort to generalize and are supported by the same local staff who wrote them. A risk of homegrown software is managing the transition when that original staff leaves.
  2. Community support products have a thriving network of users and developers across a variety of institutions. A community of users and developers is, of course, not contractually bound to provide help, but many open source products have strong groups willing to spend time helping you for the greater good of the project.
  3. Vendor support products are backed by paid commercial contracts available from companies in the business of supporting open source products. Even though these vendors don’t own the software, they provide technical help for the software via contract, very much like a support contract for proprietary software. In the general market, a well-established and successful example is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a variant of the open source Linux OS, for which the Red Hat company offers support contracts.

He then breaks down the different risks associated with the different types of open source software, reminding librarians…Make sure you read the entire article and share it with the skeptics in your organization – education is the only way to fight ignorance and skepticism.”

Libraries Using Open-Source Evergreen ILS Software Continues to Grow…11.17.08

17 11 2008

Evergreen seems to be expanding quickly.  The Evergreen website describes the software as follows:

“Evergreen is an enterprise-class library automation system that helps library patrons find library materials, and helps libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials, no matter how large or complex the libraries. As a community, our development requirements are that Evergreen must be:

  • Stable, even under extreme load.
  • Robust, and capable of handling a high volume of transactions and simultaneous users.
  • Flexible, to accomodate the varied needs of libraries.
  • Secure, to protect our patrons’ privacy and data.
  • User-friendly, to facilitate patron and staff use of the system. 

Evergreen is open source software, freely licensed under the GNU GPL.

Want to learn more? Visit the Frequently Asked Questions or search the site. Or chat with us live.”

Of course, Evergreen is not the only “open-source” ILS sytem available (see also Koha http://www.koha.org/) but here is a list of libraries that have chosen to use Evergreen:

  • Georgia Public Library Service
  • Equinox Software
  • University of Windsor
  • SITKA (BC Pines)
  • Laurentian University
  • McMaster University
  • Kent County Public Library
  • Grand Rapids Public Library
  • Michigan Library Consortium
  • Indiana Open Source ILS Initiative
  • Robertson Library, University of Prince Edward Island
  • Marshall Public Library
  • © 2008 GPLS | Partially funded by the Library Services & Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services

    Library Automation Perceptions Survey…11.03.08

    3 11 2008

    Nicole Engard’s post [http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/itbloggingsection/2008/11/library-automat.html]  on surveying the latest in library automation is worth the participation:

    “It’s that time of year again.  Marshall Breeding has posted information on how to participate in his Perceptions 2008 International Library Automation Survey:

    We live in interesting times when it comes to automation strategies in libraries.  Competition intensifies between traditional companies licensing their products and a new wave of open source challengers.  I think that it is important to pursue research that gauges the effectiveness of the various approaches to help other libraries make decisions regarding their automation strategy.

    Last year, I conducted the inaugural version of this survey, which resulted in the report titled “Perceptions 2007: an international survey of Library Automation.”  The 2007 survey included responses from 1,779 libraries.

    This survey is well known and highly regarded – so make sure your opinion is heard!!  Read Marshall’s instructions and participate ASAP”

    John Blyberg Interview About His SOPAC Software…10.20.08

    20 10 2008

    LIS News [http://lisnews.org/audio_interview_john_blyberg_creator_sopac_social_opac] reported:

    “If you don’t know about the Social OPAC application suite–an open source social discovery platform for bibliographic data, you’re really missing out. SOPAC (Social Online Public Access Catalog) is a Drupal module that provides true integration of your library catalog system with the power of the Drupal content management system while allowing users to tag, rate, and review your holdings. User input is then incorporated into the discovery index so that SOPAC becomes a truly community-driven catalog system.
    Talked With John about SOPAC, and how it’s used. (note: the recording got a bit messy, our voices end up overlapping towards the end of the recording).
    Some of the other features of SOPAC include:
    * Faceted browsing
    * Ajax-empowered interface with native jQuery support
    * 100% customizable interface via the Drupal template system
    * Ability to remove search limiters
    * Saved searches
    * Integrated renewals, holds placement, and fine payment
    * Ability to customize the user experience via the administrative control panel
    * Ability to create custom functionality via a Drupal sub-module”

    ILS History Graph…10.06.08

    6 10 2008

    The cool chart below [http://www.librarytechnology.org/automationhistory.pl?SID=20081006274139404] is a great overview that I ran across (created by Marshall Breeding) last year that can help as a starting point for getting a grip on the various ILS software available for libraries, especially for those who have never had experience in the process of reviewing ILS software. As you see, the software creators come and go and morph over time. 

    This chart can be useful in opening up a variety of options to investigate.


    Maintained by  Marshall BreedingJean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

    Copyright 2007

    Atriuum/eZcat ILS/Z39.50 Software Maintenance…09.10.08

    10 09 2008

    When we purchased the ILS software in 2006 for our special library, we also purchased two annual software maintenance/tech support contracts–one for Atriuum and one for eZcat from Book Systems, Inc.  Older posts on this blog chronicle the saga I embarked upon when selecting and acquiring our current ILS software.  

    We rarely need technical or user support but I was told by our IT Dept. that the maintenance agreements are needed because our IT Dept. does not have the ability to support the Apache server required which we acquired specifically to run the ILS.  The annual maintenance cost for both software packages is currently $595.  It’s been a challenge being in the middle between the vendor and the IT Dept. when the yearly billing is communicated. 

    I suppose the tech support would be used more frequently if I was not a solo librarian and there was a significant turnover rate.

    I am generally pleased with both Atriuum and eZcat which have sufficiently met the needs of our library resources management to date and was acceptably priced.

    How to Prepare for Purchasing an ILS…09.10.08

    10 09 2008

    Since I will eventually need to replace/upgrade our Integrated Library System software, the following post by Richard Wallis titled “Library 2.0 Gang 09/08: System Procurement” [http://librarygang.talis.com/2008/09/09/september-2008-system-procurement/] is an interesting read about the procurment process with which others must navigate:

    All are agreed that the purchasing of a library system is not an insignificant undertaking, but in these times of rapidly changing 2.0 technology and open source systems, are the current procurement processes still fit for purpose?

    To help with the discussion we are joined by two guests this month who are both veterans of many tender processes:

    Gang members Carl Grant and Marshall Breeding join in the discussion about the frustrations of the procurement process and how it may or may not be applicable.  There again, the process does lead to contractual rigor, but is it at the expense of stifled innovation.?

    To help the discussion along Rob McGee has provided a couple of his white papers on the subject:

    • Request for Proposals for Integrated Library Systems [pdf]
    • Information Technology Strategic Planning for Libraries [pdf]

    Although coming from differing points of view, the gang and our guests agreed on one piece of advice for libraries – make friends with your purchasing department, involving them fully in preparing requirements with vision.”

    SOPAC 2.0 Open Source Social OPAC for Any ILS Released…09.01.08

    1 09 2008

    Meredith Farkas posted today [http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/09/01/sopac-20-at-darien-public-library/] the following regarding Blyberg’s new release of a social OPAC that can be used with any OPAC:

    “Run, don’t walk to check out the Darien Public Library’s awesome new Drupal-based website along with the John Blyberg-designed new-and-improved SOPAC 2.0. I, for one, am totally impressed with the site and the catalog. One of the biggest things about SOPAC 2.0 (short for Social OPAC) is that its component parts are going to be released as open source software, meaning that other libraries can also capitalize on John’s terrific achievement! It also was designed to work with any ILS, not just Innovative’s. In doing this, John has made a significant contribution not only to his own library, but to the profession. Too many library administrators only think about the welfare of their own library, so good for the folks at Darien for supporting John’s larger vision for SOPAC 2.0. Go John and go Darien PL!!!

    Interested in learning more about SOPAC 2.0? Check out this new Talking with Talis podcast with John himself. There’s also a brief article on SOPAC 2.0 in Library Journal.”

    Library Work After the Holiday…07.07.08

    7 07 2008

    Well, I’m back in the office facing the typical Monday morning after a holiday workload and new challenges.  I am hobbling around with my bad leg still swollen and painful hoping full recovery will happen soon.  You don’t realize how much you need your “getaway sticks” until you have been immobilized.  I am behind on so many things at home so I am anticipating (fingers crossed/prayed up) that I can get somewhat back to normal by this coming weekend.

    The day started at work with our ILS software down.  Despite contacting our IT people immediately and following up requesting an update, I have yet to receive a response.  Of course, library resources is not the top priority in the organizations so I must wait patiently for help.  From reading the trials and tribulations of other librarians, there is frequently a problem communicating with and getting things done by IT Departments.  The “down” time for me in the library resources area forces me to spend more time today on current product production project management crises.  There are new challenges daily getting things done by everyone involved in the process necessitating a cool head, persistence, and attention to details.

    Open Source ILS Software Alternative Koha…06.26.08

    26 06 2008

    Previously, I had mentioned the alternative, open-source ILS software Evergreen.  I should also have made note of the other alternative that is growing in popularity as well.  More information about Koha can be found at the LibLime website http://liblime.com/products/koha which I will investigate more closely in the near future.  It appears that there are two versions of the software focused on both large and small libraries, Koha ZOOM and Koha CLASSIC, respectively.

    The “About” section of the LibLime website says: “

    It all started with an idea: open access to ideas and information not only builds better libraries, it builds better software too. It didn’t take long to reach a tipping point in the library industry. The dawning of a New Erain library solutions continues. Today, LibLime is the library community’s most trusted provider of open-source solutions.

    Rather than sell software licenses for static, hard-to-customize software products, we’re informing libraries about the benefits of open source, enabling them to make choices about how best to provide their communities and staff with better technology services. We enable libraries to use open-source software to its full potential by providing outstanding commercial support services – hosting, migration assistance, staff training, support, software maintenance, and development – solutions tailored to each customer’s needs.

    Use of open source not only lowers the per-library cost of running software, it also empowers libraries with a higher level of control over customization and the overall direction of software development.”


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