Monday, November 20, 2006

Next Generation ILS Core System Values.

Public Access (Online Public Access Catalog or OPAC)

  • Facilitates academic learning and research – This value above all others is the single most important core value of an ILS; every aspect of an ILS should ultimately lead back to this value. The OPAC is the public face of an ILS and this value is its primary role.
  • Enhances access to information – Should allow for simple searching, faceted searching, and complex searching of ALL a library's physical and electronic information resources.
  • Searchable – search results could show either listed results or combinations of other possible searches based on additional facets like formats, subject headings, keyword clouds, library locations, language, reviews, or user ratings of library material. Searching should also provide features like spell checking, and alternate search suggestions.
  • User Customization – Should allow users to be able to individually gather and collect information resources and search strategies in a personal web space.
    Modifiable – interface should allow the library to arrange the display in all ways possible using a standard markup language (html, xhtml, xml, etc.)
  • Usable – the OPAC should be pleasing to use, easy to use, and the interface should be designed based on web usability studies, and allow for quick customization based on study results.
  • Assists education – Should allow easy collections of virtual material into a course reserve that can be searched by students, and linked directly from course management systems.
    Appealing – Its interface should look professional, interesting, clean, and "hip" so that it is appealing and attractive to the eye, and to student users.

Circulation

  • Inventory tracking – Allow patrons to borrow and staff to track and find physical information resources held within the institution and outside the institution.
  • Cooperative borrowing – Provide an Inter-library Loan system or communicate with standard Inter-library loan systems.
  • Course Reserves – Allow educators to identify and gather information resources for specific classes into a course reserves. Also allow students to identify and access physical and electronic information resources for specific classes.
  • Course management system compatibility – Allow course reserves listings for specific classes to be immediately linked from course management systems, or allow direct linking to saved searches or other lists of course specific collections.
  • Notification – Provide the ability to email and/or print notices to patrons.
  • Allow for scheduling of library rooms and media and provide for efficient and effective public displays for their scheduled use.


Acquisitions

  • Allow staff to place purchase orders for both physical and electronic information resources.
  • Allow for the payment of invoices on resources when they arrive and provide for reminders when ordered information does not arrive.
  • Allow for customization of tracking serials based on any imaginable periodic pattern and irregular occurances when journals arrive.
  • Provide ability to transfer financial and item information to and from information resource vendors based on industry data standards like EDI.
  • Provide interfaces with Enterprise systems used at higher education institutions that allow both the exporting of employee, student, and financial information to the Enterprise systems and allow the importing of the same information into the ILS.
  • Allow for the complete management and maintenance of all aspects of electronic information resources used by the libraries and by their patrons.


Cataloging

  • Allow staff to identify and describe information resources and relate them together in ways that will be meaningful to users and assist them in finding the information they desire.
  • Allow for easy uploading and manipulation of library bibliographic records.
  • Allow for easy exporting of library information.
  • Allow for easy, customizable, and proper labeling of physical material.


General Service

  • Reliability – The system must be stable in regards to the day-to-day operations and it must continue to function well when all upgrades are applied with no loss of previous functions. Service center and vendor should provide 24/7 support.
  • Capacity – The server must be configured such that it is able to handle expected growth of all institutions, and handle expect requirements from upgrades without a degradation of performance.
  • Performance – the service should respond to all client software requests and user searches in a few seconds.
  • Stability – all operating systems, database software, client software should all be versions that are supported by each of their respective companies, and all security patches provided by these companies should be applied in a timely manner. Plus various software applications that make up the whole system should function well with all supported versions of software.
  • Security – sensitive system data should only be accessible by authorized individuals and the system should be free from hacking, and virus attacks.
  • Access – system should be online and available to every user that needs it at all times.
    Software – all day-to-day business functions performed by library staff should be performed on web-based clients that do NOT require installation software on individual PCs.
  • Modularity – All system components and specific functions should be modular and should pass information based on standards that will work with other vendor's components and/ or ILSs.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Boy, did I open a can of worms asking colleagues what they would like in an OPAC! Whew! I am a bit disheveled from the exchange. In a nut shell, people started duking it out over federated searching. I assembled the comments for your pleasure. They are a bit random but interesting. You will be able to get through them quickly, I think. Maybe they are not interesting at all.



Yes, one can only hope that the end result of health care would not be human remains!


I just looked at Endeca and it doesn’t appear to use a federated search feature. You still have to search for articles separately. http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/searchcollection/

I like Endeca a lot better than Aquabrowser, although it still came up with some really oddball results. I did a search (sorted by date) for and the first three records retrieved were:

1.
Mis cases : decision making with application softwareAuthor: Miller, M. Lisa.Published: 2007.Format: Book

D.H. Hill Library

T58.6 .M53 2007
Stacks (8th floor)
Available
2.
Human remains : guide for museums and academic institutionsPublished: c2007.Format: BookOnline: View resource online

D.H. Hill Library

CC79.5 .H85 H87 2007
Stacks (3rd floor)
Available
3.
Essentials of accounting for governmental and not-for-profit organizationsAuthor: Copley, Paul A.Published: c2007.Format: Book

D.H. Hill Library

HJ9801 .H39 2007
Stacks (4th floor)
Checked Out


.


Switching the search to sort for relevance yields, predictably, more targeted, but older, results. The layout is really nice, though. And you do have the option of doing a more “traditional” search, if you want.

No doubt federated searching is no panacea. However, I asked everyone to DREAM BIG – PERFECT WORLD. All of the pie in the sky will be distilled to realistic, oh say, donuts from a vending machine. Let me go back to Margaret’s comment about BEAUTY. I love it! BEAUTY!

There is the KLA Academic Library Section spring conference in April. This has potential for a lively discussion. I’ll be happy to moderate – I’ll even wear a black and white shirt and bring a whistle along in case the federated searchers get out of hand. All joking aside, I think this could be an interesting discussion for a conference and that we EKU librarians could make an excellent presentation for either side.

I probably should stay out of this discussion, but I must say that I agree with Brad and Kelly. Ease of use is wonderful but precision is very important as well. Kelly and Brad are saying what I believe to be true.

we might wind up trading away precision for coverage."

Absolutely. Brad said this better than me. And I know that Google is a great search tool, but when comparing it to federated search tools, don't forget that it has the advantage of only needing to search one database (the www) - granted, that's a huge database, but it's different from searching things on multiple platforms with multiple types of files. Plus, why do you think that Google separated out "Google scholar?" In an effort to get more precision about the type of information found.

What we need is for the searching within each area (ILSs, article databases, etc.) to be more Google-like.

Maybe we should all do a panel presentation about this at some conference! "To Google or Not?: EKU librarians duke it out over federated search." :)

What I meant was that I feel that it is important for the student to have at least a dim understanding of the searching and finding (and especially the evaluating) process, and not just lazily throw a couple of keywords into a “black box” search window and get a gob of results that they probably only look at the first 10 or so, anyway. I hate wasting time teaching tools as much as the next librarian, but I’m afraid of the old “if you have a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail” mentality and that we might wind up trading away precision for coverage.

I would LOVE to have a effective federated search tool. I just don’t think it is here yet. I may be wrong, but I haven’t seen one yet. And yes, this is difficult for me too. I love old stuff, but I love the new geeky stuff, too. So, I’m torn.

Don’t you love these philosophical debates?

From your friendly neighborhood Nerd… Geek… NEEK! J

What I meant was that I feel that it is important for the student to have at least a dim understanding of the searching and finding (and especially the evaluating) process, and not just lazily throw a couple of keywords into a “black box” search window and get a gob of results that they probably only look at the first 10 or so, anyway. I hate wasting time teaching tools as much as the next librarian, but I’m afraid of the old “if you have a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail” mentality and that we might wind up trading away precision for coverage.

I would LOVE to have a effective federated search tool. I just don’t think it is here yet. I may be wrong, but I haven’t seen one yet. And yes, this is difficult for me too. I love old stuff, but I love the new geeky stuff, too. So, I’m torn.

Don’t you love these philosophical debates?

From your friendly neighborhood Nerd… Geek… NEEK! J

When I want to begin looking for information on a topic, I go to Google first as a reference tool. I agree that navigating a difficult tool does not make a critical thinker. I often find students get lost in the process of looking for information rather than on reading and digesting the retrieved information. I think it would make instruction more interesting, at least for us. What would we teach if we didn’t teach to the tool?

I’m with Julie on this one and I am a huge “don’t spoon feed them” advocate. Navigating a difficult tool does not a critical thinker make? A critical thinker is made in the exchange in the mind of the user and the information at hand. Understanding how that information is made is of utmost importance. I don’t think that falls to merely the old journal article/book/website discussion any more. Now it is a discussion over a blog, wiki or open source journal. The lines are terribly blurred these days and, as Julie so aptly said, instruction time would be better spent examining information – thinking about information -- rather than demonstrating a crusty tool. Anyway, just my opinion of course. And, by the way, I love crusty tools so this is difficult for me!

Geek, nerd, what ever…it’s on Marcum!

I agree with Betina. I would prefer that the vendors start listening to what we want and for us to stop accepting the mediocre products they have provided us with. I don't think that a federated search would be spoon feeding our students. We live in a Google world. I love Google. I would rather use google than our library catalog, or any of our databases. I could spend so much more time in a library instruction session teaching real information literacy skills like evaluating information if I did not have to spend so much time teaching them how to use 14 different products.


I also have some serious reservations about whether federated searching has arrived yet. Kelly did a great job encapsulating the challenges of federated searching, but... We are talking about what we'd like in a perfect world, right? Like Betina said, the only way they will get better is if we force the issue.

That said, the "one stop shopping" aspect of federated searching is the most important to me. I think we should expect a certain level of critical thought from students, however. We are not doing them a service by spoon feeding them their information.

Just my 2 cents...


P.S.

Is that a challenge, Betina? :-) I can be a pretty nerdy nerd when I put my mind to it! Anyway, I prefer the term, "Geek".

I agree library systems vendors are not so good at federated searching but if they would hire really good programmers, I am not sure it is not possible to do it well. The problem, I think, is that libraries/librarians shy away from FORCING vendors to create an exceptional product. We accept what they offer us and humbly back away
from saying -- hey, that is not so good! Everything that I have read
supports all of the pie-in-the-sky accoutrements ya'll would like to have in a catalog. So, we are not alone! I am watching "homegrown" open source catalogs spring up because librarians are getting fed up with the vendors lack luster products. Perhaps exchanges, like the one taking place here, will make their way to vendors. The blogsphere is full of complaints about the inflexibility of library catalogs; eventually someone will have to take notice.

Cristina, you should take a look at the catalog at NCSU. I linked to it in my original message. It is interesting to play with because you can't tell when you are in the catalog and when you are on the webpage.

Betina

I love this discussion! OK, OK I am a the biggest nerd...when will we have THAT competition. I think I could go toe-to-toe with Marcum on that one!

I'm very much on the same page with Kelly , but she expressed it so much better.

We sort of tapped into this topic in our WAG meetings: we're currently discussing a better way of organizing our resources (books, articles, databases, journals, websites, catalog, print, electronic, more links on a library website, less links, etc., etc.), as part of our efforts to doing a complete website redesign. And it's been interesting for me to follow the discussion from this point of view.

Spelling correction definitely

Federate searching, at the moment, is not a panacea. As far as I understand it, true federated searching (where it will search all of your catalog, and all full-text databases, and everything else) is not currently workable. At workshops I've attended, speakers recommended limiting the number of databases included in the federated search to 10 or less because otherwise the search would be exceedingly slow. I personally don't think that students should expect a Google-type search to give them everything they want. Part of learning to be informed and critical thinkers is to learn how to discern between different sources of information. I guess I'm looking for a happy middle-ground between the way it is now (very confusing) and the way the students want it (Google).

I haven't had a chance to analyze Endeca, but I saw a demonstration of Lexington Public Library's version of AquaBrowser last year and was not impressed (it was fine for finding popular titles in a public library, but for academic research-type topics, it led users down a lot of dead-ends and gave a *lot* of completely irrelevant results).

I think an ILS will need the capacity to be versatile and incorporate new trends and technologies. I think it needs to be more user-oriented, but I'm not sure if it should be *the* portal for library news, etc. I think it should be a tool accessible from all parts of the library's website (quick search box on every page, for example), but I don't think it should be the jumping-off point. I think a community section fits better on the website.

Ideally, it will include open-url and other features that enable it to integrate well with other systems.

I’m throwing in 2 cents more. While we are at it let’s get records for the stuff we own actually in the catalog, whatever it may be. We have several collections of periodicals on microfilm down here that show up in WorldCat but not in our catalog. So, if our patrons search our catalog, they have no idea that we own something called Early British Periodicals or American Periodicals Series. We copy from and lend this stuff all the time to other libraries who search WorldCat, but I would guess that very few of our people know the stuff exists here in our collection.


I was a test dummy for the Voyager folks not too long before I came to EKU. I was asked to preview the mock-up of a new version of Voyager they were working on. One of the features I loved about it was the view of the cover of the item (book, cd, video). That was SO nice. They also showed how they had incorporated a “My Library” tab. I wasn’t sure students would be especially fond of the whole “My Library” idea, but some users might like that concept. (the ability to create a customized list of items based on the individual’s interest) I am not so sure about the whole federated search idea, though when I saw demos of it at ACRL two years ago, I thought it was neat.

It seems that one of the best ways to improve our OPAC is to make it more user-friendly, whatever that will take. Make it something that students enjoy coming to and see the value in. Add chat screens like companies have so that if students need help while they are on a certain page (trying to decipher a location, call number, whatever), they can get help immediately. (meebome widgets are doing this now)

You guys are coming up with some great ideas! J

I forgot to bring up the covers – that’s part of my idea of beautiful. And not just book covers – DVD covers and CD covers would be great too.

Dream on . . . and the Systems and Technical Processing Division will make sure your dreams (if they come true) will run smoothly. Right, Todd?

Agreed on all points here! I really like Nicole’s ideas. And I keep thinking in the back of my mind that sites like Amazon work well because of features such as these. And while we’re at it, how about showing book covers and chapter snippets!


How about dreaming as big as possible?? Something that would excite our users and us? Something easy to navigate? I would love something that looks – ok – beautiful, something pleasing to the eye, something that does away once and for all with the card catalog look. I could ramble more, but need to do like Julie, and read more of the information that you, Betina, so graciously sent out to us. BTW, I’m glad you are on the committee; you will certainly contribute, and you will find out who is on the same page in the state with us.

Ditto everything that Julie said! Federated searching all the way. That's one of the biggest things the students get confused about -- where they need to go to look for articles vs. books vs. if we have a journal vs. good websites. And you know what? They shouldn't have to take extra steps, they should be able to go to one place to look for everything.

I would also like to see an ILS that makes setting up RSS feeds easy. Faculty, staff and students should be able to subscribe to feeds for new books, new journals, everything.

I would also like to see the ILS include a community section. A place where the university community can provide reviews about books or even journals and databases! A place where the Library can share what's happening in the library, put up quick 3 - 5 surveys for feedback, and share photos of the Library, neat things our librarians our doing. and photos of students and student employees in the library.

How about dreaming as big as possible?? Something that would excite our users and us? Something easy to navigate? I would love something that looks – ok – beautiful, something pleasing to the eye, something that does away once and for all with the card catalog look. I could ramble more, but need to do like Julie, and read more of the information that you, Betina, so graciously sent out to us. BTW, I’m glad you are on the committee; you will certainly contribute, and you will find out who is on the same page in the state with us.

Betina,

For starters, I’d love to be able to access the Table of Contents and the Index from the catalog. It’s a more efficient way of knowing if a print resource is going to be relevant to your research.




I saw a demonstration of aquabrowser and was unimpressed. It's categories and connections led down really unfruitful pathways. I havent' looked at endeca yet.

Have you read much about Web 2.0? There are interesting implications for ILS's, if we care to be forward-thinking.

http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000505688.cfm

http://www.librarycrunch.com/2006/03/paul_miller_on_web_20_library.html


Colleagues,

I have been appointed to a SAALCK committee charged with exploring options for the next Integrated Library System (ILS) shared by the state. Committee members hail from a variety of library backgrounds. My sub-group and I were chosen for our public service experience. Discussions are very interesting as you can imagine. While all facets of an ILS are being explored and discussed, my sub-group is focusing primarily on the OPAC. Many of you attended last semester’s Future of the Online Catalog program at UK and have kept up with the literature regarding the evolution/demise/martyrdom of the OPAC.

Of course, I have definite opinions, but I want to represent librarians here at EKU, sooooo…..tell me what YOU think. What do you want in our next catalog? Dare to dream big: think conceptually. Our recommendations will eventually wind up in a Request for Proposals. Until then, anything goes. E-mail me, stop me to chat or call me to give your valued input.

To get your creative juices flowing, I have included links to interesting commentaries. Needless to say, these merely scratch the surface of the tip of the iceberg! By all means, look elsewhere.

1) White Paper on the Future of Libraries and the Rise of Library 2.0 http://www.talis.com/downloads/white_papers/DoLibrariesMatter.pdf


2) Follow the OPAC Sucks sermon at TechSource:

Part 1: http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2006/03/how-opacs-suck-part-1-relevance-rank-or-the-lack-of-it.html
Part 2: http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2006/04/how-opacs-suck-part-2-the-checklist-of-shame.html
Part 3: http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2006/05/how-opacs-suck-part-3-the-big-picture.html

3) Blyberg’s ILS Customer’s Bill of Rights

http://www.blyberg.net/2005/11/20/ils-customer-bill-of-rights/

4) Check out the Endeca Catalog at NCSU to see a totally different take on the OPAC: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/searchcollection/ or try Lexington Public’s Aquabrowser: http://search.lexpublib.org/.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I have asked people here to read http://www.blyberg.net/2005/11/20/ils-customer-bill-of-rights/ which is an interesting take on what we consider "new technologies" in librarianship. The comments from librarians here at EKU support the core values proposed by BookTroll.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Here is another article from Clara -- thanks, Clara!

http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/004/1.htm

It seems that we, libraries, need to "start with an Internet service-centric perspective" and "move to the network level" in order to keep pace with user expectations.

There's not much new here really, but food for thought nonetheless.
What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I completely agree with the "proposed" core values. To me, they are specific to what we want, here anyway, in an ILS particularly the OPAC. In a nutshell, library users want something more like what they use " in real life", e.g Google, Amazon, Web 2 tools. I see it everyday.

We have users who START with Amazon then come in to see of we have the book (students) and users who start with WorldCat (faculty).

I really like customizeable even if it isn't a word. Do you mean from the user's point of use or the institutions? I mean, can users build what they want with the catolog? I guess I am thinking participatory.

I have followed the "OPAC Sucks" discussions in the traditional literature and the blogs and agree with most of what is said. The "proposed" core values support the arguments of the OPAC Sucks faction, I think.

My personal beef with OPACS is the absence of a spell checker feature!!!!!! OK, back to thinking big picture.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ken Chad and Paul Miller's white paperDo Libraries Matter? The rise of Library 2.0 offers some good ideas for the ILS of the near future.

They suggest that the ILS that today's users want is one which requires very little of its users. It's fast, free, flexible, and responsive and available at any one of a variety of points of service. It works much like Google and Amazon, which means it is so easy a chimp could use it. To what extent is this really possible?

What I wonder is how we can take the best of the Google/Amazon features and combine them with the best of traditional library ILS features to create a functional, yet easier and more appealing, product.

Then there's the issue of image -- even if we have everything users want, how do we get them beyond the image of libraries = dusty,old books?

My thanks to Clara for sending me this article!!


As part of the Next Generation ILS Core Values subgroup I am supposed to facilitate the discussion of the "Core Values" part of the ILS vision.
I have to say that the phrase "core values" is somewhat obtuse, in my opinion, but that is what we have to work with. So let's start the discussion with a definition of core values. Shall we define "core value to mean, "the most important service elements of an Integrated Library System?" What do you two think? Should it be something different?
Also, in the SAALCK charge given us the particular items listed as "Core Values" are the following:

  • Connectivity
  • Reliability
  • Capacity
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Access

While I have no objection to including these criteria in a list of "core values" of an ILS, these seem to me to be core values of any computer server service. There is nothing wrong with that, but seems to me there are even more important things specific to an ILS. I think some core values that ought to be listed include:

  • Usability
  • Customizable (is that a word?)
  • Facilitates access to information
  • Enhances research
  • Assists education
  • Appealing (Pleasing to use?)

Are there other core values that you think an ILS ought to have?

Next Gen ILS -- Kentucky

State Assisted Academic Library Council of Kentucky (SAALCK)

Next Generation Library System Committee Charge

Background

The member libraries of SAALCK currently share a joint license for Endeavor’s Voyager, an integrated library system. Statewide implementation of Voyager began in 1999 and has facilitated efficient use of statewide technology resources as well as sharing of books and journals around the state. The system is now approaching the age where we need to consider an upgrade or replacement. In addition, the world of library systems has changed dramatically. With the prospect of new funding in the next year or so, we need to develop the vision for a new system which can guide our selection process. This vision would not be an extensive set of requirements for an RFP but rather a vision for what the new system needs to provide and accomplish.

Charged by SAALCK, the Next Generation Library System Committee is asked to:

· Investigate an overarching structure for a Kentucky next generation library system;
· Develop a vision that answers the question “if we were upgrading or replacing the current Kentucky ILS system, what major features or improvements would be needed?”
· Identify core system values such as connectivity, reliability, capacity, performance, security, and access.
· Determine best practices or new features which are being incorporated into new library systems such as link resolvers, metasearch capabilities, and electronic resources management systems.


Timeline: Statewide committee appointed in late October 2006,
Report due mid December 2006