On Innovation in the ILS Marketplace

The Disruptive Library Technology Jester takes a look at Last month's ILS Discovery Interface Task Force1 of the DLF meeting of library system vendors (including one commercial support organization for open source ILS software) to talk about the state of computer-to-computer interfaces in-to and out-of the ILS. The meeting comes as the work of the task force is winding down. An outcome of the meeting, the “Berkeley Accord2,” was posted last week to Peter Brantley’s blog. The accord has three basic parts: automated interfaces for offloading records from the ILS, a mechanism for determining the availability of an item, and a scheme for creating persistent links to records.

Library of Congress Subject Heading Suggestion Blog-a-Thon

Do subject headings still matter? says they do. Does the Library of Congress always identify accessible and appropriately named headings and implement them in a timely manner? They say not always. All you have to do is spend one day behind a reference desk to see examples of biased, non-inclusive, and counterintuitive classifications that slow down, misdirect, or even obscure information from library users. As librarians and library workers, providing access to information is important-and classifying it in ways that are inclusive and intuitive strengthens our egalitarian mission.

Between now and Sunday, April 27, Radical Reference invites you to suggest subject headings and/or cross-references which will then be compiled and sent to the Library of Congress. You can either choose one previously suggested by Sandy Berman (pdf or spreadsheet) or propose your own.

Links to OPAC Enhancements, Wrappers, and Replacements

Here are the supplemental links for the presentation at the NISO workshop on discovery layers1 in Chapel Hill, NC, on March 28, 2008. Carolyn McCallum at Wake Forest University posted a great summary of day two of the NISO discovery layer forum2, including an overview of the talk.

Foundational Pieces
The presentation started as an extension of a DLTJ blog post. Also mentioned was Marshal Breeding’s Library Technology Report4 published in July/August of 2007 and available from the ALA store5.

Tour of Systems
For each of the 10 systems that were toured in the course of the presentation there is a link to the home page of the product/project and a link to a demo or canonical live example.

Towards a modern, functional OPAC

Aaron Schmidt has used quite a few library OPACs. He's also used and sought out the best of the open web. You’ve probably done the same and like him, you’ve probably been dismayed at the disparity between the two worlds. The open web can be fun and inspiring. Would you say the same of our OPACs? He's thought about what OPACs should be like in bits and pieces and decided to assemble them here.

A Problem
Besides all of the small, simple usability enhancements OPACs need (listed way below) a big concern about library websites and OPACs is the distracting transition between the two. You know the routine. Ubiquitous “Click here to search the catalog” links take users from one place to another and create a disjointed experience.

Aaron's Solution
One way to provide a seamless experience is to put some OPAC functions into the website, letting people accomplish OPAC tasks without having to leave the library website. In Aaron's dream OPAC this go-between is essentially an ecommerce shopping basket but called a backpack or bookshelf in this instance. Just like on, when logged in, a patron’s library backpack appears on every library webpage, whether it be the homepage, a book list, or the results list of a search. Any item cover on the website can be dragged and dropped into users’ backpack/bookshelf.

BookLamp: Finding Books Can Be Like Finding Music

BookLamp offers an interesting and (ahem) novel idea when it comes to finding books.

Those familiar with Pandora know that it works by analyzing a musician or song that you like and making choices for new songs based on the artist, style, beat, and other musical elements. BookLamp seeks to do that, but with books. Through the analysis of things like writing style, word use, and the like, BookLamp tries to make recommendations for further based on similarities between the book you selected and other books within its database.

A video on their site explains everything in greater detail.

They've only got a few items in the database, but they're looking to grow... and hopefully have their idea purchased by Google.

Value undeniable; price unknown: Innovate Or Stagnate

Really Interesting Post from John MacColl over at HangingTogether on the price of innovation. He says libraries can sometimes feel as though they know the value of everything but the price of nothing and wonders what is the price of making some major (and scary) changes? In other words, a pricelist is required, and producing it will be complex and challenging, requiring political as well as economic skills.

As a community we know we cannot turn back from this task, but it can seem a huge and frightening one. This is a moment when we require leadership which encourages and supports us to stick with the dynamic of change – more easily faced collaboratively - and continue to reject the stock responses of both cynicism and timidity.

Open Library Developer's Meeting

Eric Lease Morgan attended an Open Library Developer's Meeting on Friday, February 29, 2008 in San Francisco's Presidio, and this travel log outlines his experiences there. He says, in a sentence, it was one of the more inspiring meetings he's ever attended.

The ultimate idea of Open Library goes far beyond Fred Kilgour's original idea of cooperative catalog and OCLC. Yet, at the same time, the core of Mr. Kilgour's idea is at the heart of Open Library -- a very large, centralized library. I don't believe there will ever will be or ever should be one and only one library for all of humankind because libraries ultimately serve individual constituents, and it is impossible for any single institution (read "library") to be all things to all people. On the other hand the idea of a large, centralized repository of knowledge does have a certain appeal. It can be looked upon as a respected authority and a touchstone for ideas. Considering the exiting institutions who hold and distribute library-based content, Open Library looks like a promising upstart. At the very least I believe it will demonstrate what a loosely federated network of committed individuals with a diverse sets of skills and cooperation can do to solve large problems.

Competition for WorldCat?

A young entrepreneur wants to turn the library world upside down by building a free online book catalog that anyone can update. Many academic librarians are wary of the project because it will allow non-librarians, who may be prone to errors, to catalog books. But some young librarians are rallying around the idea because it may make their collections more visible on the Web. His catalog, dubbed Open Library, is set to go live in early March with records on 20 million books. The goal is to create a comprehensive Web page about any book ever published.

The Rainbow Bookshelf

Over time Freshome has pointed to many bookshelves. But what they found today is really impressive. They was browsing Flickr and found this beautiful example of organizing books by color and the smart guy that managed to do it, is user chotda. This is a very good way of changing the whole aspect of a bookshelf with a little bit of creativity.

To Genre Label or Not to Genre Label...

That is the library patrons want their fiction choices to be categorized by genre? Carol Petrowski, a reference librarian at the Onalaska Public Library (a part of the LaCrosse County Library) asks readers their preferences and points out that although all fiction is shelved alphabetically by author, "Genre labeling is only an additional tool to help you identify the type of material you might want."

Of course, on the other hand, "it is not necessary, it is not infallible and it may cause consternation or outrage to patrons who disagree with the genre assigned." Egad.



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