Monday, October 19, 2009

NISO Forum: Library Resource Management Systems

I have participated in the NISO Forum on Library Resource Management Systems from 10/8 to 10/9. As one of the twitter said, this event "was thanksgiving dinner for the brain. I'm stuffed", me, too.

The forum started with a keynote from Oren Beit-Arie, "Toward Service-Oriented Librarianship" , and ended with Marshall Breeding's closing presentation "Where can we go from here?".

Besides of the case study of successful stories from libraries used either open source ILS or vendor provided ILS, there are some open source project progress reports from OLE (by Tim McGeary, Lehigh University) and from VuFind (by Andrew Nagy, Serials Solutions). The roundtable discussion gave audience a chance to ask questions to the panlists who are from commercial and open sources support companies.

I list three points I got from the presentations and discussions, (that is my digest so far, not complete) there are: stop doing things in silo way; think where you are and where you are going before deciding on projects; and always think library is not above but part of learning society, sometimes the best solution is outside of library domain.

1. The good example of silo way doing things is CATALOGING! Open mind and open up metadata have been called by libraries and by library consortium. With today's technology it is very easy to reproduce bibliographic utilities like WorldCat, new bibliographic utility and e-resource knowledge bases are now offered to sharing the work. Silo development is also seen by libraries under the open source development, if the project is just to reproduce what is already available without new functionalities, it is wasting library resources. Why it is wasting? Because it does not match the direction that library should be going.

2. As Oren states, library projects can be "classified" into three category: traditional, transitional, and transformational.

- The traditional project is "doing the same thing differently", we still only provide "metadata services" designed for printed materials. With e-resources usage passing the 50% bench mark of library total resources usage, the majority of workflow and staff resources are still towards traditional way doing things. This is what we need to stop doing.

- The transitional project is "doing NEW things in support of traditional functions", discovery tools mentioned as in this category. Library of Congress using Flicks for its photo collection also cited as example of the project in this category. The suggestion for projects in this category is to "focus on the unique (the institutional), and integrate the common (global information). Also stop duplicate efforts.

- The transformational is " doing entirely new and different things", the Datanet project mentioned by Oren as a example of project in this category. Library services need to be considered as an integrated services to, and as part of the parent organization solution to support e-learn and e-research.

3. The functions that library provides as a stand alone services will be very limited.
MacKenzie Smith in her talk of "Integrating Library Resource Management Systems into Campus Infrastructure for Research and Education" showed the data and IT resources used by the university communities, library's data is very tiny in the map, and library services is heavily depended on the resources from university. Ezproxy, sfx, and e-reserves are mentioned as depended on SSO/Shibboleth support from the university IT, and the user data and research data will also be needed for library future development. It is important to look at the big picture before thinking of library data storage and network needs, and purchase for application software that might be better off by using enterprise applications support.

What I have learned from the meetings have direct impact on my projects such as shibboleth/remote access, course reserves system investigation, and planning for future library resources management tools...

I believe the meeting materials will help many of us to think ahead or/and rethink what we are doing now, I have included the conference link below, and the speakers' biography and most of power point presentations can be found from the link. link

Foster Zhang/Library systems

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