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1/25/2009

Midwinter ILS Thoughts

I participated in a panel discussion on re-inventing the ILS (see my post yesterday) yesterday which was both very interesting and also very disturbing. The interesting part was in hearing more about the strategies and goals that formulated John Blyberg’s (a genius in my book btw) ideas behind developing SOPAC and the new stuff Marshall Breeding is involved in. The disturbing part was the question and answer period that clearly lead me to think Carl Grant’s, from Ex-Libris. point about the Extinction Timeline might be right... Unless we start focusing on bigger issues around libraries and the value that we add -- for Carl is was the three As- Authority, Attribution and ??? (Sorry - can't think of the 3rd right now). I don’t agree with this point BTW --- and stop focusing on re-inventing the ILS (aka our back-end processes) we’re doomed to fulfill Now to Next’s predictions that libraries will become extinct.

What disappointed me most was the line of questioning that came afterwards. Instead of asking questions along the veins of “how can we (librarians and vendors) work better together to improve our ILS systems?”, the questions and comments seemed to point the finger at each other.

To be honest I’m personally sick of the blame game and the under current of “not my responsibility.” It’s time for librarians to play a more active role in developing solutions and do it in a way that is both more collaborative with the community and open to brand new approaches for organizing information.

Marshall Breeding offered up some great thoughts on a new project called OLE (for Open Library Environment) that is exploring new concepts in creating an extensivable catalog. I’m glad to hear that this project is underway, but I have to admit that part of me can’t help but wonder if the extinction time line got it wrong … it’s not libraries that will be instinct in 2018, it’s the need for library catalogs?

I mean just think about the context and reach of Google within the last ten years (remember it’s just celebrated a big birthday this past year- two digits). I see libraries much different in ten years and guess what?... they're not centered around an authoritative catalog either! Social & community orientated – Yes! Authoritative - No! So my question is should we really be focusing so much attention on re-inventing the ILS (the back-end for organizing and moving authoritative materials around per se) or should we really be focusing more attention on re-inventing ourselves as engagement and discovery agents to our communities?

After yesterday, I know it's definitely got me thinking ...

5 comments:

Tony Tallent said...

Helene, after reading this post I really wish I'd been able to attend this discussion. Your point about re-inventing ourselves is a key point. It IS about us and what works--not reworking what doesn't grow as we do.
Tony

Cindi said...

Carl Grant's three A's were "Appropriate, Authoritative, and Authenticated." It was one of the more interesting points that he made.

Jaap van de Geer said...

re-invent ourselves first and work with a flexible automation platform. Modular and build around the customer. Stop calling it an ILS first.

Suzi W. said...

I like the last comment about stop calling it an ILS. I cringe to think that I still don't remember what it stands for and it wasn't something I learned in library school.

Beyond the ILS,(am I going off topic?) we do need to focus on community and what we have. Yes, Google may have information, but they do not have live people that can walk you to a shelf and hand you a book. (Or that can work through the cranky ILS--I use Amazon and Google when I misspell the titles patrons tell me--or when they give me mangled titles--and then cut and paste the ISBNs into the ILS.)

Before we talk about libraries going away, we should look at reality, facts, figures, etc. I may be in the minority, but I work for a library that has had circulation rise for the past five years.

Suzi W.

HeleneB said...

Thanks for correcting me Cindi. See I couldn't even get the three As right :)