Designing my ideal ILS

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: access, catalog, customers focus, ideas, ILS, library |

Today in our management meeting, our Executive Director, Gina Millsap, made the comment to the effect that much of the talk with open source systems is just using that tool to replicate existing ILS practices. This thought ties into my recent post about the inter-relation between library catalogs and other sources such as bookstores.  All of this makes me think that we should really talk about what we want our ILS to do for us.  What would it look like? I’m going to pretend that I don’t know anything about BI or catalogs or any of that library stuff.  I actually had pretty good BI as a kid, thank you to my school librarians, but I’m pretending a dream system here! When I want to find something – I put whatever comes to my mind into the computer and it tells me where I can find it.  A map of the library pops up on the screen and it leads me to the correct shelf and shows me what the book looks like and exactly where it is.  If the “book” comes in an audiobook format or as a movie it needs to show me those options as well, even if they are not located next to each other.  I don’t want a big list of things.  I somehow want it to understand what I’m looking for and make the necessary decisions to provide that for me.  I’m not a techie person, so have no idea how this would actually happen.  A big Google-like list of things is not helpful in this case.  I want the system to do the work for me. It would provide me the options of finding something else or if what it found was not correct, it would provide some options for me to pursue.  It would also give me connections to other similar items; the “if you like this, you might like..” concept. What do you want to see in a system like this?

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Connecting libraries to bookstores

Posted on February 2, 2008. Filed under: access, administration, barriers, collections, customers focus, service |

I’ve been planning a conference, so most of my time has been hectic, but I’m back! 

Through a post on Librarygeekwoes I read about a post on LibraryThing regarding Tim’s ideas on connecting libraries and bookstores.

 This got me to thinking about how I use libraries and bookstores and the synergy between them, or lack thereof. Even though I have daily access to a well-stocked library with a lot of resources, I find myself going to bookstores and ordering books online on a regular basis.  Is this where I admit to being a bookaholique?   When I’m at a library conference, I will often stop by local bookstores to browse and typically see many people from the conference doing the same thing – they have their name tags on so it makes it easy to spot them.  Typically, the bookstores put up welcome signs for the visiting librarians.  That must mean I’m part of a large group that does the same thing.  If we do that, isn’t it reasonable to expect that, at least some, of our library customers do the same thing? So how can we help make customer frustration, as expressed by Tim at Librarything, go away?   

Our library has reasonably good relations with our local bookstores, which are predominately large national chains.  Administratively, we can encourage interaction and sharing of information, perhaps even signing agreements to cooperate. 

We do reach a point where we need to protect some information.  Libraries are typically required by state law to keep some information confidential.  We have always interpreted this law broadly to include just about everything.  Businesses will share information up to the point that it might infringe on their ability to make money. It would seem that technology is capable of drawing a very fine line between what we can share and what we can’t. We just need to make sure that it does so.  Not to throw this point away casually, because it is absolutely crucial, but I do think the confidentially issue can be resolved fairly easily. The harder part would seem to be developing the relationships and providing access to the appropriate information in all of the right places.   I would love for our catalog to have buttons on each search page that provide our usual options, plus the option to Interlibrary Loan – if not available, to locate the title at a local store or to access a national site for online purchase.  I have a sliding scale for how patient I am based upon my need of the moment.  All of those options would allow me to indulge my impatience in the best available method. Now we need to figure out how to share information so that this can happen.

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Print on Demand

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: access, collections, Library 2.0 |

Related to my last post, a timely article: NY Public is doing the print on demand for books.  While early in the program, this is certainly an interesting trend to watch.  Does this mean that libraries and bookstores merge at some point?  There are titles that I want to own, but I read many books that I don’t really want on my shelves at home.  In my mind, collection development based upon random requests from the public can lead to an interesting collection.  It may better reflect the needs of our local community.   So if the customer wants a book, but doesn’t want to own it; we check our shelves.  They can check out the copy we own, or we can print them a “library-owned” copy from the machine and when they return it, it goes on the shelves.   This is something I want to watch.  It has very exciting potential, but can indicate some major changes in how we think about things.

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Recent reading

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: access, administration, collections, library, Library 2.0, Web 2.0 |

I just finished reading “The Starfish and the Spider: The unstoppable power of leaderless organizations” by Ori Brafmans and Rod Beckstrom.  I highly recommend this book.  It’s a fairly quick read and the thesis is supported by multiple examples.   

Assuming their thesis is correct, it has a number of implications for libraries, but the one that struck me first was in relation to our collections and their availability. 

The first point is that record companies will eventually be overwhelmed by the “Napster/Kazaa” type of organizations.  Based upon the perspective of my 20 something children this may well be correct.   

How does that impact libraries?  Our media collection, including music CD’s, is one of our highest percentages of circulation.   Assuming the standard CD format goes away, which will probably happen as a result of technology anyway, how do we continue to provide access to music in a cost effective manner?  I can see the possibility of download stations, but it dramatically impacts our collection development procedures since we will probably be selecting individual tracks rather than complete, pre-packaged albums.  Or will we pay a fee to an aggregator, something similar to itunes, which provides our customers with access to a broad range of selections? I don’t see the demand from our customers dissipating anytime soon.  We still have too many people that cannot afford the bandwidth and item costs to consider accessing this music at home in this new manner. 

To take this a step further, what if publishing becomes more of a de-centralized activity like “Napster” and our traditional sources for books change dramatically?  Technology is making this an increasing possibility.  I’m not viewing this as the end of books, but more the end of a supply chain. 

To put this on a personal level:  I’m a professional musician in my other life.  I’ve long thought that going to a music store, ordering music and waiting for it to arrive – sometimes several days later, is frustrating and unnecessary.   Why not have all music in a massive database and then print on demand?  At first, I thought it could be printed at the music store which would have the appropriate sized paper and printers to do the job, but home printers have gotten so much better in the last few years, it probably could be done at home.  I’d be willing to pay the same price, or may a little less since I’m providing the paper and ink, as I was charged before.   

Back to books, I know there are a few print-on-demand stations, but from what I’ve heard they are not ready for mass usage yet.  Assuming this becomes the norm and we are downloading content, packaging can be determined by the end user: print, computer file, etc., do we remain in the supply chain to the customer?  As above, we probably will have a number of customers who cannot afford to do this at home.  How do we stay relevant in this process?  Recently,Jill Norgren, author of “Belva Lockwood stated on a BookTV broadcast that she was thinking about what format she would use on her next book, indicating that the Internet provided other options than just the traditional book.   

I have additional thoughts on this, but would really like to hear what you think.

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