Conference tidbits

Yesterday I returned from this year’s IGeLU, the international conference of users of Ex Libris products. A number of presentations are up on the website already. This post will present some of the bits and pieces I found most interesting.

In the new so-called “Next-Generation Library Services Framework” (which is slated for replacing the ILS), we will no longer have the traditional division into modules, but the focus will instead be on workflows as a whole. This will force libraries to undertake a thorough examination of well-established practices and filter some of the essential tasks. Terminology changes along with technology – how will we describe what we do in the new system?

Early adopters and development partners shared their experiences. Pieces of advice for moving your data into the new system: clean it up and simplify it ruthlessly! This applies primarily to circulation data and policies and to structures like material types. Small details that didn’t matter much in the old system cause disruption in the new one – of course this will also be true for bibliographic data.

One recurrent theme was the fact that the staff working with the new system have to be willing to accept new concepts. We’re not just talking about a new ILS with a bit more functionality, but a real cultural change. Several paradigm shifts will come our way: the change from one set of cataloging rules to another (which requires us to see resources and their description differently), from one format to another, and on the technological side from one system to another. This system change is not to be underestimated because we see our workflows and practices through the lens of the system, the way the system represents it to us has an impact on how things are done.

We have been seeing formal types of collaboration in the library world for quite some time (consortia), but more informal institutional relationships are developing, too, for example 2CUL, a partnership between Columbia and Cornell University Libraries. One of the aspects presented at the conference is the integration of technical services and the implementation of a shared ILS. Regarding cataloging, selection and acquisitions, there will be a three-pronged approach, with some things specific to either Columbia or Cornell and a third track of shared practices and policies. Not only can redundant tasks be eliminated, but language and subject expertise can also be shared (you don’t need catalogers for rare language materials like Korean or Turkish at both institutions).

Another interesting project is the digital assets management put together by the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They built a digital pipeline around four tools including a homegrown EAD management system, a cataloging system and a discovery layer. Metadata is sent back and forth, ingested, harvested and indexed in a complex process from digitization to patron consumption. Here’s the link to the PPT presentation which features screenshots of the elegantly designed discovery interface that incorporates views from the EAD tool.

In the final plenary session, Sally McCallum of the Library of Congress spoke about the Bibliographic Framework Initiative. For this topic, I’ll hand you over to Chris Keene who captured the talk in a Google Doc live blog.


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