I enjoy the IUG reception — its a great time to get to chat with some of the folks from III and chat with friends. Last night’s reception was really good — partly because I got to have a good conversation with Ted Fons — one of the many III product managers. I like Ted, partly because you can tell that Ted does really understand the products that he manages — and it shows to some degree. My favorite product that he manages has to be their ERM product — partly because of the shear amount of time it seems to be saving — but that’s neither here nor there. I chatted with Ted a lot of about interoperability — or III’s lack their of. The main thing that we talked about was just simply doing some little things to make III a little bit easier to work with — maybe an SRU server or folding the xml server into the ILS by default. Little things that could help III libraries look to do a little outside development — maybe place widgets into their opac or develop handy new tools that other III libraries would find interesting. Its really win-win for III and I hope they eventually realize it. Its always a good model when you have your user community participating in the development/extension process and I know that there are a lot of folks in the III community that would relish the opportunity to work outside the III black box.
I don’t necessarily blame III either for their model — partly because its a model that the library community has fostered and developed for years. To some degree, librarians have asked our vendors to do everything and make it as transparent as possible. This transparency has come at the cost of interroperability. I think at this point, I’d like to see libraries pushing vendors to move to make the ILS and its associated parts simply commodities. This way you could pick and choose the best modules from all the vendors and they would work because they all provide a set of standard api. Not likely to happen, I know — so maybe we start smaller by getting our own vendors to at least be more open with their own customers. Unfortunately, this is a change that I fear will happen very slowly.
Anyway — it was a good chat — and I hope Ted finds a little time to enjoy the conference between presentations.