Well, I got off to a bit of a slow start today. I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law in Vancouver, WA and had to make the trip across the river back into Portland. The sessions started at 9:30 am, so I took off around 9 figuring that 30 minutes would be plenty of time. However, I was wrong. It took ~45 minutes just to travel the 4 miles on I-5 to get out of Vancouver and into Portland. Final travel time, ~1 1/2 hours. So instead of 9:30, I showed up at 10:30 am, which means I missed the first session of the day entitled: One-stop shopping for journal holdings: the ideal and the reality. Fortunately, we had a lot of folks from OSU at the event, so I’m sure one of our group had an opportunity to take in this session.
The rest of the day, I spent either speaking (2 topics) or preparing to speak. I did two topics. One was on III’s global update functionality, which is an innovative specific application for database maintenance. The second topic continues this recent spat of evangelism that I’ve been participating in regarding the need to require our vendors to provide open apis. The title of my talk was entitled, Being innovative without innovative and I thought went well. I actually recorded the talk, but I’m never sure what I can post and not post (III’s usergroups, both national and regional follow some courtesy rules when dealing with III topics) so I’ll have to see if I can post my talk.
David Wasserman, King County Library System
A discussion of why and how the King County Library brought up AquaBrowser. AquaBrowser is an interesting application, but I’m not sure what to think about it to be honest. However, what I did find interesting was how they sync. data between AquaBrowser and III. I have a lot of methods that I use to extract data — but none of them would scale if exporting our catalog on a nightly basis. So what I really enjoyed was hearing about III’s MarcOut tool. Apparently, this tool provides a simplified method for extracting your MARC data. This is a tool I’m unfamiliar with — so I’m going to be spending some time chatting with the help desk to figure out what this tool is and how we can make use of it.
Sion Romaine and Linda Pitts, University of Washington
This session focuses on the implementation of MARC holdings within III and the UW’s process converting their free text holdings into MFHDs. The presentation gave a very quick overview of the MFHD format as well as some information relating to the problems that they have encountered both in moving the free text data as well as dealing with some III quirks with how the holdings information has been rendered.
I actually felt alittle bad attending this session. About 8 months ago, UW had asked if I would be willing to help them do an automatic conversion of these records. At the time, I had the time to work on it and spent time talking with them about various things needed to do to do the conversion automagically. I’ve done this in the past for libraries — but it takes a lot of time to get it done and unfortunately, their desire to start the conversion landed on my busy time (June – August), so I couldn’t dedicate the time to work as closely with them on this as I would have liked.
Thank god, this should be the last of my travel for some time. Thankfully, this is a local conference — the Northwest Innovative Usergroup. I’m actually presenting two topics, one related specifically to III’s products and one where I’m going to be doing a little evangelism for open access within our ILS (good luck, I know — III and open access seem to go together like oil and water).
The NWIUG conference is actually an interesting usergroup. Its different from the national conference in that there are a lot fewer III staff presentations — so you tend to get a lot of information from actual users of the system so you can see some interesting things folks are doing.
While at the same time, this is an III usergroup, which is reflected in the keynote. This year, Dinah Sanders gave a talk on the future of the WebPac, Innovatives public interface. The discussion this year centered around Encore, III’s next generation web opac. Encore will include a number web 2.0izy features like user tagging and comments. Will this be free — I doubt it, will it be interesting — for public libraries yes. Academics — interesting but I’d be curious to see how useful. Unfortunately, I think that there is a dangerous side to Encore as well. It will integrate all III packages, like their federated search, openURL, etc. Basically, it encourages vendor-lock, as the integration only works with III products — so it basically just makes a bigger silo’d data store. And unfortunately, I’m sure there will be a number of people ready to drink the III kool aid. The one bright spot of Encore is that III says that it will rely on webservices. From what I’ve heard, there isn’t an interest at this point in making these webservices available for public consumption, but I’m sure that could change.
We’ll see. From my perspective, III is on the clock. I don’t see the OPAC as having a future in libraries. It won’t go away right away, but I firmly believe that libraries need to stop spending money on it and start looking at other solutions. III could make lives much easier for innovative libraries by providing an open API — but so far, they haven’t and if they don’t, I predict that they will start to find themselves losing relevance within libraries. I given them 5 years. If they can’t recognize this shift from black box development to open architectures — well, I’d be concerned about their future — particularly in the academic market where libraries have development resources. Tick, tick.