Panlibus Blog

Archive for the 'Library 2.0 Gang' Category

Opening the Walls of the Library – SOA & web services

It doesn’t happen often, but it is really nice when when you receive something produced for one purpose to find that it has been produced so well that it is good for so much more.  Let me explain….

My colleague Andy Latham has been pulling together a white paper Opening the Walls of the Library – SOA and web services at Talis[pdf].  It’s main purpose is to support the marketing effort behind Talis Keystone, our SOA platform that underpins Talis Library Integration Services.  To help explain those services, to the not necessarily technical people in library and other departments considering integration, he needed to explore the history, principles, and practical considerations of this approach.  It is in this explanation, I believe that he has produced a document that is a great introduction to the application of SOA and library web services in general.

Because of it’s original purpose, and the fact that for obvious reasons the examples and case studies come from Talis products and customers, the document could be considered by some as being a bit marketingy.  Nevertheless, if you want an overview of real-world issues (many of which are to do with people not technology), or business models, or web service functions, or why choose REST in favour of SOAP, in library SOA I can recommend this White Paper as an informative easy way in.

As Andy says in the conclusion:

SOA is not all about technology; SOA is a business journey that needs to follow a path with small commercial and technical steps towards a known vision of business maturity. Commercial and Open Source technology has paved a way for businesses to begin introducing an SOA strategy. Introducing an SOA strategy is as much of a technical challenge as it is an operational challenge as the technology will break down silos between teams, departments and organisations and conflicting business processes which worked well in the silo will need to be redeveloped to meet the new needs of the more agile business.

The release of the OLE’s report, which I commented upon previously, plus vendor initiatives such as OCLC’s Web Services and Ex Libris’ URM, have served to raise the prominence of web services in the world of libraries.  On a recent Library 2.0 Gang show about the OLE project it was clear, in the discussions between Andy, OLE’s Tim McGeary, Marshall Breeding and Ex Libris’ Oren Beit-Arie, that there is much more to integration than just technology.

I think it is fair to say that Libraries as a sector have not been at the leading edge of the SOA/web services debate.  It is also fair to say that for whatever reason the UK seems to been a few years ahead of some areas in reaping the benefits of such integration in libraries.  As Andy’s document shows, there is the potential for significant financial and organisational benefits when undertaking integration in this way.

“The 25,000 students at one of the largest Universities in the UK are now able to pay their library charges online using either debit or credit cards, enabling further efficiency savings for library staff and improving student services.”

“Getting relevant information from Voyager into personalised portal sites has been a key requirement for the University for some time…..  By building a SharePoint integration we are maximising the positive impact of our new VLE and enhancing elements of the Library service.”

“The University of Salford is in the process of transforming the way that the identities of its entire user population are managed across all key systems in the organisation. An essential part of the solution employed (using Sun Microsystems’ IdM suite) is the transition and management of up to 23,000 Talis LMS borrower identities via Talis Keystone.”

To reap these sort of benefits in a sustainable way a library has to be aware of, and have, a SOA strategy.  There is much in this white paper that can help those new to the subject to understand the issues.  As someone who thinks he knows about these things, I also found it very useful for checking and clarifying my assumptions.

So as I say, a recommended read….

The Library 2.0 Gang on Mashups

L2Gbanner144-plain Following on from OCLC’s recent Mashathon, Dave Pattern’s Mashed Library UK 2009, and the imminent publication of the Library Mashups book edited by Nicole Engard, The Library 2.0 Gang turn their attention to the Library Mashup.

Tallin Bingham from SIRSI/Dynix, Marshall Breeding of Library Technology Guides, LibLime’s Nicole Engard, and Google’s Frances Haugen, dip in to this topic for the July show.  It is soon clear that successful mashups are all about openly publishing data in a reliable easy form via simple APIs.  Library mashups are not just about bibliographic data.  Usage data, statistical data, and anonomized patron data are all valuable library sources for mashups.

As with many other technology trends, libraries are going to have to move quickly to keep up with and take advantage of mashups.

Check out the July Library 2.0 Gang Show.

Competition! -   Listening to the show should inspire you to enter the Library 2.0 Gang Mashup Idea competition.  Send in your idea for a library mashup.  It can be as simple or complex as you like.  The only restriction being that it must include library data or functionality somewhere within it.  The best three, as judged by Nicole Engard and myself, will each receive a copy of the Library Mashups book she has edited.  Closing date is August 31st, send your entries to librarygang@talis.com.

 

The Library 2.0 Gang – the vendors view on OCLC Web-scale

On the Library 2.0 Gang back in May we discussed Cloud Computing, an architecture in which you use your web browser to access your services on computers hosted by your system provider. 

Unlike traditional hosting, where you would expect to identify which system is running your application, cloud services appear as one big application servicing everyone’s needs spread across many computers and often data centres spread around the Internet.  The conversation last month was prompted by OCLC’s announcement they are developing such a service for delivering library services such as circulation, acquisitions, and license management.  The introduction of library services from the cloud, in a market where the vast majority of libraries host their own systems, could be potentially game changing and we speculated on what the reaction of the current suppliers would be.

In an attempt to answer some of that speculation I brought together a gang for the June show consisting of representatives of some of those suppliers – Carl Grant from Ex Libris, Nicole Engard from LibLime who support the Open Source system Koha, and Rob Styles from Talis.  We were joined by a new guest to the show Boris Zetterlund from Scandinavian and now UK supplier Axiell.

Technical issues, potential costs, applicability for smaller libraries, and openness of data & APIs all got an airing in this interesting conversation – have a listen.

The Library 2.0 Gang on Cloud Computing Libraries and OCLC

L2Gbanner144-plain OCLCcloudsAs commented previously OCLC recently announced a bold move in to providing hosted, Web-scale, Software as a Service functionality for managing libraries.  Joining other library cloud computing initiatives, such a SerialsSolutions Summon product, and Talis Prism, this is the first to venture in to the realms of circulation, and acquisitions.    

In light of this and at a time when Cloud Computing is gaining acceptance in the wider Internet and computing worlds, now was a great time for the Gang to focus their thoughts and comments on the topic.

In this month’s Library 2.0 Gang, new Gang member Frances Haugen from Google, joined Marshall Breeding and our guest Dr Paul Miller to explore what Cloud Computing is, and to speculate what the OCLC announcement should be viewed.

Library 2.0 Gang now Syndicated by ALA TechSource

I am proud to announce that beginning next week, the ALA TechSource Blog will be syndicating the Library 2.0 Gang Podcast.

To quote ALA Online Resources Editor, Daniel Freeman, in his post announcing this to the TechSource readership, “We are very excited about this new addition to our TechSource content, and look forward to the discussion that it will bring"

It is nearly a year since we launched the Gang in it’s current format, and it has gone from strength to strength providing thought provoking, relevant discussion and comment of the topics of the day in an entertaining format.

It is great news that the Library 2.0 Gang will reach a wider audience through this partnership with ALA TechSource, and they will join the many regulars listening to us through Library Technology Guides, CILIP, and the Gang’s own site – librarygang.talis.com.

A heads-up on the March episode of the Gang, which will be the first new episode available from ALA TechSource, we will be delving into The OLE Project.

Library 2.0 Gang on Google, Books, Libraries and an Open Catalogue Crawling Protocol

L2Gbanner144-plain Check out the February episode of the Library 2.0 Gang – hosted by yours truly.

Gang members Carl Grant, Talin Bingham, Marshall Breeding, and [newly moved to Serials Solutions] Andrew Nagy welcomed guest Frances Haugen from Google Book Search.

Andrew gave us a brief overview of Serials Solutions Summon unified discovery service, before we moved on to our guests area of expertise – Google Book Search.  As I have recently highlighted, they have announced a mobile version of Book search, so that provided a very topical start point.

It was interesting to see how the conversation evolved around to identify the well know issue of items in library catalogues not being directly visible within search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and the rest.  Ways to solve this were discussed and a consensus emerged that the library community needs to get together, along with the search companies, and come up with a way of exposing their holdings for the search engines to identify.  This is needed because most catalogues are not crawl-able, and if they were probably couldn’t support the load of being crawled by all the search engines at regular intervals.

What was sketched out in the conversation was something I christened the Open Catalogue Crawling Protocol – something I’m sure we’ll hear more about in the coming months.

Checkout this month’s show and tell me what you think.

Google puts 1.5M books in US pockets

Picture 46 Yesterday Google Book Search announced the launch of the mobile version of Book Search for mobiles, via their blog.

They are targeting it at both iPhone and the Android phone, but I presume it will work on others – unfortunately I cannot tell as, due to “public domain differences’” outside the US they are focussing the launch to the US only.   They at this stage already have over 1.5 million books for readers to choose from.

From the screen shot opposite, you can see that the iPhone style of interface has heavily influenced the design.  From outside the US you can still access the mobile page http://books.google.com/m, which has the unnerving effect of making your browser impersonate an iPhone, as you can see below

Mobile Book Search Those that are used to the web version of Book Search will know that it has so far used scanned images of the pages to display the text – a technique that obviously that would be less than ideal for use on the small screen of a mobile device.

Google have invested much effort in taking an OCR scan of these books so that the text, as against a scanned image, is displayed on the device.  This then relies on the quality of the device in rendering text to display the contents to the reader in the best way.  They have used OCR before to identify the text within a book so that it can be searched, but getting that process good enough to produce accurate text for direct reading threw up many challenges that the Book Search team explore in their blog post.

Library 2.0 Gang heads-up
Look out for the next Library 2.0 Gang show, which is being recorded very soon.  Our guest will hopefully be a member of the Google Book Search team who will no doubt fill us in on the details behind this launch and many other aspects of Google, Books, and the world of libraries.

 

Come on in – it’s open (with your Ex Libris key)

I was one of the first to welcome the Ex Libris announcement of El Commons:

“a collaborative Web-based platform hosting the Developer Zone, where community members can access documentation for the open interfaces, upload software components that they have written and want to share, and download components from other community members, adapting such components to their needs”

I recently recorded a podcast conversation with Ex Libris Chief Strategy Officer and Library 2.0 Gang regular, Oren Beit-Arie about their Open Platform Strategy, of which El Commons is part.  From the transcript:

Richard: [28:11] So that won’t be limited to just Ex Libris customers then? You could be anybody that would want to interface with an Ex Libris system?

Oren: [28:21] This is something that we are still working on, some of the calls for these. I definitely think, and this is our goal, to enable access to everybody who is interested.

[28:31] We definitely see this as an opportunity. For example, at some point at least to enable noncustomers to go in and for example perhaps even end users will be interested.

Well El Commons is up running and accessible at http://www.exlibrisgroup.org.  Unfortunately as Oren hinted, you can only enter the commons with your  Ex Libris Documentation Center or SupportWeb user name and password – a bit of a misuse of the generally understood idea behind a commons methinks.

To be fair to Oren and his colleagues, really opening up is a massive shift in culture that I suppose is a bit like turning a large oil tanker, but the sooner you bite the bullet and walk-the-talk the better for you and the whole community.   Come on in the Open water is great – and it is only a bit scary when you first jump in.

Photo published on Flicker by Daquella manera

All the better to hear us with….

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SpringWidgets
Panlibus » Podcast
Talking with Talis podcasts from the Panlibus Blog

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Get this widget!

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Talis watchers will be well aware of the significant number of podcasts that my colleagues and I produce here at Talis.  Apart from the mainly library focused podcasts here on Panlibus, there are the more semantic web based ones on our sister blog Nodalities, education focused ones on the Project Xiphos Blog, and of course the Library 2.0 and Semantic Web gangs.

Keeping up with these streams of podcast output can be a bit of a challenge, so we have taken a few steps to make things easier.

Firstly, on Panlibus, Nodalities, and Xiphos we have created a ‘podcast’ category.   By selecting podcast in the category selector, you can view only podcast postings for that at blog.

Next we have implemented a feed aggregator which brings all the Talis podcasting output in to a single feed under the Talking with Talis brand.  The displayed version of this feed is not as elegant as each dedicated blog feed, but all the information is there and it is a great place to select the aggregated feed for your favourite RSS reader.

iTunes is tool that many use to track download and listen to podcasts.   The Talking with Talis iTunes feed has now been updated to include all of our podcasts.  If you don’t already have this free feed set up in your iTunes, click here to do it now.

Last but not least, you will have noticed the RSS feed widget at the top of this blog post.  This widget is freely available from SpringWidgets for you to add to your favourite environment such as Pageflakes, Facebook, WordPress, iGoogle and many others including [after a small software download] your PC desktop.

I have set up these widgets for the following podcast feeds – to get one in your environment follow the link and the click the ‘Click Here to Get the Code!’ link.

SpringWidgets have loads more in their Widget Gallery that have been created by their community, and I must give credit to one of their number, Minerva, who created the first Panlibus podcasts feed.

Ex Libris CSO Talks with Talis about their Open Platform Strategy

Oren Beit-Arie Library 2.0 Gang Member and Ex Libris Chief Strategy Officer, Oren Beit-Arie joins Richard Wallis in conversation about the recently announced Ex Libris Open Platform Strategy.

In the first part of this Talking with Talis conversation, they discuss the ramifications of the recent change of ownership when Francisco Partners sold their investment in Ex Libris to Leeds Equity Partners.   This sets the background for he rest of the podcast in which they go on to discus the motivation behind, and the details of the Open Platform Strategy.

In this revealing interview Oren describes how the strategy will influence the way Ex Libris develops and delivers its products in the future.

 

Oren Beit-Arie Talks with Talis To accompany this podcast, we have made available a transcript of the interview.

 

 

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