The Library 2.0 term is proving a valuable focus for discussion around the next generation services from which current and potential library users might benefit, the services that libraries might offer, and the new ways in which library system vendors such as Talis could and should engage with a range of current and future stakeholders in helping to make more of this real.
As well as a number of in-depth and carefully considered posts, such as those from Talis‘ Richard Wallis and Ann Arbor District Library‘s John Blyberg, I am seeing a growing number of public and private comments along the lines that Talis’ public engagement in this discussion is welcomed by our customers and by those of our competitors. Many of those comments include a rather wistful reference to their own vendor’s apparent lack of engagement.
Library 2.0 is not a Talis-only thing. To work, it never could be.
We do, however, recognise its value in providing a convenient hook upon which to hang a range of related debates, and with which to drive forward the fundamental changes that we believe are required in library systems and the ways in which online library services are made available. Our white paper is one contribution to this evolving discussion, but Library 2.0 underpins everything that we are seeking to do as we transform both the company and the services it offers.
If this future is to be realised, it requires far greater cooperation between ‘competing’ vendors. Rather than locking everything up in some proprietary mess, library companies should engage with W3C (of which Talis is a long-time member), make full use of the services of neutral standardisation organisations such as NISO (where Talis’ Ian Davis co-chairs the Vendor Initiative for Enabling Web Services, VIEWS), and seek ways to allow third parties to add value. Rather than locking our customers in, we should build systems so excellent that they choose to come to us, and to stay with us. The Talis Platform, for example, will offer a level playing field on which Talis, its customers and its competitors can work together and compete when appropriate. We believe that our offerings are good enough to be chosen on such a level playing field, and welcome others to join us. In a world of choice, interoperability, and easy moves, it’s easy to attract new custom. It’s possibly harder to keep the custom you attract, as they can go as easily as they came. The onus on us, then, is to give them no reason to leave, and plenty of reasons to come, and to stay.
We also need far more dialogue and engagement between vendor(s) and library(ies); you are not just a revenue line and an annoying drain on our support team. Equally, we are not just a contractor to deliver packaged systems in response to your tender processes… which request that we deliver packaged systems. Early in the Library 2.0 discussion, there were a number of posts questioning Talis’ ‘right’ to enter and attempt to evolve the debate. We have every right. So do libraries. So do library users. So do current non-users. We bring different views, and different perspectives. A valid and valuable whole can only be achieved by amalgamating the best of those different perspectives, not by giving primacy to any one stakeholder. A future determined solely by service deliverers terrifies me as much as a future driven by technology providers, or one driven by consumers.
So, to get to the point, Talis is actively contributing to this (and other) debates. A number of the biblioblogosphere’s A List are also weighing in with thoughtful input.
To be blunt, though, where are the other ILS vendors? Do Sirsi/Dynix have a view, Stephen? Do any of the others, where there isn’t even an engaged individual to ask? III? Endeavor? Ex Libris? VTLS? The rest?
Have any readers who said you wanted your vendors to contribute had any luck getting their thoughts?
Surely there can’t be anything that these companies want to hide, and surely they must see the value of change (even if they agree that changing will be painful)?
Let’s have the debate. Let’s gather input from as many perspectives as possible. Let’s be open and inclusive, and let’s build something better.
I’m up for it. Anyone else? (100 affirmative responses from Talis colleagues not required – I’ll take them as read!)