Panlibus Blog

Insight 2007: Working toward a new model of library automation

Marshall Breeding’s flown across the pond to join us for today and as part of his visit he’s currently presenting to around 150 librarians on the need for a new model in library automation.

Unlike some voices in the community Marshall doesn’t claim to know what’s needed; though he has some strong suggestions for some of it. Luckily for us, listening to Marshall is like listening to our own list of internal priorities.

Firstly, he quite rightly points out that consolidation in the market has left libraries with less choice and less flexibility. Not only that, but we have no success in bringing new systems to market; Marshall cites Horizon 8 recently being axed before launch and Taos from a few years back. In minor contrast I would point out that We’ve just rolled out a major release to 90% of our customer base with minimal disruption – but Marshall is keen to remind us just when these systems were first architected, and Alto is amongst the oldest on his chart.

In fact the only recent ground-up new system to enter the fray is Evergreen, but Marshall isn’t too interested in that today as it’s really doing the same things in the same ways for the most part and Marshall sees reasons to break out of the current model.

Breaking out will require dis-satisfaction with the current model, not just a little, but real and increasing dis-satisfaction. What Marshall says he really wants to know is:

Who’s doing the something that’s cooler than the iPhone?

He goes on to cover the need for openness, not just open-source, but data, conversation, APIs and much more. There are many ways to be open other than open-source and Marshall is keen to get all of them in this new world.

He gives several suggestions, from getting NISO involved with a standardised API spec to ensuring Google can see and reflect your libraries holdings appropriately. There were one or two things on the list we’re not doing yet – maybe there’s more to add to our todo list…

A video if Marshall presenting Working toward a new model of library automation at Talis Insight will be up soon.

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