Tuesday, October 24, 2006

planning our future(s)

For the past few weeks we have been planning for a visit from some folks from SirsiDynix, our ILS vendor. A number of people prepared presentations on various topics -- ILL requests, circulation, acquisitions, cataloging, user expectations -- and presented them over a two-day period.

It was highly illuminating.

We have a lot of staff who are very engaged with how we might improve not only our business operation and transactions, but how we might improve the user experience for our community. I was particularly impressed by the presentation on user expectations, which incorporated many Library 2.0 ideas that make sense for us -- rss feeds, "did you mean?" search facilitation, faceted browse, personalization, and recommender systems. While I was forewarned, it was still a amusing to see the content of my blog entry of September 5 (and my picture) illustrating the first slide describing the ubiquitousness of digital services as informing user expectations. I was described as the Library's "ubergeek." I cannot deny that I like being thought of that way. It's similar to the time in a job long ago when we we looking to create a new job title for me, and my boss suggested that it could simply be "Maven."

Another presentation that impressed me was the one dealing with cataloging. In part it was about improving efficiencies in the software used, but much of it was about how to best create shareable metadata that can be used for many purposes and by many systems. A great discussion followed about context and repurposing metadata and how to deal with authority control across systems.

There was also an excellent discussion about how our systems require too much data duplication. Why do we need to create and maintain tables of course names and numbers for reserves when students services already maintains such a data source? Why do we need to create tables to track payments when our procurement office already does that? Why do we need out own authentication system when the university has its own?

There was also an interesting presentation on ILL requests, and crying out for better implementation of standards and protocols so our systems can better communicate and our staff don't have to do as much work manually as they do now. OCLC was mentioned many times.

If the presentations from that day are ever made publicly available, I'll post links.

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