Friday, June 5, 2009

CUWL Day Two

The second day of the CUWL conference started out with product demos from ExLibris and OCLC. The representative from ExLibris spoke about Primo and there new venture Universal Research Discovery and Delivery (URD2). The URD2 initiative looks like their attempt to address the issues that Marshall Breeding discussed yesterday. If it works, the system will harvest data from the library's ILS, DSpace, CMS, institution website and also "deep search" the library's licensed journal articles. They are also looking at ways to merge workflows in the back end that better link ebooks, licensing, journals and print.
The commercial concerns are being pressured by open source developers to better address our needs. The best quote I heard was the ExLibris rep describe open source developers as "a distraction" rather than a legitimate competitor.

OCLC continues moving steadily into the ILS world. We heard about their "web scale management services". As I understand it this initiative is a way to provide a "cloud computing" solution to manage library workflows. If this works it would take the OCLC cooperative model to our management processes. The example given was how libraries all have vendor files that they maintain individually. An OCLC cloud management service could provide a central shared space where libraries could cooperatively update one shared vendor file.

In the afternoon I attended a round table discussion of how system libraries are developing our electronic theses and dissertations repository. More and more Wisconsin universities are moving in this direction. UW-Eau Claire is moving deliberately, if cautiously, in this direction also. Dorthea Salo talked about the new software that the Digital Collections group is implementing. This software should make our system easier to manage, maintain and preserve. The big issue that came out of this was that CUWL needs to start thinking about data management. There is one project just beginning where a group at Madison is curating an archeology dataset. They are working with an archeologist who cataloged the results of excavations done in the first half of the 20th Century. In that period excavations could be much more comprehensive than what can be done currently so there is a lot work to be done to provide access to the data. The project looked very exciting. When I asked who provides a model for libraries moving into data curation, Dorothea said that Purdue is very active in the field. They have created a data curation department, D2C2.


Ted Koppel said...


Talk for a moment about how you see OCLC's cloud affecting (or replacing) the current set of ILS vendors and functionality. Does OCLC intend to "customize" each library's workflow (as has been done for decades by the commercial vendors, or is this (finally) the tipping point where libraries decide that customization and localization are no longer worth it?

If the second option is the choice, that would mark a sea change in the way libraries have acted with their vendors.

John Pollitz said...


I'm not sure if we are at a spot where customization and localization is no longer worth it. I am not sure what all this means yet. I know that when librarians negotiate with vendors we tend to demand more than any business can reasonably provide. We may be forced, because of finances as well as specialized services, to accept more compromises.

One thing I am fairly certain of is that if disparate interacting systems is in our future the work of librarians working on standards is more crucial than ever before.