Evergreen, Drupal, Focus of Lyrasis Conference

Yesterday, I attended a one-day Lyrasis conference at the Olin College of Engineering, in Needham, MA, called “Open Source in Your Library.” (Lyrasis, formed by the merger of PALINET and SOLINET, just merged with NELINET.) The three speakers for the day were:

  • Joe Lucia, Director of Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University
  • Dan Scott, Systems Librarian, Laurentian University, Ontario
  • Karen Coombs, Head of Web Services, University of Houston Libraries

The message that ran through each of the presenters’ presentations was, “Don’t be afraid to try open source in your library. It may help to save us from irrelevance.”

Joe Lucia kicked things off by providing his ideological views on the benefits of the open source community for libraries. He emphasized the importance of “the commons,” a social and cultural platform for libraries for the exchange and refinement of ideas. Joe also outlined some of the challenges open source faces before it can grab hold in a major way; he mentioned Marshall Breeding’s 2008 Library Automation Survey, a reality check for those of us open source evangelists:

  1. We’re still a small minority in the greater library automation picture
  2. We have a “true believer” problem, in that we preach to the already converted
  3. We need to get more good reviews in the support vendor marketplace

Other challenges Lucia outlined had more to do with today’s generation of librarians, that if we have to wait until the next generation to make the open source leap, this might already be too late. Our professional culture is marked by timid leadership, legacy data standards (ex: the MARC record), complete investment in legacy institutions (ex: OCLC), and the notion that open source must be perfect before it is embraced. Joe didn’t stop there in his laundry list of challenges – libraries have fixed/diminishing funds, a long addiction to proprietary vendor support, a lack of technical confidence, and too much dependence on a small cadre of talented individuals, instead of strong communities. In addition, the big vendor companies are competing head-to-head with open source by developing OPAC discovery tool add-ons, further dividing libraries and keeping them addicted to this proprietary vendor industry.

Joe ended his presentation on a positive note by providing a basic roadmap for libraries to follow so that a robust open source community can flourish. The most important point he made – stop investing in expensive hardware and proprietary vendor software and support, and start investing in talented staff with technical expertise and collaborative open source communities.

Dan Scott, of Laurentian University, explained his work on Project Conifer, a shared Evergreen migration and software development project with many universities in Ontario, Canada. These universities migrated to Evergreen in May 2009, after approximately two years of development work and testing on Evergreen, including:

  • OPAC interface improvements (internationalization features added, customized OPAC skins)
  • The addition of localized URIs
  • The creation of basic serials display and editing screens
  • A Reserves module
  • Lots of input on how Acq works in Canadian academic institutions
  • Z39.50 server maturity
  • Early testing of the Evergreen 1.6 release

Dan emphasized the importance of communication for open source to work, that the software can only improve when you report back to the community, not just to your particular open source support vendor.

Dan also mentioned that Laurentian’s reference staff and students had to get used to the simplicity of the OPAC search, that the relevancy ranking in Evergreen is so good that the keyword search is often the best way to go when using the library catalog.

Karen Coombs, Web Services Librarian Extraordinaire, evangelized on all things Drupal. With Drupal, one of the more popular open source content management systems out there, you can “de-silo-ize” your library’s many library resources for better integration in searching. Karen highlighted many of Drupal’s search and social networking features like RSS feeds, organic groups, faceted searching, user tags, user ratings, and reviews. The best live example of beefing up your library catalog on Drupal with many of these social networking features – John Blyberg’s Darien Library catalog, called SOPAC. She ended her presentation with a plea to all, to not be afraid to try out one of these open source CMSes, that WordPress, one of the easiest open source CMSes out there, can be tricked out in all sorts of amazing ways for patron enjoyment.

The conference ended with a Question and Answer session with most audience attendees showing an eagerness to move forward with open source if only they could convince their administrators that it would be worth it in the long run to take a chance on the open source movement.

–Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services
terlagaATbiblioDOTorg

Bibliomation to use Equinox for Developmental Partners’ Migrations

We had our first planning phone call with Shae Tetterton, Project Manager, and Galen Charlton, VP for Data Services, of Equinox. Equinox will be migrating over the bibs, items, and patrons for three of our four developmental partner libraries. (The fourth library, the Windham Free Library, is not currently automated.)

The four developmental partner libraries are:

This first planning phone call was very encouraging. Shae assured us that soon after the contract with Equinox is signed, they would set up a Project Kick-Off phone call, and there would be regularly scheduled calls following this initial call.

Our tentative plan is to have the first developmental partner library live by the end of January 2010.

Stay tuned for more . . .

Amy
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Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services
terlagaATbiblioDOTorg

Kate Sheehan joins Bibliomation’s Open Source Team

The following excerpt was taken from an email earlier today from Mike Simonds, Bibliomation’s CEO, to Bibliomation’s library directors:

Bibliomation is delighted to announce that Kate Sheehan will be joining its staff in November. Kate is well known in Connecticut as a Technology Columnist for Connecticut Libraries, and for her innovative work in implementing “LibraryThing for Libraries” at the Danbury Public Library. She has also presented at several Computers in Libraries Conferences.

Kate has accepted the newly created position of Open Source Implementation Coordinator. In that capacity she will round out the Bibliomation Evergreen team that includes the Open Source Project Manager, Melissa Lefebvre, and the Bibliomation Software Coordinator, Ben Shum. This is the team that will be responsible for implementing the Bibliomation Evergreen Developmental Partners Project this fall.
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You can read more about Kate and her views on open source on her blog, Loose Cannon Librarian (http://loosecannonlibrarian.net/).

–Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services
terlagaATbiblioDOTorg

Conference Call with King County

Bibliomation staff participated earlier this afternoon in a GoToMeeting/conference call with Jed Moffitt and Matt Carlson of King County Library System (KCLS). King County has poured quite a bit of development dollars into Evergreen enhancements, including refinements to their Circulation client and development of their Acquisitions module. (They have contracted with Equinox for these enhancements to Evergreen.)

King County has also just won a sizable IMLS grant to the tune of $998,556 so that they can further develop the peer-to-peer support model that works so well among public libraries.

Matt Carlson showed off some of the new circulation screens and emphasized that the driving developmental force behind these new screens was a focused eye on usability. They have streamlined the circulation interface in ways that make perfect sense. Some examples (some of which have been rolled into the Evergreen 1.6 client):

  • Checkout, checkin buttons on a toolbar
  • Patron registration can now be completed all on one screen
  • Built-in, configurable links to help screens, circulation manual
  • Patron search now displays horizontally, giving more real estate to the results screen
  • Patron screen gives a quick summary of number of items, bills, etc.
  • Can now easily add a patron note, alert, or block to patron record
  • Can now place hold from within the patron record without the need to enter in the patron information again
  • Ability to display item detail information on one screen from item status
  • Plans to add item history (last 10 items) from the Check-in Screen

We’d like to publicly thank Jed and Matt for taking the time to show us some of the fruits of their labor. They have made some fantastic enhancements to the Evergreen staff client and I am so grateful that the rest of us who are Evergreen-bound will be able to reap the benefit of it. We here at Bibliomation are very much looking forward to the possibility of collaborating with KCLS on Evergreen improvements in the future.

–Amy Terlaga / Assistant Director, User Services / terlagaATbiblioDOTorg

Network Services Meeting

Yesterday, Network Services met and got their first look at Bibliomation Evergreen 1.4 (our demo/test server). There was a lot of excitement in the air as I was showing Evergreen to them. The members also had some great suggestions as to things that would further improve Evergreen and those suggestions are:

1) Have a button in the patron’s account so that they can request a change of address/phone number which would alert staff to a new address/phone next time the patron was checking out items in the library so that library staff could update the patron’s information accordingly.

2) An option for patrons to “opt-in” to see their check out history which should only be available to the patrons if they decide they want to keep track of the books they read.

3) A way to exempt fines due to library closing for special events.

4) Book-Drop mode. Currently you can set the check in date manually, but a book-drop mode button that would automatically set the date to the library’s last open day of service would really help staff (especially over long weekends or holiday closings)

5) The ability to print receipts via a Function key.

Thanks to everyone who participated and gave excellent ideas and thoughts. This is what open source is all about….sharing ideas to improve the ILS.

-Melissa

Biblio’s Open Source Project now on Facebook

Hi all–

Bibliomation’s Open Source Developmental Partners Project now has a home on Facebook.

Four small public libraries – the Douglas Library, in Hebron, the Slater Library, in Griswold, the Beacon Falls Library, and the Windham Free Library – have volunteered to work with Bibliomation in a pilot project which will allow us to implement and test new enhancements to the Evergreen software.

To join the group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=171935276419

For questions about the project itself, you can email Bibliomation’s Open Source Project Manager, Melissa Lefebvre at mlefebvreATbiblioDOTorg.

Amy