Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

Barcelona 2007

Well, I’ve just got back from Barcelona and am suffering from post-conference fatigue. It doesn’t feel like I was away for only 4 days……

My views on the conference are somewhat mixed. The excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption may still be blurring my perceptions somewhat however! It was good to see a lot more people than we’ve seen previously – numbers compared with the old DUG/HUG conferences were almost doubled. And a lot of those were new people to me – it was particularly good to meet Horizon users from Germany, France and Spain whom I’d never met before. The Germans in particular have my sympathies – due to some local customisations not having been supported in future versions they are still using Horizon 5.3.2, which we at Staffs upgraded from in 2003….. They’ve done some interesting customisation on it themselves to get some of the features they should have had from the standard product. Not so good however, was that a lot of the ‘usual suspects’ weren’t there, either because of the dates or because their institutions won’t let them attend conferences outside the UK. Maybe we’ll look at the UK in 2008?

SirsiDynix themselves had worked hard on the conference. I have to give credit to Grace Bays from the UK office as well as to Liz Barton the DUG Chair who between them got the thing off the ground. Several of the high-ups were there: Keith Sturges the new International President, Tom Gates, Talin Bingham, John Dickson and others. Talin I’d not met before: he started at the company after the SD merger (and so escapes the baggage from that) and struck me as very enthusiastic and user-oriented. I’d hoped to see some betas from Rome however, which didn’t materialise, and overall their contribution struck me as high on promises and rather low on demonstrations. The new faceted searching system looked good however, and I’m looking forward to trying out properly when it is released in a few months. Hopefully the weakness in demonstrable product will be remedied at CODI in a few months time. 

There remains a lot of suspicion and scepticism from users as I’d expected – although I was surprised that much of this came from the Unicorn users whom I’d though would be feeling fairly comfortable in all this (isn’t Rome v1 only Unicorn GL3.2 with a few added bells and whistles?). Maybe the sudden departure of Peter Gethin has something to do with this (I suspect we may not have seen the last of Peter). I think the company didn’t expect the strength of reaction from the user community it has received, and only now is it coming to terms with this. They have a lot of trust to build up again.

Part of this rebuilding needs to come via the User Groups. Keith stated again his suggestion that the user groups cooperate more -understandably, as from his point of view one prioritised enhancement list is better than 6! I don’t think we are likely to get to his idea of one user group any time soon as the differences between countries and library systems are too great, but we’ve never really talked much before and this conference did start the process of building up relationships between us which can only give us more strength through unity. There may be mileage in the idea of a federated user group structure which I’ll be discussing with my colleagues over the next few weeks. Hopefully, watch this space!

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May 6, 2007 - Posted by | Libraries

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