Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

DUG/EUUG conference 2008

A few days later and I’ve had time to reflect on the conference – and also to read Dave and George’s views as well (BTW, great blog name George!). The high spot for me had to be the keynote speaker, Sue McKnight of Nottingham Trent. In the past our keynotes haven’t always been outstanding, but for me this was. Sue gave a good account of where UK HE libraries should be going. Better still, she did it with Keith Sturges and Talin Bingham listening. She said that our ‘customers’ (note the word) want ‘stuff’ – they want the information asap and aren’t bothered about where it comes from – and if libraries are to retain a role in the educational system or society in general they need to meet these needs. This means interfaces that will search all available resources – along the lines of SirsiDynix Enterprise, to give SD credit. And this interface needs to be demonstrably better for their needs than Google.

After a few days cogitation I think I can see more of SDs strategy. Of the 2 offerings they were pushing at the conference Enterprise was the one aimed at academic libraries and SaaS is more for public libraries or small colleges who have much lower needs of their LMS and very little technical resource. If I was running a low-funded public library with no IT staff I’d be tempted by SaaS. It takes away the need to worry about configuration, updates, backups and the like, and would suit my needs if I don’t need to be integating with other systems or produce multiple ad-hoc reports at frequent intervals. This doesn’t apply to me in a University – but on the other hand if Talin’s description of his plans for Enterprise work out, Enterprise is a contender with Primo, Encore and Aquabrowser (and maybe VuFind).

In our case it needs to be tied in with a decision on the LMS. The confirmation that there will be no further development of Horizon in the UK, combined with the limitations of HIP, strengthens the case for us making a decision on this. Whether we go for Symphony or another system is as yet undecided. I think the strength of feeling about this from many Horizon customers still takes SD by surprise. The LMS is so deeply embedded into a University Library that it would take hundreds of hours of training and practise to get the staff confident on a new system – ours still hark back to the character-based version of GEAC they had up until 1996. As a technical person I find it relatively easy to switch between applications and OSs, but other people who feel less confident with technology need to have the same buttons reacting in exactly the same way as they have done for years for them to be comfortable.  In my institution particularly there is so much uncertainty and change already being directed at the library staff that change management would be a particularly difficult challenge. But after the conference I don’t think that sitting still is an option – even if it does take 3 years or more to get a decision made and then see it through I think we have to start work on it now.

May 21, 2008 - Posted by | Libraries | , , , ,

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