Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

OCLC appointments

Jack Blount is back! According to Marshall Breeding’s invaluable Guideposts he has been appointed as the new CEO of OCLC. I met Jack when he was head of SirsiDynix and led the ill-fated Corinthian project. The appointment places him in an unusual position, as OCLC’s highly interesting Web-Scale Management System places OCLC as a rival to his former company SirsiDynix’s Symphony LMS. Alongside Richard Wallis’ recent appointment as Technology Evangelist this makes OCLC definitely a company to watch!


June 11, 2012 Posted by | Libraries | , , | 3 Comments

Perceptions of Libraries

Just read an excellent post from Carl Grant of Ex Libris about OCLC’s ‘Perceptions of libraries 2010‘ report. Academic libraries need to change, and that change needs to come fast.  Although the report is based on US data and Carl’s view is from the Ex Libris perspective, this lesson applies as much in the UK as the US. He talks of a revolution not evolution being needed in libraries today. There is a growing disconnect between libraries and users, and librarians are failing to realise this.

So what should we be doing? This is less clear, as is inevitable, but he does say:

We must meet the end-user on their terms, delivering information to the interface of their choice, at the place, time and format of their choosing.

For me as a systems manager this means things like single search boxes covering all library resources, smartphone interfaces and external availability of data.

But we must also be recognised as delivering this information: too often users don’t realise that the library has made available the database from which they have just skimmed an article – the information is just ‘out there’ and the user found it via Google. Even worse, our funders don’t understand this. Hence there’s a difficult job there of both branding information and making it easy to find and use. It isn’t just a challenge for the systems managers but for the subject librarians (student and faculty facing) and the library managers (university management facing)  so demands fundamental change at all levels.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Libraries | , , , , | Leave a comment

OCLC ‘Making partnerships mattter’

I was at OCLC’s ‘Making partnerships matter’ event in Birmingham on Tuesday and came away quite impressed. The title of the day for me didn’t really cover what I got out of it – they were talking about WorldCat Local and what they’re calling ‘Web-scale management services’.

WorldCat Local seems quite impressive: it leverages OCLC’s existing information sources WorldCat and extensive links to eresources, to create an interesting alternative to other Resource Discovery systems. Of course, the big question is the coverage of the pre-indexed material, and there seems no easy way of comparing this with alternatives such as EDS, Summon, Encore Synergy or Primo Central. But the feedback from their only UK customer so far, York St John University, seemed good,  and the recognition that federated searching still has a role to play to ensure completeness was welcome.  I’ll be looking at this in more detail – providing that the outcome of the Browne Report and CSR don’t preclude it……

Although WorldCat Local is part of OCLC’s move to ‘Web-scale management’, in a way the latter is more long-term. They’ve taken the logical step to realising that as it is now possible for an LMS supplier to remotely-host an LMS,  it might actually be more efficient to run the LMS in ‘the Cloud’. In other words, instead of multiple completely independent systems,  separating only the data rather than the functionality. They’re still in fairly early days yet – Circulation and Acquisitions are being beta-tested in several member libraries – but this looks an interesting alternative. Many libraries are having issues supporting their own LMS due to uncooperative local IT departments (don’t get me started :-)) and lack of funding for their own staff, and so to outsource this to a resource which understands libraries seems sensible.

Overall a very good day, not least because it was my first visit to OCLC’s third Bimingham office in the past 20 years!

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Libraries | , , | Leave a comment

News from OCLC

Just when I thought things were returning to the normal calm, OCLC have stirred them up again.  A press release announces that they are planning a web-scale library management system. I’d never really figured out Worldcat local, as it seemed  a duplication of what most of us already have available, but as the first part of an LMS it makes perfect sense: the catalogue is the first thing most users see, and the second part is circulation, which is what OCLC are working on at the moment and hope to be testing this summer. The complexity and cost of many LMS are beyond what many libraries need, and if they are members of OCLC already I can imagine the announcement being of great interest. It complements OS nicely, as somewhere to go for those libraries who can’t afford or justify the expense of local support. One to watch with interest!

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Libraries | , | Leave a comment

OCLC and Amlib

I’ve just heard that OCLC have now taken over AmLib, an Australian library system hitherto marketed in the UK by Applied Network Solutions. Interestingly it used to be marketed in the UK by DS (at which point my head has started spinning …..).

Firstly I wonder what now happens to ANS? And secondly, I wonder what OCLC’s policy is for library systems? In the UK they concentrate on Olib, the system they acquired from Fretwell-Downing, but I believe that they also market 2 other LMS in Europe called Sunrise and LBS?  I don’t know much about the 2 latter systems, but I think that in the UK Amlib seems to aim at the same market sector as Olib. Nor do I understand the reasons for maintaining at least 3 systems, but then again I’m not in business or in that odd semi-cooperative world that OCLC inhabits.  Whoever said that the LMS market was static?

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Libraries | , , | Leave a comment