Prompted by Andrew Pace’s comments on the ILS a while ago, I noted that there was less discussion in the library community about the industry that supports it than one might expect. Given the various announcements since then, this is of even more interest (Coutts/Ingrams, Endeavor/Ex Libris, Blackwells/Wiley).
Anyway, in this context, I was very interested to hear the presentation that Marshall Breeding gave at OCLC a couple of weeks ago: Trends in Library Automation: Meeting the challenges of a new generation of library users [ppt]. His presentation was in two broad parts: the first looked at the structure of the ILS industry, the second at products, features and services. Because discussion of the latter is more common, I found the former more interesting. This is not to diminish the interest of the latter which provided a useful framing of several timely topics: web services in the library environment, multi-level services (local, regional, global), more compelling user experiences, the web search environment, and some others.
I was particularly struck by his emphasis on the importance for libraries of understanding the business context of the library automation environment. Especially when it comes to selecting what becomes potentially a very long-term partner:
Given the relative parity of library automation systems, choosing the right automation partner is more important than splitting hairs over functionality.
- Understanding of library issues
- Vision and forward-looking development
It’s important to choose a company that will survive