Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Users and Uses, Vendor perspective

Speaker: Oren Beit-Arie

Oren Beit-Arie is Chief Strategy Office at Ex Libris, one of the key (and ever diminishing group of) library systems vendors. Oren created the first OpenURL resolution service that was offered commercially, and has been active in metasearch, electronic resource management, and other ILS developments.

He began by saying: "I'm just glad that there still is something called the library vendor."

Vendors are affected by the changing economics of libraries and the information area.

Libraries are focusing more on their core role, not just their core competencies. Focusing on what they "ought" to do.

Users are:
- library services users
-- end users: differ in community, and have different skills and needs
-- agents/applications: personal productivity tools; the web; courseware
- library management
-- end users
-- agents/applications

Discovery & Delivery
Solutions need to take into account other languages and other cultures; differences in workflows.
What we don't do well:
- selection and evaluation
- organization and creation (data mining, citations)

Economics -- we need more mid-level collaboration
Library catalogs and other services are in decline:
- users seek content beyond bundles (books, journals...); looking for more granular information (wikipedia article); catalog was designed for a different paradigm.
-- just fixing the catalog is not enough

There is more content and more content types
Can't be isolated - have to interoperate (and that needs to go both ways)

Role of the library
- connect users to content; be the "last mile"
- can provide services tailored to a specific community (rather than global)
- there are new opportunities for libraries, esp. in research areas

- de-silo content
- provide ranking
- provide easy delivery
- enrichment (content; description)
- organization and navigation
- social networking

End-user services are tightly tied to back-office operations; This isn't going to work. Overall architecture has to change. We need to decouple the user experience from the back-office operations.

Role of metadata
- moving away from a metadata-centric model to an object-centric design; metadata shouldn't be the center of the design; services should be the center.
- the back office can be better if it isn't also doing the user service
- as new formats have come in, they've been added to the library management in a way that creates redundancy
- look for more efficiencies in terms of local v. consortial functions. Centralize whatever you can.

What you see is NOT what you get; what you get is NOT what you see. Decoupling complexity and user view.

Parts of MARC that just don't work:
- Resource type (006,007, LDR)
- Uniform titles (240, 130) the practice is problematic; doesn't help grouping
- Collections of separate works (analytics); MARC doesn't have good structure for this. MAB (German bibliographic format) does this better.
- Multiple languages; we need a language designator on a field level.
- Need to integrate data from multiple sources, especially in terms of ranking and facets. How can we do this when they have different data?
- Wd need identifiers (for many different things)
- Role of controlled vocabularies - need more of this.
- e-Books; they are very different from books. Need more analysis.

Full text adds a lot to the mix, but it's a very different beast. It isn't clear what the role of metadata is in the full text world. There seems to still be room for manual processes to clarify semantics. How can libraries benefit from full text without taking on whole expense of storage and organization?

Lower barriers have a better chance for success; but some radical change can be handled.

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