LSC 555 Blog Post #4

Reflections on Deng (2010) and Lown et al. (2013).

Deng (2010) raises many common complaints of the current commercial Integrated Library Systems (ILS); everything from the limited use of cataloging language to limitations with discovery layers. ILS systems were meant to bring together the major activities of libraries. As information and formats of how information was accessed changed, however, ILS became too specialized and centralized that it communicated too slowly or not at all with outside information systems.

To the issue of discovery, Lown (2013) state that a library’s single search box is a statement of confidence that all of the library’s information resources can be found through a single access point (Lown, 204). This is anathema to traditional library philosophy of creating multiple access points. Where the new world of library technological applications will look like is yet to be determined, but many more options exist.

With the arrival of open source code and open source software, more options and greater customization is available to libraries. Whereas libraries once had to commit to an ILS and were unlikely to migrate to other systems, open source ILS combined with other open source technologies now make library products more flexible and much more responsive to changes in information access needs.

Flexibility in transferring records and manipulating cataloging data is not only important to how discovery layers can be displayed, as Deng discusses, but should also be considered along the lines of the growth of library consortias. More and more libraries are opening their collections and, in turn, their cataloging data to partner libraries. Having a more flexible platform and cataloging language assists with the deepening of library partnerships and relationships.

Taking for example the WRLC, seven of the nine libraries have successfully merged their systems to one ILS, Voyager. However, two require separate ILS systems because of a challenge in merging two proprietary ILS (Voyager and Millennium) and the inability to have another ILS function within two separate consortia. Because library consortia is likely to continue to be a growing trend, there are many systems-based possibilities and opportunities to consider.

On the other end, NC State’s experiment with QuickSearch discovery, was ambitious, yet also thought out. The intention of the one search box was not to use it as their only discovery tool, but as the first layer of discovery. From this single search, users would be pointed to the appropriate library discovery tool, collection, or resource. This is worthwhile distinction as it does not try to be a single access point and complete erase the much more in-depth discovery functionality that traditional library discovery layers and systems possess. It is important to consider what is loss when moving from a layered and complex index to the algorithim-dependent search system.

Deng, S. (2010) Beyond the OPAC: creating different interfaces for specialized collections in an ILS system. OCLC Systems & Services, 26, 4, 253 – 262.

Lown et al. (2013). How Users Search the Library from a Single Search Box. College & Research Libraries.

This blog post fulfills an assignment for a library school course and includes readings related to information systems.