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Aha at ALA MW

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I had an “Aha” moment at ALA MW. There I was, sitting and listening to the Big Heads of Technical Services (no, really, that’s what it is called), when suddenly my brain began to function. Let’s see it if works in essay form.

I believe I have seen the future – the bigger picture – the reason for the seemingly meaningless changes. We are moving completely away from the traditional ILS (or the more hip acronym LMS), Discovery models, ERM, etc.  That, we are hoping to merge all these different systems all built for specific purposes into one system (with modules, scalability, etc. etc.). This makes perfect sense.

Copy cataloging began as a way to share so each library did not have to “reinvent the wheel“. We developed ILS to manage all (at the time) known aspects of the library: Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation, and the good ol’OPAC. This made life oh so much easier as we hooked all the areas together.

Along came CD-ROM and, eventually, online databases. Vendors have completely separate systems we learn to manage. Perhaps we added the acquisitions portion to our traditional ILS and maybe, just maybe, some added aspects to their catalog but in general, these are considered separate from ILS. We have separate Admin, separate search, separate statistics, etc. Oh yes, we piddled around with something called “federated search” to enable a user to search across all databases. It didn’t work too well and many felt burned by the experience (thus we now call the same concept “Discovery”).

As we began collecting more e-resources, we needed an easy way to provide access. It quickly became apparent the traditional ILS catalog would not suit – too much information too fast and rapidly changing. Thus began the, oh how to say without using proprietary product names? A product that allows a long alphabetic listing of e-resource specific titles. This product allows the user to click on a specific title to see the contents and read/print/email particular articles from the list of contents. This is yet another system to manage in the library.

As e-journals and packages began Big Deals, we added ERM to our arsenal of management tools. We needed somewhere to store things like license agreements, ILL information, title lists, etc.

Are you counting? We’re up to at least four different systems to use.  I may have skipped a few steps in our evolution – this is a blog, not a scholarly paper, I’m allowed.

Back to my aha moment…why are we fooling around with things like RDA and a new MARC (or, as Beecher Wiggins termed in the Big Heads meeting, Bibliographic Framework Transition) or the newly coined Web Scale Management? Well to merge all these varying systems together  – to have one place to put our acquisitions information and it share along appropriately. For one place to search, and it searches all appropriate areas. For one ‘catalog’ in which everything collected (physical or ephemeral) by the library is noted.

Awesome.

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