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I spent a lot of time talking to vendors about e-books and library systems; saw a cool DVD dispenser by PIKinc.; went to a discussion group on offsite storage; and heard The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie (Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project).

I agree with Wanda that the logistics for Chicago are not great, but that this was one of my best conferences; when I found that I could not get from one pertinent session to another quickly enough, half of my agenda went to the exhibits. (Freedom from committee obligations for the first time in years probably contributed to time spent with vendors too.)

ZSR and EBL e-books

I made some advance appointments to discuss ZSR business regarding e-books while at ALA and those went well. I attended a closed session on EBL’s different models for e-books with consortia and discovered that a new model is about to be tried out by Novanet and NY3Rs. Present from ASERL and participating in the discussion: John Burger, Executive Director of ASERL; Nancy Gibbs, Duke University; and me. Tom Sanville from Lyrasis was also present. Publishers, vendors and libraries are still trying to find a model that works well for all. In one consortium where not every member participates in the group e-book arrangement, but the consortium has a shared catalog, they were trying to come up with a way to allow the non-participating libraries to have short-term loan access at least and the method for payment is a stumbling block. ILL was mentioned as a way to deal with that, maybe with a credit card payment option since ILL already makes purchases with credit cards. I also attended a presentation by David Whitehair from OCLC and a representative from VIVA about OCLC Worldshare Metadata Collection Manager. This is what EBL is going to use for managing DDA files of adds/updates/deletes so I was glad to gain a better understanding. (I wondered if this tool would help Carolyn with the Archivist’s Toolkit cataloging since OCLC said that records don’t have to be in MARC — the institutional knowledge base (kb) can handle Dublin Core and MODS as well.) This is included with our cataloging subscription, so no extra cost for us to implement the kb.

WorldShare Metadata Collection Manager allows you to define and configure your e-book and other electronic collections in one place, and automatically receive initial and updated customized WorldCat MARC records for all e-titles from one source, providing your users access to the titles and content from within the local library catalog or other discovery interface.

Library Systems: Kuali, Ex Libris, OCLC

I had a real awakening on the rapid changes with the commercial ILS vendors. I’ve been following Kuali OLE developments and was disappointed to learn in a session that they are still working towards release 1.0. Jim Mouw announced that University of Chicago (a development partner) will cut completely over to OLE in July of 2014, so they are getting closer. Between now and then, Chicago will also switch from Aquabrowser to VuFind.

The University of Windsor is switching from Evergreen (an open source ILS that many public libraries adopted) to Alma, the next-generation system from Ex Libris. At the Ex Libris booth, I got a custom demo and peppered them with a lot of questions. Then I went to the OCLC booth and did the same thing. I heard a lot of similarities in the way those two systems are supposed to operate and here are two key pieces:

  • no more logging in to different modules — you log into the system once and what you’re allowed to interact with is based on the permissions that have been set
  • pushing and pulling big batches of data and updates to data is facilitated through lots of APIs

The real question is how well they will work in the variety of library environments. For instance, a salesman told me that MARCedit would be unnecessary and demonstrated how to edit the 856|z, but upon questioning, he thought it was record by record, not global editing for a batch. Case in point, right? OCLC has just over 100 libraries using their product right now with a couple hundred more signed (according to our sales rep) and Ex Libris is not far behind in gaining contracts for Alma. I think the next couple of years of library migrations will expose the weaknesses and result in upgrades to better fit real world practices. Meanwhile OLE and Intota from Proquest will need to be pushing hard to catch up and prove why they might be better in the long run.

Library Storage Discussion Group (LLAMA)

The main thing I learned that may be useful to us is that if you weed from an offsite storage facility, even if you have AIMS, “you have to re-tray” because trying to fill the hole later doesn’t work well. I saw colleagues from Georgia and learned that Emory and Georgia Tech are moving to a joint storage facility. (This type of private/public cooperation was only a dream when I left Emory and it is cool to learn that it really is going to happen, 5 years later.) I had the opportunity to explain about the role of the storage facility for the ASERL journal retention program, now branded Scholar’s Trust. (BTW, Carol Cramer helped with the naming process.)

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project,shared some interesting highlights from surveying about public libraries and while the link to the recording is above, you can login to ALA Connect for the slides which he said would also be posted to eventually. These are my highlights from his talk:

  • Public library patrons are people who like the old services and don’t want changes and people who love the new, both — so libraries and other companies are dealing with the pain of not being able to do everything and are not able to meet all desires.
  • Parents are the best public library lovers — everything is wonderful.
  • Of those who seek the help of librarian, half are in households with an income of under $30,000 and are African American.
  • Young people appreciate a quiet place to sit and study or listen to music.
  • Only 13% use the library’s website.
  • Scarcity and abundance flipped: Time is the new scarcity, not the info. There is a gap between being predisposed to be affectionate and being affectionate — save the patrons’ time and they will love the library. Online learning and online reference are desirable.

Last Hurrah

I rarely have found time at conferences to do much touring and have always wished to see “the Bean” (a sculpture really called Cloud Gate) at Millennium Park. When I learned on Monday that it was only 2 blocks from the restaurant where I was having lunch, I decided to see it, even if it meant I was a little close for comfort in getting to the airport.