This is my first conference since WFU signed up to migrate to Alma, and I hit the Ex Libris events as much as possible. Two important features to highlight right away: they are working peer-to-peer real time support in Alma with a network of available, self-identified experts (this is library folks helping library folks – not for end users); and DARA (Data Analysis Recommendation Assistant), a machine learning assistant that will provide smarter online help. They are also in the process of opening an app store for Alma sites to share plug-ins and other code they’re working on. So far, this mostly looks like pointers to Alma-oriented projects on Github.

Dara and EVE. Just saying.

Speaking of Ex Libris, Lauren and I happened to wander into the exhibits together, and up to the Ex Libris booth together, any as it happens we were treated to a half-hour discussion with both Bar Veinstein (President of Ex Libris) and Eric Hines (President of Ex Libris North America). Now that’s a high-level overview. Important takeaway – not that these didn’t come through in other presentations: Alma is the kernel of a cloud-based platform on which Ex Libris will position multiple other products (so a few of us can anticipate some sales calls). This embiggening of Alma is already visible in references to the Ex Libris Higher Ed Cloud Platform.

From the Meetings

  • Blockchain continues to be a fascinating solution in search of a [library] problem.
  • Developing library skills for Alexa is becoming a thing, although doing it *well* is going to be a fun challenge. And ohbytheway Alexa’s market share in the US is falling, so any moves in this direction need to factor in the Google Assistant and Siri also.
  • I am so glad that our demand-driven acquisitions work doesn’t take place in a public library and doesn’t have to accommodate audio books.
  • The people working on open source library systems all point to the same reason they haven’t taken off faster: the inflexibility of using RFPs to identify and select software platforms.


As promised, NISO held a meeting to discuss RA21, the forthcoming plan among scholarly research sites to improve access through institutional logins (rather than each school trying to route users through their own proxies or VPNs first). The draft recommendation from April generated a record number of public comments, and NISO will publish those comments and their responses. Most of the back and forth has to do with privacy issues, and my take is that NISO is doing the right things; and participating publishers will need to agree to a sound code of conduct for handling any private data (although by design, private data will stay between the user and their home institution). But no central authority will have enforcement power, and it was suggested that we hold publishers’ feet to the fire on privacy issues with licensing terms going forward.


It’s the year 2019 and in the rest of the world we’ve mastered the art of projecting our presentations onto bright, high definition displays. In the bizarro world of convention center and hotel AV, it’s still a very different story. Why is this still an issue?

Can we please stop with the idea that–after schlepping half way across the country and packing themselves into a 200-seat meeting room to hear “[Significant Developments] in [Important Issue]”–what conference attendees want is half a presentation and then an Opportunity to Break Out for Small Group Exercises?

[The people streaming out of the room with me all agree.]

Dear EBSCO, thanks for the lunch. Literally could not hear your speakers. You may have just announced the coolest thing ever–I wouldn’t know.

And finally, note to self: the convenient transit system you got used to on Friday and Saturday may not work exactly the same way early on Sunday morning. See also: this same note from conferences in Chicago and Boston.