To explain the utility of semantic search and linked data, Jeff Penka, director of channel and product development for information management solutions provider Zepheira, uses a simple exercise. Type “Chevy Chase” into Google’s search box, and in addition to a list of links, a panel appears on the right of the screen, displaying photos of the actor, a short bio, date of birth, height, full name, spouses and children, and a short list of movies and TV shows in which he has starred. Continue typing the letters “ma” into the search box, and the panel instantly changes, showing images, maps, current weather, and other basic information regarding the town of Chevy Chase, MD.
In March 2011, the Boise Public Library (BPL), ID, used $3,300 in Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funding to purchase four iPad 2 tablets and all of the trimmings. As it turned out, BPL may have been a couple of years ahead of its time. This conversation is now coming full circle. Technological advances continue to make tablets lighter, faster, and more affordable. Vendors have recently launched interfaces that make it possible to use a staff tablet to perform tasks ranging from weeding books to signing up new cardholders. Also, applying lessons learned about these devices during the past five years, many libraries are rebooting or enhancing the way tablets are integrated into roving reference, off-site programs, and other workflows.
Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) has announced “Designing for Digital,” a two-day user experience (UX) conference on February 25 and 26, immediately following the 2015 annual ER&L conference at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, TX, held February 22–25. The new event builds on the success of the full UX Day launched last year at ER&L 2014, according to conference officials.
The future of libraries won’t be created by libraries. That’s a good thing. That future is too big and too integral to the infrastructure of knowledge for any one group to invent it. Still, that doesn’t mean that libraries can wait passively for this new future. Rather, we must create the conditions by which libraries will be pulled out of themselves and into everything else.
Few things can be more frustrating to library patrons—or staff, for that matter—than a self-check system that’s ill-suited for its setting. But when such a system runs smoothly, it increases efficiency, protects materials, promotes library programming, and instills confidence in patrons, which translates into increased circulation and a staff with more time to focus on things like programs and services.
This first edition of Library Systems Landscape, the successor to LJ’s annual Automation Marketplace feature, will examine how library systems are currently evolving, specifically focusing on recent advances in ebook integration, the emergence of next-generation library services platforms (LSP), new tools that are expanding the boundaries of what library websites and catalogs can do, and the maturation of open source options as competitors to commercial products.
Led by Koha and Evergreen, open source ILS solutions continued to demonstrate steady growth in 2013. These systems appeal to libraries for a variety of reasons. Unlike commercial ILS products, open source code can be accessed and altered by anyone with the expertise, enabling libraries to conduct or outsource priority development work on their own schedule, rather than wait for their requests to wend their way through a vendor’s queue.
Profiles of library systems vendors including Auto-Graphics Inc, Axiell Group, BiblioCommons, Biblionix, ByWater Solutions, EBSCO Information Services, Equinox Software, Ex Libris Group, Follett Software Company, Innovative Interfaces Inc., LibLime, The Library Corporation, Mandarin Library Automation, OCLC, Polaris Library Systems, ProQuest, SirsiDynix, and VTLS Inc.
Librarians continue to cite the lack of access to ebook best sellers and other “in-demand” titles as the number one problem preventing patrons from checking out more ebooks, but usability issues are a close second, according to “Ebook Usage in U.S. Public Libraries 2013,” a survey of 553 public libraries conducted by LJ and sponsored by Freading.