Here are some impressions from today’s meeting.
1. I’m more and more convinced that Evergreen is credible. I had lunch with two of the developers and asked them about the acquisitions and serials modules; they said they’d be starting work on them early in the new year, using the same process they used for the OPAC: starting with extensive focus groups from around Georgia to set development priorities. They are paying close attention to what Art Rhyno has been saying about using existing business management systems like OFBiz, which is currently an Apache incubator project but which has started the process of graduating to a full-fledged Apache project. There’s every reason to believe these guys will get it right.
2. A good point from Art: why isn’t there a NextGen-Acquisitions listserv? Why is all our revolutionary innovative energy focused on the front end?
3. Beth Jefferson’s BiblioCommons (Most Impressive Library-Oriented Business Without A Website) is building a full OPAC replacement [i.e. user interface to sit in front of an existing ILS, not a complete new ILS], not just a package of services to be included in an OPAC (as I had thought). They’re focusing on the public library market and doing a lot of very impressive work on the social aspects. The wireframes she showed are lightyears ahead of anything I’ve seen elsewhere.
4. Peter Murray gave a good talk about Service Oriented Architecture, which helped me finally get a grip on what SOA is about. It’s more than just web services. He recommends the forthcoming “SOA for Dummies” book (no kidding) as the best introduction.
5. Alan Darnell showed what he’s doing with MarkLogic, indexing full-text articles, A&I metadata records, and OPAC records together and using citations to link items. It looks very cool and shows the advantages of local loading of licensed dbs. It also shows the value of thinking again about the boundaries between the OPAC and the peripheral OPAC-like services we have these days like the OpenURL resolver and the metasearch engine.
7. Alan’s system aims to “capture the conversation” of the research process by linking things together based on citation analysis. The nextgen OPAC projects aim mostly to improve the undergraduate search experience. Both are based on assumptions about what their target audiences want from systems that we hope to insert deeply into their workflows. We need to know these users very very well.
8. I still can’t find anyone who understands why a Second Life library is such a great idea.