now that’s how you do a FOSS press release

The Howe Library in Hanover NH has just moved their ILS to Evergreen. They sent out a very cool press release. Here is the first paragraph.

In a technology move designed to cut taxpayer costs, Howe Library is pleased to announce it has moved its entire bibliographic catalog and circulation system to Evergreen, an open-source integrated library system used by hundreds of libraries nationwide and in Canada. Moving to Evergreen will save considerable taxpayer dollars, primarily in annual service fees and upgrades.

Talk about upbeat! Instead of saying “Hey we’re going to have some downtime.” or “Here is all the new stuff you need to know.” they focus on the things that will affect everyone, lower fees and stable trusted software. Nice work team. Here’s the press release, now linked on their site.

the first of, I suspect, many ILS lawsuits

“The Queens Borough Public Library, one of the largest and busiest libraries in the United States, has filed a major lawsuit against Sirsi Corporation, which currently does business as SirsiDynix.”

You can read the complaint here. Even though it’s 193 points long, I suggest some browsing. The basic issue is that Queens Borough was looking for an ILS, got bids from both Sirsi and Dynix, chose Dynix and then because of the “merger” actually got Sirsi who were a little jerkish. The library spent a lot of time and money on this process and wound up with the product they had not chosen. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. As someone who is often privy to a lot of “we have been having nearly-legal fights with our ILS vendor” stories, I’m glad to see one break through the light of day. [gwasdin]

cautionary OPAC tale

You know how gamers like to sometimes memorize button sequences that will enable them to get out of tricky situations or basically cheat? Well, let’s try to figure out how to recreate the code that caused this Sirsi ILS to automatedly order one copy of everything. Anyone from PSU in the house?

On the day of the time change to daylight savings time earlier this month, an unknown someone at my library went to change the time in our Workflows system. Somehow this action triggered a sequence of events in the program that led from point A to point B, the latter point being that the system emailed out to the vendors an order for every item that had ever been ordered by any branch of our library since May of 2001. We are talking about millions and millions of items ordered overnight. Some orders to large vendors, like Yankee, consisted of tens of thousands of items.

promiscuous library [data]

Seeking skunkworks and promiscuous library data is an article I should have linked to a few weeks ago. If you don’t know what a skunkworks is, the article has a helpful link (and now this one does too!). In short, the article posits that it would be easier to hammer out flexible user intercfaces if it were easier to get raw standardized data OUT of ILSes that do the hard work of circulation, patron, and money management, things that don’t need to look pretty, or as pretty. Very long, very well-linked and cited, very worth reading.

my tag cloud and forcing an opac solution

Jason Griffey makes a good point, the “tag cloud” I referred to when talking about daveyp’s OPAC subject cloud was a bit of a misnomer. Now that I’m using LibraryThing, at least a little bit, I have been looking at my author cloud which makes me think one thing “Man I read on the plane a lot!”

I’ve been swapping email with Tim over at LibraryThing because I’ve been talking to some small libraries (less than 10,000 volumes) about OPAC ideas. LibraryThing doesn’t have an enterprise version yet, but it’s got some features I’d love to see in my own OPAC, like a feed for “recently added” books, options for turning book cover display on or off (why is this so hard?) and all the cloudy goodness. The small-library OPACs I’ve seen are often either kludgey stripped-down versions of larger ILSes, or they’ve got terrible web implementation which seems added on as an afterthought. If anyone has seen a stand-alone OPAC that’s attractive, cheap and easy for non-techies to implement, please let me know. We don’t need patron or money management features, just the book parts, and maybe a “checked in/out” flag.

While you’ve got your OPAC hat on, read the ILS Customer Bill of Rights and the four fundamental must-haves.

  1. Open, read-only, direct access to the database
  2. A full-blown, W3C standards-based API to all read-write functions
  3. The option to run the ILS on hardware of our choosing, on servers that we administer
  4. High security standards

Is that too much to ask? Don’t miss the comments, I’m going to make “glommed-together, katamariesque nightmare ILS codebase ” part of my lexicon. What’s katamari, you ask?