Changing Nature of the Catalog (again)

I’m finally reading this report – and I have to admit at first I thought it would be a dry research type paper – but it’s good! I have actually found my self laughing out loud – not necessarily because it’s funny – but because I’ve been saying some of the same things and so have a lot of other people and it’s great to see it in some sort of official report.

This morning I read a few pages that made me feel the need for a mini-rant. This quote from page 41:

“libraries want a ton of customization; this is ridiculous and must stop.”

This first was obviously given by a vendor, but I can see where he/she is coming from – which brings us to quote two from the bottom of page 42:

A couple of interviewees advised ILS vendors not to ask librarians what systems should do, but to find out what libraries need to do for their users (and forget the long enhancement lists from librarians).

I think they go hand in hand.

Someone (and I can’t remember who) said either on their blog or at a conference that we have the wrong people in charge of communicating with our vendors. IT people should be involved in these discussions and they should be the ones talking to the vendors – why? Because we can talk their language! We can go to them and say not only what we want, but how we’d like to see it implemented, we can also explain to the non-techie people why something was done the way it was and why a request is silly or not possible. I’ve seen these enhancement lists – and they’re a joke! They’re long and unruly and I see why our catalogs are such a mish-mash of contradictory code.

I repeat my plea for our catalogs to be trashed and started from scratch – keeping in mind object oriented programming, APIs and modules – we don’t need monolithic systems – we need systems that are customizable to our own institution. This report addresses the issue of monolithic systems by saying that there should be standards across the board so that we can all share data – and this too is necessary – which brings us back to the need for librarians and vendors to work together to come up with a platform that will allow us to bridge all gaps.

Rant over – read the report – it’s well worth it!

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