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Touched a Nerve

Jun - 1 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

Most of you (over 1000 of you) have read my post on the State of our ILS. Well I recently found out that at least one of those people was from Innovative!

2 people from my library were able to attend the recent IUG (Innovative Users Group) conference in Colorado. While at a big event one of them was approached by an innovative staff member. He mentioned that someone had sent him a blog post to read – and he was surprised to find out that it was written by someone who worked at Jenkins – apparently he wasn’t pleasantly surprised though.

What’s my response to that? GOOD! You shouldn’t be happy – in fact I hope that your unhappiness gets some action out of you.

John Blyberg wrote a post yesterday (somewhat unrelated) where he says:

Many of you who follow what I write here know that’s a contentious issue for me, but I’ll keep my hackles down for now and simply remind everyone that this is another reason to demand a few basic rights from our vendors.

I agree and I feel his pain! Most people here know that they don’t want to get me started on the subject of our catalog – I just go on and on and on – and I’m going to keep going on and on and on until someone out there does something about it. So if anyone from Innovative is reading this – pay attention to what your users are saying – and DO SOMETHING!

19 Responses so far.

  1. John says:

    Nicole,

    I read your State of the ILS post and was really glad to see someone else talking about their III system.

    Given all the roadblocks III has thrown our way and the fact that we’ve accomplished what we have DESPITE III not because of them, I could easily let slip a terribly scathing assessment of our experience with them for public consumption. I’ve been reluctant to do that because I don’t think it would accomplish much and would amount to a “last-resort” tactic to get them to shape up. Also, I don’t think it would make a difference.

    In the meantime, I tell people not to purchase Innovative if they want to do anything, er, innovative.

  2. Nicole says:

    Actually I do the same – At CIL this year I was sitting with a bunch of people who were discussing migrating their systems and I told them to stay away from III.

    The thing is – I don’t know what the other systems are like – for all I know they’re just as difficult. For now I’ll keep pushing Talis’ efforts and hope that one the The Platform becomes a reality.

  3. John says:

    I’m fairly certain that III is among the least flexible systems available. SirsiDynix provides an extensive API, for instance. Talis is certainly talking a good game, and I think they’ll probably back it up. Their recent API prototyping is very interesting.

    It seems to me that the ball is in the vendors’ court right now. What they decide to do is ultimately up to them, but we may see some big “mergers” ahead.

  4. Josh says:

    I also could not recommend that anyone migrate to III. I am really looking forward to the day when another library system comes to us when they are considering purchasing the III system. They are in this bubble where they think that anything that a library can or should do, they can think of first and make a product for. Their 75Mil profit last year shows that they are doing everything right, right?

    They do have a good sales team though, we were hooked and reeled in. It wasn’t until later that all the limitations and roadblocks of the system became apparent. They have done a good job of gilding a 15 year old turd.

  5. Nicole says:

    LOL! That’s exactly it isn’t it – a 15 year old turd. Time to start over wipe the slate clean and come up with something new – and dare I say – Innovative!

  6. Cece says:

    I can testify that III is not the only 15-yr old gilded turd on the market. TLC has some interesting quirks as well.

  7. Nicole says:

    Well – I’ve said it before – I think they all need to take a step back and stop building onto old systems – it’s time to scrap the old and start fresh – with the help of librarians in the field.

    15 years ago the system was all about the librarians keeping track of titles – now we need systems that do that and give the patrons what they’re looking for – but that’s a whole other post.

  8. [...] I wrote yesterday of Nicole Engard’s comment that the ILS was about as open and flexible as a brick wall. Today I learned that the vendor of that ILS had tried to squash her public criticism. [...]

  9. Jane says:

    We use Innovative too and I have a whole lovely post about all the ways it sucks. http://wanderingeyre.com/2006/06/14/actual-reasons-why-my-opac-sucks/

    Innovative needs to get with the program. Ok, ALL OPAC vendors need to get with the program because we are not going to take their crappy products any more. I agree they should be upset and I hope they are listening. We may have put up with this in the past, but no more!

  10. [...] June 1 – Touched a Nerve – An account by Nicole Engard of a run-in with some III folks at IUG (Innovative Users Group meeting). Her post seems to be the one that kicked off this particular vendor roast. Essentially, She mentions an incident at this year’s Denver IUG in which a III employee expressed displeasure at her post, State of the ILS. I agree with Nicole that it’s probably a good thing that III employees are a little upset with some of these assessments. I’ll also stand by my comments on Nicole’s post–I’m among the first to admit that III can be infuriating to work with and I would not recommend it to any library interested in doing heavy customization. I’d caution all parties, however, to address the problems and not their emotions associated with this hot potato. [...]

  11. George D. says:

    FANTASTIC post – so pleased to see this issue given some visibility, especially since these views are so widely held by system librarians.

    This remains my biggest disappointment with the entire ILS vendor marketplace; namely, the overly strict market segmentation of functionality and options, tightly coupled with ***an approach to software engineering that seeks to prevent customers from building even the most basic interfaces on their own, lest they find a way out of the vendor’s secret black box.***

    E-commerce anyone ?? Oh, yes, you can pay patron fines! Woo hoo! But how about tightly integrating our catalogue with our Bookstore operation for e-commerce? Good luck with that one…

    Or how about using the “Cadillac” of ILS’s (Innovative) to manage our sector’s publications database? Sounds like the ILS is the right tool? Nope–10 years ago we had to introduce Cuadra STAR in our shop because you can’t go beyond MARC with an ILS (support for MARC, but add your own custom field attributes, make them searchable, etc.). Remarkably, in 2006(!!) you still can’t go beyond MARC fields!! Way too many ugly hacks around even the most basic IT/IM problems.

    Oh, and that Oracle ‘back-end’ we paid big bucks to facilitate some basic, more open interaction with OUR DATA — nearly useless — IMHO, just added on by Innovative (and probably most other vendors) to meet the RFP requirements. The ILS is barely using Oracle RDMS for anything else but file storage…

    WebOPAC — don’t get me started on that one! Supposed to be the showcase of any library, but key aspects are guaranteed to be 2-4 years out of date with each new release… But don’t let us help out, complete control must rest with the vendor.

    True enough, vendors are indeed offering lots of “innovation” — but it’s just not enough at the fundamental, application architecture level. The library community needs to smarten up about this, and make some serious demands for change..

    See also my post here:
    http://lists.webjunction.org/wjlists/xml4lib/2005-October/005567.html

  12. Nicole says:

    You know what sticks out in what you wrote? You called Innovative the Cadillac of ILS’s – that’s what our director called it. I told her we didn’t need a Cadillac – we needed a Honda :)

  13. George D. says:

    re: calling “Innovative the Cadillac of ILS’s”

    Yeah, that’s the phrase that was also apparently used around here 10+ years ago when we started with III. BTW, a little trivia, the first generation Cadillac (’76-79) was based upon the same platform used by the Chevy Nova.

    That’s our ILS — still built upon that old Chevy Nova foundation!!!

  14. Nicole says:

    That is so true – and so funny – so I guess III is a first generation Cadillac – certainly not a new shiny one!

  15. Roger Hiles says:

    I’ve worked with a variety of vendors over the years– some better than III, some worse. And III is certainly not alone in having a sucky OPAC! But Innovative’s best fit is with libraries large enough to afford them, yet too small to have the resources to add features or services themselves. As has been mentioned, at that point, SirsiDynix’s approach becomes more appealing.

    But equation is changing fast. The argument for third-party discovery tools is getting easier to make everyday. Once we’ve added a “presentation layer” separate from the OPAC, we’ve broken vendor lock-in, and in a new world of mix and match, Open Source ILS products like Evergreen or Koha could become much more attractive, budget-wise, to slot in underneath.

    GREAT blog, by the way. Keep it up!

  16. [...] wonders if they actually have read the Cluetrain Manifesto. So, we have a vendor that is rather infamous in the biblioblogosphere adopting a 2.0 tool and some of the most unique and respected voices in [...]

  17. [...] like Michael Stephens and Nicole have said that Innovative is not very [...]


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