Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thoughts from a Marshall Breeding Lecture

I was over at OCLC this morning to listen to Marshall Breeding speak at their distinguish seminar series. If you ever needed information about the library automation industry, he's the one to ask. His lecture was entitled "Trends in Library Automation: Meeting the challenges of a new generation of library users." Marshall has been a great contributer to the library profession over the past 20 years. I had a few thoughts afterward.

Commercial vendors need to recoup development costs and make a profit in order to survive. They rarely develop enhanced systems until they find that critical mass. The affect this has is that many libraries must delay innovative services waiting for commercial vendors develop and market their solutions. We shouldn't have to tell our library vendors we need systems that can expose our content using Web services and then have to wait years for a critical mass to understand what that means before we see them.

Having already invested significant resources into the deployment of vertically designed proprietary systems, libraries have become locked into a very effective commerical vendor paradigm that most cannot afford to break away from.

It is like an old car that keeps breaking down. If the owner can not afford a new car they keep spending money to repair it. "What is another $1000 repair when I have already put $2000 into it?" The more money that is spent repairing the old car makes it even more difficult for the owner to afford to buy a new one. The owner not only becomes trapped with the old car, they unable to take advantage of all the new features and technologies that the newer models have.

I feel that in many ways libraries are trapped in a constant cycle of repairing the ILS.

If a library has so much invested in an ILS will they simply wait until it breaks down on the side of the road and leaves them stranded? Will purchasing a replacement simply put the library back into the repair cycle? At that point, shouldn't the library be looking at alternative modes of transportation? Sphere: Related Content

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