This is the first of a short series of posts that will discuss Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and libraries.
I am certainly not alone discussing SOA. Marshall Breeding is one of several that have been discussing SOA approach as has OhioLinks' Peter Murray and CISTI's Richard Akerman (NOTE: The July 15th issue of LJ will have an article by Richard on SOA). It is a concept that librarians need to be exposed to as often as possible.
SOA is a systems design architecture approach / philosophy that has been around for a while, but one that has come of age. It is also a difficult concept to explain to non-developers and those without a techology orientation. The documentation for SOA is pretty thick and geared towards CIS professionals. That is why I have found the analogy of changes in the early twentieth century automobile assembly line communicates the general concept. The most visible result of the SOA approach is the emergence of web mashups.
The move towards SOA for library systems has the potential to improve the ROI by providing a better access to and aggregation of the information resources we license. For example, with SOA consortia libraries could work together to build systems sharing common bibliographic / resource data and then build customer interfaces and search systems which look and work quite differently. SOA can allow libraries to use and improve information resources contributed by others and customize its delivery to customers.
The adoption of the SOA models can enable libraries to evolve into stronger organizations at the very moment in time that the use of libraries is becoming just another piece of the customer’s information seeking experience. All librarians, especially library leaders, need to understand SOA.
Part Two: What We Have Today
Part Three: Where Are We Heading?
Part Four: Challenges
Part Five: Final Comments
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