Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where are the Library Mashups? Well....

The Krafty Librarian has asked the question: Mashups What Happened?:

"So what happened? Are the mashers too busy working on their latest creation to be discussing it online? Are mashups still too technical for the average person to create to be popular in the library world? Are librarians victims of their closed systems, thus limiting the amount of mashups created and used?

If the discussion is specifically about library resource/service mashups, then unfortunately I feel the last question gets to the crux of the reason.

Libraries rely upon commercial systems from vendors that often use proprietary technologies instead of those that support open standards. These closed systems have made solutions such as mashups very difficult to build, if not impossible, primarily since our systems can not talk to one another.

There are many ways that one can build a mashup, with the most common being through RSS and APIs. The core of what makes many of the more powerful mashups work - the API - remains one of their their most tightly guarded core intellectual properties and revenue streams. The vendors place a death grip on those very APIs which would allow libraries to create mashups using services provided by disparate systems. I would love to build mashups to pull information out of our III system in a more elegant way then screen scraping.

While libraries have embraced consortia solutions for most large scale purchases, for some reason we have not gotten together (projects like PINES being one exception) in open systems development that would result in new library systems based on open standards. Such systems could be built using an open architecture and shared with the library community. Community source, if you will.

At the very least, I believe our library leadership and professional organizations need to begin demanding that vendors begin using open standards and opening up their APIs. By continuing to embrace proprietary vendor solutions - as they decide to build them - we may be destined to remain two or three years behind the technology curve. Sphere: Related Content

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