Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Uncertain Future of QuickDoc

The library community lost a colleague this past spring with the passing of Jay Daly. Among his accomplishments was the conception and development of QuickDoc, an ILL-management system designed to interface with the Nation Library of Medicine's NLM's DOCLINE system and was used by around 1,500 medical libraries at the time of his passing. Jay would will call libraries to work through any unresolved problems and was very personable. He will be missed.

QuickDoc filled an important gap in the service offered by NLM; a more user friendly interface and management module. NLM was likely happy that Jay built the system since it saved them development time. Since Jay's death, NLM has posted a note on their site that the future of QuickDoc is uncertain. In a note to MEDLIB-L, Margo Coletti, Director of Knowledge Services at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, indicated that it has fallen on her to figure out what to do with QuickDoc:
I don't know what plans Jay had, if any, for the continuation of QD should he be unable to continue. I'm guessing that he did not have any idea that this would happen. His death was not at all predictable or expected. I am still trying to access Jay's files and his program. I cannot promise anything at all to you, Jay's customers. I'm not a programmer and I haven't been able to access the program, anyway. If I can access it, I'll ask someone to look at it and figure out if they can take it on. Please be patient. This will take some time.
I don't monitor the QuickDoc email list and am not up to date on current discussions. Unless QuickDoc was written as a work for hire and Beth Israel owns it, or was willed, it will likely be tied up in probate. The truth is that NLM should have taken over the development of the system long ago since so many of their DOCLINE customers were using it.

As a community, libraries should not have to reply on innovative people like Jay to develop systems that bridge the functionality gaps we expect from our systems. We continue to see such development occurring since many of us are getting tired getting responses from vendors like this (a real vendor response):
"...our development folks have talked about...I'll let them know of your interest in such functionality and we'll consider it as potential enhancement to the system"
When we have to out of necessity, as a community we need to jump in to help support and make sure those solutions remain viable in an unforeseen event.

The future of QuickDoc is indeed uncertain. Many hospital libraries will probably continue to use the QuickDoc application until problems occur that can not be fixed locally. When an install does fail, there will be few alternative solutions. Some may land up paying substantial licensing feeds for solutions that are really too sophisticated for their needs.

The thought that some will have no choice but to go back to the manual processing methods used decades ago is too hard to comprehend this day and age. It could soon be the reality.
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Eagle Dawg said...

Please don't scare me like that, Eric, NLM said the future of *QuickDoc* is uncertain... not DOCLINE ;)

I agree that innovators need institutional support, or at the very least collaborators with admin rights. Sadly, it was Jay's death that awakened me to this, so I quickly designated a backup for the medical librarian group social media outlets I moderate.

Eric Schnell said...

Opps, inserted a 'DOCLINE' where a 'QuickDoc' was supposed to go...