I attended a session this morning on the Changing Face of Library Automation and Open Source by Ken Chad. He is a consultant who, among other things, helps library systems during the change-over to a new ILS vendor. He started with an overview of the state of the library market (with a UK bias) and actually began by talking about Google. A frequent message I’ve heard in the conference, and he reiterated, was that Google is a library company – their mission statement makes them definitely “one of us”. Ken stated that they got into the library world in the reverse, though, by starting with search and moving on to collections (via Google book digitization, Google Scholar, etc), rather than starting with a collection and branching out to searching that collection, as libraries do. He reviewed the UK based vendor landscape and showed that change of ownership and/or consolidation is happening everywhere. He then listed the influences of vendor strategies:
- Web 2.0
- New User Behavior
- W3C standards (web services, etc.)
- Need for increased productivity at reduced cost of ownership
Ken then brought up the “Amazon-like” recommendations engines and how libraries and vendors aren’t offering anything like it – yet. Next was a look at the fact that the market is failing (he mentioned the “Opac Sucks” conversations in the US from a while back) and said that this will open the way for open source.
He mentioned, during the second half of the program, social production (people giving their time w/others to produce goods – such as Linux – for free), passionate amateurs (LibraryThing’s Tim Spaulding, for one) and that “most creativity is collaborative”. He advocates for the library to be a platform for collaboration and creativity. The audience then chimed in on the concept of a sense of value – Radiohead’s recent release of an album without a price, the users could just pay what they thought it was worth. One lady said that 80% of the downloads were paid for. She also brought up the concept of restaurants that don’t have fixed prices and the fact that people are paying enough for the food that they are making a profit.
Finally, the discussion centered on open source alternatives to traditional ILS offerings and how they are used in libraries. Several people are using solutions such as Koha or Evergreen. One gentleman said that he had used a commercial VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that was so bad, they ended up recreating one in Facebook!
All in all it was a good presentation and an interesting discussion!