Thursday, July 24, 2008

Open Source Integrated Library Management Systems

I necessarily subscribe to a bunch of lists and feeds. The flow can be overwhelming but if you get into a simple scanning routine you notice patterns in the ebb and flow of the communal mind that is the web. In addition I actually talk to you about issues and ideas. For this post I thought I just mention some of the things that have caught my eye/mind recently.

Open Source Integrated Library Management Systems are a key watch topic with QULOC-ICT. The two main systems are Evergreen and Koha the general feeling is that these systems don't have the full range of modules the commercial providers have but they do work. On web4lib there has been a lot discussion not about the software itself but hiring third parties to maintain and develop it.

The software is free but support is not. But, unlike the pricing model the commercial providers use (an annual license/maintenance fee that has no connection with what you actually get, and additional costs for customised development) you negotiate with the third party when you want something done or get quotes from a number of third parties.

Sidebar: Talk to an ex-sales person from one the big ILMS providers and to find some truly bizarre formulas for calculating costs (which are usually manipulated so that a pre-decided on price is the answer): number of campuses, students, staff, books and multiply, divide, add, subtract, sine, cosine, tangent them in an order of their choosing.

Increasingly libraries are dipping their toes in the Open Source Software (OSS) water by using it as an additional layer or view to existing data stores, for example the NLA use of VuFind as an alternative OPAC, Charles Darwin University is experimenting with it as well.

A number of libraries have announced an actual dive into the water. In the last month the following libraries have gone KOHA:
And these libraries have gone with Evergreen recently:
As more libraries move to open source opportunities open up for competitors for Equinox (Evergreen), LibLime (Koha) and Media Flex (OPALS).

We are currently planning to upgrade Horizon to 7.4.1 in the mid-semester break, more information as we approach that period.

Further reading

The JISC review: Library Management Systems: Investing wisely in a period of disruptive change
Library Journal article: Automation System Marketplace 2008: Opportunity Out of Turmoil

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Open Source competitor for Dewey

Tim Spalding of LibraryThing has made a call for volunteers to create an open source alternative for the Dewey Decimal Classification system. It seems Tim's ultimate aim is to have the LibraryThing 'collection' classified using this new system, apparently to allow users to 'browse' virtually.

The comments on the blog veer from the derogatory to heart-on-sleeve enthusiasm.

You can follow the discussions in the LibraryThing group: Build the Open Shelves Classification. So far the discussion seems to be struggling to get out of a DDC/LCC mindset, though some interesting ideas have been put forward. Personally I find that accommodating a one dimensional ordering (ie shelf ordering) is hampering the discussion and I think a more three dimensional approach would be more useful in the online context. It makes me think of faceted classification systems that I barely recall from an obscure part of my library degree a couple of decades ago.

What I find interesting is that LibraryThing senses a need for more structured than the folksonomy approach that is its signature. And in the same week that Web4Lib started talking about ChaCha, a search engine that combines human mediation with with search engines to give users 'answers rather than a list of links'. Does this signify a shift in the zeitgeist about the costs and benefits of human vs machine processing of information? Probably not. But it's a timely reminder that a trained human brain and structured information resources aren't yet anachronisms.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Academic Live and Live Books fade away

Go away for a couple of months and everything changes.

On the 23rd of May 2008 Microsoft announced that it was pulling the plug on Live Search Academic and Live Search Books, two products it launched as direct competition for Google Scholar and Google Books respectively.

Though never as widely used as their Google counterparts they were useful products and it is sad to see the work done in digitising 750,000 books and indexing 80,000,000 journal articles disappear from the information retrieval landscape.

In the announcement Satya Nadella, Senior vice president search, portal and advertising at Microsoft states that it is a business decision as they have decided to "focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers". The announcement states that the company does not see a sustainable business model for the services in the current environment.

The existing indexes will be merged into the Live Search engine

Friday, July 4, 2008

Link Resolver stats overview for first half of 2008

Just a brief glimpse of the usage statistics for SFX year-to-date. See the full reports on the Library Intranet (JustUs), password required.

Requests 207247 (number of clicks on 'Find It' button) - up 15% on 2007

Click Throughs 161891 (the number of times Link Resolver either found an e-holding OR user clicked on the 'Search Catalogue' link when no e-holding found) - up 11% on 2007

The databases providing the most link resolution requests are:
  • PsycInfo
  • Google Scholar
  • Web of Knowledge/Web of Science
  • Medline
In addition to ejournal holdings our link resolver initiated 23850 catalogue searches and delivered 2974 ebooks

The top epublishers were:
  • Elsevier
  • Gale
  • Proquest
  • Blackwell
  • Free Ejournals
  • Informaworld
  • Springer
  • Wiley
  • Ovid
  • Sage
The five most popular journals were:
  • Marine ecology progress series
  • The Australian journal of rural health
  • Aquaculture
  • Science
  • Marine biology
Approximately 70% of requests resulted in a fulltext service

Wiley InterScience swallowing Blackwell Journals Online (Synergy)

The Wiley merge of Blackwell Journals hasn't been as smooth as hoped. The database search appears be working and X Search returns the same number of hits for both Wiley and Synergy, and the A-Z list of databases both point to the same page (Wiley have arranged for all traffic to the old Synergy address to go to their site but I'm not sure if this due to a redirect or a DNS change).

The issues we are having are with our link resolver (Find It). There has been a lot of discussion the SFX listserv about users accessing the Synergy titles being sent to either the Wiley home page or to the journal's home page on Wiley.

Below is some information on the problem, it's ETA for resolution, and some stats on how the Wiley servers is coping with the additional journals (JCU had around 900 Blackwell titles and Synergy was a second most accessed ejournal publisher in the first five months of 2008 (Wiley is seventh))

Dear all - Here is an update on some of the issues raised today about the Wiley InterScience transition:

Downtime - The site went down and was unavailable for a short time this afternoon and last night, UK time. We have now identified the same cause of both these periods of downtime and are therefore able to fix it to prevent it occurring for this reason again.

Access to subscribed journals - if you find that your access to particular titles is not set up, such as for non-Collection titles, then please submit your request via our Customer Services site as I suggested: This serves two purposes; 1) it will get your problem fixed and your access set up as you need it, and 2) it will enable our engineers to judge whether there is truly a pattern in the types of requests we're getting and therefore will help them to find a generic fix if there is.

OpenURL linking - we are working on this so that OpenURL / SFX links to Blackwell Synergy pages are redirected to the nearest equivalent page on Wiley InterScience rather than the homepage as is happening now. The fix may take a few days so apologies for this. Links to the Blackwell Synergy URLs which are constructed like so are working.

Athens - we are working to resolve this so that authentication works for all journals. It currently seems to work for some journals and not others.

Google Scholar - Lesley Crawshaw pointed out that yesterday Google Scholar search results weren't resolving to articles on Wiley InterScience for Blackwell journals. This was because yesterday Google chose not to search the site. We are checking that they are now indexing the site as promised.

DOIs - Colin MacLean raised the issue of DOI links not resolving to the appropriate article. We think this is because the article hasn't yet been loaded onto Wiley InterScience. As I mentioned, there is still some content which we are working through to upload and this can be found on our transition site:

Site activity - Just for your information I wanted to give you some feedback about initial activity on Wiley InterScience now that we've had one day with the added 1.6 million Blackwell articles. Since yesterday the response times have improved with 99% of pages being served in less than 2 seconds, usage is up 77% over the same period last week, and content delivered to customers is up 60% over last week, alongside the 43% increase in content on the site. Once we have resolved these final access, linking and content issues, we will of course expect this to rise still further.

If there are any other errors you'd like to report then please submit them via our Customer Services site as that way we can monitor them, report on them, fix them, and respond directly to you about them.