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Open Library Environment (OLE) Chicago workshop

I, along with two other colleagues from Notre Dame, attended the OLE workshop at the University of Chicago last week. Perhaps twenty-five people from 10-12 institutions were there, and OLE has been very aggressive with lots of momentum behind them in having many of these workshops.

The OLE project is a Mellon-funded project led by Duke University to build a requirements document for a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) open source ILS (sans OPAC) suitable for the academic/research market. Mellon is also funding the eXtensible Catalog project, a resource discovery environment remarkably akin to Primo. I wonder if they might next fund development of an open-source ERM to complete the library stack they are funding development on . . .

The purpose of the meeting was to collaborate on identifying areas that today’s ILSes do a good job and a less good job, and then to identify what core functionality OLE should/might consider as they build their requirements document for an open-source ILS to meet academic needs. We ended off the afternoon by doing some business process modelling in the groups we were split up in: acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, serials/ERM.

The full reports and output from the workshop are available at:
http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/staffweb/depts/ils/projects/ilsreplacement/OLEUChicworkshop.htm

A couple things struck me about the meeting:

1) Participants were mostly concerned about building a better system with much of the same scope of functionality; there was much less discussion and focus around re engineering workflows and such compared to similar discussions at IGeLU for Ex Libris’ upcoming URM system, for example;

2) SIRSI and a surprising number of Voyager sites were fairly dissatisfied with the functionality set of their current ILSes. Perhaps Aleph does a better job in general with consortia functionality, which is the perspective I was approaching this from. I pointed out to the circulation group I was in where Aleph could handle certain functionality well where the others could not.

3) I found out an interesting metric: Equinox is reportedly supporting 270 libraries on Evergreen for a total (yes, total for all 270) of $200,000. Granted, 250 of these 270 are small publics in the state of Georgia, but that is an impressive total cost of ownership.

4) If there are many libraries that perhaps won’t be able to afford to buy/migrate to URM within the next few years due to the economy, there may be an opportunity to save some Voyager defections by offering to move them to Aleph, and for other SIRSI/Horizon, etc. customers to move them as well. I wonder if Ex Libris has done functionality gap analysis between Voyager and Aleph to any extent?

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