Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Camp kick off slides


I thought you might like to see the slides I used, with the great pictures that Nichole found, to kick off the camp. To download the Powerpoint show here it is:

Camp Powerpoint

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thanks for going camping

Thanks for coming to our first ever WiLSWorld Camp-o-rama. As I think was obvious from the format, it was all up to you to ensure the success of the Camp and you folks all came through like aces. I hope everyone is already thinking about what general topics we might explore when we go camping next year. Just give me a shout when you have an idea. There's just a couple of items post-camp I'd like to throw out and hopefully get some follow up from you.

First off if you blog the Camp, please please please post links to the Camp blog so it ends up having the whole camp-fire story, including the punch lines and moral of the stories. There's already been some pictures and video's posted. Check out John Blyberg's pictures on his Flickr site:

Second, it would be terrific if everyone would post a sentence or 2, or more if you like, of your take-aways from the Camp. What helped you? What confused you? What do you want to remember over the course of the next year as you explore all those OPAC/ILS options and approaches. Again get those thoughts on the blog and make them available for all the campers, even the ones who couldn't attend this year.

Finally my short take away. I was struck with the idea that our new OPAC/ILS's need to be "a growing organism", accepting input, additions, customizations from ourselves, other diverse libraries and patrons in order to create a system that naturally and seamlessly meets needs. That means our new systems must be specified to be flexible and adaptable requiring a lot of re-thinking on the parts of vendors and librarians alike.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I was never good at camp...

I was the small, unathletic one who cried in her bunkbed every night. I know, such a wuss.

Move forward a few decades, and now I love camp -- at least this kind of camp. I'm the Community Librarian for Equinox, the support and development company for Evergreen open source library software. As someone who attends a lot of conferences, I spend a lot of time in very structured sessions, and I'm occasionally also the "sage on the stage" (or as it sometimes feels, "the fish in a barrel") sweating it out up on there on the podium when the real answers are out there... in the crowd.

So it's good to be here in a setting where we can share ideas in a fun, cooperative manner. Free of fear that the volleyball is going to hit me.


I'm Janet White, librarian at Blackhawk Technical College. Out of frustration with our current OPAC, we have been investigating alternatives such as the Polaris System and AquaBrowser. But these systems are expensive for our small budget.
However, I was intrigued with an article a while back in NextSpace, the OCLC newsletter. It was an article by Tom Storey called Moving to the Network Level. He wrote, "Local OPACs have served a purpose but if I were designing an information discovery system today there would be no local catalog. OPACS represent a tremendous duplication of effort." Is this happening? It would be great to have a sophisticated searching system for all or part of one large union catalog.
I am hoping to find out more about what has been done to make searching library records a more user friendly process that is afordable.

Tara Kilby

I'm the library tech at blackhawk technical college. One of my responsibilities is the operation and maintenance of the library's automation system, thus my interest in the camp.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Hi, I'm Peggy Shaffer. I work for Lakeshores Library System and since 2003 I have been a system administrator for SirsiDynix Unicorn (now Symphony). I'm interested in open source catalogs because the SirsiDynix product is old and needs updating, badly. I'm not sure that will happen so I want to explore other possibilities for catalogs.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Hi all, my name is Jennifer Ward and I'm from the other UW - the University of Washington in Seattle. My official title at the UW Libraries is Head of Web Services, but like most of us I wear many different hats. Probably most relevant in the context of WiLS is that I am a member of our WorldCat Local pilot/implementation team, manage the Libraries' usability program, and am always on the lookout for ways to seamlessly integrate relevant library content and resources into the user's environment.

We were the first site to go live with WorldCat Local back in April of 2007. It's been a very positive experience for our users -- they no longer have to look in and navigate all of our discrete silos to find and get to resources. Of course, there's still a long way to go with working at the network level and making access truly seamless for our users, but the possibilities there are hugely exciting.


Hello, my name is Van Carpenter and for 7 years I've been the Director of Library Services at Northland Baptist Bible College. Here at NBBC library we have experienced all of the challenges of a academic library servicing the needs of a small college. This will be my first foray into the face-to-face interaction of WiLS - so, I'm looking forward to it. The busyness in the field has kept me away far too long.

I'm very much interested in the topic of OPAC's and ILS's and, in particular, open source. We have had a Liblime Koha installation for at least two years, and we will soon be migrating to Liblime's Zoom ILS. We are interested in pushing the development cycle envelope and keeping the feature enhancement curve going. As a small college this can be difficult - even in OSS, but in a consortium this task becomes easier.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fishing for Who, What, Which, When

I'm Lauren Blough, the Automation Project Manager at South Central. My current interest in technological "discovery" is determining the total cost of ownership for the shiny new products and services. While software development scales new heights and services continue to evolve with more and more entrepreneurs applying their expertise, it's a challenge to integrate the pieces in a manageable local product/service. Costs are dividing into smaller and smaller units at higher and higher prices, some complicated by the switch from one-time fees to subscription models. Researching OPAC and open source topics is both exciting and mistifying when I try to figure out who has implemented what with which resources (does that statement accurately illustrate bewilderment?).

Use that Feed: Redux


I think I blew the URL for the feed before, apparently some feed readers want to see "http://" rather than the original "feed://".  Go figure.  

So use that feed,... again. Put it into your favorite news reader like Google Reader or Bloglines and you'll always be up to date on the latest postings on the WiLSWorldCamp blog. Here's the feed URL:

Use it, don't abuse it. Be there or be square.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Replace, all or part?

Thanks for the question, Mark, on what gives--are we looking at replacing our whole ILS, or do we maintain our OPAC interface AND put up additional resource discovery interfaces such as WorldCat Local, VuFind, Primo, or Blacklight.

In reading over the posts to this blog, I am noticing two things that folks have mentioned. One is that their libraries are either in the process of replacing their ILS or looking to decouple their public library catalog interface and offer something completely new.

From my limited pointed of view, replacing the whole ILS is a long, slow, tedious process involving a lot of decision makers. Yet so much innovation is going on in user interfaces now. I'd hate to be stuck with my clunky Voyager interface for years longer while I wait for it to slowly upgrade, or wait for the whole RFP process to take place.

Some of my library patrons have told me "your library catalog is 10 years out of date." And "I can't find anything unless I know what I'm looking for." Frankly it isn't really true that the catalog is 10 years out of date. People forget how fast things have changed! But it sure seems like it when other interfaces around us like for Amazon and Google seem to be updating all the time and are so simple while our catalog is still using old search strategies. We've only last month implemented relevancy ranking in search results as the default, and this is only in one type of search--words anywhere. If you do a title search, it's still alpha order. And we still can't really do any sort of faceting of search results.

So for all of these reasons, I'm looking to make our public library catalog software something that runs far faster and is far easier to revise and update than what we have currently. And I don't want to wait. Long ago we used locally created interface software called NLS--it was decoupled from our ILS. Frankly with live linking out to grab the circulation status, I'm thinking decoupling our OPAC interface a better choice for library patrons now, given that there are far better indexing and web searching tools available than there were when we moved off the old NLS platform. By decoupling our catalog interface from our ILS, we'll be able to more quickly innovate and more quickly integrate journal article searching and other types of data with our catalog data. (Yes we have MetaLib and we can do metasearching, but in real-time it isn't quick. I'm really thinking pre-harvesting and indexing of various data feeds is a better solution for patrons in most cases.) Because if it's one thing I hear and see all the time, it's that people won't wait. If it's not fun to search and the results are overwhelming, they soon leave.

And besides, I think my co-worker Steve Meyer, and other library bloggers whose names I am not currently remembering have a good point that it's time to make software much faster than we've been able to in the past. It's time to actually control the interface our public sees. And maybe we'll learn something about indexing in the process.

Questions for the Camp to Talk About


So what questions do you want answered at the camp?  Here's one from me:
How come it seems like if I want a super cool next gen OPAC, I have to run my current old ILS and also run one or more special extra cool add on thingies on top of it?  Huh what?  What if I only want to run one thingie and have it all?



Hi, campers! My name is Nichole Fromm. This is my third or fourth WiLSWorld, but my first one wearing a WiLS "staff" ribbon on my nametag. I'm as interested in the OPAC as everyone here, so here are a couple lines about where I'm coming from...

When it comes to OPACs I'm afraid I'm easily distracted by shiny things, despite a background in and love for cataloging.

I'd rather satisfice than maximize. I'm a big fan of efficiency, yet I can fritter and tinker with the best of them.

Looking forward to this (hopefully) bug-free camping experience!

Camp topics

I'm interested in Open Source, the changing library marketplace (including the OPAC) and the next generation ILS. I think there is crossover between these topics--for example Open Source could be included in the discussion on the next generation ILS. And the changing library marketplace could be part of a discussion on OPACs and/or the next generation ILS.


Hi, I'm Susan Foran, authority control librarian and cataloger at UW-Milwaukee Libraries. I'm interested in the future of cataloging and metadata. All those fancy public interfaces aren't much good if the data isn't accurate. I'm interested in next generation ILS and effective staff-side clients that make creating and maintaining the public interface possible.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camp is next week


The Camp is coming up fast, just next week and it's time to get just a touch more serious about the event. Thanks to all of you who have posted information about yourselves and your interests to the Camp Blog. If you haven't already submitted your introductory post there's still time.

For the next couple of days and through this weekend I think it would be effective to have folks post on the blog two primary bits of information.

First off, add your topics of concern and make sure you add labels. Our current label line up, which at least in part will help to drive our discussion groups is:
introduction (12)
OPACs (9)
libraries (8)
next generation ILS (8)
resource discovery (5)
Open Source (4)
announcements (4)
camps (4)
Public Libraries (3)
access services (2)
PALS (1)
dogs (1)
how tos (1)
interlibrary loan (1)
library software marketplace (1)

So post up you topics and labels and we'll approach the first cut on our topics for the camp.

Second, figuring out who's going to give the 3 quick key presentation. You might remember from the very first posting about the camp:
At the Camp there will be 3 short key presentations based on the blog discussions, of 10-15 minutes each distributed throughout the afternoon. These keys will be designed to stimulate conversations and provoke ideas among the participants. Following each there will be discussion breakouts, on specific topics as determined by the participants both from before-conference blog entries and on site during the Camp
Who wants to step up? We're looking for thought provoking ideas and at 10-15 minutes no big prep time. Instead what can you say to make the attendees think and talk and create even more ideas? Suggest yourself or suggest another attendee. Post it on the blog and will come up with 3 for the Camp. At some camps they might wait until the event to decide the quick key speakers, but I think it would be more librarian style polite to at least give our quick key volunteers a couple of days to semi-prep .

Post to the blog. Email me any questions you might have. See you on Tuesday in Madison.



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Things won't stand still

One of the things I would like to discuss is the fact that the library software market-place will not stand still. Products are being developed so quickly that it makes it difficult to close the door. We thought we had evaluated all of the PAC Discovery tools out there, and now there are 3 more that we really should look at. It's not that we don't want to, but where do you draw the line?

When you apply this to Open Source ILS options, the problem is compounded.

Are others struggling with this issue?


I’m Karen Boehning, the Technology Coordinator at the Winnefox Library System. We’re headquartered in Oshkosh at the Oshkosh Public Library. Winnefox provides technology support and runs an ILS for its 30 member libraries in five counties. The ILS is SirsiDynix Symphony. The catalog is Web2, a product developed by DRA before its purchase by SirsiDynix. Web2 is highly customizable via html and has provided us with more flexibility than is possible with other SirsiDynix catalog interfaces.

I am interested in the direction of catalog development, including faceted searching and federated searching. Two studies we have done on catalog searching shows that our users do a lot of known-item searching. I have concerns about catalog development that seem to be focused on giving the user something/anything, making it harder to find specific items. This may primarily affect public libraries, but I don’t want the public-library point of view to get lost in the process by failing to participate.



I am Linda Orcutt and I administer the shared automation system (V-Cat) for the Wisconsin Valley Library Service (WVLS), headquartered in Wausau. There are 23 members in 32 locations. V-Cat has recently appointed a migration committee to study the various options available for the next ILS. V-Cat currently runs on SirsiDynix Horizon. We are looking at open source as well as the standard vendors. We are tenatively looking at migrating at the end of 2009.


I'm Paula Ducas, the cataloger and automation librarian for the Appleton Area School District. Our school district is the 6th largest in the state, with 40 traditional and charter schools. We are on Dynix Horizon and DRA classic prior to that and are in the process of looking for our next ILS. We are seriously looking at Open Source library software for the price, of course, but also to deal with the diverse needs of our district. Being able to customize quality software to meet the needs of our district is extremely appealing. The question is how to determine the quality and the resources needed to make the software work for us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


My name is Karla Smith, and although my official title is "Automation Librarian", I think of myself more as the "OPAC/ILS Wrangler" for Winnefox Library System.

One of the reasons I am attending this camp is because I worry that the public library patron's needs get lost in all these "The OPAC Sucks" discussions. Most of the prominent people leading the push for Next-Gen OPACs or doing away with the OPAC entirely are from academic backgrounds-- and their patrons have vastly different needs than our patrons. I did a study of the logs from our OPAC, and they clearly indicate that our patrons are looking for known-items -- specific title or author. I am hoping to hear if any other public librarians have looked at their patrons' search patterns.

Stephen Elfstrand and MnPALS: Introduction and Summary

Hi All,

I'm Stephen Elfstrand, Executive Director of PALS; the office supporting the MnPALS Consortium of Libraries in Minnesota. I've been here nearly a year now. Many of you know me from my previous position as Head of Systems and Circulation and the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. I'm looking forward to seeing you all again at WILSWorld.

MnPALS consists of the MnSCU public higher education institutions including State Universities, Community Colleges and Technical Colleges. Basically everything except the University of Minnesota. In addition, we have several state government libraries such as the DNR and Legislative Reference Library and we have several private institutions such as St. John's / St Ben's and Gustavus Adolphus. There are 63 libraries in all. We are currently using Aleph from Ex Libris,as our library management system and have we think the largest multi-ADM environment of any Aleph site. Since Ex Libris is working on a successor product to both Aleph and Voyager, we know there is a system migration in our future.

We are investigating several approaches for Next Gen Library Systems. An example is Open Source ILSs. We recently paid Equinox and LibLime to come to our office and do two-day seminars and go into greater detail than what is available in the 1-2 hour "gee-whizz" demos we've all seen at conferences. Day one was a technical seminar that discussed HW, system architecture, development environment languages. etc. We have actually installed both on servers here. Day two was a functional review of each system and a review of the development plans. Our conclusion is that neither are really ready for a major shared system for an academic library consortium that needs a full feature set that includes Serials, Acq, ILL, Course Reserves, booking, etc. but that they are both moving in the right direction and we are tracking their developments closely.

As for discovery layers we looked seriously an Open Source product that uses SOLR and Lucene: Fac-Bac-OPAC and got fairly far along with it. Later though we looked into VUFind and thought that it had a more advanced feature set, especially for Web 2.0 features, tagging etc. So we decided to go to that as a platform. We hope to release our VUFind for use by any library that wants to use it by August 15th.

We are also brokering OCLC WorldCat Local for several libraries, so I guess we are taking a "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach to the future,rather that trying to figure out what "The Best Way" is. It is significant in this regard that we have a wide variety of libraries and so there may not be one solution that works for all. We hope at a "reference work day" next spring we can have some of our members compare and contrast VUFind and WCLocal in terms of retrieval, display and user acceptance.

We are brokering OCLC Link Manager for some of our members but we are also looking into the CUFTS open source OpenURL linking product for future use. CUFTS is also working on open source ERM and federated search tools, which we find interesting. Since state budgets for higher ed are not growing, rather the opposite and of course library services budgets are tight as well, it is unlikely that we can afford to buy Metalib or Primo - types of products. Our conclusion is that we will have to grow our own to some extent if we want to offer any beyond-the-OPAC/LMS services to our members in the future.


Hi everyone, I'm so late in introducing myself that I had to get Mark to send me another invitation to post to the 'blog ....

Anyways, I'm Deb Shapiro, and I am an instructor at the UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies, SLIS. I teach cataloging and metadata and organization of information. I've been looking at NextGen catalogs sort of from the performance/usability side; how do they search, can you understand the results, what kind of "bling" do they have (reader recommendations, cover art, tagging, etc.). I'm coming to camp in the hopes of getting a firmer grip on how they work; the under the hood stuff. My hidden agenda is that I am looking forward to when it is that I will be able I can stop teaching cataloging students the MARC format! <grin>

My favorite reading so far on NextGen catalogs is Marshall Breeding's Library Technology Reports from last summer: Next-generation library catalogs / Marshall Breeding, Library technology reports, v. 43, no. 4

And I'd really rather be teaching cooking, or art than cataloging ...

Friday, July 4, 2008


I'm Vicki Teal Lovely and I'm the Software Applications Supervisor at the South Central Library System (SCLS). We are a 41-member public library consortium using Dynix Classic. We've been investigating our next-generation ILS since 2000 and have had several false starts. We're closing in on making our final selection. But at the moment I'm very interested in Open Source. My specific areas of responsibility are Acquisitions and Serials, but I'm also concerned about all modules in general.