Day 3 SLA 2014 conference June 10: Talking with the vendors
I had four unofficial priorities for this conference
1. Network with library and information consultants
2. listen to talks presented by library and information consultants
3. informally talk about my research ideas with library and information consultants
4. experience SLA for the first time
However, on attending I found that I just went with the flow (giving up my own agenda) and sought to make the most of the experience. This included:
• talking and networking with employed librarians, which enabled me to receive valuable career advice and counselling
• formally joining AIIP (paying the student membership fee)
• purchasing Mary Ellen Bates' book on Building & Running a Successful Research Business
• learning whatever I could from each presentation at the conference (especially those relating to social media or my other research interests)
• and finally, talking with vendors to get updates on their products and what’s going on with databases today
It is the latter official goal that I want to discuss some more in this blog entry.
I spent the time listening to presentations from and chatting with the vendors of library systems and technological solutions. In total, I counted 4 vendors that I actively or passively engaged to learn from:
1. Intellixir LCC,
2. Elsevier – Scopus
In addition, I sat in a session where librarians shared their stories about how they made the best of SharePoint for their Intranet and library services, which deserves its own blog post.
However, in this particular blog post, I want to discuss the 2 vendors that I spoke with who actually had clients in the English-speaking Caribbean: Minisis and InMagic. In fact, because I was aware that my colleagues from the region used these vendors, I took the time to learn about their updates and upgrades.
InMagic Presto for DB/TextWorks
I spoke to Jason Buggy from Lucidea and had him demo the new Web-based interface upgrade for InMagic dubbed Presto and was impressed. New features include being able to incorporate blog entries and other social media such as discussion fora into the catalogue results. That’s right folks; the industry is ahead of academia, as they are already providing features for including blog entries and discussion forums in a library’s catalogue. Of course, the entries are based on what the librarian collects and vets.
In addition, a new feature that I also saw was that Presto enabled one to include the profiles of experts (picture, contact information and blurbs of experience/knowledge) into the catalogue or OPAC results. That’s right; the inclusion of people information in the OPAC results as well, so that one can showcase the knowledge experts or knowledgeable people sources
You can check out a brochure on Inmagic’s Presto here: http://www.inmagic.com/products/presto-technology/
With news that the National Library of Jamaica is moving beyond WINISIS and on to OCLC’s WorldCat, I was a bit curious as to what’s happening with MinISIS, which is a related platform. So I had a chat with Christopher Burcsik. While for this software, I did not get a demo of the features, I got some background information about the company and MinISIS. For instance, I learned that MinISIS was Canadian. In fact, the brochure that I accessed states that "MINISIS Inc. is a multinational corporation headquartered in Vancouver, BC, with regional offices in Ontario, Tunisia, and Trinidad and Tobago" (p.2).
While MinISIS was once free and based on UNESCO’s open-sourced WINISIS, its development was later funded and sponsored by the Canadian Government (personal interview). Eventually, the Canadian Government cut the funding to the software, forcing MinISIS to change its model from a publicly funded free software development to one where it had to charge fees to be viable. According to the brochure, MinISIS is a social entrepreneurial venture. While they charge fees for the software, they continue to support the development of the software to support the needs of libraries, archives and museums across the world that still depend on and possess databases based on WinISIS records.
I also got some insights from Burcsik, who argued that open source development of library software is not sustainable [especially for developing countries I would add]. He pointed out that there would be need for constant evolution and update, including creating new patches to prevent against viruses and hacking, for which librarians would not be experts in [The whole time he was talking this, I was thinking about University of Prince Edward Island library’s Islandora open source project and wondering if Mark Leggott would strongly disagree]. Burcsik also made the point that WinISIS basically could not survive beyond the efforts of the founder. As such, he suggests that only commercially drive software by companies driven by profits can continue to develop sustainable products for libraries (personal interview).
When I raised the issues of OCLC, it was suggested that OCLC, though claiming to be a non-profit entity, was actually between a non-profit and profit-making entity. It was also suggested that OCLC perhaps makes far more profit than MinISIS. This may be something that I might need to look into further.
Minisis Inc. (N.d.). Minisis Inc: Celebrating over 40 years of innovation in database technology [Computer file/Brochure]. N.p.: Author.