SLA Legal Division Program Accepted

SLA Legal Division Program Accepted by David Whelan Web-based integrated library systems (ILS) are fundamental in the modern library. While many systems remain mixed, with a Web-based online public access catalog (OPAC) and a proprietary internal database frontend, more and more systems are available written entirely for Web. A program was proposed for next year’s Special Library Association meeting in Denver, and I’ll be on the panel!

I have two takes on these systems.  First, they appear to enable faster development and because of Linux Apache MySQL and Perl/PHP (LAMP), open-source options are also appearing.  Systems like Koha and Evergreen offer an awful lot of power and customization for not a huge amount of money [kind of like Plone!].

Second, Web-based ILS can be scaled and hosted in ways that were impossible with older systems.  Some of the behemoths of ILS are still trying to get a “hosted solution” using Citrix or Terminal Server, forcing their bloated database interface through a virtual window.  Better are systems like that from EOS International (a vendor I eventually selected for my own library‘s system in 2006) where both the OPAC and staff interfaces are built using a Web architecture.  Unfortunately, in the case of EOS, it’s an entirely Microsoft archictecture, but it’s still a step forward.

We have already seen a substantial cost savings in outsourcing our ILS and taking advantage of a Web-based system, if not an entirely Web standards-based system.  It will be interesting to see in what direction the moderators and panelists for this SLA Legal Division program go!

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David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.