Friday, May 1, 2009

On the air. On the ground.

Next week, Ex Libris’s North American user group, ELUNA, will convene in Richmond, Virginia, where I’ve been asked to give a keynote session on trends affecting next-generation library services and our plans in this realm. This will be a great opportunity to reflect on the transformational change facing not just libraries, but academia as a whole – and to posit some specific ideas about how Ex Libris can bring new solutions to bear in this environment. As I’ve prepared for this session, I’ve taken some time to read again a number of reports on this topic – No Brief Candle, the 2009 EDUCASE/NMC Horizon Report, ARL/CNI’s “Reinventing Science Librarianship: Models for the Future” forum, and more – which reinforce once again that it’s no longer a question of whether change is necessary, but how and what we, as a community, must do to achieve that change.

This is a question for which Ex Libris has actively been seeking answers. For several years, we’ve been engaged with the library community and other stakeholders to understand the future role of the academic and research libraries and to respond with solutions that support the processes, services, and data required for that future. In doing so, we’ve worked hard to balance future needs with current requirements, making it possible for libraries to make the necessary revolution in an evolutionary way. Ex Libris quickly understood that, in order to support this transition, libraries needed a new framework, a new model for library services that focuses on the emerging trends and needs of the future while continuing to address the needs of today. As a result, our vision includes three main components: User Services, Management Services, and Transformational Services that take libraries beyond their traditional roles.

Our first stage in the development of new library solutions was Primo, a unified resource discovery and delivery (URD2) platform introduced in 2007. With Primo, we took a critical step in defining the library systems architecture of the future by decoupling the user experience from back-end management of resources. This offers tremendous flexibility in how libraries expose the richness of their collections while also simplifying the discovery process for both local and remote resources. Primo represents an important milestone in a library’s evolution by providing next-generation services to the library’s users.

Now, we are in the process of revolutionizing the library’s administrative, back-office management of all assets -- regardless of their format, type and acquisition method -- with our Unified Resource Management (URM) framework. As a result of many conversations with librarians around the world, we know that the changing environment demands tools that support both “doing things differently” as well as “doing different things”. The URM provides the open and extensible platform necessary to help your library meet current, emerging, and future needs for library management.

Finally, I feel strongly that Ex Libris’s job will not be complete if we don’t expand our focus beyond traditional library tasks; we must continue to support innovation within and transformation of libraries by delivering services that will respond to the core mission of their parent organizations. Already, you can see clear steps we’ve take to develop new solutions in this domain: Rosetta, our digital preservation platform; bX; and more to come.

For those of you headed to ELUNA, I look forward to seeing you – and continuing these discussions – next week. But we also want to take advantage of this new blog environment to broaden the conversation, to share thoughts and to hear your ideas, about next-generation library services. These interesting times present a great opportunity to define and build our future – a future that requires active collaboration between all of the stakeholders in our community for success.

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