Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

NextGen Serials?

At WALE 2006 Margi Mann gave a presentation on the future of Tech. Services. She suggested at the end of the presentation that suggested that one model for the future of TS was an "atomic" model where TS used software from different vendors to perform different functions. Thinking about this and emerging web technologies, I started brainstorm on the future of serials...

I can imagine that a serials vendor (I'll assume EBSCO is the vendor but it wouldn't have to be) could build in a serials check-in component to their current online serials subscription management site (EBSCOnet for example). Then they could start collecting real time data on when specific issues were being checked in around the country. If this data was made available to local librarians it would greatly help with claiming. By using the data from hundreds of libraries much of the guess work of setting up prediction patterns could be removed. Since this system is already integrated within EBSCO claiming and tracking claims could also be simplified. Libraries could also easily share patterns or post special notes about individual titles. In other words EBSCO could collect and profit off the data that librarians are already generating in their local systems and librarians would benefit from having access in one place to data they now have to go searching for such as which libraries have checked in a specific journal.

As far as integrating with the OPAC for each subscription EBSCO could provide a feed that would be connected to the bib. record. When a patron accessed that record the feed would show them real time holdings. The same technology could be used to push holding info into WorldCat (or electronic journal web pages or wherever someone would want to display holdings info). The information in EBSCOnet already duplicates the payment and order history that we load into our current system.

If something like this emerged I think it would be a more significant leveraging of Web2.0 technology then much of what we currently see in libraries. It matches up nicely with Tim O'Reilly's core competencies of Web2.0 companies:
  • Services not packaged software
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers (minimally checking in issues and building the receipt database)
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self service (since the data is maintained by hundreds of librarians data could be gathered on even obscure titles)
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • And possibly lightweight user interface and develoment models.

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