continued from here…
Evergreen and Project Conifer (John Fink) was a progress report / Q&A session about the installation of the Evergreen ILS for a consortium of academic libraries (McMaster University, University of Windsor, and Laurentian University). John gave a fantastic overview of the project, intended to go live sometime next year. It is a large undertaking, especially considering that they are writing the code for the Acquisitions and Serials areas of the software. He had an observation that I found interesting (and have noticed as well): people using III’s Millennium ILS tend to have a higher opinion of the software than is deserved. It is good, and it works fairly well, but it is deeply flawed, in my opinion. I will add that users of Voyager need to be reminded of the good points of their system now and then, but that it is also flawed. I will say again that Evergreen is going to have a much bigger impact than people realize.
Open Book, a WordPress plugin (John Miedema) was another high-interest session, since I had installed and used the plugin just one week earlier. To discuss the plugin and the reasons behind its functionality and existence with the developer was a great experience. The group discussed Amazon, OCLC, and Google (and their relative restrictions and freedoms) at length. John is a great supporter of the Open Library project, and for good reason.
Metasearch / APIs / Facebook for Libraries (David Fiander, Geoff Sinclair, Me) was a bit of a blur, since I was at the front and trying to think as effectively as possible (more challenging some days than others). I got to discuss my idea (a piece of software that uses an API that is as straightforward as possible, which passes requests to various library and bibliographic systems and returns the results… this could allow search tools and OPAC overlays to work with a standard set of rules, as well as allowing meta-search tools to become more effective), but didn’t feel that any brainstorming actually took place. If someone doesn’t point out a big flaw in my thinking (especially when I am stretching my abilities beyond their comfort zone) I suspect that I am politely being listened to. Maybe not…
The Wrap-up went fine, but there wasn’t a call for action, or a consensus as to what should come next from all of this. I can’t say I expected one, but I was hoping to have some sort of Eureka moment. I did have a strong feeling that I was going to put everything together in an interesting way during the drive home on Saturday, but it didn’t happen that way (keep reading).
We then walked over to the BiblioCommons office for a buffet tray/beer/wine dinner party. I had some great conversations here, and completely forgot to find out what exactly it is that makes people speak of BiblioCommons in reverent tones. There isn’t a lot of information out there beyond it being a “complete social discovery system for libraries” (from their website). People whose opinions I respect are very impressed with it, and I was in a conversation with one of the people directly involved and never asked one question about it. Shame on me!
I ended up skipping the pub night outing, as I stopped by the hotel and felt tired, and spent the time putting pictures online. I went to bed early, and slept very fitfully, until about 4 a.m. That was when the gunshots began. There were 7 ro 8 of them, from at least two guns, sounding like they were just outside the building. I woke at the first shot, rolled out of bed (away from the window) on the second, and duck-walked to the bathroom with my phone as they continued. I was on the third floor, so I don’t think I was likely to get caught in the line of fire (I figure they were either shooting at each other, or shooting into the air). It was a very unpleasant experience, and I didn’t get to sleep for quite a while (and didn’t sleep well then). When my alarm went off, I decided to cancel my sightseeing activities, get some more rest, and leave Toronto straight from the hotel.
So that’s why I didn’t spend the trip thinking about neat library technology and such. Too bad, because this was as good a conference as I have ever attended, and I complimpent John, William and Stacy on their excellent work. I encourage more groups to consider this format (it would work well as part of a standard conference format as well… just set up a block of time, or a conference track, as an unconference).