The International Group of Ex Libris Users (IGeLU) is an association of customers of one or several products offered by ExLibris Ltd. This group meets once year to share user experiences as well as to hear about upcoming product developments.
Between September 6-10, 2007 the 3rd IGeLU Conference has been hosted by the Spanish Council for Scientific Research in Madrid. Ex Libris took the chance to introduce its vision for the “next generation library system” which emphasis the decoupling of front-end interfaces from back-office services. While some effects of this strategic alignment became tangible over the course of the event (e.g. MetaLib will be re-implemented completely), many other fundamental questions remained open (e.g. who will be in control of the global data service layer?).
But the biggest surprise for me personally was the huge interest in the poster session on Tuesday afternoon:
photo by lukask.
My colleague Silvia Munding and I presented the integration of e-book holdings into the service menu of the MPG/SFX link resolver and spent the complete time to discuss motivation and details of our setup with the audience. Wow! We even ran out of handouts in the middle of the session, but the electronic version of the poster is deposited on the edoc server. Thanks a lot for your interest and all the helpful suggestions.
You are interested in details about the IGeLU conference? You may start with checking out
- our IGeLU 2008 trip report in the CoLab wiki (access restricted)
- Ed Corrado’s comprehensive blog posting
- more pictures tagged with “igelu” on flickr
The vLib portal as well as the MPG/SFX link resolver are built on software products provided by ExLibris Ltd. Some weeks ago, the company announced its new Open-Platform Strategy which is not too new according to their own words:
Ex Libris embraces openness. […] In recent years, Oren Beit-Arie, chief strategy officer at Ex Libris, affirmed product openness as a strategic direction and one of the company’s core values and set the open-platform program in motion to transform the vision into a concrete plan.
As ExLibris customer, we in principle welcome this distinct statement for openness, but the idea and its potential impact remained abstract on the first view. Particularly the new developer zone (called EL Commons) looks a bit pre-release and the strategical shift hasn’t raised much attention in the user community until now. Yesterday, I stumbled upon the podcast of a conversation between Richard Wallis and Oren Beit-Arie and found it extremely interesting. In this interview Oren made many points I strongly agree to. For example:
So, in other words, the open-platform strategy is about making sure that whenever we develop a product or a service, we develop it and deliver it in a way that is basically the opposite of a black box, that has lots of hooks and lots of entry and exit points that customers will be able to use, either to enter or to take out data or to plug in and interface and interoperate with other applications […]
Hurray, that is exactly what we are looking for! The strategy will hopefully lead ExLibris to discontinue the additional charging of product APIs and to move towards adapting more standards, e.g. SRU interfaces for Aleph/Digitool/Primo or RSS feeds for MetaLib IRD records and baskets. I feel slightly excited…