Archive for the ‘SirsiDynix’ category

SirsiDynix SuperConference – Day 3

February 22, 2007

The iBistro/iLink Sharing Session was spirited. The enhancement requests and status were discussed. Several long-standing enhancements had been accepted and were scheduled for implementation. Many huzzahs from the audience. The spirited discussion came during the Q & A session and dealt with the EPS web client and its appropriateness to academic libraries. Academics seem to prefer, as a rule, solid, fast, accurate searching without a lot of portal associated features.

Another session gave an overview of RSS feeds and used as an example generating a new book feed from Unicorn. Pretty nifty. This is going to be a project I’m going to work on when I get back to work. However, J_ went to a session on project management and I think RSS feeds will be a lower priority. Still, an RSS feed looks to be fairly straight foreward and as the presenter pointed out, why not look for ways to provide information to your users.

The last session of the conference (for me) was a SirsiDynix staff presentation on future trends in searching. SirsiDynix has partnered with FAST to use their search engine as an add-on enhancement for the OPACs (WebCat, iBlink, EPS, Web2) to deliver faceted search results with real relevance ranking. This isn’t an OPAC upgrade or replacement. Rather, it is an additional search point for the library’s collection. It is scheduled for release in mid-2007 so it is still in development however what we saw is pretty impressive. It does require that the library’s holdings be exported to the FAST search engine but that is in line with similar products that have been discussed in the library world. I was pleased to see SirsiDynix putting something like this together fairly quickly. Pricing and exactly how it will work are still to be announced but it is scheduled for release in mid-2007.

Some Observations from SC2007

  • One feeling I always take away with me from a SuperConference is that there are a lot of very smart people who are extraordinarily generous with their time and expertise.
  • Major props to all the SirsiDynix staff. I’ve known many of them for 12 years and consider them friends.
  • The Broadmoor is beautiful, well appointed, and has the most friendly staff I’ve ever encountered. Too bad the only place I could afford to eat were the bars. I’m really tired of bar food.
  • SirsiDynix staff didn’t have much to say about the abrupt departure of Pat Sommers except that it caught everyone by surprise and there wan’t hostility between Pat and Vista. The speculatios have been interesting and imaginative.
  • SirsiDynix staff seem to be upbeat about the Vista purchase of SirsiDynix. Apparently Vista is an old money San Francisco company that invests in niche technology companies. I gather that Vista people were in the executive track at SC2007.

SirsiDynix SuperConference – Day 2

February 21, 2007

I went to a very interesting presentation called Look What I Can Do! Social Networking and Keyword-in-Heading Searching in the OPAC.  In this presentation the OPAC is Web2 and not iLink/iBistro which is what we run.  The first half dealt with browse headings.  The problem with browse is that the patron has to know how the heading begins.  The first presenter described how he extracts the browse headings to a MySQL database and indexes them.  The patron can then search for keywords within the headings.  If all the patron knows is the first name of the author he could retrieve all the author headings with that name.  Of if he wanted to find things on the Civil War, he could use those words in a search to find all the subject headings that included Civil War.  Clicking on a heading takes the user to the OPAC.

The second presenter described how she rebuilt the MyAccount feature to include tagging, book-lists, and reviews.  As with the keyword-in-heading application, Unicorn data is extracted to MySQL  There are private and public tags and book-lists can be shared for collaborative projects.

As with the presentations I attended yesterday, customers are figuring out how to add value to data outside  boundaries of Unicorn and the OPAC.  I look at these two apps as proof-of-concept and feel inspired to pick up the skills to perform this sort of data manipulation/data massaging and look for opportunities for mashups in the library.

Later in the afternoon was the API Sharing Session which I moderated.  This
session was mostly administrative and

  • we welcomed the new APIers
    • gave them some tips about the forums and listservs
  • discussed the API enhancements and the enhancement process
  • discussed the desirability of an API wiki
  • discussed the API training opportunities

Following the Sharing Session we held the API After Hours session for the die-hard crowd that didn’t want to go to Colorado Springs.  We had two presentations:

  • some very interesting report customizations done by Infohio
  • a more technical discussion of the social networking app from the morning session.

Following the presentations two of our experienced members gave the audience the opportunity to try to stump them.

I might go back and fill in some details of today’s events but right now I’m about to fall asleep.

SirsiDynix SuperConference – Day 1

February 19, 2007

I worked the registration desk in the morning and missed the product overview session and UUGI Business Meeting so nothing to report about those events.

There was an interesting commonality about the two sessions I did attend.

First up was The Google Experience in which a systems person at Novo Nordisk, an healthcare company and leader in diabetes care based in Denmark, described how they responded to the user suggestion that they be more like Google. Basically they take their bibliographic information (25,000 records) and authority records out of Unicorn and put them into a Google appliance. From that they can build subject portals and provide a Google search experience for their users. There is a lot more to it than this brief description allows. For one thing, they do a lot of work on the authority records to allow them to provide subject groupings. They have more information in the Google appliance that the catalog information so the user has a much better opportunity to find everything on their subject within the Google intraweb.

The next session, Extracting XML from Unicorn with OAI and SRU, was presented by the head of automation at Universite Libre de Bruxelles Librarie. He described how OAI and SRU protocols were used to build a searchable union catalog from data in Unicorn. I can’t say that I followed the technical details but the end result was nifty.

So what is the commonality? In both cases information was taken from Unicorn, massaged, and presented to the user NOT using a vendor’s interface. We have products like Endeca and Primo (Ex Libris) that can sit on top of Unicorn data and homebrewed applications that use the data but not the interface and you have to wonder if this isn’t the future.

Blogging the SuperConference – Departure & Arrival

February 17, 2007

I’m going to try something new this year.  I’m going to attempt to blog from the SirsiDynix SuperConference.   Bets are now being accepted as to my ability to sustain this effort and to compose coherent posts. Starting tomorrow.  Today’s post is just short observations and impressions of the trip.

Before we leave, Northwest moves our departure up to 6:30 am from the fairly civilized 7:45.  Aaargh!

Julie picks me up Saturday at 4:15 am.

We arrive at RIC with plenty of time.  6:30 comes and goes with no flight announcement.   Our flight to Minneapolis disappears from the departure board.  Huh!  Finally a flight crew passes by and we learn that we are taking off at 7:50.  Just like the Army.  Get up early, wait for hours.

Flight to Minneapolis is uneventful.  Midwest is laid out in neat squares, covered in snow. People appear to be living down there.  Departure to Colorado Springs is on-time.  The Airbus 320 is actually comfortable.

Colorado Springs is warmer than the ‘Burg.  This isn’t right.   I want to feel the bite of mountain air.

Arrive at the Broadmoor.  Looks better live than on web cam.   Check into room. Yikes!  I’m not worthy.  This must really be the off season to get a room nicer than a lot of places I’ve lived.   Television has composite video input.  Yea.  I can watch True Grit using my iPod.

Tomorrow Julie goes to a session on Perl programming and I go to one on federated searching.  Should be interesting.  When Joe Lucia from Villanova spoke at Swem he told me that their database use statistics increased dramatically when they implemented federated searching.  Want to be able to build a case for providing it at Swem.