The annual Innovative Users Group conference was held in San Francisco April 23-26. Three from Middlebury attended. Here are some of the highlights from my perspective.
- New CEO: In the last year or two, Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (the vendor of our “Integrated Library System”) was bought by a couple of private equity firms. The new CEO, Kim Massana, who took the helm last August, opened the conference with a presentation that this reporter found surprisingly candid and mildly encouraging. Among other things, he emphasized that Innovative is investing in staffing – they have hired 20 since last Fall and will add another 40 by the end of 2013 – and international outreach, opening offices and implementing library systems in China, many Middle Eastern and African countries, and Central and South America. He spoke openly (and emphasized that “The New Innovative” strives to be more open), acknowledging problems with previous product roll-outs and saying they should have done better. He also pointed out their new model of customer service – each library will be assigned a Library Relations Manager and communication of all kinds should go through the LRM.
- Keynote speaker: Garry Golden, a trained futurist (yes that’s his real name and real occupation – you can’t make this stuff up), spoke about some of the trends he sees that will impact libraries in the next 3-5 years. One of his first points is that libraries have been communicating their primary value as “Access to Collections.” In the near future, he suggests that may evolve to “Mastery of Learning.” He described the learning environment over the past centuries as moving from the Era of Apprenticeship to, with the help of books and industrial work, the Era of Institutions (schools) and now, with the Web and the knowledge economy, it is becoming the Era of the Learner, as individuals develop self-directed curricula and “training.” He described the Web as changing from purely informational to more social and it is now becoming “a platform for managing our lives and personal behavior change.” Where the focus was formerly on access (“is it online or offline?”), the focus is rapidly changing to outcomes (“is it software-guided?”) He described adaptive learning platforms that actively respond to how the learner is learning, and suggested that “libraries need to get ahead of the adaptive” notion.
Conference sessions I attended focused on:
- Collection Development: One session focused on Decision Center, a new III product that will launch in June. The general idea is that circulation data from item records and payment information from order records is uploaded nightly to a Postgres server that III hosts, enabling web-based querying using canned reports. It will greatly simplify extracting data to help with data-driven decision making in budgeting, purchasing, and weeding. The product manager is a former Collection Development librarian at a major public library system. III hired her about six months ago. Another presentation described an exhaustive weeding project. Three other sessions were presentations about what data to extract from Millennium for various CollDev tasks, how best to get that data, and how to analyze it. Let’s just say that Excel is a Millennium user’s best friend.
- Catalog/System management/administration: I attended multiple sessions focused on loading catalog records, particularly those for eBooks. A particularly helpful presentation described intensive use of MarcEdit for pre-load cleanup. (They prefer to minimize the number of load profiles, because MarcEdit is so much easier, and it’s so nice to have streamlined load profiles.) Another interesting session described one library’s approach to sharing responsibility for their ILS.
Between formal presentations and open forum discussions, I have a number of “new tools in my toolbox” that I will be putting to work and sharing with colleagues. Additionally, while visiting Innovative’s Library Relations Manager booth, I learned that the New England Innovative Users Group will convene next month at the University of New Hampshire. The last such meeting was apparently over seven years ago.