On the Clarifying of a Few Things

Two kinds of responses have come in so far on my recent post on "The problem with the 'ILS Bill of Rights'".

  1. "Right on!"
  2. "You seem to think change is easy, and I can't do anything about it anyway, and it wasn't my fault to begin with."

Just to review a few things for those choosing door #2: Google et al. has recently handed us our collective hat. Agreed? Check.

Your ILS/OPAC is the centerpiece of your business. It's the primary way your community interacts with the collections you provide. Not the only way, but, still, in 2006, the primary way. Agreed? Check.

Your ILS/OPAC is failing to serve that community adequately. (You already said that. :)

So the centerpiece of your business is failing.

Hence, your business is failing (cf. hat-having-been-handed-to-us agreement above).

If your business is failing, and you care to save it, which of these responses are responses you'd be proud to be quoted on:

  • "It wasn't my decision to begin with."
  • "Migrating data is hard."
  • "It will take a lot of convincing people, and that's hard."
  • "I can't do anything about it anyway."

Not a keeper in the bunch, eh?

If you read the best literature on the best business practices (right now I'm in the middle of _Built to Last_, which is worth your time) you'll see it's full of companies whose hats had been handed to them in one way or another. But because they chose to find new ways forward, as difficult and long a road as those might have been, and stuck to their core principles, they came out on top in the long run.

I'm not saying it's easy, or that Evergreen is the answer to your problems, or that in your position it should be easy to make changes. I'm saying that if you feel changes need to be made, you have options, so stop complaining, and get on with it already.

Do you think it was easy for the State of Georgia (for peaches' sake!) to decide to go local? And how lucky they were to find a handful of gifted hackers to make it all work? It took a hell of a lot of convincing, and a lot of overcoming of doubt, and good timing. The stars eventually aligned and now they've gone forward in a way that appears headed toward success (heck, they might fail, but they might not!). Maybe the key people behind this decision -- the folks who dreamed up the new plan however many years ago it was -- realized early on just how hard it was going to be, and what the risks would be, and how long it would take.

But then they up and did it. Wow!

So what I'm saying is this: you can do it too. It has to start somewhere, in any case, so why *not* with you?

Heck... wouldn't it be interesting to hand Google *its* hat for a change?


I resemble that remark

I'm guilty of saying (more or less verbatim) "It wasn't my decision to begin with," and "It will take a lot of convincing people, and that's hard," when I wrote my response to your original post.

But I was responding mostly to your comments that "you can choose NOT TO BUY THE FREAKIN' PRODUCT." and "Then, think: you can have this *now*" w/r/t Evergreen. That post made it sound like you were saying, "if you don't like it, switch today!"

I appreciate your message now that this is a long haul, and it is time to get moving. I tend to agree that simply kvetching isn't very helpful, though I do think that the complaining has helped people coalesce around dissatisfaction with the OPAC.

I would also say that those librarians like myself who are dissatisfied but aren't coders will be looking for ways to better understand these systems ourselves, decide if we feel they are appropriate solutions for our libraries, and explain them to our colleagues. As we do so, we will be looking to you and people like you to help bridge that gap.

Thanks for your stimulating posts.


Hey Steve, thanks for writing in. Definitely best just to read what's actually there, not what it sounds like. :)

Fwiw, people have been coalesced (coagulated?) around dissatisfaction with the OPAC for at least 10 years, so, I'm not convinced any more progress has been made recently through additional, more recent complaining. :P

As for not being a coder - I wasn't one when I started library school. Start learning now, or hire coders, or help people around you become better at making these decisions based on real technical experience, at least. It doesn't come overnight, so the sooner you start the better off you'll be when it comes time to make hard decisions.

Imho you need to be ready to "bridge that gap" *yourself*, as does a greater share of all of the people in our profession.