From September 5 until September 9 I attended the International Group of ex Libris Users (IGeLU) 2009 annual conference and associated Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA) Steering Committee meetings. I had to attend the ELUNA SC meetings because of my role on the ELUNA Steering Committee. There were many topics discussed including how ELUNA can improve communication with IGeLU, and with ELUNA members. Communication with IGeLU actually is going really well and we just need to continue to build on the level of cooperation we have established in the last couple of years.
We have come up with a number of action items regarding communicating to ELUNA member institutions (and potential member institutions). One of the ways we hope to do this is with a new, and hopefully vastly improved Web site. We are planning to replace Drupal with a combination of three tools: For news and our main Web site we will be using WordPress Multi-User, for sharing conference proceedings and other finalized documents we will use E-Prints, and for corroborating on documents we will use Google Apps (mostly the Google Docs portion). Being that I am the ELUNA Web master, I think I have a busy Fall ahead of me.
The IGeLU conference itself was very nice. The local organizers did an excellent job and there was hardly any local arrangement issues. Kudos to the great job the folks in Helsinki did. They raised the bar to almost unattainable heights for those who will follow after them.
The conference itself had two general types of sessions: Ones that Ex Libris put on, and ones the customers put on. The Ex Libris sessions could farther be divided into sessions about the URM and sessions about the current products. The URM sessions did not have a lot of new information in them since ELUNA. It is obvious that Ex Libris has a clear vision and are working towards that, but it is going to take time before they can talk about specifics. Now that the development partners are in place, I expect a lot of work to be done between now and ELUNA 2010 and that they’ll be a lot more meat on the bones at that conference. The sessions on the existing products, Aleph and Metalib, that Binghamton University has also did not have a lot of new developments since ELUNA. Aleph enhancement voting for ELUNA just took place and IGeLU is in the process of voting so they didn’t have any announcements about new enhancements.
The news about Metalib was that Ex Libris is still planning on rolling Metalib functionality into Primo (and providing the Metalib functionality to existing Metalib-only customers at no additional costs). This should happen in Primo 4.0, due out in 2011. Primo and Metalib customers will get some improvements in Primo version 3.1. Since Ex Libris says that they are not going to release a new version of the existing Metalib in order to concentrate on Metalib, Next Generation (yes, that is what they are currently referring to it as), this means non-Primo Metalib customers will not have to worry about upgrading Metalib for a while .
There was also some talk about whether or not Primo Central (a product similar to Serial Solutions’ Summons) would be available to Metalib only customers. The IGeLU SC discussed this with Ex Libris and Ex Libris latter announced in the company Q&A session that they are going to consider making Primo Central available to Metalib only customers. My hats off to Ex Libris for listening to the customers about this.
The costumer sessions I went to were very good. Probably the best and most relevant one for Binghamton was “Easy OPAC enhancements” by Matthew Phillips, Systems Librarian, University of Dundee. Mathew should a large number of enhancements to the stock Aleph OPAC that will greatly improve the look and feel of an Aleph OPAC, as well as add some desired functionality. I plan on looking over his slides when the UISC begins to look at making some changes to our Aleph OPAC.
As with any conference, sometimes the personal connections you make can be important. I had interesting conversations about Aleph and other library software with many people. Among them was one of the people responsible for the new Library of the University of Amsterdam Aleph Catalog http://opc.uva.nl/F who offered me some pointers and ideas about how they designed their Aleph interface. Between the presentations and contacts I made at the conference I think it will be much easier to get more out of our Aleph OPAC than it otherwise would.
All and all, a productive, educational, and enjoyable conference. I hope I am able to go to IGeLU 2010 in Belgium.
 This does not mean at all that Ex Libris will not be doing knowledge base updates. They are continuing to come, and from my perspective, Ex Libris has been doing a very admirable job with the knowledgeable updates. With new procedures being put in place by Ex Libris, IGeLU, and ELUNA for determining which new resources to create connectors for, I expect that this will even improve more.