The Post-Modern Library Services Infrastructure

Technology | June 24, 2015

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The Post-Modern Library Services Infrastructure: An Open Environment that Enables Library Choice & a Best-of-Breed Approach to Resource Selection

Since our beginnings nearly 70 years ago, EBSCO has been a service organization and conduit between libraries and information providers. This has evolved immensely through the years, but the presence of EBSCO at the center of interconnectivity among those in the library industry has not changed. In fact, anyone would be hard-pressed to name a single ILS vendor, content provider or publisher with which EBSCO does not partner in some way. When YBP joined the EBSCO family, we gained partnerships with the very few remaining companies where partnerships didn’t previously exist.
And while there is always more to do on the interoperability front, for EBSCO, partnerships fit ideally into the post-modern library services environment that we aim to enable. Post-modern assumes a library technology ecosystem that eliminates the restrictions of a closed/monolithic suite of services from a single vendor. Rather, libraries have choice for best of breed with options to select and integrate various applications and content sources from any provider. At EBSCO, we are calling the concept, “EBSCO Open.”It is the idea that not only should libraries be able to independently evaluate and select each and every product and service that makes up their overall infrastructure, but they should know that through vendor partnerships and open interoperability, the services they believe are best, work together optimally. In this way, libraries have both flexibility and control. With EBSCO Open, the idea is that libraries choose, and we help them optimize by creating an environment where choice exists, and truly supporting the choices each library makes.
In the end, the goal is to optimize the value of the library for its users. It is to maximize the efficiency of library management tools and the value of the work done by all library staff in order to have a greater direct impact on end users. It is to save time and library budgets. But, when systems are closed, librarians are forced to make decisions that they may not make in a truly open environment. According to the NISO white paper entitled, The Future of Library Resource Discovery, authored by Marshall Breeding in February 2015, one example of this is that “Libraries often have an interest in the ability to use their preferred discovery service regardless of the resource management platform in use.” It goes on to validate the need for an open environment by pointing out examples of the shortcomings of closed systems such as the fact that, “…tight coupling that precludes integrating discovery and resource management products from separate vendors eliminates choice.”
EBSCO’s work on this front is by no means complete. And there is still work to be done by the community at large that will open more doors for additional data sharing and technology collaboration. With representation on the NISO ODI committees (both the original working group and the current standing committee), EBSCO remains actively involved in the goal of pushing further collaboration that will ultimately lead to greater value and usage of our libraries and their resources.
According to Todd Carpenter, NISO’s Executive Director, EBSCO’s Policy for Open Metadata Sharing and Collaboration is, “consistent with the ODI goals, and is a significant step toward greater vendor collaboration that enhances overall value for libraries and end users.” As requested by NISO, EBSCO is happy to report its progress and conformance with ODI recommended practices as both a content provider and a discovery service provider.
For more specific detail on EBSCO Open and ideas of the post-modern library services infrastructure, please contact Scott Bernier, EBSCO’s Senior Vice President, and active NISO/ODI group member.

See EBSCO's ODI Conformance

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