Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What could PINES affiliation look like?

My previous post generated more interest than I could have imagined. Obviously, emotions on the subjects discussed are running high. There is nothing wrong with spirited debate--it's healthy, productive, and necessary.

One of my statements, "Right now, half of Georgia's library materials are unavailable to half of Georgia except via ILL," generated the following response:

"What would you recommend here? You could help fund OpenNCIP, which could be used by both Koha and Evergreen, but even automated ILL is still ILL, and would be subject to political agreements."

I'm not shying away from a political agreement. My issue with accepting a new circulation policy book, one that I have limited ability to influence for my library, does not mean an unwillingness to reach an accord. I'm not naive enough to think a PINES affiliation agreement wouldn't be a compromise. The difference is I feel many of my concerns are shared by many libraries interested in some form of less-than-full PINES membership.

At present, Inter-Library Loan isn't really automated in a way that is directly patron accessible. Patrons aren't placing their own ILL requests without librarian interaction. Statewide automated ILL would be a benefit to PINES and non-PINES patrons. I really don't think anyone should discount ILL. It has real potential to solve problems and address the current inequities.

Because many non-PINES libraries desire PINES benefits that their patrons fund (all patrons do statewide), and a few PINES members would reconsider their membership level, if other membership levels were available, it might be helpful discuss what a PINES affiliation, could be. I believe all the benefits of PINES should be available a'la carte.

I do want to touch on the statement about funding OpenNCIP. I fail to see why my library should fund the development for the open source implementation of the National Circulation Interchange Protocol (NCIP) to allow my patrons transparent access to state-funded services. It is my opinion that funding OpenNCIP is the responsibility of the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS). It's fine to tell me how you're developing a feature to improve some module. With library systems servicing half Georgia's population, and providing half to two-thirds the states circulation sitting on the sidelines, it seems development of a protocol that would allow the rest of Georgia to receive the benefits they pay for should be a priority. My non-PINES patrons contribute just as much funding as the patrons of a PINES member library. Why shouldn't they have the opportunity to receive some benefit in their local community without the library having to surrender the independence that provides their service? If my board stops making circulation policy, how can they effectively serve as the community representatives when they no longer have input on how a basic library service is provided?

I'm going to give a description of how this might work. I'm not going to go into technical details, because I find talking about them imposes limitations. The description should be the same for PINES and for Not In PINES Yet (NIPY) libraries.

I want my patrons to be able to:

*Search my catalog and all the catalogs in Georgia.

*Choose items that fit their needs and wants.

*Collect those items at their library, and if it's an item we do not own, or possess an equivalent, then I want them to be able to request this item from another library.

*Have the other library honor this request and immediately, upon availability, send it to my library, where the patron can retrieve the material.

*Walk into any library, present their local library card, provided it's valid and in good standing, and have it honored.

This should allow them to directly check-out materials from the honoring libraries and use other library services, such as computers. I think all librarians should want this for their patrons. Heck, I want it for me as a patron. However, I'm not willing to do it by surrendering my library's ability to change local circulation policy such as a longer lending period. I'm not criticizing libraries that have agreed to full PINES membership. I simply value the ability to implement local preference and policy. I have seen the effects that a change like a new check-out period, adjusting fee and fine levels, and yes, whether or not to require a library card makes, on circulation.

We should be able to reach an agreement and implement communication protocols that can make this possible. It should be as transparent as possible for the patron. There is nothing wrong with needing intermediary systems to make this happen. It may require another system to bring the different individual ILSs together, or a brand new module in Evergreen might provide this glue. The point is, whatever the mechanism, I should be able to serve my patrons and have the option to serve PINES patrons without limiting my board's ability to enact and modify local policy addressing the needs of patrons residing in their community.


J Pickle said...

I certainly think this is an option worth discussing. Georgia's libraries are extremely diverse. The "one size fits all" mentality is one of the problems I have with PINES. I would love to see a system policy that allows the flexibility needed to better accomodate local needs. As it is right now, PINES libraries are carrying a heavy load. If all libraries were allowed to choose services "a la carte," I think we would get more libraries participating, which in turn would share the wealth (and work!). I also think Evergreen needs a feature that would allow libraries to choose the level at which individual holds are placed. Currently, it is quicker to get materials that are locally owned, even if they are checked out when the holds are placed. I'd like to see libraries be able to choose a "group" level over a "system" level. Patrons should also be given that choice when placing holds from home. When they place a hold remotely, it would be nice if a message were displayed informing them of the typical wait time for items intransit from another library.

Anonymous said...

I've been out of the library scene for almost 8 years now, but I've been following this blog with interest.

On item 1 of your utopian policy, Erik, you mentioned the ability to search your own catalog and everyone else's.

Isn't that what Z39.50 was about? Or has that standard been abrogated by something?

Is Evergreen Z39.50 enabled? or Z39.50 aware?

phasefx said...

j pickle>The "one size fits all" mentality is one of the problems I have with PINES.

As far as the software goes, one of our mantras has always been "software should not dictate policy". So if the PINES membership votes on certain policies, Evergreen will adapt and not be a limiting factor.

j pickle>I also think Evergreen needs a feature that would allow libraries to choose the level at which individual holds are placed

Evergreen has had this from the very beginning, but PINES has it disabled for their installation. You can choose not only the hold range but the focus of that range (which specific library to range out from).

anonymous>Is Evergreen Z39.50 enabled? or Z39.50 aware?

It has a Z39.50 client for connecting to other Z39.50 servers. For going in the other direction, the plan is to use a native SRU interface and layer Z39.50 on that.

-- Jason

Erik the Tall said...

I believe Z39.50 would solve the search issue. There are other ways, but Z39.50 was designed to handle the search portion of the vision, as a NISO standard it would probably be best for interoperability reasons. Most ILS products already have client-server Z39.50 implementations, though not all at the same level of compliance. I'm sure that adding a Z39.50 server to Evergreen is a trivial matter.