Friday, May 8, 2009

Ex Libris' URM - the new generation library software platform

I’m currently in Richmond, Virginia at the Ex Libris User Group of North America (ELUNA) Conference, where on Wednesday afternoon (US time) there was a Plenary Session by Oren Beit-Arie from Ex Libris on their thinking around Service Oriented Librarianship, and in particular, the outlines of their ‘new-generation’ library software platform, URM (Unified Resource Management).

Background links:

There has definitely been some rethinking and reworking of the idea of URM since it was first aired at ELUNA last year, summarised nicely by Jonathan Rochkind from Johns Hopkins here: http://bibwild.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/exlibris_urm/

So, on to the presentation – I haven’t had time to coalesce my thoughts on this yet, so this is basically a dump from the PowerPoint that I hope you’ll find interesting.


There are 4 current trends in scholarship/research.

Trend 1 more research, more data
Trend 2 more interdisciplinary activity
Trend 3 changes in scholarly communication models
Trend 4 changes in technology models eg cloud computing , Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Against this background, libraries have 3 areas of working, the Traditional, or what we do now, the Transitional, which involves doing new things in support of the traditional, and the Transformational, which involves doing entirely new and different things.

Hence the development of the URM Framework. Basically it breaks down into 4 parts.

1. Unified Research , Discovery and Delivery (URD2). This is where search occurs – local, remote & deep), also the linking UI, recommendation, and user preferences.
2. URM – this sits under URD2 and comprises selection, acquisition, activation, patron data, fulfilment, cataloguing, access rights, publication and inventory maintenance.
3. Data Services layer. This sits aside the URD2 & URM and comprises metadata management, usage data, the knowledge base, vendor information and user created content such as tags and reviews.
4. And beyond… Sitting alongside the Data Services layer, this comprises institutionasl repositories, preservation, new product bX (a recommender service) http://www.exlibrisgroup.com/category/bXOverview etc.

It was emphasised that across all of these products is an open platform.

So, how is this going to work?

Traditional Services

These are moving to a network level eg SaaS, Cloud computing. The move of software to a centralised, hosted environment will benefit by bringing down Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and enable options for Data as a Service (new acronym alert DaaS?)

So library’s metadata will be sitting in hosted units and on top of this data layer sits the Metadata Management & Central Knowledge Base. The stated goal is to enable libraries to preserve their uniqueness and to move towards a new model of bibliographic control.

The Metadata Management System comprises
  • Library Zone where a library has control of local versions of their metadata.
  • Community Zone which allows the creation of & links to shared description. The sharing of metadata will decrease the need for libraries to store and manage locally
  • Centralised authority control
  • Collaboration – allowing the potential for peer-to-peer sharing
This model allows balance between the common & the unique, no-one is being forced to share. The aim is to encourage collaboration, and the MMS environment will not impose record use or reuse policies, and rights asserted by the rightful owner will be respected.

Transitional Services

Leveraging the capabilities of SaaS. New infrastructure support will allow:
  • Integration with vendor systems
  • Collaborative collection development within consortia or ad-hoc groups
  • Shared purchasing
  • Integrated anonymised usage data from similar institutions.
Regarding community support, the aim is to create opportunities for community discussion and decision making, and to leverage new technologies to support the community, the idea being to create collaboration & partnership opportunities without compromising the library’s local needs and uniqueness.

Transformational Services

Will there be a new paradigm for search? Are we moving away from search to an era of ‘discovery’?

Preservation – sustaining the digital investment

e-science, e-scholarship, e-research – libraries are necessary for data curation, management and use brining up the idea of the Librarian as Middleware (from Rick Luce’s paper (http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/ff08luce.pdf) Making a Quantum Leap to eResearch Support: a New World of Opportunities and Challenges for Research Libraries.

The End.

That was it really, and along the way we got to see a few initial screenshots of workflows in what may be the UI .



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