OLA’s Super Conference 2009

OLA’s Super Conference 2009.

A few quick notes from OLA’s Superconference. A few lasting impressions (since the conference was two weeks ago!):

Discovery Layers – quite a few sessions about implementing discover layers, TUG (session 1018),Alison Hitchens, Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian, University of Waterloo Library talked about the complexities of converting MaRC to XML, especially in a shared cataloguing environment. They are going with Primo – Beta Site at TUG

Session 1219
Considering New Discovery Layers
Martha Whitehead, Associate University Librarian, Queen.s University Library; Alan Bell, University of Waterloo; Nora Gaskin, McMaster University; Sian Miekle, University of Toronto; Tom Adams, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Western Ontario

– web2.0, while was a reason to implement a “discover layer” isn’t there yet.

– search logs – 50 percent are new searches, 42 percent choose a facet (these means that making facets available is worth it, at least that’s my interpretation). Subject facets are most popular.

Catherine Baird at McMaster showed us a nice intranet done in Drupal (session
#413 Building User-Centred Websites with Drupal

Amanda Etches-Johnson, User Experience Librarian; Catherine Baird, Marketing, Communications and Outreach Librarian, McMaster University; Greg Sennema, Electronic Services Librarian, Wilfrid Laurier University Library

McMaster intranet – content types: departments, committees, projects, service, pages, policies and procedures, training and development. Must have drupal modules are cck, views, path auto, faceted search, FCK editor and akismet recaptcha, advice about being careful about choosing which version of Drupal (5 is used by many, 6 is mature, and 7 is about to be released). Module development comes after version release, so if you go with version 7, there won’t be as many modules (yet).

Richard Florida – key note speaker (excellent), author of Rise of the Creative Class my notes include these snippets “have to get around squelchers to transform instiutions”, importance of creativitiy and bringing people together.

Evergreen – read Dan Scott’s Blog – the session was well attended is an understatement — I had a seat on the floor at the back! What strikes me about looking at Evergreen OPACs is their striking similarity to so-called next-gen catalogues, e.g. Endeca (e.g. McMaster), Primo (e.g. U of East Anglia). Art Rhyno at University of Windsor is working on the reserves module for Evergreen, Project conifer site. Project Conifer test site. They plan to go live May 2009! $500,000 start-up and less than $200,000 per year annual costs (all libraries).


  • get cost sharing formula and priorities nailed down early
  • need a project manager who is a different person from developer
  • not cheap, but higher ROI
  • development will be slower than expected, set realistic timelines (but keep in mind that a job will fill up the time you have to complete it).

News picked up over drinks – York U is going with open source VUFind for discover layer

Tech Trends Session on Saturday,

  • create ways to help students keep connected with each other – what role for the Library?
  • pay attention to the business model
  • are we creating “dead machines” or living gardens (analogy from development projects, come in with technology that requires fuel and repairs, or create an environment where women can create a garden, that makes a difference for them).
  • spend more time on “why” instead of “how”
  • technology can transform — increase staff capacity, and improve service
  • we spend too much time on websites, instead of focussing where the action is (where are students?) I translate this to getting into course management systems and building tools like LibX for example).
  • trend – Green IT
  • traditional software procurement vs open source. traditional, RFP to Decision to Allocate Resources, open source helps you to become nimble, open source creates potential, find partners
  • k-12 learning – contribution rather than completion (check out Podkids Australia)

Not part of the conference, but I remembered about ReservesDirect – open source project out of Emory University.

I agree with Karen Schneider’s blog that Summon, a new unified-search service from Serial Solutions is very impressive.


About Karen Keiller

I am the University Librarian at Lakehead University.
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