I just returned from the CNI membership meeting in DC. In all, it was an interesting and engaging conference, providing a lot of food for thought. The one session that stood out in particular was a discussion on the benefits of collaboration between discovery service providers and content providers. In this post I would like to take the opportunity to discuss another aspect of collaboration, namely collaboration between Integrated Library System (ILS) vendors and discovery vendors.
For starters, it goes without saying that partnerships between software companies are undoubtedly beneficial. While this may be apparent, it sometimes behooves us to restate the purpose: partnering allows us each to focus our software development on our core competencies and then work together to deliver an integrated user experience across platforms. What’s more, partnerships offer choice. And this is certainly the case when ILS vendors collaborate with discovery vendors. When these types of partnerships are realized, libraries can choose the solution that works best for them– both in terms of the back-end and the front-end.
To make this more concrete: at EBSCO we have partnered with over two dozen ILS providers and have designed our solutions to work with an array of third-party applications. The ILS partnerships mean as much to EBSCO as they do to our partners and end-users. By enabling interoperability between the ILS and the OPAC/discovery layer with EBSCO’s discovery service (EBSCO Discovery Service), library users enjoy a truly comprehensive environment to explore all of the library’s resources– both local holdings and electronic resources. Because of these partnerships, libraries can now assess the discovery layer on its own merits. They can look at the front-end solution that works best for their end-users and decide which service delivers the best possible results.
As we look at collaboration and system interoperability we must focus our efforts on advancing the library’s core mission: how best to serve users and provide the best possible access to the library’s collections. Interoperability between the ILS and the library’s discovery service of choice is the driver for enabling research environments that fit each library’s ideal vision–and allow each library to choose the components it believes to be best.
At EBSCO we have designed our discovery service with interoperability in mind and have partnered with ILS vendors so that libraries have choice. We work with Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix and Kuali OLE, for example, and also integrate with discovery interfaces such as BlackLight and VuFind, which take advantage of the EDS API. With these partnerships we successfully work together with others in the library software community to benefit our mutual customers. Ultimately, the benefits of collaboration are library choice - and the best user experience.