I am very pleased to finally be able to announce that the Library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is scheduled to be the first live implementation of a product that has been talked about for years: a web-based, collaborative, modern library system that does away with silos of data. We are implementing the OCLC Web Scale Management library system even as I type, and will be going live with the system for circulation on August 20, 2010, and with circulation, cataloging, and acquisitions on August 30, 2010. A wiki page documenting the process, working groups, and more is available, and will continue to be updated as the process continues.
I could talk for a long time about how excited I am about the possibilities of this system…and probably will for the next few months at least. I’ve been pursuing Andrew Pace about this product for what feels like years now, and after seeing it and understanding what may come as a result of this…well, I can’t wait.
This is a major shift in the library world, and it’s one where I think the repercussions will take years to really be felt. The simple time-saving that will be immediately felt for libraries in their processes are enormous…the workflow necessary to get something from order to shelf is so straightforward and fast that I feel strongly that we’ll save several person-years of staff time in short order. In addition, there is a shared-plugin architecture for the staff-side that combines with the open API calls that give incredible access for mashups of data that directly interact with the system. One example that I’ve seen is a plugin that combines the New York Times bestseller API with the acquisitions module in Web Scale to allow for single-click ordering from a list of bestsellers that is a live call from the NYT.
Going the other direction, the architecture allows you to pull your own data out and impose it on other pages. An example of this would be a Firefox plugin that shows you realtime budget information while you shop on Amazon.com…complete with recalculation as you add things to your Cart.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t a ton of questions still. We’re the earliest of adopters on the first product of its kind…to say that I am a bit nervous would be an understatement. But the potential and promise of Web Scale is something that make it worth it.
We are literally implementing Web Scale Management in 30 days. To my knowledge, I’ve never heard of another ILS migration even approaching this level of speed…so if I’m a little out-of-touch for the next month, you won’t be terribly surprised.