Category Archives: MPOW

iTunes and Libraries question

In thinking about Michael Sauers recent brilliant post on cataloging Creative Commons works, I’m considering setting up an iTunes instance on our Student network in MPOW. On that system, we could load…well, that’s the crux of this post. Long time readers of this blog know my stance on copyright, and that I keep up with the latest issues, especially vis a vis digital copyright. I could, at the very least, load CC licensed music on this system. But what else?

So, I ask you, blogosphere: What can I legally load on that iTunes instance? It would be openly shared, streamable to anyone connected to our student network…but, as anyone who has used iTunes knows, not downloadable. Can I load the majority of the library music collection on that machine? Why not? If it is legal for me as a private citizen to rip my purchased music to digital form (yes, I realize that not everyone thinks this is legal, but it is the current position held by most copyright thinkers), then why would it not be legal for “me” as a library? Once ripped, can it possibly be illegal for me to use functionality that iTunes has built into it?

Is anyone out there doing this? It would mean that every student could stream any of our music collection from any computer with iTunes as long as they were connected to our network…which would, of course, be any computer in the library (or their own computer).

Once more, oh blogosphere, I ask you: what’s wrong with this idea?

Metasearch aka Federated Search aka The Mind Killer

This is the period during the year at MPOW that we are reviewing our goals, and really looking at what the next 6 months will bring. As a portion of that, it’s up to me to try and figure out how our IT department fits in with this, given that we are mentioned in no less than 99.999999943% of the Library Wide goals. Pretty much every overarching goal for the library as a whole has some part of it that IT is going to support, or design, or maintain, or drive.

This makes for job security. It also makes for many hats.

After looking at where we are headed (new building, re-thinking the library, focusing on the students) we decided that the area that could most impact the way that we do things is metasearch. No one is happy with their ILS, and patrons just aren’t using our catalog at all…circulation statistics for books is through the floor. But foot traffic, website visits, database use, reference questions…all are up from previous years. So we’re definitely being used, just not for books. Given that the library “brand” is books, that’s worrying.

As an attempt to bridge this gap to the books, the library IT council decided unanimously to pursue Metasearch over the course of this year. The idea is, of course, to have books presented to patrons side-by-side with all of our other resources.

The gap between theory and practice in this case seems like the Grand Canyon.

Is anyone happy with a metasearch product? I know that most of us agree that the technology isn’t mature yet, but at this point implementation of a metasearch solution seems less daunting than trying to roll to another ILS. Especially since I can give LibraryFind a try without signing away my soul to the Library Corporate Masters.

Preparing for the onslaught

So the relative blog silence has been brought on by the frenzied preparation for the beginning of the semester. We’ve updated our ILS, which brought about a TON of unforeseen changes (doesn’t it always?). Our vendor, VTLS, pointed out time and time again that our installation was a bit odd…it was originally done by someone very familiar with the software, and he took lots of liberties with the install. This means a LOT of things don’t work for us…directory structures are all wrong, so stuff just often falls apart when you try to run it.

As a consequence of moving to a more standardized install, the URL for our catalog changed.

I’ll say that one more time. The URL to our catalog changed.

Do you have any idea how many freaking things depend on that URL? I certainly do now.

*sigh*