Archive for the ‘ELUNA2006’ Category
One of the upshots of the ELUNA conference was that Ex Libris set up a script archive for customers to use in sharing SQL scripts. If interested, check it out, get an account, and start contributing. I am glad that the people at EL were thoughtful enough to set this up! The archive is designed for SQL scripts, but I don't suppose they would holler if you contributed some other type of script, like this one.
The ELUNA business meeting was this morning in a plenary seession. The meeting mainly covered the work of the steering committee over the past year. The committee mainly oversaw merger of NAAUG and SMUG into ELUNA and planned this year's meeting. They also talked about next year's ELUNA meeting in Spearfish, South Dakota. The one change that may come in the format is that the technical seminar may precede the conference. I am looking forward to seeing South Dakota. There's lots of stuff to see there. Oh yeah, there's good news, folks. I talked with Sean and Patrick of South Dakota Library Network today, and they said the trout fishing out there is great. Have fly-rod. Will travel.
I attended the systems/ reporting session today. In the session, we basically discussed a host of questions related to various types of reporting. I won't try to go into all that here. If anyone is interested in what we talked about just email me and I will let you know what was said. I took pretty decent notes. I did find out that EL has at least one way currently that customers can share scripts (an ftp server.) That was news to me, but I am glad it's there. If you have any questions about that, ask about it on the listserv. Someone will give you the information to access it, I am sure.
One of the benefits of conferences like this is that it humanizes reps that you deal with on a regular basis. I had the opportunity to spend time talking with a couple of our EL reps. One of them should be a stand up comedian. I had a blast eating dinner with him tonight. Everyone I have talked to here from EL has been awesome, and their willingness to spend time listening to customers, even customers at smaller institutions, speaks volumes about the company.
I tried to diversify this afternoon and attend sessions that dealt with SFX and MetaLib. Monica Metz-Wiseman of University of South Florida offered a presentation on building an SFX/MetaLib community within an academic library. She talked about the way USF created a help section in MetaLib, how they configured all of their ask a librarian sections (really cool!), and how they provide a forum with SFX for users to report problems with databases.
I also listened to John Little's presentation on creating Ask-A-Librarian feedback web forms for multiple locations. Most of that presentation can be found at http://www.duke.edu/~jrl/sfx.htm. He says it's five easy steps, so if this is something you need, have at it.
On the way out of that session, I stopped by the Q & A session with the folks from EL. Dale Snapp of UC Davis pointed out that the folks at Ex Libris could save $$$ by migrating to MySQL in Aleph. I don't know if the folks at Aleph will go this route. Their response seemed to indicate that it might be a possibility at some point. I don't think I would mind seeing that change.
Knoxville's a nice place. I really do love the city. The people here nearly always seem hospitable. Last night ELUNA provided supper. They had barbecue. My library director is laughing as he reads this. He knows my opinions on barbecue. No, they did not have mustard sauce. They did, however, have ribs. I was kinda hoping they would cater in from Buddy's BBQ, my favorite Knoxville establishment, but this was good, and I appreciated the sacrifices that ELUNA, the UT staff, and especially the pigs made for our little get together.
To demonstrate Knoxville's hospitality, here is a photo I took with my phone from inside Neyland Stadium last night.
The gate was open and I wandered in. I think they were doing some cleaning. It was kinda nice being able to reminisce about USC beating the Vols there this past year. I almost–almost, mind you–began singing "Amazing Grace" again. I refrained. For those of you who are not familiar with South Carolina's oft ill-fated football history, 2005 was the first time that USC had beat the Vols since 1992. The band played "Amazing Grace" after the game. That's southern culture, folks.
Some of the people I met with during the second session today might have understood what I am talking about. I attended the Theological Librarians Special Interest Group. It was a nice group of folks. Andrew Keck from Duke chairs the group. There were four of us, plus a rep from EL named Chris Holly. We talked about several topics: whether anyone was using SDI (no one really is), some of the changes that will take place in MetaLib version 4, a free journal list we would like to see included in SFX, and the inventory process that is taking place at Union in Richmond.
One of the more interesting topics that came up in the group was the idea for an online script repository for Ex Libris customers. I said that I thought it would be nice if Ex Libris would put up a wiki that could contain all types of scripts that EL users create. We have a few in house scripts we could contribute, as do the other participants from these libraries. I think Chris mentioned that this might be a better project for ELUNA itself to undertake. I would love to see a wiki like this. I think useful scripts would get to EL users more quickly this way. It would especially benefit libraries with less resources like the ones in our small theological SIG. I would love to get my hands on scripts that guys at larger libraries at Michigan and MIT developed. Hey, there are general script libraries all over the web. Why not create an "ELUNA scriptorium." You could even call it El Scriptorium. That sounds rather festive–or deified.
I also attended the meeting of the X-services focus group. I was hoping to learn more about X-services. I actually learned more about the focus group. Ed Gomes from Duke did an excellent job of keeping the discussion flowing, and he seemed very open to tweaking the way the group works in order to make their planning and development more transparent to more members of ELUNA. I really did not learn that much about X-services, but hopefully I will have a chance to do that later. Well, lunch break is ending. Back to the sessions.
Please say "hi." Seriously. I would love to meet you if you ever read this blog. I would love to meet you if you don't read this blog. One of the best things about conferences is meeting people and finding out what they do and are doing. To help you find me, here is a recent picture:
I no longer have the goatee. That picture is much better than my first driver's license picture:
I am living proof that SC doesn't profile drivers. There's no way they should have let me get behind the wheel looking like that! I think I just lost all credibility with my boss
One of the Aleph breakout sessions today was a beginner's SQL reporting workshop. The session was led by Mike Rogers of University of Tennessee. Mike really did a good job of covering a wide variety of topics in about an hour and a half. He covered the basics of how to login to an SQL session from the command line and how to get out of SQL sessions. He also went into more detail about how to get the information that you need to structure queries. He recommended that anyone wanting to really do alot of query work becom very familiar with the Oracle z-tables dictionary and the files relationship diagram, both of which Ex Libris has developed. I think both are available online from EL.
One of the most helpful things Mike offered was describing the five questions he asked to form queries. His presentation should be posted on the conference proceedings page later, so I won't put it down here. He discussed how to join tables and how to create and run scripts. Also helpful was the way he described their naming conventions for scripts.
I knew Aleph was extremely configurable, but I really had no idea that you could set up scripts that could be executed directly through the GUI via scripts. Mike explained how to do all of this, and much of it seemed pretty simple. I am sure the devil would show up in the details, though.
In this last session, I heard David Kennedy of USMAI discuss the way in which they used Shibboleth to create single sign on between all of their services. They have accomplished what every library patron using a website wants. In short, users in their libraries only have to log in once to get access to their Aleph account, MetaLib, journals suggested by SFX, etc. Eventually, they would like to see single sign on for all of their campuses, including the campus wide portals. They use Shibboleth, PDS (which is native in MetaLib), and EZProxy to accomplish this. The really amazing thing to me is that they are providing this service for a consortium of 14 institutions, all of which have virtually separate identity providers! They also used Shibboleth to work around the universal tendency of every institution to change barcodes structures every three months. Instead, they have persistent identifiers for each patron. Using Shibboleth also provides them more security, because all private information transfers server to server, without ever being displayed on a browser. For more information, see the USMAI project page. One can also find information through the Ex Libris CRM portal.
I am currently blogging from ELUNA 2006 in Knoxville, TN. My colleague and I arrived last night at about 10 PM, and we had to be up pretty early for breakfast this morning because the sessions begin at 8:30. This morning in the plenary sessions we heard from Matti Shem Tov, President and CEO of Ex Libris, and Dan Trajman, president of Ex Libris, Inc., the North American division of EL. Some interesting stats came out of the presentations. EL picked up 257 new customers in the past year. They currently have at least one product at 85 of 123 of the advanced research libraries (ARL).
Each EL product (Aleph, MetaLib, SFX, Verde, and Digitool) has seen a new release in the last year. Tov talked about several new developments in their products (Paul, you will love the fact that MetaLib is going to be using Vivisimo to cluster).
Dan Trajman talked about the second phase of partnership with institutions who want to use Primo. Currently one German university and two American universities (Vanderbilt and University of Minnesota) are testing the product. The next wave of testing will involve institutions who want to commit to a 2 year relationship with EL for testing Primo. In return, the institutions will get to influence the product, preferred pricing terms, and early access to Primo. Those who test must agree to be at various meetings, give feedback, serve as a reference site, and agree to be willing to speak at public engagements. It sounds like alot of work, but its probably the only way to implement Primo at an institution within the next year.