Friday, May 16, 2008

Reconfiguring the Library Systems Environment

Think of some of the ways that the environment in which library users operate has changed in recent years. Behaviors and expectations have been reconfigured in a network environment as more of what people do enters a network space. One of the main issues facing libraries as they work to create richer user services is the complexity of their systems environments: the classic ILS, the systems framework emerging around licensed materials, and several repository systems for "digital" resources. In each system, we see a backend apparatus for managing collections, each with its own workflow, systems, and organizational support, and each with its own—different—front-end presentation and discovery mechanisms. What this means is that the front-end presentation mirrors the organizational development over time of the library backend systems, rather than the expectations or behaviors of the users. In this article, Lorcan Dempsy discusses his observations, issues, and considerations regarding the current systems environment and suggests some possible directions to better align libraries’ capacities to the changed user environment.

(Dempsey, Lorcan. “Reconfiguring the Library Systems Environment.” in portal: Libraries and the Academy (Apr. 2008) at:

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