[Web4lib] RE: library automation vendors

Jesse Ephraim JEphraim at ci.southlake.tx.us
Mon Jul 18 13:25:34 EDT 2005

"But designing a good, usable system is hard.  It requires talented
people with skills in interaction design and a deep understanding of
end-user needs and goals.  Vendors cannot acquire either of those
easily, but libraries themselves can."

In terms of the backend: It really isn't that difficult for a
professional programmer to build a good, solid engine to drive this sort
of application.  I have built similar systems (not dealing with books,
of course) for corporations with hundreds of thousands of users.  It
takes time to debug something like that properly (which library
automation vendors don't seem to do), but in the end it is just a
records-management system.

"Vendors simply cannot create that for us.  The only way libraries can
offer our users the seamless experience they expect, is through APIs.
APIs allow us to build a single system with a common interface focused
on user goals, which merely pulls results and resources from the
underlying systems and databases of the library."

Precisely!  If I had a good backend engine (and good database design)
and a set of APIs, I would be writing all sorts of modules and such.
The biggest problem is that the backends are NOT very good on many of
these products.
- Jesse

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