ILS Optimization: e-Forum Summary

The ILS Optimization e-Forum took place on January 17 and 18, 2017. Participants ranged across the spectrum with representatives from special libraries, academic libraries, and public libraries, and the integrated library systems (ILSs) were equally diverse from open source models to more traditional based.

Training was the most popular topic of discussion. A few libraries used vendor training, but the cost was a deterrent to most. Some of the larger public library systems had developed formal training systems in-house. Other training avenues were electronic discussion lists, webinars, interest groups, on-the-job, mentoring, and ALA courses.

All libraries have added software to either enhance their ILS to cover gaps in business needs that the ILS was not meeting. Software included discovery layers, catalog enhancements such as reviews and cover art, and e-commerce software. Interoperability between systems is a dream of many. One question discussed was whether software from the same vendor tended to have better interoperability than software from different vendors.

When it comes to upgrades and evaluations, there was a mixed response. Several libraries have opted for the hosted version either because of cost or because of a lack of staff to support their own version. Hosted version are updated automatically, but those libraries do not have access to the SQL database making it difficult to get the reports that they need. One library that hosted on their own server updates their hardware every three years. Many libraries did not update their servers because of the cost involved.

One commonality share by most libraries was the frustration that vendors seem to focus on the shiny, new enhancements rather than address known bugs.

One participant reported that at their library system, they are going through a systems configuration audit with their vendor in which they will investigate all of their settings and procedures to determine best practices. There was some interest in this process.

by Tracey Thompson and Cristina Campanita