2009 LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award winner announced

Contact: Mary Taylor
LITA
312-280-4267
mtaylor@ala.org


NEWS
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2009

CHICAGO – John Blyberg is the 2009 recipient of the LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award for his development of the Social OPAC application suite ( http://thesocialopac.net), also known as SOPAC (for Social Online Public Access Catalog). SOPAC is a suite of open source software (OSS) tools that brings the power of social computing and Web 2.0 to the library catalog. The current version of SOPAC (2.0) was developed and implemented by Blyberg at the Darien Library in Connecticut. SOPAC has also successfully been implemented on top of Innovative’s Millennium and the Sirsi ILS at other libraries.Â

SOPAC was created as a module for the widely adopted Drupal OSS content management system. It provides a simple mechanism for integrating library catalog systems with the power of the Drupal content management system, while allowing users to tag, rate and review holdings. User input is then incorporated into the discovery index so that SOPAC becomes a truly community-driven catalog system. Other features include:

  • Faceted browsing
  • Saved searches
  • Integrated renewals, holds placement and fine payment
  • Ability to customize the user experience via the administrative control panel
  • Ability to create custom functionality via a Drupal sub-module
  • Ability to remove search limiters

The SOPAC application suite also includes Locum and Insurge. Locum is a PHP software library that creates a flexible communication layer between the ILS and PHP applications, as well as provides a bibliographic discovery layer and interface to the open source full-text indexing engine Sphinx (used by SOPAC).

John Blyberg is the assistant director for innovation and user experience at the Darien Library in Connecticut. He has formerly worked for the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) in Michigan, as well as the IT manager for the North American office of the British car company Lotus Engineering. He is an open source software advocate and has been named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker.” He is also an acclaimed speaker on library technology and blogs at http://www.blyberg.net.

“SOPAC 2.0 was created in response to requests from other libraries for a package that would easily enable them to implement social computing functions in their OPACs,” Blyberg said when notified that he had received the LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award. “I’m honored to have been selected for this award and to have been of service to the library community.”

“Our committee selected John Blyberg to recognize the innovative spirit and dedication to library users represented by SOPAC,” said Martin Halbert, chair of the award committee. “I was a close personal friend of Brett Butler in the 1980s before his untimely death and I can attest to the fact that Brett would have lauded Mr. Blyberg and SOPAC. Brett would have been delighted that an award was created in his name to acknowledge personal commitment and technical achievements by librarians in this way.”

The LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award recognizes exemplary entrepreneurship by providing an innovative product or service designed to meet the needs of the library world. Sponsored by Gale®, a part of Cengage Learning, and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), the award includes a check for $5,000 and a certificate of recognition. The award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) members are information technology professionals dedicated to educating, serving, and reaching out to the entire library and information community.  LITA is a division of the American Library Association.