Magazine article Information Today

ALA Flocks to Boston for Midwinter

Magazine article Information Today

ALA Flocks to Boston for Midwinter

Article excerpt

The American Library Association (ALA) uses its Midwinter Meeting--held this year Jan. 15-19 in Boston--primarily to "expedite" the business of the association.

According to ALA, it's not a conference; it's a meeting. Actually, it's more like several thousand meetings with a few hundred discussion groups thrown into the mix. No doubt that was the reason for the proliferation of large rooms in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center occupied by only a handful of people, not to mention the absence of PowerPoint slides. Many committees met to determine award winners, prompting several attendees to wonder why this had to be done in person since we have the web meeting technology at our disposal.

In addition to business meetings and informational discussion groups, an impressively large exhibition area allowed library vendors to showcase new and enhanced products. The exhibit floor was the focal point from which all the major announcements emanated.

A new entry on the exhibit floor was SkyRiver, a company that looks to challenge OCLC as a bibliographic utility. Founded by Jerry Kline, owner and cofounder of Innovative Interfaces, SkyRiver has record sets from the Library of Congress (LC) and The British Library, plus LC's Subject Headings and its NACO authority records. President Leslie Straus says SkyRiver provides a clear, low-cost alternative for cooperative cataloging. Michigan State University, California State University-Long Beach, the Greater Western Library Alliance (32 research libraries), and several public libraries have already signed on.

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Changes in Library Automation Companies

On the library automation front, one acquisition caught the attention of many Midwinter attendees: Progressive Technology Federal Systems, Inc.'s (PTFS; www.ptfs.com) purchase of LibLime, the Koha-based provider of open source solutions. John Yokley, PTFS president and CEO, was at the PTFS and the Lib Lime booth to answer questions. He didn't anticipate any problems to finalize the deal, which was expected to close at the end of January.

Legally, PTFS will acquire the domain name, website, and U.S. trademark owned by LibLime, but it will not acquire the entire Koha source code. It will also own biblios, LibLime's cataloging module, and LLEK, LibLime's Enterprise Koha product. Yokley says PTFS would adopt Amazon's EC2 cloud platform for existing PTFS products as well as LLEK, which currently uses the Amazon technology. Additionally, PTFS acquires Koha Express, a self-service version for small libraries, and GetIT, an acquisitions module. For a full description of the transaction, see the Information Today Newsbreak, "PTFS Acquires LibLime, Expands Its Open Source Capabilities" (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/ PTFS-Acquires-LibLimeExpands-Its-Open-Source-Capabilities-60726.asp).

At the Polaris Library Systems' (www.gisinfosystems .com) booth, which was designed to look like the bar in Cheers, the big corporate news was a transition to employee ownership from ownership by Croydon Co., the privately held investment firm that has owned Polaris since 1974. "Under the terms of the agreement, the Polaris senior leadership team stays at the helm as key stakeholders," according to the press release. "The company will remain focused on the development and support of the Polaris ILS and on complementary ILS products and services."

Going Mobile

The abundance of mobile devices was obvious all through the exhibit floor. I don't mean the ones in attendees' hands (though it is a common sighting); I mean the ones in the exhibit booths. Many companies are designing platforms for smartphones and other mobile devices. With geopositioning, users can search their own library catalogs, as well as locate nearby libraries if they are traveling.

Polaris debuted its mobile public access catalog, which is compatible with the iPhone, the BlackBerry, and the Android, at the Cheers bar. …

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