Magazine article Information Today

IOLS Conference Morphs into E-Libraries

Magazine article Information Today

IOLS Conference Morphs into E-Libraries

Article excerpt

The new name reflects the shift of interest in the library industry

While tradition and continuity are important, conferences need to evolve over time if they are to remain relevant. Beginning with this year's event, the conference once known as IOLS (Integrated Online Library Systems) has become E-Libraries. IOLS had previously been a component of the larger National Online Meeting--a conference within a conference. Now E-Libraries--along with the National Online and KnowledgeNets meetings--operates under the umbrella of InfoToday.

True to its name, the IOLS conference was established in 1985 to help keep the library profession up-to-date on integrated online library systems. Issues related to developing, implementing, and maintaining an IOLS were the key concerns in library automation throughout the '80s and most of the '90s. Providing access to materials held by the library through an integrated online library system was a important issue, and the IOLS conference was a major venue for learning about new trends and sharing practical experiences.

For better or worse, in recent years the IOLS has become less of a central interest for librarians. Libraries tend to treat them as more of a commodity. Very few libraries are involved in their development and rely on vendors to supply them with fully functional systems that need minimal local intervention. Regardless of the reality of those expectations, the focus of the library automation field has broadened from just the IOLS to the larger issues of providing electronic access to many varieties of content.

For the past few years, I've been involved in reviewing program proposals for the IOLS conference. It was a challenge to identify papers and presentations focused on library automation systems--it was clear that most folks were interested in talking about issues related to the Web and electronic libraries. When I learned that Information Today, Inc. was changing the name of this conference from IOLS to E-Libraries, it seemed to me as if the new title was now better aligned with the change of interest.

The Program

Pamela Cibbarelli served as the program chair for E-Libraries 2001, just as she had ably done with for IOLS for many years. Cibbarelli is to be commended for organizing a very good slate of presentations. In addition to the sessions specifically scheduled for E-Libraries, this subconference shared the daily keynote sessions with InfoToday 2001's KnowledgeNets and National Online conferences.

My own speaking schedule was a busy one. In the presentation "Creating Resources for Decisions: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Library Technology Guides," I gave an overview of a Web site I maintain that's related to the field of library automation and digital libraries, and the technologies that make it work (http://staffweb.library.vander bilt.edu/breeding/lgt.html). Not unlike this conference, the content of Library Technology Guides has evolved from being narrowly focused on library automation systems and vendors to covering more general issues related to the Web and digital library technologies. For those interested in developing similar discipline-specific portals, I described how the site uses database-driven content to create dynamically generated Web pages.

The session "Developments in the Library Automation Industry in 2000-2001 and Expectations for the Future" was an opportunity to present both an overview of developments in the field and my opinions of what to expect in the next few years. The theme that tied these developments together was "connecting library customers to content." The changes that transpired in the business relationships of the companies involved and the development of the systems themselves reflect the pervasive trend to expand library services to include more content and to facilitate easy access to an evermore-complex set of information resources.

Practically all systems vendors have blended new forms of content into their online catalogs and have crafted additional products related to digital libraries, resource-sharing, or reference linking. …

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