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In September 2007 the ILS-DI group conducted a library survey to measure community interest and current involvement in improving the capabilities and interfaces of the ILS. We received well over 100 responses. The survey shed light on industry and customer trends, and areas of development.

Of the responders, more than 40% are considering adopting a new integrated library system (ILS) within the next 2 years. Of those considering a new ILS, 35% are considering an open source option and a number are also considering upgrades to the online public access catalog (OPAC) without changing the underlying ILS. For institutions that are already using an external discovery application in addition to (or instead of) the traditional OPAC, the most common technique for accessing data managed within the ILS was through data export (27%). Application handoff, where the external discovery application links back to the OPAC, was commonly used to access functionality currently available only within the ILS (20%).

77% of responders are currently using non-ILS discovery applications to supplement their OPAC as finding aids. Only 13% of responders indicated that their institution has no plans over the next 2 years to implement an external discovery application that includes catalog data.

The results of the survey show a strong desire from the responders to move beyond current OPAC functionality as provided by vendors.  At the same time most were satisfied with ILS functionality as an inventory tool for local holdings.  There was an overwhelming response that the current ILS search was inadequate and that data within these systems is difficult to work with, leading to slow adoption of new technology. Responses to open-ended questions identified several areas as problematic for the current ILS systems. Below are some recurring themes in the responses:

  • Current systems are built for managing print collections and inventory. The functionality important for this aspect of collection management is not adequate for digital resources.
  • The OPAC is limited in that it searches only items owned by the subscribing institution. 
  • Current OPACs are limited in their support for varied metadata standards and lack Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) support.
  • The OPAC interface is difficult to use and not intuitive compared to other search tools (particularly search engines, e-commerce sites). The more powerful features of the catalog search are mostly hidden or exposed in such a way as to confuse the users.
  • Exploratory searching is difficult and the systems lack basic features like spell checking and good relevance algorithms. Functionality does not encourage browsability or serendipity.
  • Searching for known items can also be problematic, if users do not know exact titles or filing rules.

While there were a few (less than 5 responders) who thought that the OPAC experience was adequate to good, the overwhelming response was to the contrary.  A thread that ran throughout the responses was that the "siloing" of information in the OPAC was driving people to use services like Google and Amazon. This siloing effect was described as a limitation to locally cataloged resources, without including licensed resources or other relevant external resources. There were also a number of responders looking to broader bibliographic search tools as a viable alternative to their OPAC. Some of these tools mentinoed were vendor provided, some were open source search applications, and some were web-based services such as OCLC's WorldCat.

The full detailed survey results are included in a separate document posted here.
(Note: this is attached to the ILS-DI Wiki, and is subject to revision as well.)

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  1. Please review the doc.  It is posted as an attachment.