In the world of library, we’re all terribly concerned with talking about the new things that libraries should be doing; Facebook, learning arenas, RSS, Second Life, “getting where the user is”, wikis…the list goes on, but what are these technologies without some of the very basic library services being in place?
They don’t exist is the short answer. A lot of the stuff I’ve seen is just rehashing existing technologies; this isn’t a bad thing because it’s making people aware of and used to technologies. On the other hand, the actual stuff that is going on is very manual, and not what I would call “working smart”. Actually, I think that a lot of advanced functionality can be put in place by doing things manually; how good would it be if you could get a two-minute response time for customer email?
One of the problems facing many libraries is that they have existing technologies that aren’t really compatible with any future plans; many of the systems in place date back at least to the 90s and often further. The problem with the current library of the future is that it is based on the stuff used in the libraries of the past.
In order for it to be successful, any effort needs to be based on new technologies. The problem is speed, plain and simple; you’re simply never going to be able to supercharge your outdated tech. Another thing you’re not going to be doing is wasting time trying to get all of these systems to talk to one another because it simply isn’t worth the effort.
What to do? Replace your system with a new, monolithic service. Scary.