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The Lego Age

I was at Paul Miller’s session at CIL where he made the now-famous analogy between new web services and legos. Specifically, he was talking about the ways in which new web applications are made with whole sets of loosely associated and interchangeable bits. (Think Firefox and its extensions.) This theme was applied specifically to ILS vendors in a recent discussion of the Library 2.0 Gang (Thomas Brevik, Michael Casy, Dave Errington, Paul Miller, Michael Stephens, and Richard Wallace). Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a base ILS model onto which you could pile as many or as few “extensions” as you wanted?

Say you wanted RSS functionality, or AJAX pre-searching, or a mashup that would show users the exact locations of their books in the stacks. All you’d have to do is download those extensions. (And by the way, there are catalogs out there that have done each of these things.)

So maybe when we’re talking with vendors we shouldn’t be asking “what features does your ILS have?” Maybe we should be asking who’s developing the plug-ins or add-ons or extensions, where the user forum for suggestions and questions is, and which of the developers have blogs.

(This Library 2.0 Gang also expressed quite a bit of interest in the upcoming Internet Librarian conferences, both the one in California and the one in London. They’re also interested in developing “Conference 2.0″ and in the book Ambient Findability.)