Friday, October 7, 2016

My #accessYFC question - what FLOSS projects to adopt to be able to collaborate with our members

This week I attended ACCESS2016.  While I will post my overall thoughts of the conference later (I'm really enjoying myself), I wanted to post about the question I came into the conference with.

I posted part of the question in the forum for the Hackfest on Tuesday:

Description says we can also "pick other people’s brains".  I'm a first timer at ACCESS.   
We're not quite a library, but we need to do catalog, ILL and names authorities.  Catalogers currently use Inmagic DB/Text, and we want to move to something client-platform agnostic and FLOSS.  I'm wanting to avoid re-inventing the wheel, and don't want to just add that functionality to our existing platform (PERL Catalyst, MySQL/CouchDB/Solr, etc).  Would prefer to create modules for something that already exists to integrate with our TDR so that any work we do would be contributions to a public project rather than internal.  
Ideas?  We tried Evergreen at one point, but the I in the ILL made things complex as we don't need everything a library would.

Speaking for myself and not Canadiana, when I look at our platform I see parts which are core and parts which are ephemeral.

Our preservation platform is core. It is elegent in its simplicy.  It uses Bagit storage format for submissions (SIP) and storage (AIP), with a METS profile used to describe the contents of the SIPs.   We have infrastructure for SIP validation and ingesting, and AIP replication and continuous validation.   We will upgrade our METS profile, but overall this structure will be maintained indefinitely as part of our certified Trustworthy Digital Repository.

I consider all other aspects of our technology platform are fair game for replacement.  The tool used for cataloging and tracking authors is already mentioned, but I'd also love to eventually replace our Catalyst based access platform as well.  An important part of the choices will be what other Canadian institutions (with specific focus on our members) will be doing.

This is largely why at the Hackfest I participated in the group that was looking into FOLIO.  I was one of two people at the table who didn't being a laptop (I brought an ASUS Flip Chromebook , and the other person had a tablet without a keyboard), and there were 3 people who brought laptops who worked on getting the current revision installed.

Platform looked interesting, if only the beginnings.  Is it something that we should adopt as a framework we build other services on, so we can be collaborating with our member institutions (and beyond) on the technology?

I was curious to see what type of buy-in there would be from ACCESS attendees, and was happy that a lightning talk was done on FOLIO.  I was a bit surprised to see some negative comments made in the slack forum about this being a "blatant sponsor ad", and that the lightning talk was "interesting, but it was about a commercial product" (Hope it is OK to quote without names).   There are commercial entities involved but it looked to me to be a standard FLOSS project that was looking for participation across multiple sectors. Did I miss something?

Maybe someone reading this will be an ACCESS attendee that is at one of our member institutions.  Does this mean we shouldn't look closely at any FLOSS platform that has commercial entities associated with it? Is this feeling about FOLIO-like projects shared within the community?

I felt a bit uncomfortable with the conversation, as Canadiana has been mischaracterized in the media as being a "private high-tech consortium" involved in a "hush-hush deal" with LAC (another of our members). I'm aware that post-secondary education is big business and that some of our members like University of Toronto represent economies and have budgets larger than many Canadian municipalities. But we don't normally talk about educational institutions this way.
Did something similar happen with FOLIO? I'm very curious for feedback.

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