Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Post Vendor Fair eBook update

We had our big Vendor Fair last week at the beautiful campus of Santa Clara University.  About 20 vendors and 100 librarians came together to watch demo's, get updates, and dig deeply for information about vendors they're considering, as well as talk to others who are already using those vendors.  It was a great day, and we always love seeing all our members who come out for it.

So, an eBook update, which is desperately overdue...

First off, some kudos for us: we were mentioned on NPR last week on the Diane Rehm show.  At 39:50 they say that Califa is really innovative.  Woohoo!

Ok, self-congratulations over.  What's going on with our eBook project?

- figuring out hosting takes a long time.  We thought we could just go with a simple cloud hosting service, but Quipu talked us through all the options we could want; how much of a managed system did we need?  Did we need someone to do regular maintenance?  How much responsibility did we want to have for the servers and hardware?  After looking at lots of different options, and getting a lot of quotes, we decided to go with, and we signed up with them a few weeks ago.

- which means that now Quipu can start digging around the ACS and kicking the tires, as it were.  We are doing a presentation at CLA in November, and Contra Costa will be set up with, at the very least, a demo site to show at our session.

- we actually have live content on a test server so that when Contra Costa is ready to start testing, we're able to do so with real materials from real publishers.

So far the publishers that we have sent orders to are:
- Workman (and Algonquin)
- Bancroft
- Dzanc

I'm working on an order for the Independent Publishers Group, and Smashwords will also be coming soon, now that they have their Library Direct options for authors to sell to libraries.  I have a list of about 40-50 additional publishers that I'm working my way through - now that renewals season is complete, and our Vendor Fair is over, I'm working my way through the publisher list at the rate of 1-2/week.

We're forming a collection development committee, and figuring out the best way to manage doing the orders.  Right now, since we don't have an acquisitions module, we're working off spreadsheets.  But we know that's not going to be a good option long-term.  Building an acquisitions module will be in the second phase of the plan.  I believe there are already a few bits of movement with building an acquisitions module, so once we're ready, we can either choose from one that is already in existence, or see if building our own makes sense.  So for right now, the collection development group will have spreadsheets hosted on a google wiki.  (if you'd like to be part of the collection development group, and you're a Califa member, please let us know.  We can use all the help we can get!)

We are really working on two projects simultaneously.  Working with Contra Costa to get them set up is sort of a "learning by doing" project - by setting up VuFind+, and the ACS, we can learn a lot about the pieces that we will need to make this scaleable for groups.  There are still a lot of questions over bandwidth, how quickly VuFind+ can serve up the ebooks, etc.  We will learn a lot by getting Contra Costa set up, and then the BALIS libraries, and then Kansas.  Three different ILS groups, and bigger populations, which will put the system to the test.  We will see how it holds up, and learn more about whether more bandwidth is needed, etc.

At the end of this project we will have a server that serves up library-owned eBooks to patrons, which is exciting.  The level of integration into the ILS, marc records, etc., will all be decided after that first phase.  For now, we're working to get the first phase completed.

More updates soon!

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