Till Kinstler: understanding libraries for better software development

I do software development for libraries. I help them getting on the web, to become part of this great, global virtual library and be usable for people on the net.

Over the years I have built up a broad knowledge on technology, data formats, processes, work flows etc. in libraries. But sometimes I feel, I still don’t understand how libraries really work and what they really do 🙂 (beyond the obvious, like lending books, giving reference, helping to find knowledge resources etc.). How do libraries “see” themselves? What is their spirit, what drives them? In my daily work at a service centre of a library consortium I only get a limited and filtered view of libraries. So understanding libraries better, will help me making better software for libraries.

I think, cycling for libraries will be a great opportunity to get more insight into these questions.

Till Kinstler
Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund (GBV)

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There are 2 comments. Add yours.

  1. patrick

    Hi Till, send me a link to some of the work you have done. I’d like to take a look and see your perspective. thanks, Patrick

    • Some of my work goes into open source “discovery interface” VuFind: http://vufind.org/
      That relates in many ways to the first of your homework questions 🙂
      I think, the point is not to emulate Google, but to open up libraries to the web (and with that even to Google, being part of the web)…
      For example we built an application on top of VuFind to make the library service DFG Nationallizenzen discoverable on the web: “Suchkiste” (http://finden.nationallizenzen.de/). DFG Nationallizenzen is a large, diverse collection of digital material licensed by libraries from publishers (about 100 million digital objects: articles, ebooks, dictionaries, …). Access is free for everyone with a postal address in Germany (after registration).
      Because Suchkiste is harvestable by web search engines and linkable on the web, about 2/3 of the traffic originates on “the web” (eg. Google). So it drives users from the web to a library service (Nationallizenzen)…
      Discovery happens else/everywhere. The important point is to provide (free and convenient(!)) access to discovered resources through libraries. To do that, libraries need “to be” where discovery happens (eg. on the web).
      So you are right: We don’t need to build small library Googles (like some so called discovery interfaces aim to be). But we need to provide links from discovery to services/access. “Link” is the essential word here. So bringing libraries to the web means, make them “linkable”… Discovery interfaces done right can help with that (and provide the “mini Google” service on top, for those who need/want that)… Linked data (done right) might be the next step in that direction…

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