Trip Report: 4th IGeLU Conference, Helsinki, 6-9th September 2009

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The 4th annual meeting of the "International Group of Ex Libris users" (IGeLU) took place in Helsinki from 6th to 9th September 2009. The meeting has been attended by Silvia and Inga as well as by Regina Bost and Benjamin Tetzlaff from the GWDG. This page summarizes our experiences and findings. Further information can be found via the conference program and the #IGeLU09 twitter stream (archived with twatter).

Summary: The annual IGeLU conferences are characterized by a combination of user presentations and official product updates by the vendor. Ex Libris' strategy to transform the existing variety of solutions into one generic framework (URM/URD2) has been the focus of many presentations and discussions. It's obvious that this vision causes many questions which Ex Libris cannot answer by now. Over the next years, the vendor will concentrate to implement the basic building blocks of a new architecture which is generic enough to enable libraries to manage and present all materials in one integrated system. On the other hand side, Ex Libris will need to restrict its efforts to enhance existing solutions in order to achieve an ambitious goal. Weighing current needs against a promise for the future will become a challenging balance act.

Monday, 7th September 2009[edit]

IGeLU Update, Jirka Kende[edit]

338 members in 38 countries; stable prices for membership

  • new Primo Product Working Group (PWG)
  • surveys about expectations on next generation products planned
  • cross product activities
  • new enhancement platform (NERS)
  • this IGeLU Conference: 464 participants from 31 countries
  • IGeLU conference 2010 will take place in Gent, Belgium, from August, 30 to September, 1
  • IGeLU conference 2011 will take place in Israel (in conjunction with the Ex Libris System Seminar)

Ex Libris Report, Matti Shem Tov[edit]

Some facts:

  • 74M Dollar in 2008
  • 43 % Services and Support, 34% Development
  • 460 employees

Highlights last 12 months:

  • on the way with URM
  • launched bx
  • set up Primo Central
  • doubled Primo customers
  • expanded in Asia; new office in Singapore
  • acquired Atlantis, distributor in Italy


  • approx. 4600 institutions from 77 countries
  • 39 national libraries

Global support in 2008-2009:

  • Support teams in Europe, US and Israel have been combined
  • SFX knowledge base team has been tripled
  • Result of the support survey: improve resolution time and ease of product upgrade

Product specific information:

  1. URM
    • URM development progresses according to the plan
    • Planned beta: second half of 2011
    • General available: beginning 2012
    • Working together with partners and 4 focus groups. More than 80 institutions are participating either as a partner or in one of the focus groups
    • Scope Extension: management of digital materials already in Version 1. Goal: to enable unified data structures and tools as well as workflows across material boundaries
  2. Aleph
    • Customers: 2281 institutions
    • Version 20 released in 03/2009
    • in pipeline version 20.1, version 20.2, version 21 and version 22
  3. Voyager
    • Customers: 1361 institutions
  4. Primo & Primo central
    • Customers: 196 institutions
    • version 2.1 since 09/2008
    • Primo Central as centralized index hosted by Ex Libris. The index includes the data of selected primary and secondary publishers and aggregators
    • Starting end of 2009
    • Primo Central hosted and maintenanced by Ex Libris
    • Customers who'll buy Primo until the end of 2009, get Primo central free for one year
  5. MetaLib
    • Customers: 1500 institution.
    • In the pipeline: MetaLib next generation (= enhanced Primo interface to support meta search & revised metasearch engine in the background)
    • MetaLib NG will be integrated in Primo v3.0
    • Scope definition of MetaLib NG will base on a survey and consultation with advisory board
  6. SFX
    • Customers: 1853 institutions
    • 1.321 responses to SFX knowledge base survey
    • Result: 70% are vary satisfied or satisfied with the overall performance. Customers stated that quality is more important than coverage
    • Release of Version 4 is planned for 2010 (phased release)
  7. bX
    • Customers: 161 libraries
    • new service: recommendation service in SFX environment
    • Launched May 2009
  8. Verde
    • Customers: 207 institutions
    • SHUSI support planned for Q1 2010 (sushi/counter support for SFX KB as well?)
    • ERM will be part of URM version 1 (see above)
  9. DigiTool
    • Customers: 172 institutions
    • version 3.2 launched in 11/2008, next version planned 2010
    • Boundaries between asset management and digital preservation are blurring. Therefore Digitool functionalities will be integrated into Rosetta (version 1 was launched in 12/2008, version 2 in 2009, version 3 will be part of the URM)

Ex Libris Blogs:

next Ex Libris System Seminar will take place in 2011 in Israel

Keynote address: "Changes in Librarys"; Kurt de Belder, Leiden University[edit]

Traditional functions of libraries:

  • Selection
  • Cataloging
  • Reference Check
  • Outreach
  • Making available
  • 'Find it' business
  • Special collections

Needs for university libraries:

  • Google search
  • Google books
  • E-Books
  • E-readers and mobile technology
  • Printing on demand
  • Open access
  • Espresso book machine

How do libraries deal with changes? -> they have to add new services but keep old services!

Leiden university

virtual knowledge center based on sharepoint


  • more systems for traditional processes
  • outsourcing of backoffice
  • how to act in context of exponential changes?
  • what do we need to keep inhouse and why?

Ex Libris Product Update Summary, Oren Beit-Arie and Nancy Dushkin[edit]

Oren started the session by giving an introductory speech about the necessity for libraries (and vendors) to discover new fields of activities and to design new library systems (e.g. Digital Preservation = Sustaining Digital Investment). Various literature about this subject is available via the URM Resource Center.

1. Trends

  • more research -> more data
  • more interdisciplinary activities
  • changes in scholary communication models

2. Technology:

  • open interfaces
  • service oriented architecture (SOA)
  • computing as a service, cloud computing

3. Users needs

  • single interface

This means: Changes are mandatory! new form of scholarship => new form of librarianship. How to get there? Collaboration!

Three areas for developing new services:

  • traditional - doing same things differently (improve efficiency)
  • transitional - doing new things in support of traditional functions
  • transformational - doing entirely new and different things in new ways

open platform strategy -> El Commons

Introducing the framework (see :

  • URD2 = search/discovery/linking/recommendation/personalization = unified method to access all kind of materials (without regard to acquisition method, etc.) != single point of entry
  • URM = back office to implement user services, e.g. selection/acquisition/patron/catalog/access rights/publishing
  • Data Services (MMS) = data storage, e.g. metadata management/knowledge base/usage data/vendor informations/tags and reviews
  • and beyond = future services, e.g. preservation/recommendation

URM in 5 points:

  • a service on the net
  • all materials and ownership (print, local/remote digital, preservation ready)
  • workflow focused
  • open, modular, extensible
  • collaboration (between libraries, between users, with external systems)

Goal: Create collaboration and partnership opportunities without compromising the library's local needs and uniqueness, e.g.

  • as to "Metadata Management": Enable libraries to keep their local metadata records, but provide them with an easy facility to move the data into the cloud in order to benefit from collaboration
  • as to "Collection Development": Libraries stated that they always wanted to select content in a more cooperative manner (e.g. within a consortium or ad hoc groups with shared purchasing), but that they miss the tools for doing it.

Afterwards, Nancy continued by providing some more concrete details about how Ex Libris plans to realize these goals.

Roadmap guidelines:

  • new development is always done on the next release
  • we are in active planning for one release ahead
  • all products will move to a major/minor release schedule - slow down the number of major release update
  • there is a need for next generation systems

How to come from services to new framework:

  • Primo: first delivery of new strategy (out for two years, adapted very very well). v3 (2009): OPAC via Primo UI!
  • Metalib will be moved to the "next generation". This version will include all key MetaLib functionalities built on the top of Primo technology. The goal is to integrate local search and remote search more seamlessly. MetaLib NG functionality phased in releases of Primo v3.0, v3.1 (meta search user interface), v4.0 (most of backup services)
  • SFX: version 4 in Q2/2010, KB updates more frequently, will move to minor/major release schedule with version 4; SFX frontend will be integrated in URD2, SFX admin tools will be integrated in URM, but SFX will continue to be maintained as standalone product
  • bX service (subscription) will be part of URD2
  • Aleph: Aleph continues to be enhanced!, enhancements in all modules, higher integration in Ex Libris products; v20.0 -> Q1/2009, v20.1 -> Q4/2009, v20.2 -> Q2 2010, Version 21 in planning stages
  • Aleph and Voyager -> next generation system URM
  • Verde: version 2 launched in 7/2009, SUSHI -> Q1/2010, version 1 of URM will provided to all Verde customers, no additional fee for Verde ERM functionality
  • Digitool (digital asset management, DAM) and Rosetta (preservation) will come together, DAM should support preservation => Rosetta for preservation+Rosetta for DAM, Rosetta for DAM for all Digitool customers
  • Digitool: v3.3 -> Q4/2010, next major release as Rosetta for DAM delivered in URM version 1

The OPAC is dead - Long live the OPAC - workshop, Daniel Forsmann[edit]

The aim is to make yourself aware of what you want and what you need in order to judge which product fits best and to be able to make the right decision for a discovery tool.

In advance the participants had to answer the following questions (The scale in questions 1 - 14 is 1 - 10 where 1 is the worst and 10 is best.):

  1. How happy are you with your current OPAC?
  2. How important is it to enrich the OPAC with external content (for instance forwarding searches, table of contents, covers, Google Books, integration with union catalogs, databases, Library Thing)?
  3. How important are RSS feeds in the OPAC?
  4. How important is it to be able to search the OPAC from other sources like Facebook, iGoogle, Netvibes ... ?
  5. How important is tagging in the OPAC?
  6. How important are user generated reviews and comments in the OPAC?
  7. How important are librarian-generated reviews and comments in the OPAC?
  8. How important are clustering of search results in the OPAC?
  9. How important is it to be able to do federated searching in selected databases/digital archives/institutional repositories from the OPAC?
  10. How important is it to to embed the OPAC into the library website (graphics and navigation)?
  11. How important is it to integrate link resolvers (like SFX) into the OPAC?
  12. How important is your access to the OPAC server and configuration?
  13. How important is it to make the catalog data available for external indexing (OAI-PMH, permanent URL:s for Google indexing)
  14. How important are OPAC API:s?
  15. Mention five features in you current OPAC that you appreciate. Please motivate, but keep short.
  16. Mention five features you miss in you current OPAC. Please motivate, but keep short.
  17. List up to 10 OPAC that you find inspiring or worth mentioning. Please motivate, but keep short.
  18. List up to 10 library websites that you find inspiring or worth mentioning. Please motivate, but keep short.

The presentation summarizes the results:

Some explanatory notes of Daniel:

  • important to present your content in your local environment, e.g. library website
  • important to be able to present your content within an interface where the user wants it (using APIs)
  • making people aware of that we (the library) exist, by being present with e.g. search boxes in facebook, although it's perhaps not used

Tuesday, 8th September 2009[edit]

Aleph PWG Business Meeting[edit]

Report of Gerard Bennett

  • collaborative testing of v20 in January 2009
  • new version release policy with v20
    • Major releases delivered on schedule, take-up in UK, US, Italy, Australia, South Africa
    • Minor release v20.1: will include significant enhancements, delivered by Service Packs mechanism
    • The new policy enables to implement enhancement faster - at least that's the hope
    • Timeline: V21 2011, V22 2013; no commitment for the time beyond from Ex Libris
  • Communication with Ex Libris
    • Monthly conference calls with product manager (Eluna/IGeLU and SC/APWG)
    • Topics: version release, enhancements, testing, URM
    • => Commitment that PWG could report more to the community about the content of this calls
  • Collaboration with ELUNA
    • Meetings
    • Coordination of enhancements
    • NERS system enables more collaboration; enhancements of ELUNA und IGeLU can be seen on one platform
  • Focus group work in URM and e-Books management

Report of Marcus Zerbst

  • Website
    • in the moment not happening very much; are there wishes?
    • Information can be protected for members only
    • Intention to make it more interactive, e.g. blogs
  • El Commons
    • growing slowly
    • Developer zone comparatively active
    • => Encouragement to use the wiki and it's possibilities

The Aleph-PWG is looking for 2 new members.

MetaLib Product Update and Q&A, Carmit Marcus & Gilad Gal[edit]

Overall, the MetaLib product update hasn't helped much to receive a clearer picture of the upcoming system (MetaLib NG). Carmit started by presenting the new functionalities introduced with MetaLib 4.1-4.3. Afterwards, Gilad gave a short outlook for the future. Ex Libris stated that Metalib NG is part of the URD2 strategy, and that the core functionalities' will be maintained in NG. However, neither the core functionalities, nor the process to define them seem to be specified so far.

Few details:

  • Goal for MetaLib NG: Improve search response time by caching search results
  • MetaLib functionality will gradually be added to Primo and supposed to be available in Primo 4.0 in 2Q 2011
  • Changing an existing ML X-Server API will be rather an exception than the rule
  • MetaLib external hooks will probably be maintained in any manner

Note: In the meeting of the MetaLib PWG, Jeremy Acland presented a document describing relevant use scenarios about MetaLib NG. The paper is available to Ex Libris customers via El Commons, (and we probably should give some input)

IGeLU Activities - Common Knowledge Revisited[edit]

Customer wiki - Beate Rusch

Status quo:

  • Ex Libris provides platform and technical support
  • lots of readers (more than 1000 logins), but only few contributers (less than 50, mostly PWG-members or Ex Libris)
  • content: till now 180 pages
  • Objects:
  1. Digitool (e.g. examples of implementation)
  2. Primo (e.g. test scenarios and scripts)
  3. SFX (e.g. targets, sources, documentation)
  4. Verde (e.g. HowTos, workflows)
  5. Aleph (e.g. ELUNA and IGeLU activities)
  6. Voyager (e.g. HowTos)

Planned improvements:

  • increase performance
  • relaunch (improving navigation)
  • separation between Wiki and Code

Collaborative testing - Theo Engelman


  • test environment was inadequate (slow server, old data, too much data, ...)
  • 31 defects discovered (solved after 2 weeks)
  • not very easy to judge the quality of the release
  • also difficult to judge the quality of testing by Ex Libris

=> not really convincing that collaborative testing is a good thing, but the main conclusion was to repeat it in the future

Suggestions for Ex Libris:

  • better server
  • access to test scenarios before coming to Israel
  • access to environment before coming to Israel
  • fresh and less data

Suggestions for IGeLU/ELUNA:

  • better preparation / searching earlier for testers (Theo had to test ILL2, although he's not familiar with ILL)
  • providing with documents

Enhancement process and the new enhancement request system (NERS) – Lukas Koster and Mark Dehmlow


  • hosted in Siena, Italy
  • Environment: LAMPP platform
  • Open Source: based on HTML, CSS and Javascript
  • Security: SSL, password salting and hashing
  • Advantages: extensible, webservices, API, pluggable

SFX Update and Q&A, Christine Stohn[edit]

Christine gave a short overview about newly released and upcoming features. It is obvious that the SFX development is currently concentrated to prepare SFX version 4 which will focus on backoffice improvements and is expected to be released in 2010. In the "Q&A" section, most questions related to bX. Nettie agreed to compile a more comprehensive data sheet about the bX implementation.

Few details:

  • RSI (check "availability") isn't based on AZ index anymore; JSI will be removed in the future.
  • SFX update 09.2009 will include customization option for Marc records to meet your needs (MarcIt)
  • SFX version 4 will introduce a couple of additional database tables, e.g. author information for e-books
  • SFX admin v4 sneak preview: manual object creation, revised object lists. Good news: interface looks similar enough not to get lost
  • Ex Libris has no plans to revise subject categories for journals before SFX version 4

URM and Strategy Update, Kathryn Harnish[edit]

Building the URM in stages:

1. Stage

  • infrastructure (that supports unified workflows, that enables future extensibility, that takes advantages of 'network level', opportunities for software)
  • foundation and basement
  • modular design
  • decision about investments (which new features are necessary?, which are not needed anymore?)
  • design of floor plan
  • interoperability (flexible connections between functions to support improved workflows; enable interoperability with 3rd party applications and services)
  • outsourcing
  • community environment (to support cooperative activities and facilitate knowledge sharing)
  • metadata management (reducing costs), share records

2. Blueprint

3. Selection and acquisition, creating selection list, leveraging cooperative information

  • Better information about available resources to selectors and users
  • Streamline the flow of information from selection to acquisition
  • Leverage data services to support decision-making
  • Using automated processing whenever possible to reduce cost and effort

4. Metadata management

  • lower metadata costs by enabling libraries to realize new processing efficiencies
  • provide a hybrid environment that supports existing approaches and formats, and allows libraries to experiment with new methods and formats
  • create a community around metadata and cataloging activities
  • take advantage of new technologies to facilitate library management activities

There is a Library Zone for control of local versions of metadata records and a Community Zone for creation of and/or linking to shared descriptive metadata - reducing the need to store and manage locally. Collaboration with fellow catalogers is possible.

5. Loading approved records from vendor

6. Smart requesting (fulfillment)

  • simplify requesting process for users
  • deliver materials in the fastest, most economical way appropriate to individual users (lower costs, increase satisfaction)

7. Digitization on demand

Construction plan:

  • building on Rosetta platform leverages complete, tested infrastructure work
  • analyzing and addressing gaps necessary to support functions
  • working with development partners and focus groups to validate requirements and design for URM functionality
  • timeline unchanged: beta-version Q4/2011

Ups and downs with systems’ downs and ups? – Voyager, DigiTool, MetaLib, Aleph, SFX[edit]

Down and Out – How Long is Your Recovery Time? Brian Flaherty, The University of Auckland Library, New Zealand

University of Auckland: 24600 undergraduate students, 5500 postgraduate students, 13 subject libraries (790 network databases, 79000 electronic journals, 313000 e-books)

  • Hardware: SUNFire E25K
  • Products: Primo, MetaLib, Digitool, Voyager, SFX
  • Disaster Recovery Plan: Solaris container, NFS snapshots by script, TSM, load balancing, nightly copy, virtualization, SAN

Failover and Failback without Fail, Gerard Bennett, University of Westminster

  • Hardware: 3 phases: 1. Solaris -> 2. Linux VMWare + NetApp -> 3. Linux VMWare + SUN Unified Storage System (SSD compatible)
  • Virtualization: Aleph server in a virtualized environment (ESX cluster)
  • phase 3 is still in experimental stage

Wednesday, 9th September 2009[edit]

From Code to Community: Technologies/Techniques for Customizing Ex Libris Products and the Open Platform Program – Aleph, MetaLib, Primo, SFX[edit]

Choice: 1. buy, 2. own development, 3. anything between

Example 1: XERXES, Mark Dehmlow, Digital Initiatives Librarian, University of Notre Dame

  • open source interface layer
  • lot of configuration and functionality added
  • community: 30 people

Example 2: RSS Feeds for Metalib, Daniel Forsman, Systems Librarian, Jonkoping University Library

  • what does open products mean?
  1. open interfaces (APIs, deep links, plugins, adapters, views), relying on industry standards, specifications and recommendations when available
  2. tools (website for the community, comprehensive documentation, software, developer kits) e.g. Ex Libris Developer Zone
  • open products, offer complete solutions, that serve as the backbone of library's operations
  • free available

Example 3: Ex Libris: Open-Platform, Tamar Sadeh, Director of Marketing ExLlibris

  • open products
  • tool for sharing knowledge


1. Commitment

  • design principles
  • coding standards
  • comprehensive documentation
  • maintenance
  • backward compatibility
  • assistance for developers

2. this means: libraries should hire programmers

3. Technologies: XHTML, CSS, Javascript (AJAX, JSON, jQuery), PHP, PERL, Ruby, Python, MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, web services, XML, XSLT, JAVA (SDKs)

Reviewing & improving - our job is never done?[edit]

Easy OPAC enhancements - Matthew Phillips

For most of his enhancements do we already also have solutions:

His complete presentation will be offered on the conference website.

Every reader his book: recommendations in Aleph - Matthew Phillips

They're analyzing the behave of users by looking at their SDIs and borrows. In the moment they're still testing, but he intends to put the results in El Commons.

URM Development Partnerships: A Panel Discussion[edit]

Susan Stearns - Ex Libris

Criteria for finding partners:

  • share URM vision
  • able to commit
  • open for internal change
  • interested in specific area
  • pragmatic & practical
  • willing and eager to promote URM principles

The Kick-off Meeting took place in June 2009

4 tracks for greater productivity were defined: Cataloging, Selection/Acquisition, Fulfillment and Digital Content

Additional to weekly calls and milestone meetings with the partners there are:

  • Focus Groups (together with IGeLU/ELUNA)
  • Subject matter discussions
  • Advisory groups, e.g. for small libraries

Besides customer collaboration, they've also started to work together with content partners and vendors

Impact already felt:

  • expanding the perspective
  • providing feedback on REAL usage and workflows
  • balancing functionality and streamlining workflows
  • local catalog model (link to multiple catalogs)
  • Joint selection
  • Selection/Acquisition

All three partners have nearly the same motivations, expectations and experiences:

Boston College

Ex Libris Products: Aleph, MetaLib, SFX, Primo, bX, ARC, verde

Why partner?

  • a new system has to come
  • Ex Libris vision is compelling
  • hope for internal change
  • better to take part instead of letting it do Ex Libris by themselves


  • open dialogue
  • rethink processes
  • reduce TCO
  • reduce complexity


  • difficult to rethink processes
  • enormity of the challenge

Princeton University

Ex Libris Products: Voyager, SFX

Why partner?

  • feeling having something to offer
  • good past working relationship with Ex Libris
  • motivated staff who wants to influence change
  • support from institutional hierarchy

Opportunity to rethink workflows

  • community zone bibliographic records
  • better linkage to financial system
  • link ILS data for electronic resources with ERM and link resolver data
  • rationalize "get it" functionality so patrons can see a realistic path of opportunity
  • improve report writing across many types of data

New opportunities:

  • pull selection of material into URM
  • establish collaboration/consortial selection
  • taking advantage of FRBRization
  • globally edit bibliographic data
  • integrate expedited borrowing consortium
  • integrate Remote storage consortium

Tasks might considered stopped:

  • spending a lot of time managing prediction patterns
  • checking in print serials
  • having so many circulation matrices and policies
  • Collecting fines
  • Cataloguing over 80% of our bibliographic records

How is it going?

  • learning to work collaborative, also with other partners
  • consider other sites work
  • have to look at the big picture in order to understand the little procedure
  • sometimes we have to back up to move forward
  • it is a lot of work
  • it is stimulating, makes you really think

K.U.Leuven (Consortia View)

3 different Aleph Systems on different servers
Metalib, verde, sfx, digitool, Primo (Limo)

Why partner?

  • a lot of dataflowing between the products, difficult to understand for the librarians, what is going on
  • they asked us
  • continue a long tradition of system development
  • after streamlining the front office (Primo), also backend important to streamline
  • encourage library staff to think about what they do
  • there is a world outside…


  • open mind approach
  • question every work process
  • look beyond our own world
  • getting in touch with other institutions to discuss current practices
  • streamlined workflows
  • focus on the next-generation
  • alternatives for currently outdated processes
  • less original cataloguing
  • reduce TCO
  • streamline technology

New possibilities

  • open up towards other library like organizations such as archives, museums
  • use statistical information for
    • a person oriented fulfillment
    • a cost oriented acquisition process


  • intense
  • not so simple to get the right people involved
  • difficult to forget day by day work, look into the future
  • Ex Libris very open
  • would welcome more opportunities to interact with others involved, e.g. with focus groups

Interesting posters[edit]