These are the highlights from the sessions at the Unicorn Users Group International Conference held in Huntsville, AL from May 2 - May 4, 2002.
A. Opening Session - Scott Thomas, outgoing UUGI Chair, reported on the events/accomplishments during his tenure. These included 1) the SIRSI/DRA merger, 2) the implementation of the UUGI ambassadors program, 3) that web forum enhancement suggestions were reviewed and responded to by SIRSI three times last year, and 4) that the growing user base has resulted in 20 regional and special interest user groups.
In addition Scott briefly talked about the move of the conference next year to St. Louis and that a blue ribbon committee, made up of past and present UUGI chairs, will gather input and analyze the feedback and success of the conference and report back to UUGI next year.
B. SIRSI General Presentation and New Product Overview - Pat Somers, CEO of SIRSI Corporation, gave his annual address which covered three areas, 1) SIRSI/DRA merger, 2) Accomplishments since last year, and 3) SIRSI's vision for the future
1) SIRSI/DRA Merger - there were three major tasks in the merger. They were a) stay with or change the name of the company, b) integrate the organizational structure, and c) analyze and integrate the products and services. They recognized that SIRSI and DRA were two vibrant companies with technical expertise and a customer focus. They assessed variations on the name such as staying with one or the other, using a hyphenated version, or creating a brand new name but decided to stay with the name SIRSI, albeit with a new logo, as a recognized leader in library technology. They continue to merge the organization structure. Pat showed the integration of the companies by displaying the current organization charts at the VP and Director level and the associated reporting relationships. He reported that the merged company now has over 380 employees, 30% are professional librarians, and 70% are devoted to product development and support. Moving on to products and services, Pat first identified that there are five products currently supported in the merged company. They are DRA Classic, Inlex, MultiLIS, TAOS, and Unicorn. He asked for an analysis of the existing products and would make the decision as to which product to build on. He believed he was a neutral decision maker because he is fairly new to the company and did not have a vested interest in either company's products. He decided to stay with the Unicorn product but to integrate the best features of the DRA product line. Pat summed it up by saying that SIRSI believes they are a stronger company in all aspects after the merger while still dedicated to their core values.
2) Accomplishments - Pat showed slides describing their market penetration and global presence. He also reported they have made some enhancements to customer service, including the rollout of the new email reporting system called CRM, new self-help tools, and internet based training.
Pat described SIRSI's project plans for the coming 12-18 months. SIRSI is working on:
a. the next generation of the e-library - this is a new product category for SIRSI. Their goal is to create a virtual environment as enriching as the physical environment of a library. The e-library will provide online resources from the traditional library plus everything web accessible. SIRSI believes iLink and iBistro are first-step solutions in this area
b. the new release of Hyperion
c. evolving the Workflows client
d. supporting and enhancing key industry standards (DRA was well-positioned in this area)
e. new unicorn modules - reserve booking; collection exchange
Pat then listed SIRSI commitments for the future:
a. SIRSI will resolve the unicode issue!
b. continue with EDI enhancements
c. enhance ILL functionality
d. continue building strategic relationships with content vendors, service providers, and software and hardware vendors
e. expand consulting offerings in network services and end-user related services
1. There is a new Product Management group headed by Berit Nelson. It's focus is to improve internal and external communication, to assist with the web forum enhancement process, and to be involved in standards committees.
2. SIRSI will work on more focused sales and marketing and be more visible to existing customers. They will also send out a customer survey
Peter Gethin, SIRSI Europe, provided the update from Europe including recent sales and the need for European enrichment of iLink and iBistro
Mark Moorehead described their development of the e-library in more detail. The new e-library is defined as putting your content into their (patrons) context and will be designed to enhance the library experience. It's a very young category in library technology and supports libraries to break down barriers that prevent users from getting information. Content areas will be focused by preset searches designed to get the best content available. Patrons will not need to have past experience with individual content resources. They are developing two levels of interfaces, one for the novice user and one for advanced users. In the design phase, Mark described that traditional library content was categorized into distinctive types. Each type was analyzed for delivery method and how the information is organized. Customers will have access to predefined configuration files by subscription. The new e-library product is the sum of many parts: resource organizer, content presenter, authentication manager, z39.50 searcher, support for XML and compliant with emerging openURL standard. Libraries will continue to maintain their existing Webcat. Mark then briefly demoed a first look at the e-library. 125 rooms of knowledge have been configured so far and the demonstration used the genealogy room as an example.
C. Academic SIG Meeting - David Armond, outgoing chair, reported on the year's activities. The SIG's alternate locations task force became an UUGI committee. Six individuals volunteered to help out with the SIG's website but David admitted he dropped the ball on this one. A pilot site will be released this month. David proposed that the SIG write an annual letter to SIRSI and UUGI to foster communication of the needs of the academic libraries, address the state of the SIG and the memberships satisfactions and concerns, give new customers a sense of what existing customers are concerned about, and assist in maintaining a corporate memory. David then reported the election results for the new Academic SIG officers. The new Chair Elect is Mary Popp of Indiana University and the secretary is Marynelle Chew of BYU-Hawaii. The meeting ended with the passing of the gavel to the new Academic SIG Chair, Margo Pierson, Southern Arkansas University.
D. Academic SIG Program - iLINK and the Academic Library
Three sites described their implementation of iLINK including 1) the reasons why it was chosen, 2) the preinstallation preparation and decision making process, 3) unanticipated problems, and 4) the positive outcomes and feedback from their user community. The sites varied by size and expertise and ranged from a site with new systems staff, no money for custom programs, no test server, and little customization (Naval Postgraduate School) to a site with seasoned Systems staff, quite a bit of customization and the ability to profile decisions with a test server (BYU). The links to the iLINK websites are:
1. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
2. Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library, Monterey, CA
3. Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Business, Glendale, AZ
E. UUGI Business Meeting
Scott Thomas opened the UUGI Business Meeting with announcements and reports from the past year. The rest of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of next year's conference in St. Louis. Scott introduced Tom Gates, Director of Marketing. Tom described the details of next year's conference.
Next year's conference will be held at the Hyatt Union Station in downtown St. Louis and will be called a SIRSI User's Super Conference. It will be comprised of separate tracks, one for SIRSI users and one for DRA users. In addition each track will be separated into two conferences. One conference will be devoted to issues and concerns of library administrators/directors (called the administrator's conference) and the other will be similar to past UUGI's (called the technical conference.) The proposed schedule is as follows:
|Thursday,||3/13 - training and arrival of administrators and directors|
|3/14 - training and first day of administrator's conference|
|3/15 - training and second day of administrator's conference|
|3/16 - pre-conference, SIRSI Social, free day for administrators staying for technical conference|
|3/17 - first day of technical conference|
|3/18 - second day of technical conference|
|3/19 - 1/2 to full third day of technical conference|
Tom Gates then described the planning and decision making process for next year's conference. He stated that it is likely there will no longer be separate SIRSI and DRA conferences in the future because it goes against their plans to integrate the staff of the merged companies and would be too much of a drain on their resources. SIRSI believes this will be the largest user's conference of its kind in the industry since the expected number of attendees is somewhere between 900 - 1000. SIRSI is working with the leadership of both user's groups and will begin more intense planning right after ALA. Because they have not done this before, registration will begin in September and October so they can begin to gauge the number of attendees. Tom then opened the floor to questions and comments.
Most of the comments echoed Bob Warwick's concerns stated in an email reply to the first announcement about the conference back in early April. UUGI members are concerned about the doubling of the cost, the dates for the technical conference that do not accommodate a Saturday night stay, and a suspicion that the administrator's conference is more of a marketing tool so that SIRSI can sell new products directly to directors and administrators. Tom replied that the administrator's conference is not a marketing mechanism ("You're already our customers") but will be more focused on visionary, higher level technical issues. Scott Thomas jumped in and stated that the cost of the conference would have gone up next year regardless of whether SIRSI merged companies or not.
Due to the feedback from attendees expressing the need for a Saturday night stay to make the conference more affordable, a motion was made and passed to swap the dates for the technical and administrator's conferences. Tom replied that this was OK with SIRSI; however, they will need to confirm with the Hyatt that meeting rooms will be available since the room sizes needed for the administrator's conference are much smaller than for the technical conference.
After the discussion above ended, the new UUGI officers were announced. They are:
Chair-Elect -- Karen Eggert, World Bank
Secretary -- Amy Carver, Montana State University
Treasurer -- Jack Drost, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Program Chairs -- Jane Wagner, NASA Langley Research Center and Dale Poulter, Vanderbilt University
Nominating Committee -- Holly Gordon, Texas State Library, Erik Lewis, Georgia PINES Libraries, and Doralynn Rosemann, Montana State University
The meeting ended with the passing of the gavel from outgoing UUGI chair, Scott Thomas, Scranton Public Library, to incoming chair Joe Lucia of Lehigh University.
F. Large Scale SIG Meeting - a comment was made that there still seem to be quite a large number of outstanding helpdesk calls with little or no action. Mark Moorehead, the SIRSI representative at this meeting, responded that SIRSI acknowledges that large sites do much of their own troubleshooting before reporting problems, so the fact that the group was in agreement with the observation was a concern. He will report this to Mike Casale, VP of Customer Service. On a different topic Mark suggested that the Large Scale group might want to consider creating a "large-site white paper" which would list factors to consider when maintaining the SIRSI/Unicorn System at a large site. This document might help prospective large scale customers and could also foster continuity and communication with existing large sites. The group agreed that this would be worth creating and a volunteer from Indiana University will coordinate the project.
G. Acq Sharing Session - receiving wizards are due out in the fourth quarter of 2002 and the remaining Acq wizards are slated for release in the third or fourth quarter of 2003. Send any proposed enhancements via the web forums by the end of 2002 to make sure SIRSI includes these in the development process.
Chris announceed that Systems plans to rebuild the SIRSI database indexes at the same time as last year (i.e. between the end of the summer semester to the beginning of the Fall semester). In addition, Systems is planning for the installation of a new UPS; however, the exact dates and timing are still TBD.
Chris reported that he spoke to Chuck Leachman and expressed RUL's interest to host the meeting. Chuck will contact us when SIRSI is ready to begin planning. He added that, contrary to our earlier understanding, Stanford has yet to host the west coast meeting.
Chris reported that he is working with Gary Golden to purchase and configure a Palm Pilot with portable barcode scanner to assist in item maintenance projects.
tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 2002.