Capita briefing

I attended a Capita Briefing event last week in London which provided a good overview of current & future developments of its services. Its always interesting to hear from the company and see what direction they are heading as well as getting the opportunity to feedback.

I was particularly interested to hear about their developments regarding a mobile version of the library management system, Alto, which they are currently calling iLMS. The aim is to provide a ‘lite’ version of the LMS, a web interface, on devices such as a tablet, laptop etc. For example a scenario could be changing a borrowers details  or even issuing an item while out on the library floor via a tablet. At a time when many libraries are looking at moving away from being behind a desk and  finding ways to bring services and information to the user at point of need, this looks like it could be a very helpful service. An area which I think would really benefit from a mobile LMS is  stock management, it would be great if a mobile LMS and RFID could be integrated so stock changes could be made at the shelves. I really liked the idea of focusing on some of the key functions of the modules with the LMS and decoupling them from the client based LMS to provide a web interface opens up some great potential.

Resource Discovery is a topic the elibrary team have been following for a few years so it was interesting to hear about Capita’s augmented search, which allows other collections to be searched alongside Prism 3 (the library catalogue).  I personally see this as providing a similar service to Summon (more on that to come) which we are in the process of implementing. I am however interested to see how this develops especially with regards to the potential integration of the library catalogue services and other collections. Alongside ‘augmented search’ Capita continue to develop Prism 3 and one of their latest features is the idea of ‘community collaboration’ allowing students to tag items, rate books, create wish lists, write reviews etc. I think the idea of ‘community collaboration’ is very timely as we are constantly looking for new ways to communicate and engage with our students, although I can also see the potential for problems in terms of the validity of the recommendations etc. I would however be delighted if our students invested the time in providing critical feedback on our collections.

I am very interested in how resource discovery will develop, I can see potential in providing a customised search ie searching across a borrowers wish list & reading lists for items, although then this does begin to sound like the ‘Google search, plus your world’ feature which has a number of flaws having just read Phil Bradleys blog post on it.

I have also always been interested in exploiting any qualitative and quantitative data gathered on user search behaviour, ie search logs etc and whether this could help improve subsequent searches.

Capita have also recently commissioned some research on – what students want and what they do with the data – and will be sharing their findings which I am looking forward to reading.

It was a useful day with interesting people and I even managed to catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard having got a little lost on the way to the venue.

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