If you have ever wished that you could search the library catalog as easily as Google, you are not alone. “Next-generation catalog” projects command great interest, as was apparent by the attention paid to Falvey’s VuFind in January at the huge American Library Association's Midwinter Conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Several VuFind presentations attracted standing-room-only crowds as well as the notice of major libraries such as the Library of Congress and Harvard University.
Falvey’s Andrew Nagy (left) and Chris Barr (right), in their distinctive lime green VuFind shirts, attended the conference as both speakers and exhibitors focused on promoting VuFind, the locally developed application of a web-based library resource discovery tool. At the conference, PALINET, a Philadelphia area library support network, publicly announced its intent to help support and promote VuFind. As part of the new partnership, PALINET agreed to share exhibition space with the VuFind team to demonstrate the software to the public.
With over 13,000 attendees intent on seeing the latest products and services in the industry as well as attending special interest group meetings, the conference proved to be a productive venue for developing a user and developer community for the VuFinder software. Librarians and staff from local, national and international colleges and universities attended VuFind interest sessions and visited the booth for demonstrations and to discuss usage, administrative hurdles and future development plans.
Andrew and Chris also participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) on open source next-generation library catalogs where VuFind was presented to a large crowd.
Open source software means users have access to the source code and also have the right to use it. Other presenters spoke about similar open source projects: Bess Sadler, University of Virginia, talked about Project Blacklight and Ross Shanley-Roberts, Miami University (Ohio), explained Solrpac.
Later, on the exhibition floor, Andrew conducted a live demo of VuFind at the booth of Index Data, an open source library software company, which attracted passersby for another standing-room-only presentation.
This year’s ALA Midwinter Conference was a success for VuFind and open source software. New partnerships are now in the works as a result, and many universities had the opportunity to try out the software and ask questions in person. Attendees could compare and understand the potential of open source to competing commercial solutions.
More information on the VuFind project can be found at www.vufind.org .
Photograph by Laura Hutelmyer
© 2005-2008 Villanova University. All Rights Reserved.