November 19, 2017

Innovative Debuts “Open Library Stack” | IUG 2015

Innovative Users Group conference 2015Kicking off the 23rd annual Innovative Users Group (IUG) conference on April 14–16 in Minneapolis, officials from Innovative Interfaces announced that the company’s new Mobile Worklists app is now available in the Apple iOS app store. Version 1.0 of the new app enables librarians to use tablets and mobile devices to create and track lists of materials, scan barcodes with their device’s camera, and share lists in the Sierra Library Services Platform (LSP) for real-time updating and editing. More importantly, as the first product developed with Innovative’s multi-tenant, cloud-based “Open Library Stack” (OLS) infrastructure, Mobile Worklists marks a milestone for Innovative. The company last year acquired library automation solutions providers Polaris and VTLS, promising to build a suite of cloud-based solutions such as Mobile Worklists, which would work with Sierra, Polaris, or VTLS Virtua on the back end.

OLS “is our go-forward architecture that will bind together all of our current technologies and all of our future technologies,” Leif Pedersen, Innovative’s SVP of product management, R&D, and marketing explained during the IUG opening general session.

Pederson was joined by Innovative CEO Kim Massana, Jodi Bellinger, the company’s VP of customer support operations, and moderator William Schickling, SVP of global sales for Innovative and former CEO of Polaris.

Mobile Worklists is currently available only to Sierra libraries, and the company plans to continue selling the more comprehensive LEAP mobile client for Polaris libraries—both products were already in production or testing when Polaris was acquired a little more than one year ago. However, the company is promising rapid expansion of OLS with new services relevant to Sierra, Polaris, and Virtua.

“We believe in an evolutionary product approach, where we bring…current technologies and merge them with future technologies that make it possible for you to forward-migrate” without changing a library’s ILS or LSP, Pedersen said.

API Progress

Separately, Innovative’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for librarians, partners, and third-party developers to harvest data from Sierra via application programming interfaces (APIs) was a topic of discussion during the “APIs 101” session on Wednesday. Although presenter Milton Howard, product management leader for Innovative’s Sierra API and mobile services cloud platform, focused primarily on explaining the functionality of RESTful APIs to the standing-room only crowd (in preparation for a more in-depth session scheduled for April 16), he also offered the audience a brief look ahead. In addition to APIs launched last year that enabled third-party software to harvest data from bibliographic and item records in a Sierra catalog, Innovative will soon launch a branch API that will enable third party systems to extract a list of branches from a Sierra system, and an authority API, enabling catalogers to get a list of authority records from a Sierra system.

APIs with “get” or read-only functionality will be free, but the company is also developing APIs that will enable libraries to create, update, and delete records and other information on Innovative systems. Those APIs will likely be fee-based, which the company has previously described as a necessity to make ongoing API development and support a self-sustaining enterprise. Howard said that the company is also hoping to cultivate a community of Innovative users around the new APIs and the company’s new developer sandbox.

“We’ve got a good start, but we still have a long way to go in terms of what we’re doing in the RESTful API area,” Howard said during the Q&A portion of the session. “I think as we [at Innovative] train ourselves to move releases along at a faster pace, and release earlier and more often, that we will be able to cultivate the kind of community around our RESTful APIs that other companies have.”

IUG reported attendance of more than 1,000, which included representatives from libraries that use all of the company’s platforms. Although a contingent of Polaris users attended IUG 2014, which took place in last May in Detroit—one month after Innovative acquired the company—this was the first IUG conference planned from the beginning with content for Polaris and VTLS libraries.

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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