Annette Harwood Murphy became a pioneer of library technology in 1975 as the cofounder of The Library Corporation (TLC). Murphy is currently president/CEO and chair of the board of TLC and CEO of Tech Logic, and her companies have continued to innovate, with TLC’s CARL.X integrated library system (ILS) chosen last summer to be the common platform for Nashville’s Limitless Libraries program, enabling students from 128 Metro Nashville Public Schools to access materials seamlessly from the Nashville Public Library System’s 22 branches. TLC’s Library.Solution ILS will soon release a web-based cataloging module, standard for all customers, that will include multiple staff UX (user experience) features including a draft state enabling catalogers to work with and easily transfer records to other staff for review and editing prior to saving in the system; a web-based MARC record source that includes RDA for complex searching with or without a Z39.50; and a new authority service that allows keyword searching within the interface to retrieve a standardized drop-down menus of names, subjects, and genres, among many other features.
How did you get involved with the library field?
My husband and I were working to start our own business, and we were both software developers. We created a new indexing method for the Library of Congress, cataloging data on microfilm. We were able to make this a worldwide product, updating the indexes weekly or monthly, whatever a library chose.
What are some highlights from the company’s history?
We introduced, in 1985, the first CD-ROM technology to be used for the storage of data. We were privileged to donate the first Hitachi CD-ROM drive to the Smithsonian, with the serial number 0001…. In 1987, we [launched] the first multimedia CD-ROM public access catalog (PAC), allowing patrons to search for materials quickly, and this started replacing the card catalog and defined a new era in patron services and assistance in libraries worldwide.
In 1995, TLC created the first online PAC using the web. In 1997, we introduced Library.Solution, the first natively developed [ILS] for Microsoft Windows (NT servers), and that became the fastest adopted library automation system in the world.
In 2005, we began migration of the CARL.Solution platform from the Tandem Himalaya NonStop OS server environment to Linux and in the process created CARL.X. More recently, TLC has been influencing development in this industry with our focus on Responsive Web Design and [UX], which we began in 2010, and our Library.Solution system will become completely web-based this year with our introduction of LS2 Cataloging.
CARL.X was recently selected as the ILS for Nashville’s Limitless Libraries program.
What were some of the challenges?
TLC has a very strong school presence. We have many large districts using [Library.Solution for Schools]. But for this project, they are going to use CARL for both. This is an initiative that has been really pushed from Washington—trying to get public libraries and schools to cooperate and come together like this, so that the students have access to all of the materials that are available [in the community].
Digital equality is a term used often when discussing this type of collaboration between public and school libraries. TLC is very excited to participate and help facilitate the Limitless Libraries program through our CARL.X system and business model, which is uniquely suited for this type of project.
There are many security requirements when you’re dealing with student data. So our system and infrastructure must support the latest security standards. Implementing one common ILS platform across two large and distinct organizations presents its own unique set of requirements. TLC is very well suited for this project because of our experience in both large urban library systems and large school districts.
What’s ahead for TLC and other library systems?
Certainly the integration with other products. Giving libraries choice, giving them control over their systems so they’re able to pick and choose and not just “this is it” off the shelf, this is what you get. That’s what the CARL product has always been about. I think you will see more of that model being adopted, because that’s what libraries want.
Cloud-based architecture with micro service application offerings, linked data and search engine optimization, continued focus on mobile patron and staff interfaces, and more robust delivery of digital content are concepts that will continue influencing development of library systems.