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Library Automation Encourages Knowledge Management
Posted On June 17, 2014
Professional association conferences provide companies with valuable opportunities to introduce new and improved products. After all, they’ve got a captive audience, self-selected as a target market. For Lucidea, the Special Libraries Association’s (SLA) annual conference presented just such an opportunity, with the added benefit that it was held in Lucidea’s hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 8–10, 2014. Lucidea chose the SLA conference to introduce SydneyEnterprise, its library automation platform for corporate libraries, law firms, and government agencies that amalgamates knowledge management (KM) with library systems.

Think of SydneyEnterprise as a next-generation ILS, a connector between libraries and KM, and an extension of SydneyPLUS. SydneyEnterprise is built on LucideaCore KM technology. In the Lucidea booth, founder and CEO Ron Aspe explained that LucideaCore development began in 1999 with one engineer assigned to the project. That grew to at least 28 engineers over time and represents the culmination of an intensive R&D effort.

Aspe thinks SydneyEnterprise is unique in its adoption of .NET open architecture, in which everything can be changed to suit customer requirements. Customers can add components, create connectors, and manage any type of information resource. It is also multilingual, a necessity for multinational corporations and international law firms. SydneyEnterprise’s ability to manage knowledge resources, Aspe said, “bridges the gap between old school and new school.”

Sal Provenza, Lucidea’s CMO, described the product as feature rich and said the company is offering a conversion program for existing SydneyPLUS customers. Pricing is based on delivery method, including the amount of maintenance required, and customer needs, such as customized features. Although most libraries need the same core features, add-ons will increase the price. SydneyEnterprise is aimed at large organizations, Provenza said. He expects a lower-priced product to come along very soon that will be attractive to solo librarians and staff in smaller libraries.

Included in SydneyEnterprise is an interface that features mouseover pop-ups that display embedded help files. Thus, training is always at the customer’s fingertips, although Lucidea also offers online tutorials and webinars. The standard dashboard puts Quick Links to Search Areas, Circulation, Utilities, Support, Online, and Lucidea News in the center. Facets are on the left-hand side of the page—the default is catalog items—and customers can turn any field into a facet. In fact, customers can drag and drop elements from the standard template to, essentially, build their own OPAC. A browse function brings in visual information pathways as an alternative to text to locate critical information. Alerts are also part of SydneyEnterprise.

Akin to library discovery services, which were originally designed with academic libraries in mind but are currently in operation at several corporate and law firm libraries, SydneyEnterprise integrates with both internal and external information sources so that users can search knowledgebases residing within the firewall as well as external subscription databases. Provenza noted that its capability to tap into social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter adds to its KM appeal.

SydneyEnterprise supports basic and advanced search. It also has tabs for searching external information and showing popular searches. Because it’s built on the .NET framework, it is flexible enough to connect with a corporate knowledgebase, intranet, or any internal information repository.

A built-in report generator can export customized reports to either Excel format or PDF. One potential use of this would be to break down reference questions by department. Librarians could then carry the report with them on their iPads, so they could immediately inform heads of departments about what knowledge was needed by their staff. With reports on mobile devices, it’s possible to bring the library to the user rather than to have users come to the library.

To be accepted in large organizations, electronic products must accommodate Microsoft’s SharePoint. Lucidea is aware of this and emphasizes how well SydneyEnterprise integrates with IT standards and infrastructure, including SharePoint and Active Directory. Integrating with SharePoint also adds to SydneyEnterprise’s KM appeal. Unlike KM products marketed to IT departments, however, Lucidea concentrates on information professionals. The KM elements identified as critical by Lucidea revolve around creating an interface that exposes library content, collections, and capabilities to its userbase. That’s a somewhat atypical approach.

Lucidea, as a corporate name, was unveiled at last year’s SLA conference. Stressing that it is a KM “software and solutions company,” Lucidea supports seven brands: SydneyPLUS, Inmagic, CuadraSTAR, ARGUS, LawPort, LookUp Precision, and Incite Software Solutions (ISS). Relying on one codebase across those brands gives Lucidea a technological advantage in both product development and customer support.

Given that Lucidea products span library, legal, and museum markets, all of which have a strong interest in KM, it’s clear that SydneyEnterprise will be applicable in many different types of organizations. Its standard functionality is attractive, but most large organizations will find it necessary to customize the product to fully realize its power.

Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search & Discovery.

Email Marydee Ojala

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