Evolution not Revolution

Recently we released version 8.6.1 of Spydus – our flagship product.  This represents the first release within the sixth version of the seventh major revamp of our library product.

Since I have been with Civica we have released 12 versions of Spydus, 4 versions of Sorcer, 2 versions of Blis, 4 versions of iPhone/iPad software and 1 version of Exhibit.  Adding it all up over the past 33 years we have released over a hundred versions of our various products.

An obvious question is why?  Simply put, because there is constant change.

  • Library standards evolve (AUSMARC/UKMARC/USMARC → MARC21, AACR1 → AACR2/RDA).
  • Computer Hardware changes (GA300 → RS/6000 → PC → iPhone/iPad)
  • Operating systems evolve  (Pick → Unix → Windows)
  • User interfaces evolve (Green screen → Wintergrate → Windows → Browser  → Smart Device)
  • Processes change.  (Loan Slips → barcodes → RFID → barcodes)
  • Consumer expectations change.  In 1980 the idea of being able to find a book to borrow and start reading it while sitting on the train was science fiction.  This is what iSorcer and similar products do now

On the one hand users of libraries are drawing on services and content sourced, published or disseminated around the world; on the other hand the same users want personalised services that are relevant to them and their families.  Libraries need to adapt to the changing world without starting again.  Whilst no one can truly predict where technology and library services will be in five or ten years’ time, the general direction towards both greater globalisation and greater localisation is evident.

For suppliers of library systems all of this poses a challenge.  Rolling out features that meet the needs and wants of libraries and borrowers is comparatively straight forward – develop and release.  However this is complicated by recognising the costs and disruption involved when systems change radically.  Our approach is to make frequent incremental changes which do not need to be taken all at once.  While this significantly increases QA effort I know that this is the right approach.

In future posts I shall discuss this approach a little further.

About Nigel

Product Executive Director, Civica Library & Learning
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