Hour-long interviews were held with eight representatives from diverse institutions expressing interest in participating in the Library & Sakai 3 design effort.
Interviewees were librarians, heads of libraries, library technologists and those that serve as "connectors" between the library and Sakai development.
The focus of the interviews was to understand the ideas and needs of varying institutions in the following areas:
- Library-Sakai 3 Integrated Product Vision (this topic is covered on its own page)
- Budget & Schedule
- Technical Opportunities & Constraints
- Organizational Drivers & Challenges
- Primary Users & Their Needs
Stakeholder Interviews Summary
Topics other than product vision covered in stakeholder interviews are summarized below.
Budget & Schedule
In general, the economy is slow and reorganization is happening at many libraries and institutions. The full vision and feature-set of Sakai 3 is somewhat ambiguous at this time and it may be a number of years before institutions adopt Sakai 3. In spite of tough times and the far-off nature of Sakai 3, there are many libraries and institutions that know what we have now needs improvement and resources are already committed to requirements gathering for Sakai 3 and related projects.
A number of institutions are already on-board for this Library & Sakai 3 integration design effort. Institutions vary in resources and commitment including conducting user interviews, administering questionnaires, starting forum discussions, connecting us with library user research specialists at their institutions and participating regularly in web meetings.
Technical Opportunities & Constraints
Aside from Sakai 3 in general, technical opportunities come in the form of context-independent widgets and browser-based data aggregation tools such as bookmarklets as summarized above.
There was also mention of alternatives to licensed metasearch products on the rise. These systems include SerialSolutions Summon, Ex Libris Primo and WorldCat Local. The advantage of these systems is that they can do a lot of the heavy lifting of searching and organizing (relevance ranking, tagging, etc) library resources (catalog + journal articles), providing a more integrated and streamlined user experience for users. By tapping into APIs these services make available, integrating library resources into Sakai 3 (and other web contexts) may be very appealing. The challenge, however, is that these systems are fairly new and it is not certain which will gain wide adoption.
Another direction that some libraries are investigating is mobile. Undergraduate populations in particular are deeply embedded in mobile culture and this provides opportunities for reaching them in new ways. With Sakai 3's widget architecture, there may be opportunity to design library widgets that fit well in both Sakai 3 and the mobile contexts.
Organizational Drivers & Challenges
Teaching and learning is a top priority at a number of libraries and institutions. Tools that support teaching and learning by empowering faculty and students to have a stronger relationship with their libraries are compelling. Reaching into the CMS, where faculty and students spend a great deal of time teaching and learning, is a great step in the right direction for libraries.
Furthermore, there is a shift happening at libraries from focusing on storage of information (physical space) to access to information (electronic discovery services). Libraries are physically running out of space as the volume of information grows and are acquiring more and more electronic content. Systems that make discovery of content easier and more relevant for library users given their context are necessary for a successful shift.
Libraries are acquiring more and more electronic content and services at a cost. With a library-Sakai 3 integrated product, the library can gain increased awareness on campus of various services as well as increased use of expensive resources and data with which to direct future investments.
Although these strong drivers exist, a major challenge in moving towards a library-Sakai 3 integrated product will be adoption. Depending on how different the Sakai 3 user experience will be, multiple levels of marketing, education and training will be necessary. Of course, if Sakai 3 and a library-Sakai 3 integrated product do not over-promise and under-deliver, adoption and training costs will be lower as people will want to use the tools and they will be well-designed to meet the needs of users migrating from older systems.
Primary Users & Their Needs
The two primary user groups that were mentioned throughout stakeholder interviews were faculty and undergraduate students. Faculty needs vary widely due to the large range of ages, disciplines and technical aptitude and ability, but, generally, they need to create reading lists for their courses. They need to do this in as little time as possible. Reusing content is very common and needs to be supported.
Undergraduates are most into discovery services and social/mobile technologies that change their expectations about how easy a web tool is to use and how quickly and effectively it can answer their questions. They need lower barriers to research.