This was our first try at a forum like this, bringing tool developers and their intended user communities together, and focusing most of the forum on the tool developers showcasing their work that people could attend as their interests led them. I blogged earlier on the inspirations for the forum.
So most of the day people spent looking at tools in groups around large 34” monitors and asking questions of the tool developers directly. One metric of success: Almost everyone saw at least one tool that could be used in their own environments. Terry Reese from Oregon State University, who demonstrated his MarcEdit tool, blogged about the forum on his way home. Notes Terry:
…interacting with users is really one of the most important ways that I can get a better idea of what people are waiting out of the program. And for that, the RLG tools forum was very useful. As an attendee, this meeting exposed me to a number of tools that I certainly wasn’t aware of before. How we will be able to make use of some of these tools, well, that’s still in the air, but I think that forums like this are important.
Terry (pictured above) lists the tools that were demonstrated with URLs for some of them and his own reactions. Each of the tool developers created “summary sheets” that you can access on the RLG Programs Metadata Tools Forum Web page. We will be adding a summary of the forum discussion soon.
Wan Wong (pictured above) came all the way from the National Library of Australia to show off its Subject Selector, inspiring attendees to think of other authority files or databases they would want to target if implemented locally. Brad Westbrook’s demonstration of the Archivists’ Toolkit attracted large groups (picture below). He is looking for others to help with coding, developing functional requirements, refining software specifications, and testing.
Among the needs identified by forum attendees:
- Tools should be easily configurable and easily modifiable.
- Identify gaps in tool output and external requirements.
- Programmers are often not available, so “shrink-wrapped” tools requiring little technical expertise in installation and configuration are needed. However, some tool users also are equipped to tinker.
- Develop closer ties between developers and user communities. Provide more opportunities for catalogers and coders to get together.
- Provide hooks between different tools.
- Provide opportunities for co-development and for user communities to specify functional requirements and beta-testing.
- Institutions or organizations need to commit to ongoing support once a tool is released
We are grateful to the Boston Public Library for their wonderful support for this forum!