BiblioCommons 2014 Year in Review

The year 2014 was eventful for the team at BiblioCommons, with many exciting developments, new public libraries joining the platform, and, most notably, a newly built and launched BiblioCMS service to provide a fully integrated catalog and public library website management service.

The new BiblioCMS service was built in partnership with Chicago Public Library and launched in April of 2014. As with all BiblioCommons services, BiblioCMS is provided as multi-tenant software-as-a-service, and within a few months, we were launching new libraries on the new CMS platform. Specifically, both Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Arizona and Calgary Public Library in Calgary, Alberta implemented and launched the BiblioCMS suite—the BiblioCore catalog, BiblioMobile apps, the BiblioCMS web management system, along with other optional modules such as language support, suggest for purchase modules and more. Additionally, long-term BiblioCommons libraries, Christchurch City Libraries in New Zealand and Yarra Plenty Regional Library in Australia both also implemented the new card-based architecture with BiblioCMS. Christchurch City Libraries went live in 2014, and Yarra Plenty Regional Library will launch in 2015. More on this new, innovative and cost-effective solution is online at: http://www.bibliocommons.com/products/cms.

With the development of BiblioCMS, related products were spun-off and made available to libraries using the BiblioCore catalog, such as the new BiblioEvents module, which supports the management and promotion of library events and programs for patrons with an image-rich platform.

In addition to Calgary Public and Pima County Public, BiblioCommons was thrilled to establish new partnerships with San Francisco Public library, San Antonio Public Library, and many more public libraries including Central Arkansas Library System, Chapel Hill Public Library, Deschutes Public Library, Lawrence Public Library, St. Joseph County Public Library, Greater Sudbury Public Library, Logan City Council Libraries, and the PAC2 Consortium in Michigan—many of which became the first library in their state or other geographic area to join the BiblioCommons platform.

In the spring of 2014, the IMLS announced that Brooklyn Public Library and BiblioCommons were the recipients of a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to create and pilot a library-based digital badging system built on the Mozilla Open Badge standard. The functionality for this project was built out and featured in production with the BiblioCommons Summer Sites module in the summer of 2014.

In addition to the enhancements to the BiblioCommons Summer Sites and a new BiblioCMS platform, the team at BiblioCommons continued to build functionality into the innovative BiblioDigital platform to support a vendor-agnostic, library-centered eBook reading experience. BiblioCommons continues to work with publishers to make more titles available via BiblioDigital and to support portal eBook display and access opportunities to libraries. BiblioDigital is live in beta, and more information can be found online: http://www.bibliocommons.com/products/digital.

With the continued success and growth of the BiblioCommons platform, the team devoted more resources to supporting current libraries with continuing education opportunities and a new community portal. The Partner Portal launched in 2014 with an extensive and growing Knowledge Base with documentation on all BiblioCommons services, a new ticketing support system, and Community Forums to encourage participation and collaboration across libraries. In addition to the on-going series of webinars for library staff, BiblioCommons was proud to host a series of free, online readers’ advisory webinars and training sessions with readers’ advisor extraordinaire, Nancy Pearl.

In addition to numerous general user experience enhancements to make using the library’s online branch easy, efficient and delightful for patrons, the team launched the following new features and developments in 2014:

A new Carl.X connector was developed with the work of Chicago Public Library, and a new Sierra connector was developed utilizing the new Sierra APIs. BiblioCommons now connects to eight different integrated library systems to provide an ILS-agnostic platform for public libraries using Polaris, Millennium, Sierra, Horizon, Symphony, Carl.X, VTLS, and Evergreen.

New functionality to enhance promotion of local librarian content was launched and is now live at all BiblioCommons libraries. In addition to aggregating all public user-generated-content across all libraries using BiblioCommons services, BiblioCore also promotes staff-created lists and reviews prominently on each title page in order to further promote the role public librarians play in contributing to their communities and to encourage all communities to turn to their local librarians for recommendations on what to read, watch, or listen to next.

BiblioCommons quickly responded to the new availability of OverDrive APIs to support full OverDrive lending integration within the BiblioCore catalog—including support for OverDrive Advantage. Any library that has OverDrive eBooks and BiblioCore can have fully catalog-integrated eBooks without additional cost. This integration allows patrons to see and manage everything they have checked out or on hold—regardless if the titles are print or electronic, and to easily download or access titles without leaving the catalog.

Similarly, BiblioCommons worked with the team at Baker & Taylor to fully integrate Axis 360 eBooks as well. Any library that has Axis 360 eBooks and BiblioCore can have fully catalog-integrated eBooks without additional cost.

BiblioCommons is sometimes asked about deeper integration of database content from 3rd party or local databases beyond the ILS. Due to the limitations of keyword-based linkages and the granularity of licensed database content, BiblioCommons has found that keyword-based database integration often delivers less than optimal results. Thus, Feature in Catalog was developed for the BiblioCore catalog. Feature in Catalog enables libraries to tie non-cataloged content to catalog searches using subject headings, authors, and call numbers, ensuring patrons are aware of all the library has to offer. With Feature in Catalog, libraries can direct patrons’ attention to interesting, relevant resources such as online databases, events, local history collections, blog posts, and other webpages. By using more sophisticated linkages than what was previously available with just a straight keyword integration Feature in Catalogprovides greater applicability and utility. Feature in Catalog was also developed as part of BiblioCore, thus no additional fees are required to implement this new functionality.

Another development in 2014 was the first phase of the redesign work that will result in a fully responsive catalog and a more contemporary design in 2015.

The BiblioCore redesign project will be released in multiple phases, with each phase consisting of multiple iterations. The first iteration of phase one included a series of improvements to the base styling of the BiblioCore application in an effort to make it more consistent, easier to maintain, and have a more contemporary look and feel. The first phase rolled out to all libraries in fall 2014 and included typography improvements and a redesigned “explore” landing page.

Based on requests from libraries, we also added a new availability status within BiblioCore. “Available but not Holdable” is designed for items such as “express” or “lucky day” collections, museum passes, or high-demand movies that can be borrowed but not reserved.

Furthermore, based on an investment from the Seattle Public Library, BiblioCommons has been enhancing readers’ advisory functionality. 2014 saw a new list type for BiblioCore: Personal Recommendation Lists. Personal Recommendation lists are a list type designed for sharing with an individual or individuals using a permanent web address (permalink URL). Specifically designed to help support libraries’ Personalized Reading Recommendation programs such as The Seattle Public Library’s Your Next 5 service, these semi-private lists work like a Google Document where only those with the URL can access the list, and these lists will not be promoted to the general library public. More readers’ advisory enhancements are slated for early 2015.

The BiblioCore interface is now available in Japanese, bringing the supported languages to seven—English, French, Spanish, Russian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and now Japanese. Additionally, if a library has Summer Sites or other BiblioCommons-Supported Year Round Reading Sites, any language that is supported in BiblioCore can be supported in the Reading Program Site as well.

BiblioMobile is now also available in all of the languages we support in BiblioCore. Previously only available in French, BiblioMobile can now also support Spanish, Russian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Japanese.

In response to patron and librarian feedback, BiblioCommons created two new features: Single Click Holds and Renew all. For patrons who always pick up the items they borrow at the same location, they can now configure their accounts to place holds with a single click. Additionally, libraries that wish to enable the renew all optional can now do so as well.

In addition to new sharing widgets and enhanced functionality to encourage patrons and staff to share collection recommendations via social media, BiblioCommons created granular permalinks to individual content contributions—allowing a library to promote a specific review or a specific quote (shared from a patron or a staff) to social media while preserving the full catalog integration and directing attention to the individual content.

“From the Critics” Reviews are now available as a separate module to provide integrated reviews from media critics from The New York Times, The Guardian, and over 2,000 other media sources. The BiblioCommons “From the Critics” content is powered through the iDreamBooks API.

Automated Recommendations were integrated into the BiblioCore catalog via the Bookish and LibraryThing for Libraries APIs. This additional augmented content module integrates title-based recommendations for patrons to consider while keeping patrons within their library’s catalog to explore and place holds or download titles as desired.

Although 2014 was an extremely busy year, 2015 promises to be even busier, and the team at BiblioCommons looks forward to announcing exciting new partnerships and new services in early 2015.