Geac’s new circulation client was on show for the first time in N. America at the New Orleans ALA show in July. I had a brief look at the prototype at the LIS in Birmingham, England in June and
it looks like a well crafted, functional interface. The most interesting thing about the interface however is hidden from the casual user of the software. The product, (why on earth don’t they call it
“GeoCirc” to fit in with GeoWeb and GeoCat?), is based on the proposed NISO circulation protocol, which, like the Z39.50 protocol allows compliant clients to interrogate and update other vendor’s systems. This
is another step along the road to component software in the library computer industry and provides the system planner with some interesting options.
Already, self-service units are providing a sort of special case universal circulation client.
“GeoCirc” provides the same universal tool for staff use to solve all the myriad of circ desk problems that can occurr. So why could this be useful? Well, the development of its sister product GeoCat - a Z39.50 cataloguing client was triggered by the need to merge the two products PLUS and ADVANCE when Geac took over CLSI. Why develop two cataloguing clients when one would do - given careful design and conformance to standards? Walk into a cataloguing room running ADVANCE or PLUS and you will see cataloguers using Geocat in the same way. In the future, you will see “GeoCirc” on the front desk on both systems. Backends will remain totally different - Universe and Informix databases.
For the systems librarian, both of these products provide the potential a for consistency that aids flexibility when, say, you are faced with
merging two systems. Training and staff mobility is also helped by commonality of interface and procedures. It’s the same sort of arguement that helped the Web to success.
For the systems company faced with the “how do we develop a circulation or cataloguing GUI with limited resources?” kind of problem, the answer is
simple - use GeoCat or “GeoCirc” - provided your database backend conforms to standards. Re-badged hardware components have long been a feature of the computer industry and software is likely to go the same
route - especially in our industry where development costs cannot be justified across just your own customer base. The answer is to conform to industry standards and develop products for everyone.
The trend is already established - witness how few vendors develop their own Z39.50 technology. Proprietary databases once common are now
virtually extinct (see Innovative in Turkey). And also watch for the source of Geac’s ISO 10160/61 Inter-library loan technology.
The main vendors could increasingly become more focussed on service provision and less on the actual development of component software - software
VARS (Value added re-sellers).
Think back a few years, Geac used to make computers, terminals, barcode readers and develop their own operating systems and communication software. The times they are (still) a’ changing.