IUG 2001 Conference Proceedings

Table of Contents

Session: H3

Enhancements Open Forum

Rich Aldred, Haverford College
Betsy Graham, Innovative Interfaces, Inc.

Rich Aldred, IUG Steering Committee member-at-large and enhancements coordinator for 2001, introduced the session: The enhancements process is an important part of the IUG; by participating users can help Innovative improve its systems. For information about the process see the IUG website (http://www.innopacusers.org/about/enhancements.htm). When making a request, be sure to outline the problem and explain the reasoning behind your request.

Requests should be submitted by September 7. Functional experts then review the requests and identify duplicates; the requests are re-posted on the IUG website and members are asked to vote (using their contact person) on the requests to be submitted to Innovative. It is important that all libraries, especially public libraries, participate in the voting process. It is best if IUG members submit through the IUG process and do not also send their requests directly to Innovative.

Betsy Graham, Directory of Product Management, spoke briefly about the enhancements process from the Innovative perspective: The IUG list of enhancement requests gets special attention. The number of votes per category and overall are sent to Innovative. The list is first reviewed by the vice-presidents. The requests are then discussed with product managers and compared to open enhancement calls [those calls that generate the response "this is an enhancement request], and to the next release. Development is shifting to Millennium, but the list continues to reflect older users of the character-based system. Innovative can do more with Millennium, which is more changeable. The character-based system won't go away, but it shouldn't be the focus of development. Innovative is interested in making the list more representative, particularly to include the view points of public libraries and foreign libraries.

Question: How does membership work for consortiums vs. individual libraries. Reply from Rich Aldred (RA): Individual libraries can now join independent of their consortiums. This is better for voting purposes [consortiums only have one vote].

Question: Can new features be made optional? Things are removed in new releases and Innovative has undoubtedly heard more about the problems of a feature than from those libraries that liked it. Reply from Betsy Graham (BG): Innovative doesn't take away functions. Often changes result from other changes that were made.

Question: Could specific South African currency codes be accommodated? BG: There are currency and other code problems all over the world. It could be argued that some problems were bugs. This may also be indicative of a need for regional representatives to deal with those issues that are vitally important to few libraries.

Question: Would it be possible to have a discussion of submitted enhancements at the IUG conference to rule out some requests? RA: Requests are submitted to Innovative at ALA midwinter. Enhancements would have to be brought to the IUG conference. Comment: Library representatives could present requests and argue for or explain them, followed by discussion. Other members would better understand the requests. RA: Yes, some voting is uninformed; members feel obligated to vote.

Question: Specialized concerns could be represented by still tallying the list as a whole, but also giving Innovative access to the entire database of requests. Analyze the list by geographic region, type of library to give special needs libraries the feeling that their vote counts. BG: Innovative doesn't want to take over the process, but we do want to participate. It is a rich source of information. The face-to-face discussion may save the functional experts time.

Question: The INNReach libraries discuss their requests on their listserv and face-to-face at the conference. We could talk in groups about the actual enhancements. Innovative could participate. BG: An open forum may develop consensus, and circ. librarians could discuss circ. requests, etc. Comments: The discussion could let people know how to do what they are requesting now. BG: Also work-arounds could be explained so the requests can concentrate on bigger problems.

Question: Is there negative voting against things we don't want? The forum could solve this. Comment: Making features optional would resolve this. BG: Discussion would catch features, make them options.

Comment: INNReach libraries shrink the time for submission to allow for discussion. RA: Perhaps we could end the submission period prior to the IUG conference and set up separate gatherings to discuss the enhancements. Comment: Or we could have the list ready, discuss it with our own systems librarians and others, then meet at the IUG conference, and meet with Innovative to get their input.

Question: Which release goes with which enhancements for the year? BG: We are talking about next year's release, but enhancements may be available pre-release.

Question: Could we have an enhancement schedule that isn't tied to the release schedule? BG: This is probably a good idea as the release date changes.

Question: Could we have a mini open forum with the list, a full or revised list? BG: The meeting would cull the list. Functional experts would cull it further for voting. Comment: Most libraries can't send enough people to cover discussions across the board. RA: Each discussion forum could report to the listserv. BG: It could be the function of regional user groups to choose recorders for the forums. Question: Is it possible to do this as birds of a feather sessions that are spread out time wise? Question: Could we schedule forums during open lunch sessions? This won't tie-up programming for the conference and would give us more time. BG: These are good ideas for the steering committee to consider. I would be interested in having Innovative staff at the discussions.

Question: Do most libraries submit requests to both the IUG and Innovative directly? BG: Some do, but generally not as a rule. Sending requests directly to Innovative is not as effective, these are unfiltered. They are used to shore up the decisions made about enhancement requests. Comment: Since many of my library's requests don't make in on the IUG list, if I don't send the requests to both IUG and Innovative then Innovative would never see them. Also, requests are changed or edited by IUG, so we submit directly to Innovative so they receive our full request. BG: This is a good idea. The information won't be lost, but the vote won't be padded either.

Amy Trendler, Art Institute of Chicago