Posts tagged Talis Aspire

Open source seminar

Jason and I attended an open source seminar from PTFS Europe last week. Conveniently for us the seminar was being hosted by the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University so all we had to do was depart the office, go up a single flight of stairs and we were there.

The were presentations from PTFS about open source in general was well as specific case studies about implementing Koha at Halton and Staffordshire University. The afternoon included a session about other products which PTFS are hoping to support including VuFind, Cufts, Godot and reading lists!

The original publicity for the event indicated they were considering adopting List8D but this isn’t the case as they’re developing their own system, after all in their own words “developing a reading list system isn’t exactly rocket science!” The system will be a hosted solution and so would be a direct competitor to Talis Aspire.

We look forward to seeing how their reading list system develops over the coming months.

Momentous events

Well, OK maybe they’re not that momentous but…

A couple of months ago we (Jason and I) met up with Ian Corns of Talis Aspire fame and had a bit of a catch-up session. Much has changed at Talis: their Library Management System division has been sold off, what was Talis Aspire is now called Talis Aspire Campus Edition, they are launching and Ian has a new job title (which is no laughing matter :-)).

We also bemoaned the lack of any reading list events happening this Summer. So in light of that we were particularly pleased when the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University (i.e. them upstairs) decided to host a workshop on “Meeting the reading list challenge” especially as Ian and myself will be giving a presentation on reading list systems at the event.

As we’re now involved in helping to organise the event I thought advertising it here might be a good idea!

Meeting the reading list challenge: A workshop
Department of Information Science, Loughborough University
Thursday 14th July 2011, 10:30am – 3:00pm

Do you know what resources your academics are recommending to students? How easy do your students find it to locate these key resources?

These issues (and many others) will be discussed at this forthcoming workshop.

Your host for the day will be Dr Ann O’Brien from the Department of Information Science, Loughborough University. The morning session will consist of presentations on “What is a reading list?” and “A magical mystery tour of resource/reading list management systems” given by Gary Brewerton, Project Manager for LORLS (Loughborough online reading list system) and Ian Corns,Customer Liaison Manager for Talis Aspire.

A free buffet lunch will be provided after which there will be wide ranging discussions on topics such as: what makes a good list? How do you engage with academic staff? And, what roles does the library actually have with regard to reading lists? There will also be opportunities for you to ask questions of those present.

This is a free event. If you would like to attend please email Sue Manuel ( to reserve a place stating your name, institution and any specific dietary requirements.

We look forward to hearing what others have to say about reading lists and associated systems on the day.

Twitter hash tag for event: #mtrlc

Second meeting with Talis

When I met with Mark and Ian from Talis back in January they’d suggested hosting a follow-up meeting later in the year. So yesterday when I went to visit them I was expecting it to be somewhat of a “blast from the past” what with me being an ex Talis customer. But everything was different: new offices, lots of new staff and lots of new ideas.

Ian played host and introduced me to Chris, a lead developer for Talis Aspire who went on to give me a demonstration of the system which I must admit is very impressive. I wasn’t able to reciprocate with an online demo of LORLS as we haven’t yet knocked any holes in our institutional firewall to allow external access to our development server. However, I was able to show Chris and Ian some screenshots.

One thing I noted at our first meeting was the similarities between our two systems. This became even more evident after I showed Chris a simplified E-R model of our data design as he went on the say that apart from the entities relating to access control it was basically the same as theirs. Hopefully this means that “great minds think alike” and we’re both on the right track.

After the meeting I met up briefly with Richard Wallis (one of the few faces I recognise from the old days) who went on to explain about his Juice Project. This is in effect a piece of middleware that can sit between your website and various external resources. The benefit being that instead of everyone writing their own method to access the resource you can instead use someone else’s code that already does it. This sounds like a great idea and one I think we should consider using for LORLS.

Meeting with Talis

Had a really interesting meeting this afternoon with a couple of folk from Talis. Mark Bush, who is new to the company, contacted me a few weeks ago to arrange it. The purpose of the meeting was to gain greater understanding of different approaches to reading list management. Mark was accompanied by Ian Corns who despite his job title of “User Experience Champion” didn’t arrive wearing a cape or with his underpants over his clothes.

The first part of the meeting turned into a show and tell: with me detailing the birth of LORLS and our ongoing project to redevelop the system, and Mark showing me a little of Aspire, Talis’ replacement for their existing Talis List product. The thing that struck me was how similar in concept their new solution is to what we’re doing with LORLS.

The second half of the meeting was given over to discussing the various possible strategies to use when implementing a reading list solution. Obviously selecting an appropriate system is important. However many of the key issues that will determine whether it is success are not necessarily system dependant.

For a listing of some of these key issues send £12.99 and a stamped self-addressed envelope to Ga… OK OK I’ll tell, please just stop hitting me Jon 🙂

  1. Involve all stakeholder as soon as possible in the implementation process – pretty obvious I know but still important to remember
  2. From a Library perspective it’s much easier to work with academics if you’re not seen as the ones forcing the system upon them
  3. Pump priming the system with academics’ existing (often Word based) reading lists can be a real winner – once a list is on the system is much easier to get academics to update it or at least be aware if they haven’t so you can then nag them about it!
  4. Training, training, training
  5. Local champions can often do more for the success of a project than official promotions – identify your champions and support them
  6. It’s important to know the lie of the land – what may work with one department won’t necessary work with another. For example Engineers have a very different approach to reading lists than Social Scientists.
  7. Competition between academic departments or faculties can be a useful means of encouraging adoption of the system but needs to be done with care
  8. Use every opportunity to stress the importance of reading lists to academic departments, for example: bad module feedback, that’s because of your lack of reading lists on the system; external review approaching, why not invest some time in updating your reading lists to demonstrate clear communication between academics, librarians and students.
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