Building a library catalogue with SharePoint

Alison Jones who is a librarian at a law firm in Canberra has documented (see below) her experience of building a library catalogue from scratch using SharePoint. Alison discusses benefits and pitfalls, as well as the process of commissioning (internally) a purpose built search engine for SharePoint.

Alison has kindly supplied AGIA with the speaking notes for her 2011 presentation and says “I would be delighted to communicate with any librarian in the WA resource sector (or more broadly) about my experiences with SharePoint and the range of ways I have made use of it”.

Charting the progress of a custom-built library: Designing, building and implementing library and knowledge management applications in SharePoint: Presentation for ALLA conference “Cross Currents: Charting our Future” Melbourne 2010: October 1, 2010

Intranets for information management and accessibility: Presentation [PowerPoint] for ARK Group event “Information Management for the legal profession”: August 25, 2011, plus speaking notes

Further feedback received from Alison:

I have had a lot of fun with SharePoint but a couple of brief points that I make about my context, that might help others considering its use:

1)      I am in the unusual position of being able to do pretty much what I want with my part of the Intranet. So when I wanted to add a new knowledge management repository (of many intranet pages), I could just build it myself without reference back to anybody, not even the IT department. I know a lot of library staff need to get permission to change anything on their website, even if it is on SharePoint. For me, that would largely defeat the greatest advantage of SharePoint, which is that it is so easy to develop new tools on and to adapt these tools over time.

2)       Although I love SharePoint dearly, when it came to creating a catalogue, I had to use SharePoint, for a whole host of reasons. For me, a catalogue (which is all that it is) on SharePoint has worked fine. I think I could add in circulation as a layer on top of the straight catalogue if I needed to in SharePoint. However, when other librarians talk about replacing a proper library management system with SharePoint, I urge some caution because the functionality of even the simplest library management system is likely to be so much greater than anything that could be built on SharePoint. I regard SharePoint as an option to be used instead of a database system or similar, not really an option in place of a proper library management system.

Alison’s contact details are available at the end of her PowerPoint presentation.