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URM Development Partners’ Meeting: The Sharing of Chocolate, Beer, and Ideas in Belgium


Kathryn Harnish, Director of URM Product Management

In early December 2009, Ex Libris staff gathered with the four Unified Resource Management (URM) development partners in Leuven, Belgium, for the third face-to-face review meeting. Joining the Ex Libris URM team and members of the Catholic University Leuven (K.U. Leuven) library, which hosted the gathering, were representatives from Boston College, Princeton University, and Purdue University. The major topics at this meeting were selection, acquisition, and fulfillment. Thanks to the wonderful facilities at K.U. Leuven, the group took advantage of videoconference technology to bring staff members back home into the discussion—even though time differences meant early mornings for many remote participants!

The week of meetings began with two days dedicated to a design review of selection and acquisition, led by Ex Libris analyst Dan Sweeney. Following up on the discussion at the June kick-off meeting and numerous conference calls in the interim, Dan presented end-to-end workflows for various business processes and demonstrated how the URM framework will address these processes. Because one of the goals of the URM team is to automate processes that don’t require operator intervention, many of Dan’s descriptions of the selection and acquisition workflows focused on system-level activity. Of course, URM provides options for manual processes where necessary, and Dan reviewed initial mock-ups of the user interfaces designed to support such activities.

According to Katharine Farrell, from Princeton University, “The design review meeting showed how carefully the designers are listening to the partners and focus group participants. The concept of task lists for selection and acquisitions activities in URM is a new approach to targeting work that needs to be done to particular staff roles. It offers a more precise way for the right staff to deal with tasks that require human intervention, while allowing automated handling of routine functions.”

The last two days of the gathering were devoted to an initial solution review for fulfillment, including the functionality required to support the circulation of physical resources and the delivery of electronic and local digital assets. John Larson, Yochai Melamed, and Moshe Shechter, members of the Ex Libris URM team, reviewed the business needs for fulfillment and proposed several solutions: fulfillment “workbenches” designed to provide seamless navigation and workflows for loan and return processes; patron management tools, including interoperability with registration and student information systems; and course reading functionality and its relationship to CMS or VLE systems; and more. 

For Bob Gerrity of Boston College, “a key benefit of the URM development partnership is the face-to-face meetings to review, discuss, and provide feedback on the URM solution and design proposals. I was particularly pleased to see the idea of ‘Smart Fulfillment’ take shape, with a clear vision of delivering resources and services to users in a more streamlined and transparent manner. The proposed design for managing policies was also refreshing, and a major improvement over how policies are managed in our current ILS.”

Ex Libris extends a special thanks to Jo Rademakers and the entire URM team at K.U. Leuven for their tremendous hospitality over the week. The extensive supplies of Belgian chocolate, the terrific facilities, and the great camaraderie over local brews and dinner made everyone feel very welcome.

URM Development Partner representatives with the Ex Libris URM team