Partnership Keeps Everyone Ahead of the Game
At Yale Law School, recruitment is never an issue. As part of a lauded university, founded in the 17th century, the law school always has far more applicants than available seats. But maintaining a sterling reputation for excellence is a daunting responsibility. "There's an expectation that Yale is always ahead," says Mary Jane Kelsey, Associate Law Librarian for Technical Services. "When you're Yale, you can't look dowdy."
Innovative has been a partner in keeping Yale Law's Lillian Goldman Library ahead technologically for more than 20 years. It started in 1985 when computerized library systems were just getting a toe-hold. The Goldman Library took a risk by signing with Innovative—a relatively new kid on the block. "At the time digital acquisitions and serials control seemed a radical move," says Kelsey. "Yale has operated for centuries with Yankee prudence, so being the first on campus with a computer library system was a lot of conservative tradition to buck."
That fledgling partnership between the Goldman Law Library and Innovative was about computerizing the back-end of acquisitions. Along with gaining more productivity and control, Kelsey and her colleagues felt they had found a company they could rely upon. They liked Innovative's steady pace of technological innovation and distinct lack of "vaporware." "Innovative stays true to their vision," says Kelsey. "They don't take work they can't do or make promises they can't keep."
Over time, the two organizations watched the library's technology evolve to include digitized serials management, then a web-based online catalog. Ultimately, they saw a completely integrated system emerge. They also discovered that Goldman Law Library and Innovative were an exceptionally good match. "Innovative is scanning the same technology horizon that we're watching," says Kelsey. "We started going to Innovative to tell them what we were thinking about—Single Sign-on, RSS feeds, access from a PDA—and their thinking always matched ours. Then, it was, 'Aha! How can we work together on this?'"
Today, it's about keeping up with the user and reducing barriers to the effective use of Yale's exceptionally rich collections. "We're working to enhance the user experience so that it's seamless. Our students hate to authenticate," says Kelsey. The Encore discovery services platform intrigued Kelsey and her colleagues. "After we saw it, I went to Innovative's Senior Product Manager Dinah Sanders and asked, 'How can we get this look.'"
Yale Law Library became an Encore partner, working on the ground-floor as Innovative created an intuitive interface between the library's collection and its users. Kelsey is particularly impressed with Encore's enhancement of both discovery and precision. "You no longer have to be a 'ferocious' researcher," she says. Because Encore makes plumbing resources nearly effortless, it leverages the entire catalog of the library. "The hidden stuff is now rising to the top, where it can be used," she says.
That seamless connection between user and information is the ultimate goal of computerized library systems—a challenge that Innovative has met for libraries year in and year out. And that dedication translates for Innovative libraries in a real and fulfilling way. Kelsey concludes, "Working with the system all these years has been the most interesting and satisfying part of my career."