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This chapter of "Opening up Library Systems through Web Services and SOA: Hype or Reality" examines the general conclusions that can be drawn from the data developed in this report. The evidence gathered in this report reflects ongoing progress toward more openness in library automation systems, but also that much work remains. We see a variety of options and opportunities. Libraries that expect to work with their automation system as delivered and not become involved in local extensions or programming will find that the majority of systems were built for that kind of use. For libraries that want to do more with their automation systems, however, we see a great deal of functionality possible today through open interfaces, with momentum toward creating much more.
In this report, we have seen a wide variety of approaches to the way that APIs can be incorporated into integrated library systems. Many examples demonstrate the benefits that libraries gain through access to a well-developed API for their ILS. We have also noted that this capability appeals to only a relatively narrow niche of libraries. The majority of libraries expect the ILS, an entity in which they have invested significant resources, to deliver the functionality they require as-is without the need for them to perform local programming. APIs find their most enthusiastic adherents in larger libraries with complex automation requirements. As the general software arena gravitates more toward the service-oriented architecture, it will become increasingly important for all library automation products to evolve accordingly.
In broad terms, we found no glaring inconsistencies between the claims made by vendors for opening up their systems through APIs and the capabilities actually delivered. APIs that function as important tools that find use in strategic library projects have been created and documented, particularly in the ILS products used by large academic and municipal libraries. Yet even with those that place the highest emphasis on exposing their systems through Web services and other APIs, many gaps remain in areas not yet addressed.
We also note that the two open …