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Fulfillment - Important Questions and Answers
Posted by Lori Ayre on January 5, 2012
In case you've wondering what's up with FulfILLment, I thought I'd share this short Q&A piece. It was prepared for a California consortium (thus the reference to a couple of products in use there) but the info is generally useful to everyone. It includes some info I've grabbed from the FulfILLment and Equinox blogs (e.g. underlying architecture). The other info comes from conversations with people who should know these things with a spattering of my own opinion. Oh, and I see Equinox has updated the blog so be sure to go there and read about the Next Generation Discovery Interface component after you get the basics from below....
What is it?
Fulfillment is an open source, resource-sharing (aka ILL) product that will compete with Link+ (Innovative’s INN-Reach product), SuperSearch (SirsiDynix’s URSA product), as well as AutoGraphics Agent Resource-Sharing and RelaisD2D. Who’s developing it? It is being developed by Equinox Software, Inc. under contract with OHIONET.
So it’s just another ILL product?
Fulfillment redefines the problem space. Conventional wisdom says that ILL is conceptually distinct from circulation. The problem of automated ILL has thus far been addressed mainly through the use of union catalogs. This eases the search and discovery portion of ILL, assuming that the union catalog is up to date, but many union-catalog based systems do not address automated mediation well, if at all. In fact, many systems are little more than cross-lending agreements on paper that require full staff mediation.
When will it be available?
The current projection is that a beta release will be ready in the first quarter of 2012. Testing will continue throughout 2012. The first general release probably won’t be ready until 2013 but the source code is publicly available so interested parties can begin evaluating it very soon. The projected beta release date is January 21, 2012 and it will have connectors for Millennium, Symphony, Polaris, Aleph, Koha, and of course Evergreen. Version 1.0 release date is tentatively set for March 21, 2012.
What about the underlying architecture?
FulfILLment brings the benefits of a circulation and hold system based on the core algorithms in Evergreen to the ILL problem space. By encouraging and facilitating the participating institutions to collect and enter all relevant information about ILL policy and system definition, FulfILLment can provide not only truly automated mediation of ILL request (holds) but also full ILL transaction (circulation) management and automated transit management. If the infrastructure and algorithms of Evergreen are the heart of FulfILLment, the FulfILLment Next Generation Discovery Interface (NGID) is its public face. The FulfILLment NGDI is a hybrid physical/virtual union catalog which automatically loads and de-duplicates bibliographic records from all participating institutions for central search. Records can be pulled in using standard protocols such as OAI-PMH, Z39.50 or SRU, or can be automatically pushed into the NGDI from the local systems by whatever means are available.
FulfILLment leverages the hold targeting and capture algorithms from Evergreen — arguably the most advanced in the world in terms of policy and process modeling — and uses them to find the best item to fulfill the request of the patron based on all available information.
FulfILLment’s hands and eyes consist of the Local Automation Integrator, or LAI. This system uses the best and most appropriate protocol for each participating institution’s ILS, be it NCIP, SIP2 or a custom connector, to query each local ILS that advertises items on the requested record in real-time in order to provide status information to the hold processing mechanism. Data concerning the requesting patron is also pulled in real-time, and can be automatically obfuscated or expunged if required as soon as all open ILL requests and transactions for that patron are completed. Once an ILL request has been accepted by the lending library and the item captured for remote circulation, FulfILLment tracks the complete life-cycle of this transaction. Both ends of the ILL, the lending and borrowing libraries, know the current status of items on loan and can generate reports based on this information using the Evergreen Reporter, one of the most advanced and flexible reporting engines available for an ILS.