Synthesize, specialize, mobilize

Lorcan 1 min read

I have used the synthesize, specialize, mobilize triple as a way of organizing some recent presentations and have found it very useful. Unfortunately, I cannot claim credit for coining this. This is a formulation of my colleague Robin Murray of Fretwell Downing, now part of OCLC Pica. It is presented in the context of a general discussion about the new landscape of library systems and the place of the ‘integrated library system’ in that.

The business and service model is evolving from acquiring, cataloguing and circulating physical collections to synthesising, specialising and mobilising Web-based services. While the transition is undoubtedly evolutionary, it is not at all clear that the systems required to support the new paradigm are an evolutionary development of the traditional Information and Library Service (ILS). [Main Articles: ‘Library Systems: Synthesise, Specialise, Mobilise’, Ariadne Issue 48]

In brief summary:

  • Synthesis refers to the desire to integrate the many diverse information and service components – both within the control of the library, and outside – that are of interest to the user, to manage the terms under which they are accessed, and to harvest usage and other data to improve provision.
  • Specialization refers to the desire to leverage local services, to apply knowledge of local needs and behaviors, and to provide particular guidance and support.
  • Mobilization refers to the desire to release the value of a synthesized, specialized resource at the point of need, in the user workflow.

Much of current activity (metasearch, resolution, ERM) is about synthesis, and there is much work to be done. Much of the current discussion about web services, RSS, and so on is about mobilization.

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