Friday, July 13, 2007

Service Oriented Library Systems

What is SOA?
SOA stands for Service Oriented Architecture. According to wikipedia it is architecture system that relies on service orientation as its design. SOA is not dependent on a specific technology and may implemented using a wide range of technologies.

That is as much as my non-programming brain can absorb. Thankfully, Eric Schnell at the Medium is the Message helpfully uses twentieth century automobile assembly lines to explain SOA. The machines in Ford's assembly plant were fixed in place for the Model T. Due to the expense of re-tooling the Model T's design remained the same for twenty years. General Motors was able to make changes to its car models because they utilized a flexible manufacturing approach. Japanese automakers went further by having parts that could be interchanged between model lines.

In the computer world, "service oriented architecture (SOA), the data, application, and interface are separated so that each can be implemented using the best technologies for the task. The pieces can be interchanged or repurposed."

Many library tech people are looking and moving towards SOA library systems. To get a better idea of what SOA is and what it means for libraries check out these sites:

If you are really interested in SOA and Libraries you might want to subscribe to Planet Library SOA (created by Peter Murray) an aggregation of blog postings and resources related to SOA and library systems.

Librarians aren't the only ones exploring SOA. Here are some links to SOA and healthcare:

SOA is definitely an emerging trend. It is probably a good idea to be aware of it and keep your ear to the ground as new information pops up.


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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: