First Invenio Workshop: CERN’s digital library software ten years on

To mark the release of Invenio 1.0, the first User Group Workshop was held last week, with more than 40 developers, system administrators and librarians from 14 different countries attending. The participants were able to catch up on developments in CERN’s digital library software and get a glimpse of where it's going next.


“This is the first time we’ve held such a big workshop,” explains Jean-Yves Le Meur, head of Digital Library Services. “There was a lot of demand for an event like this, and bringing out version 1.0 of Invenio was an obvious time to do it.” Ask him what’s new in version 1.0 and he opens his eyes wide. “There’s so much, it’s hard to summarise. One key improvement is that the code and the database are stable, well tested and optimised, which makes the software more efficient.”

The participants, on the other hand, highlight new features coming up in Invenio 1.x, such as faceted searching. “It’s just what we’ve been waiting for,” says Alexander Wagner from the Jülich Research Centre. “It’s a bit like on Amazon where, based on your previous choices, suggestions are generated for other items you might be interested in. But instead of basing it on bestseller lists, Invenio makes an intelligent selection based on indexing. It makes queries much more transparent for users.”

The participants at the workshop represent about half of the 40 known user institutes which are at various stages of implementing Invenio. Many of the users (who could not all join), such as SLAC, Desy and Fermilab, are from the high energy physics community, and arXiv is in the process of migrating its service using Invenio as the underlying software.

The huge flexibility of the software means that it has attracted users in areas outside high energy physics too, from general university libraries to the new Museum of the 20th Century in Venice, due to open in 2014. The workshop had the added value of bringing users with varying needs together. “We are in regular contact with the developers of the software at CERN, which is great, but this is the first time that I’ve met other users who are dealing with the same specific issues as we are,” says Gregory Favre from EPFL’s institutional repository Infoscience. Fama Diagne Sene from Bambey University in Senegal agrees: “Now we can work together to solve common problems, and it’s reassuring to feel part of a community of users.”

The CERN Invenio team has worked hard to make the workshop happen. “We put a lot in, but we got a lot out of it too,” underlines Jean-Yves Le Meur. “I’d like to say a big thank you to my four colleagues who led the sessions: Jérome Caffaro, Samuele Kaplun, Ludmila Marian and Tibor Simko. Their excellent presentations were not only useful to the participants, but they allowed us to significantly improve our documentation too. It’s also been great to meet people we've been corresponding with for years. I think the workshop has really reinforced the Invenio community.”

by Joannah Caborn Wengler