Aside from niceness, NDAs and fear of litigation, there are other
factors that influence the lack of detailed product information and
A lot of patrons may use library systems but often their interaction is
limited and indirect with a specific vendor's product. It is often
rebranded, customized and integrated with other products to meet a
specific library's needs. The patron often has no idea which product
they're using and might make only occasional use. Given the situation,
I wouldn't expect the volume of popular blog posts, comparisons and bug
reports as for something like Firefox or Microsoft Word.
Even comparing to other back end software, I'd expect something like
relational database or payroll software to see broader use and adoption
across industries than certain library systems. With more use and
evaluation, I'd expect to see more public feedback and complaints about
the software in a Google search.
The library community can be relatively small, specialized and niche
compared to other markets.
As a comparison, I once worked for a large original equipment
manufacturer (OEM) that sold computers to end users. They were looking
to move from their home-brew phone technical support, ticketing and CRM
system to a commercial product, preferably with focus and experience
with our industry needs. I was involved in some of the evaluation and
meetings with vendors.
We ran into some similar problems of not being able to find many public
critiques or much information about significant bugs or problems
(NDAs?). Of course, vendors had their lists touting prominent
customers. They even gave us a contact or two at companies using their
products who would say generally nice things about them. However,
really useful information was most likely to come out of our own testing
and evaluation, along with informal back channel sources, not from the
vendor or public information available on the Internet.
In other words, I think there is more at play here than librarians
simply (and stereotypically) wanting to play nice. It seems to be more
or less the case with other niche products in other industries, too.