I have been reading Next-gen library catalogs by Marshall Breeding. It is an excellent work which discusses what a modern OPAC should include. He discusses features which allow patrons to interact with the catalog (Web 2.0). Additionally, he discusses the types of interfaces that those users that are accustomed to “googleish” type interfaces expect when interacting with the library’s online presence. For example, a user shouldn’t be faced with “no records found” just because he spells shakespeare “shakespere.” The book includes valuable charts, illustrating the pros and cons of various commercial OPAC software packages and open source solutions.
What really excited me, though was the Tech Set Wiki that has been set up to discuss these issues. There are podcasts on this wiki by the authors of the Tech Set series (which Breeding’s book is part of), on topics such as social networking, blogging, technology, and of couse the OPAC. There are discussion boards where people can ask questions and discuss these issues. One can request to become a “writer” and add his own expertise, taking advantage of our collective intelligence.
Technology changes very quickly and this Wiki, with the Tech Set writers sharing their expertise, will become an invaluable resource for librarians and other information professionals to stay on top of this topic.