Tag Archives: opac design
An interesting project to make it easier to integrate the records from digital resources into a library public OPAC.
I now consider digital resources–OER, images, videos, audio files, slideshows, documents, ebooks, maps, art, student work, data sets, interactivities, simulations, and especially the elements of the world’s richest museums and archives–intrinsic parts of my collection.
I may not own them, but I use them. And I want them discoverable and openable directly from the tool I purchased for discovery and access–my OPAC.
Marshall Breeding discusses the issue of relevancy ranking in the 21st Century OPAC.
It seems that most online catalogs and discovery systems attempt to present their search results according to relevancy. That’s what library users expect since most of the search environments they use likewise follow this approach. Yet, it’s really difficult to make relevancy work well for library collections, especially when intermingling results that include books, articles, and other kinds of materials.
I envision the entry page to a library OPAC to look much the same as Google: an empty text box just waiting for the patron’s request. The OPAC I envision has a link underneath providing “advanced” searching – the more familiar keyword or Boolean searches. The default, however is that the patron enters his free-form question in the box, and the software is capable of taking that question, translating it into terms that the software can use to search all available library resources, and then displaying a list of materials within the library collection (including books, serials, and any digital material) that intelligently provide the information the patron requests.
This is what the patrons expect … Read More on theberdinka.com.
The ontology layer is what should be between the LCSH authority records and natural language interface in the optimal OPAC design. An ontology defines classes, sets, attributes, and relations of the domain – in this case the LC Subject Headings. Also, it includes synonyms of the members of the domain. Michael K. Bergman has written an extremely informative article entitled An Executive Intro to Ontologies.
The user interface would need to be programmed more intelligently in order to do more than perform the brute queries that are typical of an OPAC. There has been a lot of research on natural language processing in the computer science field using a number of programming languages. For example, the Jena Semantic Web Framework for Java provides tools and libraries to allow a software developer to design a search engine that can take a topic and find titles in the catalog database to answer the patron’s query.
The patron, on the other hand, doesn’t need to know all of this. All he needs to know is the same thing he knows when he uses a modern search engine – what is the question being asked. With my proposed design, our software will provide much more accurate results than a keyword based search engine. This is what both the patron and the librarian wants.