Thoughts on Information Finding

Reflections and reblogs

Tag Archives: opac

Do the Discovery and Delivery Solutions Solve OPAC Usability Problems?

Those of you who have been following my thoughts for a long time know that one of my pet peeves is the current state of the library OPAC. While we have seen some improvements since I started blogging in 2009, we are still light years behind what we could have.

Libraries (sic) goal should be to make library system front end intuitive, easy to use and even more – attractive to patrons, and make them to come back to library discovery and delivery solution with pleasure instead of using different sources not connected with libraries….

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The Tech Set Wiki

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.

Findability and the Library OPAC

As I stated in my article A Solution to Subject Access of the Library OPAC, it is the responsibility of those of us organizing information to allow the searcher to find his information accurately in as little time as possible. The OPAC should function as the librarian does at a reference interview, and deliver accurate results that answers the patron’s question. The issue is findability.

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