Friday, August 8, 2008

Helping the OPAC *Not* Suck

Karen Schneider wrote a three part series of articles for ALA in 2006 that still have people talking. The title of the series was How OPACs Suck.

Part 1: Relevance Rank (Or the Lack of It)
Part 2: The Checklist of Shame
Part 3: The Big Picture

I will now give you some time to read the series.


So now you have read these three articles and wonder why I brought them up?

I saw a demo this past January of a new product called BiblioCommons, and was very impressed. The goal of this product is to "transform online library catalogs from searchable inventory systems into engaging social discovery environments".

Take a look at this post by the Shifted Librarian. She provides some nice analysis and screen shots.

A must is to take the tour of the Oakville Library that is the first installation of BiblioCommons. You will see that their OPAC how has "ratings, tags, lists, users, comments, recommendations, faceted browsing, contextual help, natural language (not jargon), user-based age ratings, share with a friend links, similar titles, a shelf browser with cover images, and the ability to get rewards for adding content to the catalog".

Maybe this is the future of the OPAC. Maybe it isn't. But for now the question is "Does a product like BiblioCommons help the current OPAC not suck?".

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