IL2006 Day 1: Perfuming a Skunk, or there’s More than One Way to Skin an Online Catalog

Nanette… Champaign Public Library

First step: user survey on the website

  • what do you currently use
  • What types of enhancements would they like to see?
  • etc

Results? most came to use the online catalog, many ONLY came to use catalog – and many thought it was clunky.

Goal setting:

  • integrate online catalog into website
  • focus on ease of use


  • study what other libraries have done to make online catalogts more attractrive and usable
  • talk to the administrators of catalog to see what can be done without affecting others in consortium
  • investigate third-party solutions like aquabrowsers, endeca
  • work with automation staff
  • consider public service straff opinions
  • prioritize features into must-haves and can-wait-for-phase-two features

finally in planning:

  • we dreamed big
  • they didn’t want to dismiss anything…
  • they had a grant, so they had money…

implementation –

  • roadblocks – ILS vendor was upgrading
  • Vendor was unwilling to provide API
  • consortial concerns
  • time concerns

Online Catalog 2.0: where do we go from here

  • what can libraries do? Hire programmers.
  • support vendors who are willing to release the API for their software and support third-party development of enhancements – or go open source
  • Insist on features that our power users want – these are the fetures your power user will want two years from now

What ILS vendors can do?

  • anticipate user’s needs
  • look at what libraries are doing with your products – implement some of their innovations
  • understand that no company can do it all and well. Release your API – even Microsoft is doing it

what catalogers can do?

  • competition with google, amazon, etc  is good
  • understand that user tagging is not the end of controlled vocabularies
  • provide adequate subject access for all types of materials in all formats