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David Lee King

IL2008: Implementing a Next Gen OPAC



Speaker – Jeff Wisniewski

problem: old opacs weren’t designed for usability
– they were designed for the back-end of libraries
– designed to store data

Look at Jeff’s library’s OPAC – pittcat – much nicer looking than most other opacs (it’s still in beta)

they plan on keeping the more traditional-looking opac search for the forseeable future – eventually they’ll look at useage stats and go from there.

goals for new interface:
– does it have an intuitive interface?
– zero instruction needed, like amazon’s search interface
– no dumb error messages
– expose more of their collection (faceted search thing)
– integrate various silos (other databases they had, locally-created stuff, etc)
– get it up and running yesterday!

If you can, don’t do an RFP. It’s sorta backwards, hard to write, frequently states the obvious

instead, they made a features list
– must have
– highly desirable
– and a third category
– had to have the must have features

made a spreadsheet for the selection process with each vendor and their features listed.

Do this for your users – not your staff!!!
– boolean, advanced search, etc – your users DON’T CARE. So don’t offer it.
– resist the power search…

they renamed the old catalog the “classic” catalog – funny!

Do publicity on the new thing!

Usability
– call it what it is – map, not cartographic resource; music, not sound recording (that’s what the majority of them are)
– hyperlinks – you can put them practically everywhere

make sure it’s visual – use book jacket pics, etc

give your catalog legs:
– create facebook search widgets
– embed search widgets elsewhere, too

social stuff – do it even if you’re not quite ready yet

integration with other databases (federated search)
– some have them

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://zinsplace.blogspot.com/ Zinthia Briceno

    Thanks for your notes!

  • Pingback: Mississippi State University Libraries : Mississippi Library 2.0 Summit » Blog Archive » The New OPAC

  • jaradams

    On the whole, a wonderful analysis of what sounds like a wonderful product. But please, don’t encourage OPAC to be like Amazon. Searching the other night for a backgammon board took my wife 30 minutes on Amazon. AS a professional searcher, I found what she wanted in a flash, but I don’t find Amazon a useful search approach.

  • jaradams

    On the whole, a wonderful analysis of what sounds like a wonderful product. But please, don’t encourage OPAC to be like Amazon. Searching the other night for a backgammon board took my wife 30 minutes on Amazon. AS a professional searcher, I found what she wanted in a flash, but I don’t find Amazon a useful search approach.

  • Jon Gorman

    catching up and just saw this post
    @jaradams

    You have me curious. Every way I can think of searching for backgammon boards on Amazon leads me to one in the first page of results. (Going through the categories isn’t great, but still gets one results in the first page. Searching backgammon or backgammon boards gets results in the first hit, and even starting that string prompts a completion that would help most).

    Not trying to disparage your wife, I’m just failling to figure out what she did that was so fruitless. Might be an important lesson.

    On the other hand, I’m highly skeptical, even being an information professional myself, that I could have pulled that information out of most library catalogs, whether they were “traditional” or “next gen”.

    So…what exactly was your wife doing? What was the mental model that Amazon wasn’t accounting for? How would the traditional catalog solve this? If the traditional catalog couldn’t solve it either, what was needed?

  • Jon Gorman

    catching up and just saw this post
    @jaradams

    You have me curious. Every way I can think of searching for backgammon boards on Amazon leads me to one in the first page of results. (Going through the categories isn’t great, but still gets one results in the first page. Searching backgammon or backgammon boards gets results in the first hit, and even starting that string prompts a completion that would help most).

    Not trying to disparage your wife, I’m just failling to figure out what she did that was so fruitless. Might be an important lesson.

    On the other hand, I’m highly skeptical, even being an information professional myself, that I could have pulled that information out of most library catalogs, whether they were “traditional” or “next gen”.

    So…what exactly was your wife doing? What was the mental model that Amazon wasn’t accounting for? How would the traditional catalog solve this? If the traditional catalog couldn’t solve it either, what was needed?

  • http://zinsplace.blogspot.com/ Zinthia Briceno

    Thanks for your notes!