Roy Tennant & Tim Spalding on OPACs

Notes from the session at CIL…

Tim Spalding: The Fun OPAC

Quote from Casey Bisson re: searchability, findability, usability

He wants more: “funability.” Serendipity is part of it. So are findability and usability.

We expect the web to be quick, easy, fun, and “the library is the most fun you can have with your pants on.” So, how can you make your current opac fun?

  • Bring it front and center—make it part of the website, not separate.
  • Make it dynamic. A site that doesn’t change isn’t fun.
  • Allow inbound links (increase search engine hits, make linking and sharing easy) can do by providing permalinks likeupper right-hand side of google maps
  • Link outwards—the more you link out, the more people will come to you. Link not just from website, but from catalog, too (useful links in records, etc. why not link out to local bookstore, amazon—why not? Patrons know about it already—if a book’s out they’re going there anyway, why not use as affiliate?)
  • Link around within your catalog and without—in librarything, everything is clickable (fun! increases serendipity, lets users get entertainingly lost)
  • Dress up your opac—if you use amazon covers, you’re supposed to link to amazon on your page (according to their terms)
  • Somebody needs to create open database of covers—someone is working on this?
  • Link to Wikipedia—students are going anyway, why not link to it? Or, even better, link to it but wrap some education about evaluating information around that link.
  • Get your data out there so superusers can use it—let people get involved, people will think of fun things to do with your data. Where are the ILS APIs?
  • RSS feeds (new books, searches) push things out from libraries. Patrons want to tell people what they’re reading, not just find out what’s available—how about widgets? No privacy issues when someone says “I want a widget that lists what I read.” The random-book-from-my-library librarything widget is really popular.

Librarything for libraries—add librarything data to opac (tags, similar books, other editions based on librarything user input) tagbrowser to look at library catalog through lens of librarything tags.currently tags are supplied by librarything tags—ultimately, libraries should be sharing tags, the more people tagging, the more successful



Roy Tennant: Catalogs for the Future

  • Won’t use “the o word”
  • Catalogs don’t have a future (at least as we know and hate them).
  • Discovery happens at network level, not necessarily at local level (i.e. people look for resources all over the place, not just in your library at a workstation).
  • Even at local level, people want to find more than books.
  • New finding tools are making catalogs obsolete.
  • By catalog, he doesn’t mean ILS—still need to manage collections, but need different tools for finding content.
  • Discovery needs to happen outside the ils (data needs to get out there).
  • Finding options available at network level—google, worldcat, worldcat local, primo (from ex libris).
  • Users want any useful info—format isn’t necessarily important.
  • Users want to search in one spot, not ten.
  • Most ils’s don’t offer the features users expect—openworldcat is doing some cool stuff (faceted browsing, clean display, relevance ranking, integrated article indexes, worldcat identities, fictionfinder)
  • Emphasize idea of finding tool (vs. library catalog)
  • Search box at top of penn library homepage—metasearch (e-resources, faq’s, books, video, research guides)


Predictions for successful future…

Integrated Library Systems:

  • Will refocus on library operations—getting the work done
  • Will be constructed with discrete components, able to work with other systems, exposed APIs, inexpensive, scalable, easy to maintain
  • Evergreen is doing these things

Finding tools:

  • Will integrate access to a variety of sources
  • APIs will be available
  • Will allow for relevance ranking, faceted browsing, etc.
  • Will be larger than library catalog, integrate library catalog





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s