Eric Hellman wrote:
> Let's consider another function of a library catalog- resource
> discovery for users.
> Does anyone here really believe that in TEN years Google and/or
> competitors (maybe even mine) won't be able to hook into an inventory
> control system and deliver full-text, faceted, clustered, instantly
> relevant, translated search results out the wazoo from all the
> content in your library? If today's catalogs did an acceptable job of
> search we might be able to start a discussion.
So, the argument is-- basically, very watered down-- that because the
current OPACs suck, we need to abandon them, and make
$global_vendor_catalog our default search entry point... which won't
suck, and will also allow greater access to global resources? (and not
worry our pretty little heads about it)
I have always taken this problem from the other side of the equation--
(perhaps because it is the side I know I can have an effect on). Because
local OPACs suck, we need to replace/improve them, not abandon them.
This is part of our motivation in the Evergreen ILS project
(open-ils.org). I believe we're doing a decent job, and our public and
staff useability surveys back that up. I think NCSU also has the right
idea. Who knows-- various vendors may come out with much-improved
catalogs in response to the competition? One of our project goals is to
push innovation in the larger library world.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that a global catalog is not useful or
shouldn't have a prominent role, but I think it should be secondary to
the local, /at-fingertips collection/ and catalog (which doesn't suck).
The local catalog should access the larger global resources when
appropriate. We do this within our consortium-- we show the user what is
immediately available on the shelf, what is up the street at the library
in the next town, and then what is available throughout the state.
There are going to be materials that local libraries will only want to
make visible/accessible to their local users. One good example we're
wrestling with here is one of our library systems has a subscription to
an e-book service that only its patrons can "check out". These are the
kind of materials that should only show up in that library system's
"local" catalog. The uber-cat would need to know about these rules and
associated boundries. (and that's just one simple example)
PINES System Administrator
Georgia Public Library Service