Well said Kyle - I am with you.
The OPAC's services as modules are key to teaching the OPAC, and learning
the concepts within workflow processes - often depicted as flowcharts - are
a great lessons; especially adding the peculiarities of library policies and
procedures, and how the old stuff was designed to include the unimaginably
real complexity of library workflow. From that perspective, one learning
outcome could be - how to simplify to scale...
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kyle
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 12:15 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Recommendations for a teaching OPAC?
> I teach an intro to IT survey class for the LIS school at Illinois.
> The one-major-topic-a-week syllabus doesn't really give us time to
> deep dive into IT topics, but it lets us explore them and give
> contextual understanding to the building block pieces. Ideally, every
> topic has some sort of hands-on exercise that gives real life
> experience with the concepts/technologies. The exercises are usually
> independent, but I've been kicking around the idea of using a simple
> OSS OPAC to teach different elements of the class as a semester-long big
I guess my perspective on this is a bit different than most people here.
What makes the OPAC special isn't the technologies it employs, but rather
the workflows and data it supports because these come straight out of the
physical world and tools used decades ago. Aside from that, library
automation is still heavily influenced by technologies developed when memory
was measured in kilobytes rather than gigabytes.
Discovery gets the lion's share of attention, but when you get right down to
it, what people call an OPAC is only the public facing side of a specialized
inventory control system that supports a wide range of functions. People
need to learn the new stuff, but a huge part of grokking the OPAC is the old
stuff -- otherwise, people simply arrive at the conclusion that the
data/methods are stupid or irrelevant and they miss the main point.
So where am I going with this? If I wanted to give people a crash course in
OPAC, I'd take them on tours through acq, tech services, circ, and resource
sharing led by people who are experts in the operational details of those
operations so they can see what the systems support. If they simply muck
about with systems without understanding what those systems support, I don't
think they'll learn nearly as much.