The thing is, that the current generation of catalog isn't very good
at helping users find items that meet their needs or desires in
collections, and explore collections.

(In fact, what's the point of user-generated content, if not to aid
users in finding items that meet their needs? Well, I guess there are
actually some other points of it too, but that's a main one. Hmm,
we're talking about functions/objectives of the catalog
part 3]. Do we need to rethink the (recently rethought) objectives of
the catalog for a 'web/library 2.0' (man, I hate that phrase) world?)

But anyway.  I think library collections (understood broadly; from
physical items in the library to licensed databases to shared
electronic content to navigational aids to free content, etc.) are
going to continue to be important, and it's going to continue to be
important to help users find stuff that meets their needs in those
collections---and that current catalogs don't do a very good job of
it. To me, one of the prime questions is how to do we get catalogs to
do a better job?

Are you guys suggesting that there will be one central catalog that
does this, 'hiding' all but locally available resources if desired?
Hmm.  I'm not sure what the plusses and minuses of this approach
would be, but even if such a system existed, the question of how such
a system is to be made to work better still exists---along with the
question of how it is going to interact in the larger environment
involving our local systems, and the social environment of actual
cataloging (changing the latter may be the most difficult thing of

[And why aren't we having this conversation on the new list, anyway?
I guess I should sign up for the new list.]


At 11:50 AM -0400 6/8/06, Eric Hellman wrote:
>Brad, Con and Eric raise some good points arguing in favor of local
>systems in libraries.
>Interestingly, the functions that inarguably need local,
>institutional components analogous to today's catalog are centered
>around patrons and communities:
>1. manage collections of local interest
>2. gather usage information
>3. protect user privacy
>4. manage electronic rights/entitlements/access
>5. enable user-generated content
>The common thread here is user- and community- centric orientation of
>these functions. With the exception of (1), today's catalog systems
>are not well adapted to providing the functions.
>I hope it will not be considered "radical" if I offer this lemma:
>The next generation of library systems must be "about" communities of
>users more than they are "about" collections of resources.
>Eric Hellman, Director                            OCLC Openly
>Informatics Division
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>tel 1-973-509-7800 fax 1-734-468-6216              Bloomfield, NJ 07003
>      1 Click Access To Everything