Friday, March 24, 2006

CIL2006: The Future of Catalogs

Roy Tennant and Andrew Pace talked about how online catalogs are changing. They purposefully did not use the term OPAC (a horrible term) and weren't talking about ILS, but only about the catalog/catalogue as a finding tool, which it can be good at (and with some of the new things...very good!).

Catalogues do well:
  • Inventory control
  • Known item searching
  • ...for items within a particular collection
Don't do well:
  • Any search except "known item"
  • Anything beyond books and journal TITLES
  • Displaying results by logical groupings
  • Faceted browsing
  • Relevance ranking
  • Recommendations
The online catalogues are a staff tool that became a public tool. It wasn't meant for the public.

The future:
  • The catalogue must interoperate
  • Can be part of a unified finding tool
  • Refocused in local inventory only
Roy mentioned two reports:
  • To get one of them, do an Internet search on: BSTF final report
  • There is a report from the Library of Congress by Karen Calhoun that is not out yet (written in Feb. 2006), which echoes things from the BSTF report.
Andrew Pace gave a copy of subtitles for his presentation. One was "Library Automation: Yesterday's Technology Tomorrow." He (and Roy) showed off some new catalogs. The coolest was the catalog at NCSU, which anyone can search. (TRY IT!) Go to This was built in collaboration with Endeca. You can read more about that at

The whole idea is to better use catalogues for what they are good at. Yes, there is hope for catalogues.

[And...yes...I did meet Roy Tennant!]

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1 comment:

Celia said...

I used to work with Roy when I was at UCSF building the Legacy TObacco Documents Library (LTDL); he is a wonderful person, and so thoughtful. I convinced him to look into early social stuff like Friendster and the like, because I thought CDL might find it useful.

It makes me quite happy to know Roy is thinking about catalogs. In my opinion, they are the most broken part of libraries at this point in time.

Am enjoying your commentary on CIL; thanks.