Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CIL2008: New Generation of Library Interfaces: Meeting the needs of today’s library users

Marshall Breeding did this presentation on Tuesday. {4/12/2008 new presentation URL}

Are libraries where users go when they want information? Most start with a search engine, not with a library's catalogue or databased. And most of those people begin with Google. According to OCLC, library web sites are being used less. (I heard someone near me say quietly that he had heard the opposite in another session.) People use sites that are engaging, but most library web sites are not engaging. One web site he mentioned as being good at engagement was Queens Library.

In a library, the electronic content is often disjointed. What is needed is a more flexible back-end as well a decoupling the front-end. That would allow the front-end to be developed so it was more user friendly. Among the features needed is the ability for users to be able to manipulate the results they receive, so they can quickly find the source/info/container that the need. People should be engaged with the content, not with the interface.

Three thoughts that stand out from Breeding's presentation:
  • Our systems need to be able to handle any metadata format.
  • We're entering a post-metadata search era, where searches will be based on the object itself, not on metadata. However, metadata is still needed in order to improve search precision.
  • "Search" needs to be integrated into the web site for the larger organization. It should not just be on the library portion of the web site.
  • Never lead the user to a dead end. (As I say in other presentation, this is a good place for a Meebo Me widget. Breeding would likely suggest that you should the user some related content, rather than nothing.

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