Note: over on Techsource, I wrote about open source OPACs this month — worth reading if you’re thinking about OPACs and such. Also see Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology Reports on Next-Generation Library Catalogs.
A week from Friday, I’m giving a talk in Illinois called “The OPAC sucks” at at the Symposium on the Future of Integrated Library Systems (yes, I’m getting a little tired of the “suck” meme, but it’s my fault for starting it).
I’d like your input.
Last year I discussed some of problems with OPACs in a three-part series for Techsource, in which I described problems with ranking, spell-check, display, and other issues. (Here’s a follow-up post that links back to Techsource while correcting one point. In fact, if I could rewrite the original posts I would say “ranking” rather than “relevance ranking.”)
Has your OPAC unsucked, even a little, or are you planning to unsuck it? Are you more aware of your OPAC’s limitations — perhaps through usability studies, user focus groups, or search log analysis? Are you thinking about substituting your OPAC with something else? Are you putting your focus (and your resources and money) elsewhere? Are you thinking about open source solutions?
What about some of the bigger issues, such as data formats, invisibility on the open Web, etc. — do you see solutions for these problems? What about the idea of getting out of our “institutional silos” and becoming part of one massive database — a la OCLC’s WorldCat Local? What are the threats and opportunities?