November 4, 2007
Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0
Oh. My. God. Can I just say wow! Casey Bisson talked about the advantages of an OPAC with Web 2.0 capabilities (comments, tags, etc.) and then demonstrated how easy it can be to get one! First, he talked about the challenges to our current catalogs – the usability, findability and remixability of our content is pretty limited. He also said that we’ve learned a few things from the Web 2.0 phenomenon – we have one chance to prove we aren’t stupid – if someone comes in looking for books on the sociology of education, and we offer books on watersheds, they are going to think we are stupid (and he showed an example of just that happening on a traditional catalog search), search boxes are for asking questions and links are citations. As for usability and remixability of our data – we should be offering users ways to reuse our content they way they want to use it (easy-link to our catalog, etc.). He also made the point that sites that allow comments value their users. Control isn’t so important when you think of commenting in that way. Also – your website isn’t a marketing tool, it’s a service point. This point was repeated a couple of times in the conference!
The last 11 and 1/2 minutes of the presentation were taken up with the installation and configuration of Casey’s “next-gen opac”, scriblio. He actually did it in real time (with very little prep work done prior to the session) and showed how quick and easy this OPAC is. As he was demoing it at the end, I thought it looked an awful lot like III’s Encore product – but without the hefty price tag and with a tiny bit more upkeep required (automated updates done twice a day would just about do it).