The Catalog Has No Future

Excellent CIL2007 conference blogging from Nicole Engard:

First up: Tim Spaulding on how to make the catalog FUN:

  • Allow inbound links!
    links into our catalogs are always timed out when you find them in search results. People want to link into this information and they assume it will always be there. One way to solve this is to provide a permalink – like Google maps – but I’d argue that this isn’t enough either!!
  • Allow links outwards
    The more you link outwards the more people will come to you. This includes links out of your catalog. Tim said that some libraries say no to this because they won’t link to commercial sites. Tim asks, why? Your patrons know about the bookstores! Good websites don’t work like malls, where all of the exits are hidden and they try to keep you inside.
  • Link around
    LibraryThing links to 500 libraries around the world and makes everything clickable (the author, title, tag, subject heading). There is also a page for every author, tag, etc etc. Most catalogs do link subjects – but nothing else. You can also link to wikipedia (people are going to go there anyway).
  • Dress up your OPAC
    Dress it up with covers from Syndetics (if you get them from Amazon you have to link to them).
  • Get your data out there
    Stop thinking you’re the only people who can work with your data!! Wisdom of crowds!! There are bored techies out there who want to do fun things with your data. People will think of things to do with your data that you haven’t thought of yourself.
  • Provide remixable content
    Users don’t want your data. They don’t want generic new book lists, they want their own content. RSS feeds for specific searches, authors, tags. They want a way to tell people what they’re reading with widgets. If the user freely consents to show what they’re reading to others, then there are no privacy issues to worry about
  • Then Roy Tennant discussed the FUTURE of the catalog:

    He sees a future where there is no local catalog and in his future, all discovery will take place on the network level. If however it stays on the local level, few people will want to limit their search to just books – they’re going to want something that can pull together all of the info on a topic no matter what format it’s in.

    This means that we need to look at new models of finding information.

    In the new world order, discovery will be disaggregated from the ILS (Google, Open WorldCat, meta search, others). This makess sense because users typically want to find anything they can on a topic. Now we have to explain that you have to look in different places for articles. People don’t like pain so they want to search in one spot and if they can’t then they won’t use your tool.

    Most ILS lack cool new features and fall behind our expectations and the market doesn’t look great that we’re going to see these things anytime soon.

    Great stuff! Thanks for the “You Are There” blogging.