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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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Next Generation Library Catalogs

Of all the aspects of libary automation that I follow, I can think of none more important than the efforts underway to create new library interfaces to supplement or replace the OPACs that have been much reviled of late.

One of my major writing projects his year was the July / August 2007 issue of Library Technology Reports on “Next Generation Library Catalogs.” In this 40-page report, I attempt to present a general picture of this emerging genre of products that aim to provide libraries with better tools for delivering their content and services to their users. These new products have a lot in common such as relevancy ranked results, faceted navigation, and improved visual appeal. More importantly, many of them expand the scope of search to include content outside of the ILS and are beginning to incorporate features to more seamlessly deliver content to library users.

Next Generation Library Catalogs

A description of this LTR issue is available at ALA TechSource with information on how to get a copy.

The report covers the major products available commercially, including AquaBrowser Library created by Medialab Solutions and marketed by The Library Corporation, Encore from Innovative Interfaces, Primo from Ex Libris, catalogs based on Endeca search products, and WorldCat Local. I also describe how The LibraryThing for Libraries brings in tagging features in to an existing library catalog. A few of the ILS online catalogs include some of the features associated with next-gen catalogs, including Polaris, Evergreen, and Koha.

At the time that I was doing the research for this issue, neither Encore or Primo were in general release. These chapters were based on preview versions. To be sure that I wasn't writing about vaporware, I was careful to base my observations on live, fully-populated systems running in libraries.

I fully expect more options to emerge over time beyond those covered in this LTR issue. I wasn't able able to include VUfind, a next-generation interface developed by Villanova University, since it was not available before the issue went to press.

The treatment of each of the products wasn't meant to be a detailed critical review, but rather a descriptive presentation of their general features and capabilities. I hope to spark the interest of readers and show that there are options available now that libraries can implement to give their users a much better way to access library content and services than was possible with the previous generation of OPACs.

Sarah Houghton-Jan offers some kind words about the report on her LibrarianInBlack blog.

Michael Stephens mentions the report, along with a photo, on Tame The Web.

This marks the sixth issue that I've written for Library Technology Reports. Other topics I've covered include Web Services and the Service-Oriented Architecture (May/June 2006), Wireless Networks in Libraries (September / October 2005), Integrated library software: a guide to multiuser, multifunction systems (February 2004), Strategies for Measuring and Implementing E-Use (May / June 2002), and Security Strategies for Library Networks (Spring 2001).

Sep 14, 2007 14:34:11
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