My take on the ILS vendors

I’ve been reading the recent conversation on ILS vendors by Blyberg.net, Librarian in Black and Family Man Librarian.  I think they are right about trying to get the OPAC more customizable.  The other day I spent 1 1/2hrs trying to change three links on the library home page.  I’d love to make some smaller fiddly edits, but this was to make sure that the link that said Library Home actually went to the library home page after a general site redesign.  That’s not a frill, and it shouldn’t take a phone call to tech support to find the documentation on how to do it.  Anyway.

All of this conversation about catalogs got me thinking.  I’m willing to learn whatever it takes to make it work on the back end, but we need it to be better on the front end.  One of the problems I see frequently here is a lack of understanding of the ways that you would find journals vs. books.  At my library we don’t catalog journals, so it’s not a simple catalog search.  We use Serials Solutions as a journal linker, and that’s pretty helpful but patrons don’t understand the difference between the article title and periodical title.

Why are our catalogs so cluttered?  We offer a thousand different things, but users don’t know what they are and don’t care.  Why can’t everything be searched by keyword, which would give you a list of results including book and article titles, journal names and subject headings?  Internet users today are good at screening out what isn’t valuable, and good at navigating through a series of links to find what they want, but they don’t know or care that subject headings will help them.  How much of our operation can we move to the back end?  Would this mean less respect for library services?  Why can’t we customize our OPACs to do this currently?  Maybe some of us can, but I’m still trying to learn some of the basics of being a systems librarian.  And why is this so difficult when the technology is there and we’re paying so much for it already?

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February 28, 2006. Uncategorized.

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