Can the OPAC Be Fun?

On Wednesday afternoon, Tim Spalding of LibraryThing said that today’s OPACs focus on three things: usability, searchability, and findability. But what about "funability"? Why can’t it be fun to use the OPAC? Tim mentioned a number of things librarians could do to help change that… But is it just wishful thinking?

Then copresenter Roy Tennant took the podium and started his talk by saying that he refused to use "the O word" (OPAC). So he’d titled his portion of the presentation "Catalogs for the Future" and followed it with a slide that exclaimed, "Future? What future? Catalogs ain’t got no stinking future!" He feels that today’s OPA–oops, I mean, catalogs–belong in libraries’ back rooms, not out front for "live human beings" to use. For the patrons out front, Roy would rather have something that does better faceted browsing and delivers better search results that include all formats of information that the library has. He’s into "exposing the richness of records we’ve created painfully over the last 40 years." Georgia PINES is the best thing yet in that regard, Roy said.

For more discussion on this topic, keep an eye on CIL magazine this fall for the theme issue on the Next Generation of OPACs and ILSs.

~Kathy Dempsey, CIL Editor in Chief

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