Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Main Reason I think OPACs are a Problem

Adding the discussion about why OPACs suck, Jane from A Wandering Eyre elaborated on her belief that her OPAC sucks with some solid reasons why (in a post entitled Actual Reasons Why My OPAC Sucks). All of her reasons are right on the money. I would have to add that the Main Reason I Think OPACs are a Problem is simply because it isn’t clear to most users what they are designed to do. We certainly point them to the catalog to find hard copies of materials, but users do not come into the library understanding how this works.

The function of OPACs is not clear to average library users.

Anyway, I like this part of the “Sucky OPAC” debate the best. In order to find ways to improve our systems (or build better ones), we have to have a solid idea of what we need (or at the very least what we need to get rid of). We can’t fully predict what funtionality would make our users think more often of using library systems. For many of us, it is apparent that we need to do something in order to provide better service to our patrons.

The theoretical debates about OPACs are somewhat centered around the perfect system to replace OPACs. However, I think that we need to be seriously thinking about what we can do to improve the situation with our current systems. My OPAC is not going away, so I need to try and figure out creative ways of working with it to provide better service here and now.

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