Monday, July 24, 2006

The Third Assignment

The professor released the third (and final) assignment for my summer class today. The purpose of the assignment “is for students to develop a greater understanding of catalog construction as well as an appreciation of the consequences of catalog design decisions on catalog usability” (from syllabus). We are to identify 10 OPACs via the web - catalogs should represent holdings of relatively large collections (I’m not sure what exactly is meant by a relatively large collection). The 10 should vary in terms of presentation and feature set. After we review the 10, we need to narrow our selection to 3. We need to become familiar with the 3 catalogs and their features. We need to develop a comparative analysis of the chosen catalogs - addressing both general and specific features (testing catalogs with simple searches). Examinations should include search features, hitlist displays and presentation of individual records. The resulting written report should be no more than 10 pages which outline the strengths and weaknesses of the catalogs - commenting specifically on how successful the catalogs were in responding to users’ needs. Include comments on features that enhance or impact (positively or negatively) the user experience. We should also comment on potential improvements that would improve our experience.

Much like the other three assignments, this one is worth 25% of the final overall grade. The worst part is that we haven’t yet received our grades from the first or second assignment. It is so difficult to have any sense of how the class is going. I’m not sure where I stand. I am especially nervous about the paper that was due last week. There was so little direction - no firm guidelines. And at this point, the final exam is less than 2 weeks away. I think I might be panicking!!!!!!!!!

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