Innovative Users Group

2006 January 21
by Karen

I had to decide whether to go to this session at ALA Midwinter or OCLC’s Extreme Makeover. Fortunately, Jane was going to the OCLC session and said she would fill me in. She and I are informally working together to cover sessions at Midwinter and trying hard to debrief each other since there always seem to be multiple sessions at the same time which interest us. Plus Jane has committee meetings to go to.

One of the best things about showing up for a session early is the fact that you get to meet the presenters one on one. I’d sent Casey Bisson an email before Christmas asking him about how to do things with the XML Server. When I saw that he was going to talk at the IUG meeting at Midwinter, I decided that I had to go to the session. I’m hoping that some of the other staff from my library will also show for the session. Particularly since the ILS isn’t part of my job at UH and what I really want to do is integrate pieces of the catalog with the Libraries website.

My notes from Casey’s session ended up being quite extensive so what follows is what I could hurriedly type while he was talking. If you are interested in this stuff check out the presentation on his website or if you are attending Code4Lib 2006 catch the show there.

Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0 – Casey Bisson

More people using the web and the web is playing a great role in their lives. This can be seen in data from the Pew Internet Project, Nielsen/NetRatings and Internet World Stats. People have accepted the Internet as the way of doing business. Challenges

  • Usability
  • Findability
  • Architecture

Usability Challenges

  • strict search algorithms
  • metadata optimized for computer economy, not ease of use
  • driving metaphor: inventory system
  • pretty much the same OPAC as 1976
  • Self Service = Usability
  • our systems are built with high expections for user knowledge, and lead not to ansers but potential paths to answers
  • trend for self service driving user expectations

What to do?

  • take advantage of the greater memory wnad processing power for today’s technology
  • give patrons better information; leverage their ability to iteratively refine their search
  • clusty and NCSU Libraries
  • enrich the catalog display with non-inventory information
    • author bios, reader’s guides, subject information
  • Bring together diverse types of data
  • Findability challenges

    • libraries don’t have a monopology on either knowledge or tools
    • search engines, Amazon
  • users are looking for information and they believe that the Internet is a reliable source
  • Problems with library information and systems

    • many library resources can’t be indexed; some require authentication, others tell search engines explicitly not to index them
    • some resources just aren’t online

    What to do?

    • We need to embrace the internet.
    • we are part of the internet
  • online information is part of everyday life
  • search engines connect information seekers with information
  • make sure indexing is allowed on your online content, eliminate barriers to indexing
  • put that content online, develop new materials online first
  • Put permalink buttons in the OPAC so that users can get back to your stuff
    • AADL and Speakeasy Speed Test
    • put in not only the link but the book jacket and simple metadata (COINS- maybe)
  • enable comments and trackbacks to catalog items
  • encourage bookmarking , social bookmarking, and lists
  • look at tagging and folksonomies
  • Make it– all of it– available via RSS and XML
  • value our users for the value they add
    • Pew online services need to be interactive
  • The ability for people to create dynamic online bibliographies
    use and reuse the data web have
  • Also consider

    • good information architecture and accessibility improve findability
    • most search engines can index Word and PDF files, but HTML is best
    • documents with links contribute to the findability of the linked documents
    • what we link to in our content improves the findability of that item

    For further information check out:

    Architectural Challenges

    • the way in which our systems are organized are holdings us back

    Web services model is the new world

    • application layer seperate from business logic and database
    • can built lots of applications – not only us to building applications
    • allows you to meet changing and growing user needs more easily
    • plugins – ones you build and ones everyone else builds as well

    The remixing of our bibiographic data holds great potential for us!

    • Cut down the number of clicks!
    • reviews, related titles, tags
    • spelling suggestions
    • more flexible results

    Some issues that came up in the Q&A
    Getting over our need to control things

    • like loan schedules and notices

    What should ILS vendors do ASAP

    • Adopt Amazon’s XML schema for bibliographic data
    • reason: the applications written for Amazon now will work on our catalogs

    Also if you want code examples and to see the work in progress check out

    Karen’s Comments

    Casey’s presentation was phenomenal. Going to it got be thinking again about all the stuff I want to be working on. I’ve thought alot about the ideas and concepts that Casey talked about the came to the conclusion that yes it is technically challenging but very possible. The even cooler thing about Casey is that he doesn’t just talk the talk me walks the walk. Check out his blog and look at the way in which he has integrated tagging, Flickr, and pointers to related articles (to name just a few). I need to get off my butt and do some of the same things here on my blog. to make my stuff more findable as well. Additionally, Casey is working on a prototype catalog that uses these things that he said he is going to show at code4lib. I can’t wait to see it!

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