Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


I'm Sorry, OPAC

I came to the stunning realization that I may not hate the OPAC after all.

I read Peter's post at Library Garden about the OPAC, and saw my response was more about the content of the OPAC, not the OPAC itself. And then I saw this OPAC Survey that asked questions about what your OPAC has and doesn't have, what you would want in an OPAC and not want.

And I realized... I may not hate the OPAC after all. That my issues are with the content of the records in the OPAC.

It's like this: imagine if I kept saying "I hate TV" and was thinking about game shows or other programs, and all the "I hate TV" posts were about high definition TV, better clickers, TiVo, and new ways to adjust the volume so that the background music isn't louder than the dialogue.

In other words -- all the solutions were about the actual television set. When what I'd really been saying is "these shows that are on TV, they aren't good, they could be better." And the question is more about the quality of the TV shows being shown. A new clicker doesn't change that the TV shows are the same old, same old.

So that's what I want: not a better techie OPAC (tho dude, that would be cool!) but better content in existing OPACs.

Better cataloging; more terms being used that are user friendly; more information about items (how sad is a book whose record is solely "women--fiction"). I realized that the OPACs I like are the ones that via tagging and comments allow users (staff and patrons) to work around existing cataloging. Seriously, why should we wait for users to tag entries "manga" instead of "graphic novels -- Japanese"?

And I'm not saying getting rid of Dewey or LOC; in part because I think a core group of defined words and subjects is important. If anything, I'm saying we should have more catalogers, and catalogers who know how patrons think. But these can be used better than they are being used now; and can be combined with more customer-friendly tags and full descriptions of text. The content of the record should be such that when an average user puts in a search, they find what they are looking for because the item has been catalogued (and tagged etc.). In other words, they find what they want because the content is there to be found.



  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger plentyo'moxie said…

    i totally get you (though i hate the opac itself, too - i mean, come on opac, help me if i make a spelling mistake! and find the keyword in the title!) and do what I can to get to the goal of better data. I don't let a record go in that I don't add something to it - whether its the inside flap copy, the word manga (always), a bunch of other non-sanctioned 'subjects' in the local fields - whatever I can do. I def am a slower cataloger because of it, but I figure what I'm losing in minutes I am adding to the actual usability of the book - ie, if I have a back log of books that should be on the shelves if I were faster at cataloging it isn't any worse than if I have all my books cataloged and on the shelf but their records are so lame no one finds them - and in the long run it's way better.


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