Ok, even though there is a whole lot of controversy going on about library catalogs (thanks, Google, but you are not a library catalog… although you do many other fine things …), I’m going to write about the exciting world of library catalog software. As always, this is just my opinion. 😉
It seems that most libraries have been stuck with out of the box functionality from large software companies/vendors, in many cases, limited functionality which does not even began to mine the sophisication of the MARC formatting. Funny, people think that metadata and keyword indexing is a NEW and great thing, but do they realize how much (meta) data exists in current library catalogs which is no way used or is under utilized, or displayed in a very clunky fashion? Just about every week, I hear a cataloger say, well we’ve always coded field ____ because if the library catalog software can ever use that information, it’s going to be vastly useful (or something to that affect).
Extending the capabilities of existing catalog software (kind of like plugins for blogs, photo galleries, etc.), if the library catalog software will play fair with others, might prove to be a win-win situation for everyone. One such answer to this is Endeca, which is being used by NCSU.
From everything I can see, it is very cool. It gives faceted search results (a kind of tree structure), links to more by this author, as well as a spellcheck (did you mean _____?) all while using pre-existing information in the catalog. Sure, alot of those things are offered by amazon, google, etc. but if you are doing much more beyond either looking for one particular thing or just browsing in general in those commercial products, you will find that results you get are not really adequate.
On another note, and a little more radical is the whole OpenSource thing. I am in love with OpenSource. I know, Blogger isn’t exactly opensource. Anyhow, the opensource movement has finally started tackling the issue of library catalogs. I mean, why should we, pay big bucks to vendors who create software that doesn’t seem to really fit the needs of particular libraries?
Well, the Georgia Public Library System decided rather than replacing their old library catalog software, they would try to build a new one. You can read all about it here:
Very exciting in my book and I hope it is successful. There is much good to come out of largescale collaborative efforts, which is what I really love about opensource. In some ways, it’s kind of for the good of peoplekind, ya know?
Well, that’s what’s cool in the catalog world and no, I still do not want to talk about the insanity that has hit the Library of Congress. Dropping LCSH? No SARs? What the ? Bizarro world?
Anyhow, I do have some links to some responses, etc. but I would check out catalogablog.