A User's-eye View of the OPAC



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The Public Access Computer Systems Review


My academic library is in the market for a new integrated library system. As part of this process we've done all the usual things, including drawing up wish lists of desirable OPAC features and using them to evaluate numerous systems. We've also taken two far more interesting steps. First, we actually asked the faculty what they thought were important features to have in an online catalog. (This was suggested by a faculty member.) Second, on three separate occasions we set up "demonstration stations"--terminals in the library connected to two or more of the systems under consideration--for hands-on use by faculty and students. Some of the systems were graphical, some character based. In some cases, we showed two versions of the same system. We provided comment sheets for signed or anonymous remarks, and staff were available nearby to give help or take reactions. We got a lot of input. The results probably won't be turned into a major motion picture anytime soon, but they aren't without interest either. Here are several lessons I've drawn from this experience. And no, I'm not naming names; if you think you can identify a sinning or virtuous system, keep it to yourself.




Caplan, Priscilla. "A User's-eye View of the OPAC." The PublicAccess Computer Systems Review 5, no. 7 (1994): 28-33. To retrieve this file, use the following URL: gopher:// info.lib.uh.edu:70/00/articles/e-journals/uhlibrary/pacsreview/ v5/n7/caplan.5n7.