Andrew Pace's Top Tech Trends

It’s simply not enough to be known for proliferating the word “sucks” in describing library systems (my mother would be so proud). Thank you Roy and Karen for “spreading the word.” I will spend the next six months attempting to elevate mixing metaphors to an art form. On that note, here is a brief summary of my four-legged stool and what it leaves in its wake:

The dis-integrated library system has four parts

  • OPAC. Yes, it still sucks. Libraries need to build better access to online catalog holdings. NCSU Libraries is working with Endeca’s Guided Navigation to experiment with more relevant keyword search results and faceted browsing of results. Take a look at these searches at Indigo Books or Walmart for examples of their technology at work.
  • Electronic Resource Management. I would have liked to rename this serials and electronic resource management, but it’s hard to saddle a horse at a full gallup. Nevertheless, it’s imperative that these resources be managed with something other than the traditional integrated library system, and something more than an A-Z e-journal service. Check out NCSU’s new public E-Matrix site.
  • Digital Repositories. Nuf said. We’re building them like mad. Tons of content. Little controlled access.
  • Metasearch. Something for all that content. I probably should have made a three-legged stool and made metasearch the seat. NISO Metasearch is almost there.

I think if we can figure these things out, two great things will happen. First, libraries will be able to concentrate more on content. Technologists will always have new toys, so let’s finish building the ones that will allow libraries to do simple things well. Second, it will allow us to move beyond the simplicity (simple, not simplistic) of search and retrieval and begin the work of presenting resources within different user contexts–geographic, demographic, whateveric. This is not that new, but I think it a distraction at times to talk about learning objects, context mangement, and folksonomies when we haven’t really mastered simple search and retrieval yet. If we can build the basics well, eventually we’ll give our stool a back and a seat cushion.