General information

Cil 2006 – Future of Catalogs

Roy Tennant, California Digital Library
Andrew Pace, North carolina State University (NCSU)

Packed house which was to be expected. It’s like E.F. Hutton when Roy and Andrew speak. (Do you remember that commercial?) And on top of that, everyone has an interest in OPACs – reference librarians, access services librarians, catalog librarians, etc. Lots of energy and opinions in the room.

Roy Tennant
Hoping to kill off the word OPAC. It harkens back to public access as an afterthought.

What catalogs do well:
(I’m just talking about a finding tool)
1. Inventory control
2. Known item searching
3. Location searching(within four walls)

What they don’t do well:
1. Any search beyond known item
2. Searching anything beyond books
3. Displaying results by logical groupings(FRBR) – show complextiy when needed
4. No faceted browsing
5. Relevance Ranking
6. No recommendation services

How did we get here?
Automation began in back room – let’s automate circulation
Moved into public areas as afterthought
Optimized for our own needs

Key Problems:
-conflated management with discovery purposes
-created stovepipe systems (data goes in, but hard to get out)
-abdicataed responsibility to vendors (disempowered)
-slow to expoit new oppostuinities
-collaboration on building software between libaries

-library catalog is finding tool among many
-acknowledege limitations of catalog
-users may want to broaden search outside of library collection

Future of catalogs:
-one system among many (interoperable)
-function well alone
-refocused on local inventory (limit to what is in your building)
-It will not be the central search tool for library

Signs of life:
Bibliographic Services Task Force (UC)
LOC – Changing nature of catalog and integrations with other discovery tools
Open Source PINES consortion –
RedLightGreen – (concepts of FRBR, subjects displayed with first search result)
OCLC Research – Curioser (drill down by publisher, language, date, type)
UC San Marcos – MetaLIB – books by availability (no time limit, 24 hours, 5 to 10 days)

Andrew Pace
NCSU Libraries Catalog

State of catalogs – obsessed with authority searching
NextGen OPAC – visual search, clustered search
NCSU Search results “narrow by” shown on left (Topic, Genre, Format, Language, Region)
*each user link begins to drill down – introducing complexity at the point of need

Pursuit of Features:
-Relevance Ranking
-Faceted Browsing
-spell checking
-Automatic stemming (child brings up children)

Purchase Decision:
-Authority infrastructure underutilized
-lots of broad topical keywords

Technical Overview:
-Endecan ProFind co-exists wiht Sirsi Dynix Unicorn ILS and Web2 online catalog
-Endeca indexes MARC records from Unicorn
-Endeca ProFind software
-Full details at

Did someone say MARC is dead?
-Endeca likes flat file for ingest

Yes, flat files with limited to needed fields. I think it’s great that they are re-thinking MARC. It really opens up some opportunities to repurpose our data.

Endeca Catalog search (
3 search tabs, default to keyword
10 dimensions of MARC data

-Using LCSH like it’s never been used before
-Using LC classification
-Integration with Web2 (the NCSU web
-Creating featuritis (scoping project)

Usabilty Testing:
-around 150,000 searches, a large test group
-most used dimension is LC classification, next used dimension is subject:topic

Future Plans:
-FRBR-ized display
-Patron generated taxonomy?
-Death of authority searching

Andrew mentioned that we need to find a way to get our ILS, ERM, open web, repositiories to play together – this is just a start…

And I have to quote one of his closing lines: “And nobody in that vendor hall can sell you a product that will allow you to get your ILS, ERM, open web, repositiories to play together.” Amen.

It was an informative session and I’ll be taking away some new ideas for digital library applications. Some new maxims:
1. introduce complexity at point of need
2. test basic access points with your users and stick to them across your applications
3. store your data in a readable/writeable format (flat file)
4. prioritize single manifestation of work during first result – let user select type of work later
(Hamlet – the work -> Users select the play, movie, screenplay, etc.)