A "Next generation" library catalog – Executive summary (Part #1 of 5)

This is the Executive summary of a text outlining an idea for a “next generation” library catalog. In two sentences, this catalog is not really an catalog at all but more like a tool designed to make it easier for students to learn, teachers to instruct, and scholars to do research. It provides its intended audience with a more effective means for finding and using data and information.

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Executive summary

People’s expectations regarding search and access to information have dramatically changed with the advent of the Internet. Library online public access catalogs (OPAC’s) have not kept up with these changes. The proposed “next generation” library catalog is an attempt to address this phenomenon. It’s design less like a “catalog” — an inventory list — and more like a finding aid. It contains data as well as metadata, and it is bent on doing things with found items beyond listing and providing access to them. It is built using open standards, open source software, and open content in an effort to increase interoperability, modularity, and advocate the free sharing of ideas.

Technically speaking, this “next generation” library catalog is a database/index combination. The database is made up of XML files of various types: MODS, TEI, EAD, etc. The index is a full-text index supplemented with XML-specific elements as well as Dublin Core names. End-user access to the system will be through a number of searchable/browsable interfaces facilitated by SRW/U. Services against individual items from the interfaces (such as borrow, download, review, etc.) will be facilitated via OpenURL.

The implementation of this “next generation” library catalog is divided into a seven-step process:

  1. Allocate resources
  2. Answer questions regarding information architecture
  3. Conduct surveys, focus group interviews, and usability studies
  4. Create/maintain the “next generation” library catalog
  5. On a daily basis go to Step #4
  6. On a quarterly basis go to Step #3
  7. On an annual basis go to Step #1