Panlibus Blog

Stop Putting Lipstick On Pigs

Tate Nunley onTate’s Space is blogging from LITA 2005 National Forum. In his LITA Forum 2005 – Roy Tennant Keynote posting he reports some comments from Roy Tennant, of California Digital Library, which echo many of my thoughts on OPAC design.

We need to stop putting lipstick on pigs. Stop spending time tweaking systems that are broken, limited, outdated. As librarians we spend a lot of time trying to fix systems that are inherently flawed. A good example is the OPAC. Small changes rob time from more profitable activities and we find that we are often going in the completely wrong direction.

Be User focused. Part of the reason that OPAC’s are poor, we apply our standards as professionals to an interface that are used by general population – population that does not have time to learn what we know. Only librarians like to search – everyone else wants to find.

4 Responses

  1. Melanie Keady Says:

    Richard I totally agree as well TOCRoSS is one way forward on this but I also think that the development of a personal PRISM (OPAC) is also another way forward. People set up their own profiles, alerting services, students out on placement can be advised of libraries in the area where the are temporarily based that has resources suitable for their needs. Perhaps the possiblity of linking titles through to review pages e.g. on Amazon. The list is endless of the possibilities that could be included, it just depends upon your imagination.
    I also agree that developers should get out there and talk to the users so that their skills and expertise can be fully utilised to provide what the user wants, something that TALIS is doing.

  2. Judith Edwards Says:

    I get what he says. But until we actually have a wonderful new OPAC or whatever, fully installed and functional in our users’ environments, then the existing systems must be tweaked. We can’t leave users in limbo using poor systems, waiting for the next generation – we have to improve what we already have as a stop-gap. By “we” I probably mean Talis!

  3. Richard Wallis Says:

    By “we” I would hope you would mean Talis plus all of the other suppliers of systems be they local like Talis, or centralised like the European Library as I discussed in my previous posting.

    My feeling is that the next generation, from many suppliers, you are referring to are actually just a tweaked existing systems.

    I totally agree you need to be able to the best with what you have got with the current generation products, but it is those next generation ones that should with the user, not necessarily the Librarian, in mind.

  4. Melanie Keady Says:

    This is why it is important for library staff to get involved with the system suppliers to share experiences, wishlists etc, not just from their point of view but also from their users’ experience, and have a say in what they would like to have developed. Not sit back and wait and hope that somehow as if by magic a system or module will come along and do exactly what you want.If developments aren’t going the way you want then say so, get involved and don’t forget you can also use your user group(s).
    A point does come when tweaking is no longer the answer, work arounds take more time and effort than are justifiable and that is when the new next generation should be ready to take over.

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