Some serious questions about the role of libraries and the functionality — or lack of functionality — of library online public access catalogs (OPACs) are in the news lately. These questions fit in well with the recent release of the new Government Printing Office online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).
The announcement (Enhanced version of the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)/OPAC now available by John S. Dowgiallo, 9 Mar 2006) and subsequent discussion on the govdoc-l mailing list (see various entries in March and April 2006) focused largely on the acceptable functionality of an OPAC rather than the needs and expectations of users in the age of Google and other Internet search engines.
A broader range of discussion of the place and functionality of OPACs can be found in the following recent articles:
- How OPACs Suck, Part 1: Relevance Rank (Or the Lack of It), by Karen G. Schneider, 03/13/2006, ALA TechSource.
- How OPACs Suck, Part 2: The Checklist of Shame by Karen G. Schneider, 04/03/2006. ALA TechSource.
- The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. Prepared for the Library of Congress by Karen Calhoun.
- A Critical Review [of the above report] (PDF) by Thomas Mann. April 3, 2006, Prepared for AFSCME 2910 The Library of Congress Professional Guild
- The Future of the Catalog, [comments on the above report and review] April 10, 2006, Catalogablog.