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OPAC Survey

Almost 2 years ago, 729 of you generously took time to fill out a survey about OPACs (archived here). You can find a selection of blog posts about the results here.

I’m pleased to say that a follow-up survey is now being conducted by Bowker and I’d encourage as many of you as possible to fill it in. For every 100 responses, Bowker will donate a gift of schoolbooks to deprived children via the Oxfam Unwrapped scheme :-)

I think in 2007 we managed to gather enough statistical evidence to say “OPACs suck” and it’ll be interesting to see how much has changed in the last couple of years! Quite a few of you were hoping to implement new features in your OPACs …did it happen? …did those features meet your expectations?

opacgraph005

Question 2 – Cutting Edge or Yesterday’s News

Q2b) If “2007” represents a cutting edge OPAC with all the features both you and your users would expect, how far in the past do you feel your current OPAC is?

mode response: 2005
number of respondents: 724

Although the most common response was 2005, the majority (56%) of respondents picked 2002 or earlier.

year vs number of respondents:

If you’ve come to this page via the CILIP Update article, please note that the published article should have been credited to “Dave Pattern, Lynn Stevens, and Lisa Balman”. The article was very much a collaborative effort by all three of us, and I’m deeply indebted to Lynn and Lisa for their help.

I suspect the error in attribution was a genuine oversight by the hardworking staff at Update, and hopefully they’ll be able to include an erratum in the next edition.

OPAC Survey – Final Results

After releasing a large chunk of the results in May and June, I did promise to put together a full report of the findings. Unfortunately, as so often happens, life (and work) got in the way.

So, I’ve decided to try and make things easier for myself by releasing the results for each question separately as individual blog posts (partly inspired by how Meredith Farkas handled the recent “Survey of the Biblioblogosphere”).

This blog post will act as a growing index of links, so you might want to bookmark it!

Links (this section will grow)

Read More

Library and Information Show 2007

I’ve just about recovered from LiS 2007 and hopefully I didn’t cram too much into the 30 minutes I had for my session!

There’s a few photos from the event on Flickr…

lis07_015 lis07_002 lis07_014 lis07_010 lis07_009 lis07_006

OPAC Survey

I think the previous post will be the last batch of graphs unless I uncover something new in the data. Instead, many thanks to my colleague Lisa (Senior Assistant Librarian for Applied Sciences and Computing & Engineering) for sifting through the respondent comments for the common themes.  The full figures will be in the report, but here’s a snifter of the “feature comments”…

The most common wanted feature was federated searching (both electronic resources and other libraries’ holdings), with over 30 responses.

Next up, being able to customise the OPAC (look & feel and adding new features), with over 15 comments.

Relevancy ranking was specifically mentioned by at least 10 respondents, with 9 wanting personal borrowing histories, Amazon style wish lists, and saved session results.

1 respondent wanted to be able to search by colour of cover and another wanted wiki style functionality adding to the OPAC.

For the “final comments” section, here’s a sample…

10 respondents felt that “2.0” style features could be a distraction and that the OPAC should be kept simple. Another 10 said that lack of staff expertise or money was stopping them from being able to make the changes they would like to their OPACs.

However, the most common theme was laying the blame squarely at the feet of the vendors — broken promises, slowness of feature delivery, etc.

Lisa also picked out a handful of the comments that she felt stood out and here’s just 3 of them…

It seems that OPACs are too busy trying to please every customer. They spend too much time developing and not nearly enough time releasing software. The ability of the library to customize the OPAC should be the primary feature. Developing extensive APIs and building in flexibility should be at the top of the list for development. Let librarians develop the specific tools they want or need. Allow librarians to create add-ons and templates and distribute them to other libraries. OPAC vendors need to concentrate on search technology and not the next great feature.

I think we should always keep in mind the key aim of the OPAC is so users can locate/access resources. These new web 2.0 type enhancements can be fantastic, but there is a danger in using them just because we think we should.

We took a risk in 2002 and extensively customized our OPAC outside the confines of vendor support. Our efforts have been extremely successful and it has essentially become our new model for the direction we’re heading in the future. We’ll be doing MORE customization and application development in the future, rather than less. We’re much more likely now to move away from traditional library automation vendors as we consider what comes next.
(Phil Feilmeyer, Hennepin County Library)

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