Taking the Catalog out of the mix

I’ve been saving a post by Karen Coyle for a while now – wanting to give it a good read. The post was titled The ILS minus the catalog. If you couldn’t tell, I’m spending this morning catching up on blog reading and blog posting ;)

Anyway, back to Karen. This is an interesting post and on that I can relate to both as a librarian and as a developer. Karen mentions that the movement to pull the Catalog out of the ILS seems like a strange move since the ILS was such an amazing feat not too long ago. At the same time she understands the need now that we’re all focusing more on our patrons. In the beginning the systems were built to make librarians’ lives easier – bringing all library functions together under on roof. In that process something had to suffer and unfortunately patron search/research success is not easily measured and as such the OPAC was not focused on as much as it should have been.

All that said, as a developer – who does understand this predicament – I disagree with the way the ILS was designed in the first place – I disagree with the librarians who told their developers that only quantifiable services were important and the other areas were secondary. Whenever I developed an application I always made sure that the librarians I was working with knew that the patrons were my first concern. If that meant that the staff interface was going to be less than ideal – so be it! If it means we have to work harder to make our patrons happy – so be it! That’s what we’re here for – isn’t it? To help the patrons?

I would think that this is more an issue in a public library than an academic or corporate library where there is a captive audience – but that doesn’t mean that academic and corporate librarians get to focus more on themselves. I think we all need to take a good long look at our libraries and the services we provide. Are we really making it as pleasant for the patron as possible?

I know that I’ve been very hard on the proprietary vendors in the past – and while I still have strong feelings on the matter – I think Karen’s post makes it clear that this is not the sole fault of the vendors, but the librarians who initially requested these systems as well. We all know it’s time for a change – and I can’t wait to see what happens.

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