Yesterday I had an interesting chat with my sister about library catalogs. We were talking about the post I made regarding IM & SMS and whether librarians should skip over IM and move on to SMS? I told her about the fact that card catalogs are still being used and she replied with “Well, I’d rather use a card catalog, it was much easier to find things that way.” This from my younger sister! We all keep assuming that the younger generation wants technology – but here’s one person who’d rather use the cards than deal with the library OPAC. I asked her why.
She said that the OPAC (my word, not hers) is very intimidating (I opened up a Voyager example and we did a little keyword search and it proved her point … there were too many results, none of which seemed to match her initial intent). Instead of upsetting me, this actually got me a little excited.
I decided to show her a Koha example and see what her opinion was. We did the same search on the Athens County Public Library site and found the perfect result come up as the first result (yes, we did the same search). “So, is this better?” I asked. “Yes, much” she replied. She found that the Koha interface was familiar and friendly, less intimidating. She also said that she feels that the younger generation is less likely to learn what’s old (in her case – card catalogs are the way she learned – so while they’re old they don’t count in this argument) and more likely to stick with what’s new and hip and familiar – in this case the Koha search results reminded her of Amazon and made it easier for her to find what she was looking for without being overwhelmed.
I need to add here that my “younger” sister is only 2.5 years younger than I am – we’re not talking about a teenager here – but we are talking to someone who finished her undergraduate last year and was very recently surrounded by the next generation of library researchers.
I love my job – I love getting to go out and talk to librarians about what’s new and available for libraries – but I also love talking to the non-librarians to see what they want and expect from their libraries – this was a great chance for me to talk to someone about libraries who doesn’t actually work in a library. I think I’ll try to do this more often