Towards a modern, functional OPAC
Aaron Schmidt has used quite a few library OPACs. He's also used and sought out the best of the open web. You’ve probably done the same and like him, you’ve probably been dismayed at the disparity between the two worlds. The open web can be fun and inspiring. Would you say the same of our OPACs? He's thought about what OPACs should be like in bits and pieces and decided to assemble them here.
Besides all of the small, simple usability enhancements OPACs need (listed way below) a big concern about library websites and OPACs is the distracting transition between the two. You know the routine. Ubiquitous “Click here to search the catalog” links take users from one place to another and create a disjointed experience.
One way to provide a seamless experience is to put some OPAC functions into the website, letting people accomplish OPAC tasks without having to leave the library website. In Aaron's dream OPAC this go-between is essentially an ecommerce shopping basket but called a backpack or bookshelf in this instance. Just like on amazon.com, when logged in, a patron’s library backpack appears on every library webpage, whether it be the homepage, a book list, or the results list of a search. Any item cover on the website can be dragged and dropped into users’ backpack/bookshelf.