[WEB4LIB] The OPAC as Portal - Not!

Tony Barry me at Tony-Barry.emu.id.au
Fri Oct 22 01:26:14 EDT 1999

At 12:23 PM -0400 21/10/99, Eric Hellman wrote:

>metooism nonetheless. I think that the way libraries should be thinking of
>themselves in the age of the internet is as "information plug-ins".

Agree but they should take advantage of better communication with their
users to enhanse the services they can give them particularly in an
interactive way. Instead of a "We are the library, you are a user"
philosophy we should be looking at ways that the user community can share
and add information- such as online reviews and comments on the material
offered by the library.

>*incorporated into* Amazon. I'd like to see a link to the user's library
>webOPAC on the Amazon page! In a year or two this will be a reality. (Of
>course, emulating Amazon's creativity and quality of execution is something
>we should do.)

Amazon would do that in a flash if the libarry offered services which were
attractive and made Amazons site get more users. Are libraries attractive
though? Can we make them more so?  Amazon is in the market place. Libraries
have not been.

>1. Private and public libraries are not and will never be the exclusive or
>even primary sources of information for the vast majority of users. They
>tend to be specialized, deep, rich information resources serving smaller
>groups of users.

Yes but can they be enhanced with more user involvement?

>2. Portals like Yahoo and Amazon do a rather good job at what they do,
>which covers a lot of  territory that traditionally belonged to libraries.
>They spend a lot of money doing it. It doesn't make sense to duplicate the
>services they provide. If you can't beat'em, join 'em.

Right. Add links from the catalogue to services the user community wants
rather than them having to navigate through the service to find them. The
library should be a gateway to information sources which the user community
wants not just a list of books.

>3. Because of the internet, libraries have to delocalize and interoperate.
>For example, why should a librarian in Iowa organize a collection of
>electronic resources on "Technology in Sung Dynasty China" or "Black Women
>Writers of the 1930's" if someone in New York is doing it?

A clear case for cooperation. If somebody else is doing it help them by
suggesting additions to the service. Don't duplicate.

>Would anyone
>want a Sung Dynasty Technology "portal" on the web?

Libraries which speialise in East Asian studies or the history of science.

>4. The "portal" paradigm emphasizes the transition between one information
>environment and another one. Library users have too many information
>environments already; they want everything to just be the web.

Agree. Thats what the portal idea is doing. The web should be the standard
interface as I said at the 1997 Online & Ondisk conference

>http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october99/van_de_sompel/10van_de_sompel.html .
>What you should get from this article is that linking in and to libraries
>isn't a pie-in-the-sky thing.

Agree. It's the obvious way to go. See my experiment with library serials
at <http://ningaui.anu.edu.au:591/libser/serials_experiment.htm>


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