[Web4lib] a mailing list called ngc4lib has been created

Sloan, Bernie bernies at uillinois.edu
Tue Jun 6 23:00:57 EDT 2006

This discussion reminds me of a note I posted to the PACS-L listserv
nearly 14 years ago. In that note I talked about the idea of a post-OPAC
era. Maybe we are finally ready to embrace that concept? :-)

The text of that 1992 posting follows...comments welcomed! :-)

Bernie Sloan

Date:         Tue, 23 Jun 1992 08:46:01 CDT
Reply-To:     Public-Access Computer Systems Forum
Sender:       Public-Access Computer Systems Forum
From:         Public-Access Computer Systems Forum 
Subject:      Post-OPAC Era


From: Bernie Sloan

Subject: The post-OPAC era

I've been following the discussion of "third generation OPACs" with
interest, and thought I might contribute my two-cents-worth.

The idea probably isn't original or novel, but it struck me that perhaps
we might want to start thinking in terms of a post-OPAC age. Many people
have commented on the paradigm shift that will be put in motion by
expanded and enhanced access to electronic information resources. I'm
not sure that we can fully make that shift if we continue to think
(whether consciously or subconsciously) of an information universe that
revolves around the OPAC.
I don't think that anyone would argue too strongly with the contention
that OPACs started out as automated card catalogs. Granted, OPACs were a
vast improvement over manual card catalogs, but they were still an
extension of a manual system that was established to manage or control a
library's in-house resources. OPACs (and their card catalog
predecessors) were not designed to cope with the myriad of networked
electronic resources that people are confronted with today. Should we
try, for example, to force the electronic journal to fit into a format
and way of thinking that were designed for the printed word? 

We all need to start thinking of OPACs as a PART of the solution, rather
than as THE solution. More and more, information will be represented and
presented in ways that were largely not considered when OPACs started to
be developed. Does it really make sense to try to manage access to
images, non-bibliographic data, etc., through the OPAC?

There will always be OPACs (or their equivalents) to help people manage
the flow of information. But efforts in the post-OPAC era should be
aimed at developing gateways to information resources, of which the OPAC
is only a part.

One of the program titles at the upcoming ALA conference is "Images in
the OPAC: a program on how image databases can be mounted as part of the
online catalog". The description for another program notes that the
program "will stimulate discussion regarding the nature of the catalog
as it changes from a tool for finding local holdings to one that
provides the patron a 'one stop information store'". 

It may be semi-iconoclastic, but should we be trying to retool the OPAC
to play a broader role that might perhaps be better filled by developing
gateway technologies (WAIS, Internet gopher, etc)?

Bernie Sloan

-----Original Message-----
From: web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org
[mailto:web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org] On Behalf Of Eric Lease Morgan
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 3:25 PM
To: Web4Lib
Subject: [Web4lib] a mailing list called ngc4lib has been created

A mailing list has been created called NGC4Lib -- Next Generation  
Catalogs for Libraries. See:


NGC4Lib is open to anybody in the world, and its purpose is to  
discuss things including but not limited to:

   * Who are the primary intended audiences for a library's
     "card catalog"?

   * Considering the changing nature of information access in an
     Internet environment, how is an electronic "card catalog" of
     today different from the one designed ten or fifteen years ago?

   * What kind of content should these "card catalogs" contain?

   * To what degree are these things "catalogs" (as in inventory
     lists), and to what degree are they finding aids?

   * To what degree should traditional cataloging practices be
     used in such a thing, or to what degree should new and upcoming
     practices such as FRBR be exploited?

   * How would such a thing get created and by whom?

   * What are some of the functionalities of "next generation"

Mailing list functions

To subscribe send an email message to listserv at listserv.nd.edu, and  
in the body of your message enter "subscribe ngc4lib Your Name" where  
"Your Name" is... your name.

To send a message to the list, send it to ngc4lib at listserv.nd.edu.

To unsubscribe send a message to listserv at listserv.nd.edu, and send  
"unsubscribe ngc4lib".

You can also use this link to manage your subscription:


An archive of the mailing list's postings are available from these  
two URL's:

   1. http://dewey.library.nd.edu/mailing-lists/ngc4lib/archive/
   2. http://listserv.nd.edu/archives/ngc4lib.html

Eric "I Hope Something Doesn't Go Wrong" Morgan
Head, Digital Access and Information Architecture Department
University Libraries of Notre Dame

(574) 631-8604

I'm hiring a Senior Programmer Analyst.
See http://dewey.library.nd.edu/morgan/programmer/.

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