Re: [ACAT] lj onoine article: Catalog by Design | The User Experience by Aaron Scmidt

Posting to Autocat

On 06/02/2013 18:22, MULLEN Allen wrote:


“Aside from paying very little attention to visual design and not caring about the impact of horrible typography, the big problem with library catalogs is that they are not designed to help people accomplish library tasks. Instead, they’re designed to expose catalog records.”

I agree with this article but will ask: what are the tasks people want to do in a library? Yeah, sure, we all know that everyone wants and needs the FRBR user tasks…

First and most important, I still believe that fewer and fewer people even begin to understand what a catalog is, i.e. a database of summary records that refer to the information they want but does not contain the information that they want. For the public, they see a web page with a box where they can type in some words. It spits out some links (they don’t understand how or why these links pop out at them) and they click on the links. Most of the time they can go directly to the item they want, but in a library catalog the link is broken (in their opinion) and they actually have to stand up and walk to pick up an actual book where they have to use a table of contents and some weird thing called an “index” at the back of the book (which they may not understand any better than the catalog). Can’t copy and paste either. If the book is in the same building where they happen to be, that may be OK, but if they have to go to another building or if they have to order it and wait for a few days, then they’ll just choose something easier to get.

For most people a text box is a text box is a text box. If all text boxes don’t work the same way, then they should. The problem is not with me, it’s with the web page. A library catalog should work like everything else on the web.

Perhaps it hasn’t reached this extreme yet in the minds of the majority of the public, but I think there is a good chance it will in the next decade or two, which should be the time frame everyone should be considering. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way and everyone should understand and appreciate that catalogs are special but that is not the way the world works.