Thursday, March 24, 2011

EBSCO's New OPAC Product

EBSCO IndustriesImage via Wikipedia
Took part in a very interesting presentation as a member of EBSCO's K-12 Advisory Committee. EBSCO has been developing and selling a new product called OPAC. Basically, it uses MARC records from libraries' online catalogs and make them available for search through the EBSCOhost interface. Most of the things the patron can see and do in the regular catalog interface are retained including, most importantly, real-time availability data. Is the item in or out?
Because the interface is a familiar to students who've used EBSCO to search for articles, they won't have to learn a new way of looking at and limiting results.
There are a lot of enhancements beyond just the search and results interfaces though. The library records can be enhanced by Novelist information, there can be dirct links to such portals as Google Books, Good Reads, LibraryThing, and so forth. The records are also enhanced with cover images, links to tables oc contents, and more meta-information.
I was very impressed with what they have been able to do and eagerly await further developments, including pricing.
In the meantime try EBSCO's Integrated Search on the Library's home page (or use the link below) to get a little taste of what might await you in the not too distant future of information access.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Home Access to Library Catalog

Sequoyah with a tablet depicting his writing s...Image via Wikipedia
When we upgraded our library automation software from Circ/Cat+ to Destiny (both made by Follett Software) in 2009 we lost our catalog web server, Web Cat Plus. We had called the catalog Sequoyah, whose picture you see here. The user didn't have to log in separately although there was a separate IP address for at school and at home access.

After we installed Destiny our catalog was only available by logging into a special district page, Current staff and students could log in but it took two logins to get to the catalog from home -- and that was from a separate link on the library home page.

I find that people have a hard enough time when they just have to go through the website. They get frustrated by all these extra clicks.

The District technology team has recently been able to correct this weakness. Now all you have to do is go to <> which opens the district catalogs page. From there you can enter the individual library's web pages or go directly into their catalogs. Redwood, Tam and Tamiscal have uploaded their records to the new software and Drake will be doing so this spring.

I like to share my catalog with other library folks and now anyone can access the catalog from wherever they are in the world. I think of the catalog as my primary point of access to the community and the world, and I catalog everything including all our databases and even some of the web pages on the Library's site so it's extremely important that it's very easily accessible.

If you are a student or staff at Redwood you can take full advantage of the catalog by setting up a personal account. Just click on the link at the upper right of the screen which says "Create Account" and follow the simple directions. Once you've set up an account you can see what you've got checked out, put materials on hold, share your reviews of materials and rate them as well. It's fun. Give it a try!

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