Connecticut’s Darien Library on June 1 debuted its new online catalog system, SOPAC3, along with a mobile-friendly responsive design website that integrates seamlessly with the new catalog. Features include linked accounts, allowing parents to see what their children have checked out without a separate login, patron control over checkout histories and “wish lists” of items from the catalog stored with their profile, the ability to register and RSVP for library events from their profile screen, and full integration with the Envisionware eCommerce system used by Darien. Eventually, the library plans to release the source code for the entire suite, making it available for free to other interested libraries.
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.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is totally backward—prioritizing the collection, not people, results in a user-hostile interaction design and a poor user experience.
Imagine the reverse: a tool that prioritizes helping people accomplish their tasks, whereby bibliographic data exists quietly in the background and is exposed only when useful.