Monday, May 15, 2006

Improving the online catalog

It's fascinating to see how others have been pushing the envelope lately in the realm of public interfaces for online catalogs. For example, the library at the University of Huddersfield (UK) has done some clever things lately. Take a look at this sample item record for a nursing book. Two things really stand out:
  1. "People who borrowed this item, also borrowed" feature
  2. "Floor plans" feature showing shelf location
You may have already heard about the faceted browsing capabilities of the catalog at North Carolina State University, but in case you haven't, take a look at this sample keyword search for "communism". You can read more about how NCSU revamped their catalog on the library's blog post about it.

Finally, the public display of the catalog at the Ann Arbor District Library uses blogging software (in fact, the whole library web site is managed using blogging software). When you view an item record, you can even click a link for "card catalog image" view of the record; try it for the record for Ellen Schrecker's No Ivory Tower. You can even add your own marginalia to the card!

As we acquire new online resources for the library and as we continue to refine the CUNY+ interface, we should keep in mind how other libraries have been retooling and reinventing the look and feel of user interfaces.


Diane said...

Thanks for this post! Does anyone know if CUNY has been thinking (or dreaming) of this?

Stephen Francoeur said...

While we await somebody's reply to Diane's question, I want thank Stewart Bodner for reminding me about another tool, the AquaBrowser, that has been added to a number of catalogs, including the one from Queens Library. Here's a search for "communism" in the Queens Library catalog that shows how AquaBrowser does faceted navigation (on the right side of the screen) and how it suggests related terms (on the left).

Stephen Francoeur said...

Even more envelope pushing: check out the eXtensible Catalog project that is being done at the University of Rochester.

Stephen Francoeur said...

Check out the innovative features hacked into the catalog at the New Jersey Institute of Technology! On the item record for
Architecture in the United States, 1800-1850 / W. Barksdale Maynard
, you'll see:

- table of contents
- cover art
- a durable URL for linking
- link to post it to your account
- usage stats!!!
- links to see if item is held at Rutgers or at UMDNJ
- 3 highest ranked reviews from

You can read more about this by checking out NJIT librarian Jim Robertson's PowerPoint presentation.