Look Out For the XC OPAC

In the debate about how to redesign the library OPAC for the Age of User Experience, there have been more than a few complaints about the inadequacies of the OPAC , suggestions for eliminating local OPACs altogether, and some initial efforts to make it more effective for library users.

Now there is an addition to the latter category of research into how to make a better OPAC. The folks at the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries, with an expanding reputation for library innovation, have obtained a grant to develop a new system referred to as the XC – the eXtensible Catalog. From the press release.

With a $283,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University will begin planning and requirements analysis activities for a new system known as eXtensible Catalog (XC). XC has the potential to allow future library users at any level of proficiency to get more out of academic library collections and to give academic libraries more control over how best to help people gather information. As envisioned, XC’s simple yet powerful interface will allow users to navigate through comprehensive search results sorted into useful categories that will give them the resources they seek more easily.

I’m in Dayton, Ohio today giving a talk to the folks from the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) about the simplicity-complexity conundrum. One of the issues is how do we create simpler systems without compromising the ability of our resources to connect users with quality information – and to meet the needs of all members of the community, from the new freshman to the advanced scholar. I hope I’ll be able to mention the XC project because it sounds like a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what the OPAC looks like.

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