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Faceted Search for the OPAC

by David Sturtz

A couple of weeks ago North Carolina State University released a new version of their online public-access catalog (OPAC in library lingo) that uses Endeca’s “guided navigation,” basically faceted browsing and searching (check out the research at Berkeley on this subject). NCSU’s press release, quotes NC State Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Susan K. Nutter:

“The new system — the first of its kind in a library — empowers users to quickly locate the items they’re looking for or to explore the multifaceted research collection in depth, exploiting both the software’s cutting-edge capabilities and the library’s many decades of investment in detailed cataloging and classification.”

This is a huge step forward for OPACs. Many are still disastrous database search forms that don’t easily allow for casual browsing of the collection. Hopefully someone will do a usability comparison between this and other systems.

Ironically, this reminded me of an article, “Making a Web Search Feel Like a Stroll in the Library,” which I posted on in 2004. Apparently we’re overdue in making the library feel like a stroll on the web.

However, as a commenter in a thread somewhere pointed out, they don’t have a lot of facets to use. The primary one is Library of Congress Subject Headings. It would be really interesting to have the ability to tag items and use the resulting folksonomy as a facet. In the university community setting such as this there is already such a commonality of experience that I think a folksonomy would prove quite useful.

(via David Weinberger)

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DavidSturtz.com | March 9, 2006 12:17 AM
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