Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Next Generation Library Interfaces

Marshall Breeding, Director for Innovative Technologies and Research, Vanderbilt University

(PPT presentation link)

Our current interfaces to library resources are too varied, too confusing for average end user. Breeding thinks that it is too much to expect of the end user to understand the difference between the different types of resources the library now has to offer, and the varied ways that one must use to access these resources. Example: A student will need to navigate resources through the catalog, internet, and databases, and understand the differences between the three, including how to access them. The user needs a library card for some and not others, and this is confusing.

We need to integrate the catalog (and other electronic resources) so that users only have to use one access point, one log-in. Libraries also need to enhance searching, navigation, provide tools to refine searches and results for the average user. Search should be more intuitive, like e-commerce, so they don't need to be concerned with how the interface works, or use different behaviors to access these different resources. Let the interface do all the work seamlessly behind the scenes.

Breeding's position is that librarieies should model ourselves after the commercial world by making our information systems more intuitive, graphic, and integrated. Commercial sites' goal is to get the customer's credit car number; get them to buy. Our ultimate goal should be to get the information into the customers hands, rather than train them to get to the varied resources. That's our job.

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