I don’t want to get into the “OPAC wars” at the moment, but reading reports on various programs, I have to ask:
What’s a “known item”?
I ask that based on the assertion by a number of people that online catalogs are only good for finding known items.
My naive sense is that a known item is one particular entity (or, pace FRBR, a work which may have multiple instantiations), identifiable by a title and, usually, an author of some sort.
In which case, I’ll assert that any decent OPAC is also good for something other than known item searching that matters to quite a few library users:
“What do you have by this author/composer/musical group?”
Maybe that is a known-item question, since it presumes knowledge of the name of the creator. But I don’t think so: The assumption is that there are multiple items, and only the creator’s name is known.
[Incidentally, the question generally is "what do you have that's currently likely to be available to me to walk out with today," not "what exists somewhere in the bibliographic universe." At least that's my public-library-patron assertion. And I do regard "oh, and by the way, so-and-so also writes under these names, and you can click here to see what's available under those names" is a very helpful additional answer, although tossing the other pseudonyms in with the initial result may not be so helpful.]
(I’ll also suggest that many OPACs are pretty decent at “more like this” searching based on hotlinked subjects or even call # browsing, but that would get into the OPAC wars, and I don’t want to go there. Yet.)
So: Do I misunderstand “known item”? Or is the claim of uselessness possibly overstated?