Archive for the 'Books and publishing' Category

Making Book 18. Successful Social Networking in Libraries

Posted in Books and publishing on December 9th, 2013

This book has been a voyage of discovery—one that began with a loose agenda and ended with a greater appreciation for the sheer diversity of America’s public libraries and the extent to which small libraries are the centers of their communities.

The loose agenda was not a set of theses and prescriptions for what constitutes successful social networking and whether public libraries were doing it right. Instead, I set out to see what was happening: how prevalent library social networking actually is and whether it seems to be reaching an audience.

Thus begins the preface for this, the most recent of my professionally-published library books (as of now: #19 should, Gaia willing, the creeks don’t rise and a certain government agency gets the data out, appear sometime in 2014).

I proposed the project to ALA Editions in early 2011, with the assumption that librarians are intelligent and generally sensible people who know what they’re doing. Since social network activity would not be a long-established service that might be difficult to shut down, they wouldn’t be maintaining Facebook pages or tweeting unless those efforts were reasonably successful as that library defines success.

I also disbelieved assertions I’d seen, as early as late 2010, that all or almost all public libraries already had Facebook pages. That struck me as implausible—but also easy to investigate. If I checked 200 libraries and 180 or more of them were visible on Facebook, then I was wrong or the sample was biased.

I started out with a two-state project (which immediately convinced me that I was not wrong in doubting the universality of library Facebook involvement); it grew by stages until it eventually involved 38 states and nearly 6,000 libraries. (At the time, my choice of states was partly limited by the lack of an Excel version of IMLS’ public library datasets; I found out after the survey was complete that Excel could, in fact, open the Access version. Since then, IMLS has begun releasing the datasets in Excel and CSV forms, making it even easier. Still: 6,000 libraries was a lot of work; going from 38 states and 6,000 libraries to 51 states & DC and more than 9,000 libraries would be more work than I signed on for.)

I investigated social networking activity the hard way: I looked. And in 2011, you could find out quite a bit about Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, including information that’s no longer as readily available. I was able to document the number of followers or likes, the total number of tweets and, by examination, the typical rate of tweeting, Facebook updating, and comments for a given library.

I also got some great comments from a number of public librarians regarding aspects of social networking, and used some of those comments in the book.

The investigation was a lot of work—possibly more than I’ve done for any other book. I think it was worth it.

The book itself is a combination of commentary, tabular results, graphs, quoted tweets, updates and comments, and advice. For various reasons, there was some delay in the book’s final appearance, but it’s out now, and I believe it’s still relevant. I also continue to believe that each library needs to determine what constitutes success—that for an outsider to declare a library’s social networking activity to be useless is simply inappropriate. But that’s another discussion.

Crawford, Walt. Successful Social Networking in Public Libraries. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8389-1167-9 (pbk.)

So: That’s it. Unless I offer similar comments about the self-published books I’ve done…

Making Book 17. The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing

Posted in Books and publishing on December 6th, 2013

This book is especially close to my heart, and it’s also one that’s given me some difficulty.

The difficulty isn’t with the publisher: Information Today, Inc. has been great throughout the process, beginning with accepting the idea and including the process of working with ITI’s designer to come up with a mutually-agreeable professional-quality Word book template that we could use without modification for the book itself and also make available to anybody else to download for free.

The difficulty isn’t with the quality of the book. I believe it’s first-rate (and was improved by ITI’s three layers of editing—one of the rare cases where I’m acutely aware of editorial changes, because the way we did this, I had to approve each one: the proposed changes were sticky notes in the PDF of the book).

The difficulty isn’t with the need for the book. I am 99% certain that 99% of America’s public libraries serve patrons who want to put some story into book form, even though they know it can’t sell hundreds of copies—whether that story is family genealogy (which alone would probably account for millions of such stories), family history, local history or a specialized interest. Lulu (and CreateSpace) make it possible to do that with no upfront costs; this book provides the tools to do it well with no upfront costs. (I’ve heard people swear that certain books done using these tools and templates were done by professionals. In the particular cases, yes, they were done by a professional, but a retired professional librarian, not a publishing professional.)

Nope. The difficulty is that the book hasn’t done nearly as well as it should.

Just as I believe every academic library (other than the most specialized) should own a copy of Open Access: What You Need to Know Now (WorldCat currently lsits 914 libraries owning it, so that’s a start), I believe every public library (and many academic libraries) should own a copy of this book to serve their patrons and community…but, so far, WorldCat only shows 433 copies.

ITI did a fine job of promoting the book, as far as I can tell.

Why have so few libraries picked it up? Well, it’s not dirt-cheap, but I wonder whether there’s also a fair amount of “we don’t want any part of this self-publishing crapola” going on? After all, if a library provides the tools to produce attractive, well-laid-out print-on-demand books, won’t there be some requests for them to have some of those books?

Maybe that’s not it. Maybe the penetration will grow over time. I hope so—not so much for the royalties as because I think this is a tool that really and truly will make a library more central to its community, and help to see the community’s stories told in durable form. Both of which I think are very good things.

In case you didn’t already know: although this book has a professionally-designed cover and the paperback version was offset-printed and bound by ITI, the contents (except for the title pages, provided as a PDF by ITI) were entirely generated using the tools and templates described in the book: Microsoft Word 2010, output to PDF. In fact, the casewrap hardcover version is fulfilled by Lulu, using the production methods described in the book.

Crawford, Walt. The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing: Helping Patrons and Communities Use Free and Low-Cost Publishing Tools to Tell Their Stories. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2012. ISBN 978-1-57387-430-4 (pbk.), 978-1-57387-451-9 (casewrap)

30% off Cites & Insights Books–through 12/9

Posted in Books and publishing on December 6th, 2013

NOTE: It now appears that the #decktheshelf 30% off sale runs through Tuesday, December 9.


Lulu’s announced a site-wide 30%-off sale–apparently through Tuesday, December 9, 2013

Use coupon code


A thirty-percent discount is extraordinary–it’s the biggest discount I’ve seen.

If you’ve thought about any of my books–the C&I annuals, The Big Deal, etc.–or, for that matter, have yet to get Laura Crossett’s Night Sweats (from Lulu)–this is the day to act.

My store’s here, or you can just go to and search for what you want. (You can reach any other books beginning at my store, of course.)

Come to think of it: If you or your library doesn’t yet own The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, or wants it as a casewrap hardcover, today is your day: the 30% sale applies to that as well (via Lulu–the only way you can get the hardcover version).

[Note: If you're concerned about Laura's share, or mine, or ITI's on TLGTM: don't be. These sales don't affect net revenue. I love love love it when Lulu does sales like this.]

Making Book 16: Open Access

Posted in Books and publishing on December 4th, 2013

For many years, I wrote about open access—even before such a term existed—but as an observer and participant, not really an advocate. Peter Suber called me an OA independent, and that was as good a term as any.

For some years, I more-or-less gave up on OA: too many people were writing about it, too many folks were taking extreme stances and blathering interminably if you didn’t agree with them 100%, it just got tiresome. And, as a non-scientist, I didn’t think I was doing much good. (As a library person—not a librarian—I also recognized that librarians have been discussing and promoting OA for years, generally being ignored by scientists and dissed by some self-appointed OA Leaders, Suber definitely not one of those dissing librarians.) Indeed, I self-published a collection of all the pieces I’d written through 2009 because I didn’t expect to write much more. (That collection is still available—free in PDF form, $17.50 for the 513-page paperback.)

In fact, I wrote almost nothing about Open Access in Cites & Insights in 2010, 2011 or the first 10 months of 2012. (2013 was an entirely different story: I could produce a reasonably fat paperback with OA-related material from December 2012 through 2013.)

But it also became clearer and clearer that many librarians (and others) didn’t understand OA—not surprisingly, given the sheer amount of disinformation produced by some publishers and one or two absurd blogs and the steeply variant views of some supporters.

So I worked to remedy that—and found ALA Editions amenable to the idea, as one in their occasional “Special Reports” series. These fairly brief books are written fairly quickly and edited fairly quickly: the book was available three months after completion. I believe Open Access: What You Need to Know Now continues to serve as a fine introduction to OA in plain language with a library orientation.

Since then, Peter Suber—who, along with Charles W. Bailey, Jr. and Dorothea Salo, was kind enough to read the draft and provide an excellent blurb for—has published Open Access through MIT Press (now available as an OA ebook). I regard the two books as complementary, as do some reviewers.

I’m proud of this book. I won’t comment here on my feelings about some Amazon “reviewers.” The book hasn’t been a best-seller, but it has earned out its advance (I’m getting small royalties from it), so it’s also not a failure.

Crawford, Walt. Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8389-1106-8 (pbk.)

Making Book 15: Policy and Library Technology

Posted in Books and publishing on December 2nd, 2013

Technically, this one isn’t a book (and it doesn’t appear in the book section of my vita)—but in terms of effort, reward and readership, it should probably count as a book. Instead, it’s an issue of Library Technology Reports, a periodical (also sold as single editions) from ALA TechSource.

I believe this is the last book (or booklike thing) I wrote while still at RLG. I believe this came about after some conversations with Patrick Hogan.

Library Technology Reports are relatively short and have a fairly standard format. Each one (I believe) has a single topic and a single author.

The issue has seven chapters of roughly equal length:

  • Thinking in Policy Terms
  • The Copyright Spectrum
  • Technology, Privacy, Confidentiality and Security
  • Policy Prerequisites and Technology Limitations
  • Policy, Technology, and the Digital Corpus
  • Library Policies and Social Policy Issues
  • Sources and Resourcs

I was pretty happy with this one, and it was the last traditionally-published monograph I had for six years.

Crawford, Walt. “Policy and Library Technology.” Library Technology Reports 41:2 (March/April 2005), pp. 1-63. ISSN 0024-2586.

Making Book 14. First Have Something to Say

Posted in Books and publishing on November 29th, 2013

Four years between Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality and Being Analog. Four years between Being Analog and First Have Something to Say. Sort of a slowdown from the 11-books-in-9-years pace before those books, and that was probably a good thing.

In the 1999-2003 period, I was doing lots of other things. How much? Well, you could look at my vita:

  • In 1999, I had four articles published in American Libraries, two articles and three columns in ONLINE, eleven “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in Database (first half of the year) and its successor, EContent (second half of the year), along with an ITAL article and one in Media Spectrum.
  • In 2000, I had three articles and guest-edited a section in American Libraries (I guest-edited and wrote the introduction for a theme section on the future of ILL, which strikes me as mysterious even now), did one article and three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, six “CD-ROM Corner” columns in EContent, the last ten “Crawford’s Corner” sections in Library Hi Tech News—and the first issue of Cites & Insights. There were also a handful of pieces in other publications, including a guest editorial in ITAL.
  • In 2001, I had six articles (three with a running title) in American Libraries, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, ten “disContent” columns in EContent, and thirteen issues of Cites & Insights.
  • In 2002, I actually had a column in American Libraries, with eleven columns published that year—along with a dozen “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE, fifteen issues of Cites & Insights and a couple of other things.
  • And in 2003, I had eleven “The Crawford Files” columns in American Libraries, eleven “disContent” columns in EContent, three “PC Monitor” columns in ONLINE and 14 issues of Cites & Insights.

2003 and 2004 were the peak of my column writing, I believe: the American Libraries ended in November 2004 after reader surveys and other editorial decisions.

Somewhere in there, I wrote this book, subtitled “Writing for the Library Profession.” Portions of it were based on American Libraries articles and, in one case, on a “disContent” column. It’s shorter than most of my earlier books (141 6″ x 9″ pages) and I believe it’s one of my best-written and most useful. If you haven’t read it, you should: I believe it’s still in print.

One indirect effect of doing this book: I did not do camera-ready copy (or prepare a PDF), partly because I’d given up on Ventura Publisher (the Corel-owned Windows version was unstable, in one case nearly preventing me from finishing a project) and Dianne Rooney didn’t feel that MSWord (at the time) offered sufficiently high-quality typography. Her choices for the book were Berkeley Book for the text and Benguiat for the headings. I was delighted with the results—so delighted that I eventually paid for a license to download and use Berkeley and Berkeley Book, which were neither among the typefaces that used to come with MSOffice or Windows or on the brilliant 500-typeface Bitstream CD-ROM that used to ship with Corel Ventura Publisher. It was money well spent; Berkeley and Berkeley Book are among the best serif typefaces I’ve ever seen, and I continue to use them for Cites & Insights (now Berkeley—Berkeley Book was a little light for C&I) and some self-published books.

Crawford, Walt. First Have Something to Say: Writing for the Library Profession. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2003. ISBN 0-8389-0851-9 (pbk.)

Making Book 13: Being Analog

Posted in Books and publishing on November 27th, 2013

I failed to mention a couple of things when discussion Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. To wit:

  • While I prepared the camera-ready copy, that happened after careful discussion and negotiation with the designer at ALA Editions, Dianne Rooney, to arrive at mutually-agreeable layout and typeface decisions and details.
  • Art Plotnik approved and shepherded this project. At some point, I started working with Patrick Hogan, who I consider a friend as well as colleague and who I’ve worked with on a number of projects since (including an already-contracted future project). I should note that friendship has never prevented Patrick from turning down a project that didn’t make sense for ALA Editions, which is as it should be. (And that I had long since forgiven ALA Editions for turning down MARC for Library Use—that was under a long-since-retired acquisitions editor.)
  • If you’re wondering why I use the subtitle for that book whenever mentioning it, it’s because another book entitled “Future Libraries”—really a collection of essays not primarily by librarians—came out around the same time.

So how did this book come about—four years after Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality was published and five after it was written? From the preface, following a paragraph on the earlier book and my belief that it continued to be “a vital treatise on what libraries should and should not be”:

The glory days of the all-digital brigade are in the past. Within librarianship, the peak may have been 1990-1994. Since Future Libraries, visions of virtual libraries seem to be fading away. Some futurist voices continue to argue for the death of print and the convergence of all media, computing, and communication. The narrowness and emptiness of these projections are becoming apparent to most people.

But still they come. Some librarians still assert the all-digital future, either as a desirable goal to be worked for or as a tragic inevitability. Some politicians and campus officials still move to dilute or deny funding for libraries because they have been told books are disappearing. Librarians must still cope with these harmful, limiting attitudes.

Later, I ask: “If we’re not bound for a new paradigm and we can’t plan for an all-digital library—then what do we plan for, and how do we think about the medium-term future?” This book, based largely on my speaking and writing about these topics between 1993 and 1998, was an attempt to help answer those questions.

In some ways, this book was my sequel to Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality, but in a very different way. I believe it was a very good book (but then, I would, wouldn’t I?). It did reasonably well, although not nearly so well as the earlier book (but then, I didn’t have Michael Gorman as a coauthor!). One way to compare the two is to look at citations, as recorded in Google Scholar. As of Tuesday, November 26, 2013, Google Scholar shows Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality with 318 citations—and Being Analog with only 48. (If you’re wondering: MARC for library use has 61—well, actually 92 split between the two editions, Cites & Insights 6.2 (Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0″) has 101, and “Paper Persists: Why Physical Library Collections Still Matter,” published in Online, has 51.)

I prepared camera-ready copy for this one as well, this time using Arrus BT from Bitstream as a text typeface and Friz Quadrata BT as a heading typeface. Yes, I really do like Friz Quadrata for headings… The book is 245 6″ x 9″ pages.

I need to read the book again, maybe next year on its 15th anniversary. I’m afraid that the first paragraph quoted above may have been too optimistic, but maybe not.

Crawford, Walt. Being Analog: Creating Tomorrow’s Libraries. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1999. ISBN 0-8389-0754-7 (pbk.)

Making Book 12: Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality

Posted in Books and publishing on November 25th, 2013

It wasn’t the first speech I gave. It was actually the 21st. But it was the first case where the people inviting me—Arizona State Library Association’s Library Automation Round Table—didn’t have a specific topic in mind.

I did. From my preface:

Over years of reading, listening, and thinking, I had been aware that some silly and simplistic visions about the future of print and libraries emerged from time to time. More recently, such visions seemed to come from supposed leaders in the field and to be accepted by some librarians as “inevitable,” without the librarians thinking about the bases for the visions and the consequences of the dreams. Their catchphrases—virtual library, universal workstation, buying back our own research, death of print—began to seem menacing as well as annoying, particularly when I began to hear of libraries with needed expansions threatened by people saying “but five years from now, there won’t be any books to put on those new shelves.”

I gave a speech entitled “The Death of Print, Xanadu, and Other Nightmares, or, Brother, Can You Paradigm?” in October 1992 at AzSLA. It was well received.

I gave a few more speeches on various aspects of these problems (think people in 1992 weren’t already proclaiming the inevitable death of print books within five years? think again!) and noted some striking essays and articles in the area by Michael Gorman. We exchanged some notes—as my preface says, “(via Internet e-mail),” and concluded that a joint project might make sense.

This book was the result. Oddly enough process of writing, editing, layout and revision (yes, I prepared the camera-ready copy using Ventura Publisher, this time with Zapf Calligraphic—Hermann Zapf’s own rethinking of his classic Palatino—and Friz Quadrata for headlines) was done entirely by physical mail and email; we used diskettes to exchange files and email for discussion. We met twice face-to-face during the process (at Midwinter and Annual 1994) but didn’t work on the book during either meeting. (This may seem odd, given that we were only about 172 driving miles apart at the time, but we never saw the need to arrange joint working sessions.)

Even at the time, it was slightly odd that I was coauthoring a book with Michael Gorman. Some years earlier, he had written a column that hurt me and everybody else at RLG—not surprisingly, since he was arguing that the organization should be shut down. In later years, his views moved sufficiently apart from mine that, while we discussed a second edition at one point, it’s hard to imagine that I would do something like this with him again. At the time, though, it made sense.

The book was a major success, and I’d like to think that it moderated—at least for a while—the absurd claims that print was on the verge of disappearing and that the networks of the time could really provide viable replacements for traditional media and libraries. We still get absurd claims, but at least based on more robust technology, and I think there’s more of a tendency for librarians to shout “Bullshit” (or some polite equivalent) when it’s being spread.

This was the first book I did through ALA Editions—the first publisher we approached.

Crawford, Walt, and Michael Gorman. Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, & Reality. Chicago and London: ALA Editions, 1995. ISBN 0-8389-0647-8 (pbk.)

Making Book 11: The Catalog Collection

Posted in Books and publishing on November 22nd, 2013

This book—yes, it was a book, ISBN and all—was ahead of its time: It would have been much more plausible to do a few years later.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it would have made any sense a few years later. In retrospect, it probably didn’t make any sense even at the time.

I believe there are something like 36 or 48 copies of this in existence. (WorldCat shows 19 libraries holding it). The even dozen number has a reason…

The Catalog Collection was a supplement to The Online Catalog Book (see previous post) with nearly twice as many screen shots, some of them reproduced at larger size. It was published as a three-ring binder—a three inch three-ring binder—intended to be updated annually. That never happened, for any number of good reasons. It was brutally expensive ($150 or $135 for LITA members)—but that’s mostly because it was brutally expensive to produce. To wit:

  • I prepared the camera-ready pages (as I did for The Online Catalog Book).
  • Since I expected to have additions, etc., each chapter had its own page numbers, with the table of contents just listing the chapters.
  • To make the book a little more manageable, each chapter began with a separate page, printed on gold paper, consisting of the chapter number, name of the catalog, and name(s) of the contributor(s).
  • I prepared a dozen copies by having a local copy shop copy all 840 bloody pages onto three-hole paper (duplexing for the chapters, single-sided for the gold separators: I did the collation afterward), creating a huge stack of paper, then collating the copies and putting them in the three-ring binders, inserting the cover and spine sheets, boxing them and mailing them to LITA headquarters. LITA actually handled distribution, for a cut of the price.

I must have thought this was an important project; it certainly made no sense in terms of revenue per hour. If it had actually been successful—if we’d sold, say, 100 to 200 copies and seen the need for updating—it would have been too much to handle.

Did I mention (in discussing the other book) that I provided suggested records and searches to the contributors, to provide some level of comparability among systems? I did, and they did.

Anyway: The great ungainly beast didn’t do very well. All things considered, that was a very good thing.

I was going to say “with Lulu, it would have been easy”—but that’s not quite true. The thickest 8.5″ x 11″ book Lulu will produce is 740 pages. I would have had to break this down into two volumes. (Given that Lulu normally uses 60lb. paper, the equivalent of 24lb. copier paper, a 740-page limit isn’t unreasonable: That’s a very thick book, more than 1.5″ thick not including cover. The contents of The Catalog Collection‘s three-ring binder are more than two inches thick.)

This was also the last book I did for a couple of years. That’s not surprising.

Crawford, Walt (ed.). The Catalog Collection. Chicago: LITA (distributor), 1992. ISBN 0-8389-7594-1. Published by arrangement with G.K. Hall. Limited edition.

Making Book 10. The Online Catalog Book

Posted in Books and publishing on November 20th, 2013

This (full title The Online Catalog Book: Essays and Examples) is the last book I did for G.K. Hall, the only book I did with them that was 8.5″ x 11″, the last book of mine that appeared in both paper-wrapped hardcover and paperback—and the only book of mine that Hall published that probably never earned out its advance (modest though that was). It was also one of two books I’ve done where I wrote a relatively small portion of the book (although, in this case, it was enough to constitute a book-length manuscript in today’s terms): the first 129 pages of a 546-page book.

Five years ago, a book like this would have been nearly impossible to prepare; five years from now, it may be easy. At present, we’re somewhere in the middle: It wasn’t easy, but I hope you’ll agree it was worthwhile.

Libraries have increasing opportunities to make their online catalogs work and look the way they would like (and that will serve their patrons). Libraries can certainly benefit from a range of examples to see what’s possible and how it seems to work. From a user’s perspective, the online catalog is the set of available screen displays: that’s where the user and the system connect.

Remember that this was 1991-1992: most online catalogs either used PCs as terminals or could be used on PCs, so screen-capture software made it possible to grab screen images—but it was also very early in the development of the web, with no graphical browsers yet available (Mosaic showed up in 1993). Nor were most online catalogs available remotely to anyone interested in looking at them—at that point, it wasn’t easy to confuse the internet and the web.

I thought it might be plausible to update Patron Access: Issues for Online Catalog and add a substantial appendix showing a few screens from each of perhaps two dozen catalogs. I verified that nobody else had plans to gather together screen images from a wide range of catalogs and proposed a book. Originally, the expectation was that it would be a 6″ x 9″ book with 150 to 200 pages of my text followed by 250 to 300 pages of contributions including 400 to 500 screen shots covering perhaps two dozen online catalogs.

A call went out on PACS-L for volunteers. (Remember PACS-L, the Public-Access Computer Systems list?) I got more than 20 responses including several locally developed catalogs (remember when libraries developed their own online catalogs?). I also prepared a list of 42 vendors offering online catalogs and sent letters out to all of them for which I didn’t already have contributors. “Several vendors responded; many did not.” A second mailing brought a few more responses—but more than half of the supposed catalog vendors, including a few that at the time regularly advertised in the library press, never responded in any way, not even to say “we’re not interested.”

I finally identified 42 contributors representing 40 different systems (and two very different versions of each of two systems). Thirteen were library-developed; the rest were commercial. Since I couldn’t establish a rational basis for rejecting half of the possibilities, G.K. Hall agreed to a larger page size and more pages, and I gave up on updating Patron Access, instead providing a series of informal essays on catalog design issues, leaving three-quarters of the book for examples.

Ten contributions didn’t arrive (people change jobs; crises arise; priorities changes). The balance of systems changed: The book finally included seven locally developed systems and 25 commercial systems, including two CD-ROM products and systems ranging from ones running on a single PC or Mac to some very large multicampus systems.

After an ordeal of coping with a variety of screen capture programs and the resulting output (things were a bit less standardized 22 years ago!), I managed to put it all together. A quote from the preface: “There were times—as I was trying to find a workable graphics conversion routine or appropriate reproduction scale for certain screens—when I began to question my sanity in taking on this project. That question has no easy answer, but the remarkable variety of interesting contributions that emerged did keep me going.”

This was definitely a book of its time. The first 12 chapters were informal essays (by me) on various aspects of online catalog design, ending with the information for contributors (they got a set of instructions, including a suggested list of areas to cover in screen shots). The remaining 32 were contributions, each on a specific online catalog, with some introductory comments by the contributor(s) and a series of screen shots. The 32 systems were arranged alphabetically—from The Assistant as used at Arkansas Supreme Court Library (The Assistant was a commercial online integrated catalog designed to operate on single microcomputers or networked workstations) through Winnebago CAT, Winnebago Software’s online catalog system. In most cases, there were a couple dozen screen shots.

This was a massive book. Text was set in two columns of 10-point type, so there was a lot of text on each page; most figures were reproduced three to a page, except for a few cases where half a page was needed for clarity.

I suspect some of the advice in the first 12 chapters continued to be useful; some might still be. I discussed user-centered design, coherent interface design, the common command language (for good reason, many of the catalogs back then were at least partly command-driven) and a range of other topics.

But Wait! There’s More…

Most contributors submitted quite a few more screens than would fit in the book if it was to be publishable. Most readers wouldn’t need to see all the screens—but I thought a few vendors, consultants and libraries might find them valuable. So, with G.K. Hall’s permission and the cooperation of LITA, I prepared a companion publication that included (gasp) more than 1,400 screens in more than 840 pages. But that’s #11, an ambitious plan that was both before its time and pretty much too late. More on that later.

Crawford, Walt (and many contributors). The Online Catalog Book: Essays and Examples. Professional Librarian Series. New York: G.K. Hall, 1992. ISBN 0-8161-1996-1. ISBN 0-8161-1995-3 (pbk.)

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