Next-Generation Library Catalogs (LTR): Mini-review

ALA TechSource occasionally sends me copies of Library Technology Reports in the hope I’ll mention them here or in Cites & Insights. (I wrote an LTR issue a couple of years back.)

The July/August 2007 issue is Next-Generation Library Catalogs by Marshall Breeding. It’s short, even by LTR standards: 42 pages plus two blank pages for notes. It’s also well done, offering a fair amount of information on a range of newer catalog interfaces in a readable manner.

Unfortunately, it could be considerably more useful, if it was 53 or 54 pages instead of 42 pages. How so? Because most of the 25 figures, screen shots from catalog interfaces, are simply too small to be effective.

Twentyone of the 25 figures are full or nearly full screen shots. They’re reproduced one column wide (on a two-column page) and roughly one-third of a page high. And most of them are too small.

The screen shots should have been reproduced using the full width of the text area, which means they’d also be two-thirds of a page high. Yes, they’d be a little on the large side–but they’d also be gloriously easy to make sense of, instead of requiring a magnifying glass in some cases.

For 21 figures, making them 2/3 of a page instead of 1/6 of a page adds 10.5 pages total (half a page per figure). The way chapters break, it might turn out to add 12 pages instead of 11–but that would still be well within LTR’s normal range.

It’s a good report. (Is it worth the price? That’s not for me to say.) It’s too bad the layout people didn’t spot the problem and make it an even better report.

One Response to “Next-Generation Library Catalogs (LTR): Mini-review”

  1. As far as online library catalogs go, there are times that library staff use sites like Google or Amazon when seeking information about a particular book, or trying to find other similar books to recommend, rather than using the library OPAC… I think this shows how current OPAC’s are lacking in user-friendliness and are not always very helpful. Hopefully the new generation of OPAC’s will be better….