Information Access Seminar

Why Library Catalog Design is Obsolete

Friday, January 20, 2017
3:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Michael Buckland

There was a deliberate and fundamental change in library service strategy 200 years ago and the following design principles emerged: (1) The catalog became a self-service alternative to the librarian’s direct mediating between readers and the collection; (2) A library catalog is a specialized form of bibliography limited to what the library owns; (3) Subject catalogs are an acceptable substitute for subject arrangement on open shelves; (4) Library catalogs record locations of copies, bibliographies don’t; (5) Catalogs record publishers' units (whole books; periodical titles); and (6) Standardization brings beneficial cost-effective uniformity for everyone.

Not only can these principles be questioned, but existing library and bibliographical practices for discovery and access are still based on now-obsolete assumptions that pre-date digital networks. So we need to go back to basics and build more useful designs based on contemporary assumptions. Join us for a discussion.

Last updated:

January 17, 2017