The Third Assignment

The professor released the third (and final) assignment for my summer class today. The purpose of the assignment “is for students to develop a greater understanding of catalog construction as well as an appreciation of the consequences of catalog design decisions on catalog usability” (from syllabus). We are to identify 10 OPACs via the web – catalogs should represent holdings of relatively large collections (I’m not sure what exactly is meant by a relatively large collection). The 10 should vary in terms of presentation and feature set. After we review the 10, we need to narrow our selection to 3. We need to become familiar with the 3 catalogs and their features. We need to develop a comparative analysis of the chosen catalogs – addressing both general and specific features (testing catalogs with simple searches). Examinations should include search features, hitlist displays and presentation of individual records. The resulting written report should be no more than 10 pages which outline the strengths and weaknesses of the catalogs – commenting specifically on how successful the catalogs were in responding to users’ needs. Include comments on features that enhance or impact (positively or negatively) the user experience. We should also comment on potential improvements that would improve our experience.

Much like the other three assignments, this one is worth 25% of the final overall grade. The worst part is that we haven’t yet received our grades from the first or second assignment. It is so difficult to have any sense of how the class is going. I’m not sure where I stand. I am especially nervous about the paper that was due last week. There was so little direction – no firm guidelines. And at this point, the final exam is less than 2 weeks away. I think I might be panicking!!!!!!!!!

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4 Responses to The Third Assignment

  1. Mack Lundy says:

    Hmm, interesting assignment. I can say that since I don’t have to do it 🙂 I’m not sure what relatively large means either. I think wwe are considered medium large at nearly 2 millian bib. records. Since you have to do a comparative analysis are you going to aim for 3 OPACs representing 3 different products and from the same type of library?

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am definitely planning to analyze 3 OPACs which represent different OPAC products. Although, this wasn’t specified in the assignment, I can’t see how comparing the OPACs from the same vendor would be at all interesting or informative. It seems that this aspect would be more important as a criteria than the “relatively large” specification. I hadn’t necessarily considered whether they should be from the same type of library – but I can see how that would probably make the data comparable. I am working on the initial list of 10 OPACs (from which we choose 3). I will post the choices that I make. I want to include NCSU’s library catalog, one using Aquabrowser and possibly the WPopac.

  3. Mack says:

    I see the value of looking at NCSU’s OPAC and a library using Aquabrowser since they actually replaced the ILS vendor’s OPAC product. Contrasting those with an ILS vendor’s OPAC would be interesting and informative.

  4. Jennifer says:

    That is exactly what I was thinking. Aquabrowser and NCSU’s OPAC have some interesting features that will contrast nicely with a more “traditional” OPAC. Now, I have to start comparing and contrasting!!

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