For the last year and a half, the five liberal arts colleges known as MnObe (pronounced min-OH-bee and derived from Minnesota Oberlin Group Libraries) have been thinking collectively about our library catalogs. We started at very different points (ranging from “what we’ve got works pretty well” to “what is this thing we’re using and where are the punch-card computers it seems to match?”). Then Roy Tennant came and talked to us and everybody got pretty excited about the idea of a next generation catalog. And I was pretty sure we’d stay that way… excited about the idea of change.
But then we held a “debate” between five teams of librarians each proposing an alternative to our current systems. Our biggest surprise that day was the amount of agreement between groups and audience members about a) the need for change and b) the types of things that need to change. (Here’s a quick list of features and functions we liked, none of which are surprising.) At the conclusion of that meeting, the directors of our libraries charged a group of volunteers to actually map out our movement forward.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, this group of volunteers met, thought, discussed, and drafted a report. You can read it on the wiki if you want, or the PDF (which is prettier). It’s definitely a first step, but the group felt that we needed to clear up the first step first. You’ll notice, though, that we clearly and explicitly state that we want some kind of drastic change in the near future, and we map out a few key actions that will start us moving toward that change.
Now it’s been delivered to the MnObe directors. We’ll see what happens. I’m having to work a lot harder to keep from getting too excited now that we’ve actually formally recommended action.