Faceted navigation and browsing features in new OPACs: A more robust solution to problems of information seekers?


  • Kathryn La Barre Urbana, Illinois




In November, 2005, James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, proposed the creation of a “World Digital Library” of manuscripts and multimedia materials in order to “bring together online, rare and unique cultural materials.” Google became the first private sector partner for this project with a pledge of 3 million dollars (http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05- 250.html). One month later, the Bibliographic Services Task Force of the University of California Libraries released a report: Rethinking how we provide bibliographic services for the University of California. (Bibliographic Services Task Force, 2005). Key proposals included the necessity of enhancing search and retrieval, redesigning the library catalog or OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog), encouraging the adoption of new cataloguing practices, and supporting continuous improvements to digital access. By mid-January, 2006, the tenor of discussion reached fever pitch. On January 12, 2006, the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Library announced the deployment of a revolutionary implementation for their OPAC of Endeca’s ProFind™, which until now had only been used in commercial e-commerce or other business applications. NCSU made the bold claim that “the speed and flexibility of popular online search engines” had now entered the world of the online catalog through the use of faceted navigation and browsing (NCSU, online).