Rush University has added a lot of information to their A-to-Z list, including print holdings and publisher information. A colleague showed this to my boss, who just shared it with me:
Compare that to ours:
Rush’s list gives patrons a complete picture of their serials holdings. The level of detail is great, too. (I wonder if the field that generates the “click publisher’s name for access” message could be customized for each title: for instance, to instruct patrons on how to access articles from sites that don’t offer automatic IP recognition.)
While this is very cool and very useful, I don’t know if it’s the best use of our time to do the same. Instead of making the A-to-Z list look like the catalog, we should focus on making the catalog better.
I’m starting to think that we should direct patrons to the catalog and leave the A-to-Z list behind. (Not total abandonment: it’s useful for patrons who know what they’re looking for, so we should keep it as an option for patrons to personalize the way they use the library website.) Patrons are looking for information, not formats; we should address their information needs first and then show them the format options.
I’ve mashed together everything I like about the A-to-Z list and the catalog. This is my idea of what an excellent OPAC search would look like:
I like how it displays the source and coverage up front. When there are multiple results (we have separate records for the electronic titles), patrons can compare their results at the search level:
I crossed out the current display. Location? Call number? Status? Unnecessary for e-resources. The coverage is what’s important. That’s true for print, too. Pull the useful information to the top and we’ve made the catalog more user-friendly.