University of Guyana Library Online Public Access Catalogue: A ReviewThe University of Guyana Library in confronting the difficulties to guarantee information resources are effective and efficient and accessible has catalogues to display what materials are available in its collection and where the materials can be obtained. In 2014 the University of Guyana Library (UG Library) has provided an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) operated by KOHA Open Source Integrated Library System. As indicated by Aina (2004) clarified that “OPAC is the most modern form of the library catalogue, where bibliographic records of all the documents in a collection are stored in the computer memory.” The OPAC is the library’s computerized catalogue and it is available to students, faculty members and anyone using the library through computer terminals. Access to the online catalogue may also be provided through a web-OPAC allowing persons outside the university campuses to have access to the catalogue of the library via the internet.
Borgman (2003) stated that “The user-friendly design addressed screen displays and functional capabilities but did not search deeply into task motivation, much less into the connection between a computer user and the work. People were expected to adapt to systems and considerable effort was devoted to user training.” While the user interface of the UG Library portal remains user-friendly, students have difficulties with the layout design.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
The complete web design is easy to use for users who have knowledge of online search, the OPAC web design is presented in a professional manner. Users expected user-friendly designed interfaces, for example, simple menu-driven interface using offline storage of search strategy, automatic login procedures, and software-controlled navigated searching techniques. Users expected that input allows them to manipulate the system and output allows the system to process the effect of their manipulation. The system is capable of adapting to users rather than requiring users to adapt to the system. Banati, Bedi, and Grover (2006) stated “the relationship between usability and trust is a very complex relationship. On the other hand, some researcher viewed OPACs interfaces were intended to reduce online connect time and printing options. Search and retrieval of the UG Library collection should be easy due to OPAC. Usability expert argued that current users have already developed a firm mental model of searching where search to have three components: a box where they can type words; A button labelled “search” that they click to run the search; and A list of top results that’s linear, prioritized, and appears on a new page—the search engine results page.
(Nielsen, 2005).UG Library OPAC search allows users to do the simple search (any keyword) via drop down menu where users can search for books, journals, e-books using the authors, titles, subjects, ISBN number, Publisher, and Barcode. The feature also supports advanced search within the set of previous results and extending or restricting search scope.
Users had problems with the feature that provides control over the search. Performing subject searches in selecting terms and in performing the search users had difficulties in increasing and decreasing the search result. Users only used the basic search features. The system allows users to search using a combination of words and phrases using Boolean AND, OR, and NOT. The overall display of UG Library OPAC lack the aid in visual display and lack multimedia features such as audio, real play etc.
It was observed that users are not coping with the change and in some instances, users were unable to find books on the open shelves. Some Guyanese users lack computer knowledge and are reluctant to change of new technology and the designs of the interface of the system are not as user-friendly as one will expect. The system would have provided some difficulties to online users and no online assistance could have access. Information retrieval continues to be an important issue in the library. The title link was misleading. OPAC title links on the result page did not take users actual bibliographic record but instead, users had to click a display full record link which is sometimes difficult to locate to view the individual bibliographic record. This feature is misleading and makes the retrieval process inefficient. Usability of the OPCA system is the problem since users are not improving the user interface is not the only line of improving a good OPAC system of our library it is necessary for the University to consider the alternative source to power the library software to help to ensure the improve OPAC system.
In conclusion and recommending the OPAC system of the University of Guyana Library the information seeking world has entered an era of self-service. Tennant (2005) described a self-service as an “I wish I had known that the solution for needing to teach our users how to search the catalogue was to create a system that did not need to be taught.” The OPAC system of the University of Guyana Library is still in its operational phase and more work need to be done to improve the overall library functioning. Information retrieval within the OPAC system of the UG Library continues to be an important issue in the library. The Library should attempt to have the OPAC designed in a simple way that would ensure fewer difficulties, in order to boost users’ usage. Educating users about the search and retrieval system of the OPAC should be eliminated most of the challenges associated with the use of OPAC.
Keywords search should be highlighted when a keyword search is performed. Highlighting keywords users can be decided how relevant the retrieved publication is to their research. Most university libraries in the region have this feature. The user interface is not the only line of improving a good OPAC system for our library.
The technological factor, mechanisms for the better use of OPAC and continuous education on the awareness of the use of this new service. The University of Guyana Library should aim to design a user-centers, self-sufficient online catalogue that fits the web 2.0 model. The ultimate goal is that users will be comfortable and confident using the library’s OPAC for their information needs wherever a computer is available and without special training.